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Can you believe it’s already December? I sure can’t. It seems like this year has flown by. The start of the holiday season is always crazy around here because of all the decorating and shopping and cooking and planning that go on. If I had to add planning blog content to that list, I’d probably totally lose it. And by losing it, I mean a full-on Sharon meltdown complete with a crazy laugh. The one that makes Alex run for the hills when she hears it because it means I’m close to a breakdown. Luckily, I sat down a few months ago and filled my editorial calendar through the middle of January. It only took an hour or so and that includes getting it in Trello. I’ll be doing a post soon on that, I promise!
When I first started this blog, I took the really ineffective approach to blog content of not planning it out. Plus, this was something Alex and I wanted to do together but she was pregnant at the time and then she had a newborn so it was almost all on me. It was fine when I had the big office remodel going on because there was plenty to talk about. Other than that, I’d try to pick a craft or activity to do. Then I’d run out and get any needed supplies, do the craft, take pictures, write it up and then publish it. It was exhausting! And it’s probably part of the reason I stopped. I always felt like I was behind in some way.
When I started blogging again this fall, I decided that I needed a much better way to get things done. One that didn’t involve me feeling like I was frantically scrambling all the time. As with most new things, it took a little trial and error before I found what worked best for me. One of the best things about a personal blog is freedom. Freedom to do what you choose when you choose to do it. You’re not answering to a boss or anyone else. If you miss a deadline, so what? If you want to change something, so what? Many people will advise you to run your blog like a business if you hope to make money. But finding what works for you is going to be a factor in long-term success. Take the time to explore.
Related Post: How to Set up a New Blog (and not have a breakdown)
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Choose a posting schedule…and then toss it
For me, this was the first big goal to accomplish. Before, I was kind of sporadic on when I would post new things. Mostly because of the time needed to get whatever it was done. This time around, I decided to post new content on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That worked for a while but it didn’t take long for that to start to feel like a drag. I’ve experimented with different styles and what seems to work the best is just to focus on writing useful content that readers will find valuable and stop stressing about sticking to a schedule!
Instead of taking the time to research and write great posts, I was hurrying up and cranking out material just so I could post something on that day. There are more than a few posts that I’m going to rework because I know I can do better. Don’t set yourself up to get overwhelmed at the beginning. Try one day, or two, or three and see how it goes. If you feel like you can do more, then do more. Focus on finding great topics that solve a problem for your reader first. Quality over quantity wins the day.
Define what you’re going to talk about on your blog
This is a tough one but it’s the one question you have to answer! You’ll hear a lot of advice about picking your “niche” and “niching down”. I suppose I see the wisdom in that, especially if you’re looking to monetize or market your own products. Having a well-defined target audience makes it easier to market and sell. But we consider ourselves to be a lifestyle blog which can cover a lot of ground. We’re not really selling anything. I mean, we joined affiliate programs but that’s about it. There’s not one specific thing that we’d want to talk about to the exclusion of everything else.
BUT, even if you have a lot of interests that you’d like to cover on your blog, you still need to answer the question of all questions – WIIFM? What’s In It For Me is the subconscious question all of your readers have when they’re searching for something. If they’re searching for a way to get ink stains out of a t-shirt, and you have a post on that, are they going to leave your blog with actionable steps they can take to get that stain out? Or will they have to continue searching because your post didn’t quite give them what they’re looking for?
If you’re at a loss about what questions your readers might have, hang out where they hang out. Check out the comments sections of other blogs in your niche, see what’s trending on Pinterest, hit up Reddit to see what they’re asking. Use the Pinterest search bar for additional keywords or search suggestions.
Brainstorm blog content ideas
I think this is the fun part. Once the days and topics are set, it’s just a matter of coming up with ideas to fill those days up! My process is to just sit down and brainstorm. I list out the broad categories (home, money, food, blogging). Then I’ll start writing down anything that pops into my head as something I might be interested in writing about in each of those. There’s no set time limit for this. I just keep going until I’m out of ideas. I’m not picky about what gets on the list at this point. Refining things will come later. What I’m left with is a rough draft of my editorial calendar for the next few months! Woo hoo!
I may have mentioned a time or 20 that I’m type-A. Which means that I don’t just use Trello to schedule everything. I also use Todoist. To read more about all the magnificent ways it can be used, read my post on Todoist. Life-changing, I’m tellin ya. But….I’m also a little old school and carry a planner around with me that I can write in. You remember writing, don’t you? With a pen and some kind of paper. I couldn’t find a link to the exact one I have but the Panda Planner is somewhat close, has great reviews and is made from eco-friendly materials! I like an undated planner with plenty of space to make notes. Inspiration can strike at any time so I like having something in my purse I can grab when it happens.
I’m a little choosy at this point and will throw out any ideas that maybe aren’t that great after a second look. I’ll do searches on Pinterest and Google Trends for more insight, always keeping in mind “WIIFM”. I may take into consideration if any research needs to be done. Or it might be a project that requires some lead time. Seasonal posts are something to think about too.
Last Minute Thoughts
I like to schedule out only a few months. That way I’m coming up with fresh new ideas more often. Anything that’s leftover on my list and didn’t get published will go on a general “ideas” list in Trello. Even though you have a post scheduled, that doesn’t mean you can’t change it. Things happen, issues come up. Or maybe you decide at the last minute you don’t really want to write about it. If that happens to me, I can look to my ideas list and see if something there will work. Or if not, I’ll think of something new. Stay engaged with your blog and your readers by writing about topics that truly interest you and gives value to your audience. If you love it and find it interesting, chances are your readers will too! Take a chance and above all else, have fun with it!
For more ideas and tips about blogging, check out these other posts: