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Easy Content Scheduling for Bloggers

I know what you’re thinking: a content schedule? How hard can it be? Get a calendar, drop a blog post onto each day, and you’re done. Right?

Well, sort of. That approach might be fine in the early days of a blog, when you feel the need to cover every topic in your niche, and you want to write about everything. But that kind of scattergun approach can be less than appropriate. Knee-jerk writing might get content onto your site, but it won’t necessarily meet the long-term strategies you’ve set for your blog.

If you take a completely reflexive approach to content, you also run the risk of publishing filler, rather that killer.

I have to admit that my approach to content scheduling is anything but high-tech, but I thought I’d explain it here, specifically in terms of how we schedule the content for ProBlogger. I’d love to hear how you schedule content — perhaps together we can come up with an Ultimate Content Scheduling Approach…

Step 1: Strategy review

Darren has a pretty clear strategy for the directions in which he wants to take the content here at ProBlogger, and he listed for me a range of topics that he wants to cover in more detail. You may have seen them listed in our Guest Post Guidelines—they’re things like blog SEO and design, WordPress tips, and so on.

Step 2: Category mapping

Once you’ve nailed down where you’re trying to get to, it’s not a bad idea to create some information categories that you can use to define the pieces of content you’ll publish. If you have a solid post categorization system on your blog, you’d be best to map those content directions to your existing information architecture.

So, for example, Darren wants to include WordPress tips in our content, but the categories we have set up for the blog’s content don’t currently include WordPress. We have two options. If the content direction isn’t a major one, we could decide to categorize WordPress content on the basis of the outcome of each tip. A tip that explained how to apply a new theme to your blog would appear in the existing Blog Design category, for example. If WordPress is a major content direction, then we may need to update the IA to include a WordPress tips category.

Step 3: Schedule proforma

I always seem to wind up creating my schedule proformas in a spreadsheet. Here’s the little template I created:

As you can see, it’s pretty straightforward: dates, days, spaces for post titles. Simple, right? In fact, there are two aspects of this template that reflect core values of our content strategy.

First, I included two rows for each week: I’ll schedule Darren’s posts in the top row, and guest posts in the bottom row. Darren’s voice is, obviously, crucial to the site, so I wanted to keep track of his posts separately. This way, I can tell at a glance if we don’t have enough Darren in a week.

Secondly, I’ve color-coded the various post topics we identified in step 2., as you can see at bottom-left. Every time I enter a post into the schedule, I color-code it. Again, this lets me see at a glance if we have too much of an emphasis on a given topic in a single week.

Step 4: Content scheduling

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: scheduling content. Here’s how my content schedule looks after I’ve dropped in all the content that’s been entered into WordPress.

Compare that with the WordPress Edit screen below, and I think you’ll agree, the color-coded spreadsheet makes it much easier to get a quick overview of where things are at, and what kinds of content we need to source or reduce in the coming days and weeks.

Step 5: Content management

With my schedule in place, it’s a simple matter of adding post titles (which I keep identical to the post titles entered into WordPress), and making any notes about them — like the DO NOT MOVE note on the post that published on Wednesday 13 October.

I created the schedule as a Google Doc so Darren can see it and add or move content as required. At the start of each new week, I delete the previous week’s content record from the schedule, but you might like to save it to a second spreadsheet, so that you can track the evolution of your content direction over time.

I also added a second spreadsheet to this file, where I can keep track of any content sourcing efforts. If you don’t actively source content, you could use a second spreadsheet to plan your own writing — again, this spreadsheet could be color-coded to ensure you posts align with your content strategy.

This very basic content scheduling approach works for me. How do you manage content scheduling on your blog?

About Georgina Laidlaw

Georgina Laidlaw is a freelance content developer, and Content manager for problogger.net. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Sebastien says:

    Not sure if that should fall under this post, but WP has a great plugin called “Editorial Calendar” that helps you schedule posts.

    I think Brogan mentioned this plugin a few weeks ago. Way worth a look. Oh, best of all, it’s free.

  2. Content Scheduling requires at least a post per day. Either a blogger who writes 3 posts/week OR a blogger who keeps on updating his readers with the latest piece of information on a daily basis. I will use your tips for scheduling Guest posts in a better way!

