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?