Monday, 30 July 2012

Creating a content plan will help keep your blog on track

It's a sad fact that the majority of blogs are abandoned within three months. Yikes!

The good news is that there is one small step you can take which will help keep you going even when you have a bad case of 'bloggers block' or just can't decide what to post.  The answer is to create a content plan.

Your content plan can take whatever form you like, but it must have a physical presence - it's no good having it in your head! You may be most comfortable sketching it out long hand, using a calendar template or an Excel spreadsheet, even making a collage ... whatever works for you. But it has to go on your wall somewhere you will see it.

Design Milk's editorial calendar

First up - think like a magazine editor. Perhaps your blog will have some regular features. You will see an editorial calendar on many successful blogs. For example, Design Milk has monthly features such as 'Deconstruction' and 'Where I Work.' Each post under that topic follows the same format or type of content. On her blog Bright, Bold and Beautiful, Laura Tevey has a regular 'Best of the Week' roundup. What kind of regular features might you have on your blog? They could be weekly or monthly.

Next, think about the types of blog post you plan to produce. Think about the medium (predominantly text, photos, video, or a balance of these), length, subject matter and type of post. In 'Blogging for Creatives' I suggest 12 blog post types that work, from Opinion Piece and Interview to Story, Controversy and List posts.

Then decide how frequently you are going to post. Be realistic, but also bear in mind that if you post less often than once a week you may find it takes a long time to generate an active, interested audience.

Put this information on a matrix, with (say) dates in the left hand column and days of the week across the top. Put in the names of your regular features, like 'Blog Buddy Showcase' or 'Behind the Scene Tuesday'. On other days you plan to post, put in the names of some blog post types like 'Opinion Piece' or 'List post'.

How does that look? Now, try to add some specifics to some of the plan entries. Blog Buddy Showcase - who do you have a mind for the first one? Behind the Scenes - what project have you been working on where you might share aspects of the process? Hopefully, more subjects and ideas will suggest themselves as you go along. Make a note of them all, however sketchy, even if it's in a separate column, 'ideas' or whatever.

Now you have the bones of your blog for the next two or three months. Each time you go through the process, it should get easier. Be careful not to overwrite anything, as it useful at-a-glance to see what you've already blogged about on a specific topic. Great content can also be recycled, reworked or repositioned.

With a content plan you should also find it easier to write blog posts in advance. Once the creative juices start flowing you will find it's quick and effective to do two or three posts at once, scheduling or saving them for later.

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