  3. Well, that looks very professional. I am not the kind of person that likes to plan too much ahead. But the color-coding makes sense ot me. Maybe I’ll try it. :)

  4. Jools Stone says:

    Thanks for this, I really need to get a schedule going, but I hate staring at spreadsheets. I also get bored quickly with posts I’ve decided to write if they stay in my drafts folder for too long. And is it best to allocate just one category per post?

  5. SEYFETTİN says:

    Timely and well needed thanks!

    -SEYFETTİN

  6. Color-coding various topics is really smart. I like that idea.

    Since both my blogs usually only post twice a week and sometimes three times a week I simply just try not to post too similar a topic two posts in a row.

    Of course, if you’re posting every day, then mapping out your posting schedule becomes even more critical. And I can see how it would be vital for ProBlogger.

    I do think it’s important to ensure that, for exmaple, if you’re a personal-development site that you don’t post about controlling your thoughts one day and then the next day the same. One’s schedule should have variety! And this is why I personally think having a series of posts on the same subject posted in succession can be bland for your readers.

  7. Jackie Lee says:

    I like to talk about specific “topics” and do post series. I like to figure those ahead of time ~ anywhere from 1 month to 3 or 6 months out. I like to make my series chronological so I take my readers through a process. By planning ahead I can see each step I’ll need to discuss and can make sure I include everything in the series. I personally use a day planner on my desk ~ I use the monthly calendar to plan the series and then move the specific post topics and other things I need to do in the day to the days on the weekly calendar. I also use Charlie Gilkey’s blog planners to track my goals and make sure my content is moving me toward them over time.

  8. Gil Namur says:

    I agree with Sebastien,

    “Editorial Calendar” is a great plugin. We use it at our site where we post 3 – 4 articles a day that come in from our 60+ authors. This plug and another called “Edit Flow” in has really saved us a LOT of time.

    That said, your ideas are excellent and I will point some bloggers I know to it :-)

    Thanks!

    Cheers,
    Gil

  9. jason says:

    I actually use outlook for this. It may archaic for scheduling, but it works well enough.

  10. S. Emerson says:

    Great idea Georgina!

    Tried the daytimer approach, printed it out even to make any further notes and check off as done, but that didn’t help.

    Going to give this a whirl!

  11. sjay says:

    At the movement best working method is to post when I can. I know there are lot of down sides but I cannot really plan posting with my other work.

    With time I might need to follow a schedule as it help both me and the reader.

    thanks
    Sjay

  12. SEYFETTİN says:

    Very timely thanks Georgina.

  13. Ben Harack says:

    I think my issues might be different from many bloggers. My main objective lately has been to arrange my posts so that they do not come all in a rush. Writing and publishing 1500-5000 words per day seems to be overwhelming even to dedicated readers. I am not looking for a way around this really, since I plan on writing and publishing very intensely for the next few months. My short term problems with readers being overwhelmed by writing will hopefully turn out to be investments in the future as I lay down the foundation of my article set.

  14. David Wang says:

    I’ve just launched my new blog (http://theclickstarter.com) and from the outset I decided this was going to be a ‘professional as in problogger’ blog.

    A content schedule was really important for me to align my content with blogging goals, but also to get into the mindset. So yes, it’s more work but I highly recommend it if you are serious about blogging.

  15. Phil Morse says:

    I have reached exactly this stage with my blog – where there’s been so much to write about that the scattergun approach has been fine. I keep a spreadsheet of ideas, links and one-liners to trigger thought processes and sometimes highlight those I want to do in the next week or so but nothing more. The WordPress plugin sounds good, but Charlie Gilkey’s blog planners not so as I like to keep this stuff digital, not done by hand.

  16. Color-coding does appeal to me. This technique is challenging, but makes sense. Thanks

  17. Suzanne says:

    I use the Editorial Calendar plugin, but I really like how you color-code the topics. Thanks for the post!

  18. Brian says:

    Just a thought. I run a small law firm but use a number of my people to post blogs so that we can be posting fresh content at least 3 times a week (in addition to link postings on FB and Twitter). Because we’re all busy doing the day job bit, this seems like a great idea to make all my contributors see what other’s are posting and to gently force all of us to think before we post – so we avoid “filler” and get more “killer.” Thanks for posting. Simple concept but one I should have thought of but now will use.

  19. I agree the color coding would sure help when seeking older posts to link to.

    Love the idea- I’ll probably implement this or something similar today!

  20. Connie Myres says:

    I love the color-coding idea, it really does help a person see projected content at a glance. It also helps to see areas that may be neglected or areas that are being glutted with articles. I think I’ll give this a try. Thanks for the post!

  21. Michelle says:

    I post hundreds of events, so each WP post is an event with description, location, links, and a map, and with hundreds of events, it’s can get very crazy (especially with Halloween coming up). But, with changes, etc. all the time, I’ve started actually doing it the old fashioned way, on a dry erase calendar on my wall. Sometimes I just need to step away from the computer and look at the big picture. One goal I have that I’m still working on though is having the following month filled in ahead of time as much as possible. I think I need to buy another dry erase calendar for the NEXT month.

  22. This strategy of content management looks new and i will give it a try for sure. thank you darren and pro blogger.

  23. Eric says:

    This looks very well laid out and organized and I did something similar with my blog but for other reasons, including driving traffic.

    Good way to keep things nicely updated and see where you’re at and to stay on topic.

  24. Eric Roth says:

    Ah, you’ve reminded me of the huge chasm between my aspirations and actual achievements. Thanks.

    For worse and for better, I’ve never really mastered the basics of blogging, let alone developed a blogging strategy. This post, however, provides a practical roadmap forward. I appreciate the guidance.

    Time, as ever, remains an issue. Yet I suspect that better organization will open up new possibilities too. So, although you’ve nailed a few of my persistent problems, I do thank you.

  25. Nathanael says:

    I used so far the WP calendar plugin but having a colorful spreadsheet makes more sense to me since I post articles on different topics.

  26. Jacquee says:

    This is great, thanks! I’ll definitely use this for my blog, plus I’m helping small organisations come up with content strategies so will be looking up the Editorial Calendar plugin.

  27. I did not know there was plugins and software for scheduling the content. It makes sense for many.

    I try to post every other day or as I have information to share. I am full of ideas but like to work with my creative juice flow, so I do not feel burden with scheduling.

  28. Ami says:

    another editorial calendar user here – it has made my life so much easier!

  29. Shaun says:

    Great post, I really like the colour coding, even if you are only posting a couple of times a week it’s a great way to track your posts over time if you keep the schedule. I think the category mapping is really important too as it is easy to get off track if you aren’t careful!

  30. Jana Rade says:

    Schedule, that sounds scary! LOL I do post regularly, 3x a week. But as far as content is concerned I don’t have a fixed plan.

    Given my chosen niche – dog health related stuff – I am in no danger to run out of topics. But planning hasn’t really worked out for me. Sometimes people ask a question which I answer with a post. Sometimes I am too busy and tired to write what I originally planned and I throw in something easy.

    I can see how a solid plan would make sense. I guess I do sort of have one in my head…

    Great tips though on how to plan.

  31. well , all what i know is that this strategy is very useful but i’m not sure it helps everyone in this field , there are people who get topics and content immediately just after a random event or something that (let’s say) inspires them so this is good as organization , but still your mind doesn’t have schedules !!! good ideas any way i admit it !! :) !!

  32. Carolyn says:

    I’ve recently started my blog and like others, designed it from scratch to be professional. But the learning curve is huge and this is really helpful in mapping out what I’m doing and why in terms of content, instead of just a shotgun approach from my list of “article ideas”.

    Many thanks!

  33. Just launched http://writertale.com, formatted for one author and one post/day. I keep a long ordered list of article titles and ideas, and reference it each day when I’ve got time to crank one out. It’s worked well so far!

  34. Lol, I think I need you around on my blog too:) I like to schedule most of them and leave spave free for the spontaneous stuff too!

  35. Lawrence says:

    Another benefit of such an approach is that you’re keeping a record of all the work done.

    I would go one step further and include, for each entry, metrics to be able to measure the performance of each post (page views, comments, revenue, etc…).

    So analysis of past performance becomes a useful tool for planning ahead.

  36. Rob Place says:

    This post us spot on. When I started my blog a year ago I was all over the map. It wasn’t until I developed a central philosophy (about how to start a solopreneur business), developed categories, and actually created deadlines did my site tell a complete story rather than be series of tidbits.

  37. BlogTipss says:

    Wow thanks . I will use it later. great tip and thank you for sharing.

  38. Amy Spreeman says:

    I’ve always done the sporadic, “seat-of-your-pants” kind of schedule–none! But it’s time to be a little more strategic. Today I came up with a color-coded schedule. Thanks for the inspiration!

  39. Santel says:

    It is hard for me to do schedule for the post, I don’t have much time to write, I work only 2 hours per day for my blog. So contents are not well managed,

    I will do some approach to what mentioned here,
    Thanks

  40. Dawn Le says:

    wow, that looks so professional and the colors make things clear and attractive. I don’t post so many like you but a schedule surely helps to arrange posts more logically.

  41. Schweizer says:

    Thanks for the article. I think too, that to schedule your article is very usefull. Becaus you must react at actual trends to get visitors. The long term is ther very important and you must get your keys in the article. When you have puplished your articel to the right time, then ping your site and pligg it and so on to get it indexd.

  42. caroline says:

    Nice post. But the question is what plug-in can one use for scheduling posts?

  43. We’re a new photoblog and haven’t gotten as many collaborators as we will in the future so our content publishing is a little scattered. We’re more focused on getting the word out so that we eventually have to think about scheduling. Can’t wait for that day!

    This idea sounds like a great one, however, for a traditional blog that is saturating a topic with text articles. I’d love to be on a schedule because then it means things are going well for us.

    Love this site, keep it moving forward.

  44. .:Heather:. says:

    I was just going through a writers block for my blog. So I took a few to implement this calendar idea. It pulled me right out of my rut. Thank you soooo much!

  45. Brian Goulet says:

    Great site, this is actually the first time I’ve seen problogger after having been recommended to check it out by a blogging friend. I have a daily blog on fountain pen ink and paper with a big emphasis on product reviews and new product announcements, and my approach so far has certainly been ‘scattered’. I do schedule things out and on certain days I do regular content, but I can really benefit from a schedule like you’ve shown here. It sounds silly, but just seeing your spreadsheet kind of hit me like ‘duh’, why haven’t I been doing this already?

    One piece of advice though, for what it’s worth….your images are very small, too small for me to see without clicking on them. That’s not so bad, but when I click back, it puts me at the top of the article. It was a bit annoying having to do two clicks and a scroll just to see each of your spreadsheet images (I still did it though, cuz I wanted to see it). Making the images just a bit bigger would have allowed me to see what was going on without breaking the flow of the article by clicking and scrolling.

  46. Carolyn says:

    Follow up to my earlier post:

    Always a good sign when someone thinks about your post and comes back to write more, huh?

    After reading your article, I started a spreadsheet and got out my list of categories and article ideas . . . and that’s when it hit me: my category structure was horrid! So I’ve now taken two days off from writing articles, read several articles on category structure (great one by Lorelle, BTW), thought a LOT about where this blog is really headed so that the foundation is there for growth, re-vamped the structure and fixed a number of behind-the-scenes problems that would become bigger as the blog grows larger and so on.

    While this all sounds like “how much work did one post create?” the end result is different: I have a lot clearer view of where I’m going, and — better yet — how I’m going to get there. I’m re-energized.

    So — MANY THANKS for a post that really got me thinking, not just about the immediate issue you addressed, but bigger issues as well.

  47. Georgina Laidlaw says:

    Carolyn, I’m so glad you came back to comment again. What you’ve said explains the other benefit of scheduling content like this, on a category basis: it can reveal big holes in your IA. It can also reveal little holes, and help you pre-empt holes (for example, if you find yourself developing or wanting to develop content for which you IA currently has no logical place).

    Thanks so much for raising this :) I’m rapt that you found the technique so useful!
    Georgina

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  1. [...] on Problogger there was a great post about scheduling your blog posts by Georgina Laidlaw.  She has a color coded system depending on the subject of your post. You [...]