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Creating a Blog Content Plan for 2017

Posted By Nicole Avery 13th of December 2016 Be Productive, Writing Content 20

Creating a Blog Content Plan for 2017 | ProBlogger.net

This is a guest contribution from ProBlogger Expert Nicole Avery.

Creating a blog content plan is one of the best things you can do to ensure your blog has quality content that is created efficiently with the time you have available.

A common cry I hear from bloggers who don’t use a content plan is that if they planned out their content it would stifle their creativity. I like to challenge that premise and argue that creating a blog content plan allows you to have more creative freedom.

Having a content plan means that when you sit in front of your screen to write your post, you have an idea or topic to write about that:

a). you have had time to ponder and meditate on in advance making the writing come easier

b). you can disregard because you have something else that interests you more to write about.

But if you don’t have a plan and you have limited time to blog, you can often find yourself sitting in front of the dreaded blank screen with no idea what to write about. Plans can be changed, but only if you have a plan to change in the first place.

Where to get ideas for blog posts

The first stage of creating a blog content plan is idea generation. Most bloggers will have ideas for posts floating around somewhere. It is time to gather them all together in the one place.

I use a simple Google sheet as my master planning tool for my blog. I allocate one tab to be the home for all my blog post ideas. Being in a Google sheet means I can access it from any device and add ideas on the go if I become inspired.

Before scheduling out ideas in your blog content plan, brainstorm as many ideas as you can and list them in your sheet. If you need help finding ideas try these strategies:

Survey your readers

Each year I survey my readers on the blog. This process is to not only receive feedback on how they have found the content I have published over the preceding year, but to also tap into what their key issues are currently and what questions they have for me.

Make sure you have specific questions in the survey to elicit blog post ideas and topics. Simply asking them “what do you want me to write about”, may not generate many ideas, but asking them something specific for example like “What is your biggest distraction when it comes to working online?” however would generate many topics for you to write about if you are in the productivity or working online space. For every distraction your readers share, you could create a post that helps them solve this problem.

Use reader questions

Through out the year readers may have asked you questions via email or Facebook. Even if you have responded to them on those mediums, those answers you have written may be applicable to your broader audience and could be turned into a blog post.

Use magazines for inspiration

Depending on your niche, you maybe able to look at magazines for inspiration for blog post topics. For example if you are blogging in the gardening niche, for the first two months of 2017 (which is summer for us in the Southern Hemisphere), check out summer editions of gardening magazines to see what topics they cover. You can write your own take on some of these seasonal ideas.

Think about having a theme for the year

Each year on my blog I have a theme overarching the content through out the year. Not every post will relate to the theme, but around one a month will and I will have a series on the theme as well.

A theme can allow you to explore topics in a deep and informative manner or entertain readers through a connected narrative.

How to create your blog content plan

So now you have a sheet full of amazing blog post ideas, it is time to create your blog content plan. Here are your next steps:

Determine posting frequency

How frequently you post will differ for every blogger. My personal philosophy on frequency is that quality always trumps quantity, so if you are new to blogging I would start conservatively and build up, rather than find yourself running out of steam and publishing “filler” posts.

In the example below you will note that there is only one post per week. I take holidays in January from the blog, so schedule out only one post a week. Once I return in February I will resume to posting three times a week, so adjust your posting frequency to take into account when you will have holidays from the blog if needed.

Create planning sheet

Once you know your frequency, create another tab in your planning spreadsheet like the one below. It has columns for:

  • Week – so you can keep track of how many weeks into the year we are
  • Date – so you know when to post!
  • Focus – if there is something going on at that particular time that you need to be aware of like school holidays, course launches etc
  • Post type – I write a mix of post types on my blog, some will be list style posts, some will be recipes, some will be long form, some will be about planning, some will be about parenting for example. Noting this allows me to offer up a mix of content across the week, months and year.
  • Topic/title – sometimes I will know the exact title for a post, other times I will know the topic like “goal setting for 2017” and the title will come after I have written it.

Creating a Blog Content Plan for 2017 | ProBlogger.net

Add in seasonal posts

The first posts I add to the plan are seasonal posts. Posts like:

  • New year’s posts
  • School holiday posts
  • Easter posts
  • Halloween posts etc

The beauty of having these posts planned out means you can have them published in the lead up to the event, making them relevant and timely for your readers and also hopefully relevant to the search engines!

Add in regular posts

If you post regularly on particular topics, schedule those in next. For example, I write a monthly review the first Friday of every month, so I will note that topic down. As I won’t know how the month turned out compared to my goal, I have the general topic “monthly review” only and fill the rest in as it comes closer to the date.

Add in any series you want to create

If you know you want to write a series through out the year, allocate it to the days you want to publish the posts that will be part of the series.

Add in sponsor work if known

If you are a blogger who works with brands and know some of the brand related commitments you have through out 2017, add those into your plan as well.

Add in product launch posts

Many bloggers have products now that they sell from their blogs and which require product launches. Schedule in any known launches you have planned for 2017 and if you are in the process of creating a product, give yourself a deadline and schedule in the launch posts.

Add in key personal dates

If you share personal stories on your blog, then factor in those events to the relevant dates. For example if you have holidays planned in July and November and you will write about them on your blog, schedule them in for August and December.

Add in key business events

If you have a bricks and mortar business or an online business, schedule in any posts that will relate to key events in that will happen in 2017. This might be events like the Black Friday sales, end of financial year sales etc.

Add in any theme posts

If you chosen to have a theme on your blog for 2017, add in posts on your theme next.

Add in reader input

Add in the post ideas that have come from your reader’s questions and your reader survey.

Add in posts missed from last year

If you had a blog content plan from last year, add in any posts you may have missed writing in 2016 to the plan for 2017.

By the time you have reached this far, you will hopefully have a full content plan for 2017! This will be a creative guide for you to use as a base to make the blog writing process as efficient and as easy as possible.

Do you create a content plan for your blog each year?

About Nicole Avery
Nicole Avery is a Melbourne mum to five beautiful kids aged seven to 17. She is the master organiser behind the popular parenting blog Planning With Kids and the author of a book by the same name, where she shares tips and tricks for organising the chaos of family life. She is slightly addicted to spreadsheets, tea, running and, of course, planning!
Comments
  1. Nicole,

    I can’t tell you how much creating a content plan has helped me stop looking at a blank screen. For those who are skeptical, think of it as a path already tailored for you – and you decide where it ultimately goes (so it won’t take away your creativity).

  2. Hey Nicole,

    Once again i have found very interesting post here. Planning is very essential for everyone for upcoming business model to have genius result. Sometimes, i also take help of Google sheet it is really great tool for blog planning. Reader survey is very beneficial for our business in order to understand the response of our blog post, it also gives us idea to add some unique specific content for better result. Eventually, thanks for sharing your worthy information with us.

    With best wishes,

    Amar kumar

    • Hi Amar,

      Reminds me of this quote:

      Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. Abraham Lincoln

      Good luck with your blogging!

      Nic

      • The simplest tip is to do a competitor research.

        Find out how they are getting more traffic. Find out their top performing posts. Analyze their top keywords.

        You will get a TON of ideas.

        Also make sure to use sites like Udemy, Quora to brainstorm ideas for your blog posts. If you can’t think about at least 50 questions that your audience might have related to your topic, you probably chose a wrong niche. So go ahead and brainstorm!

  3. This is so helpful and timely — thank you! I have two blogs and developing a better plan is something I really want to do. Great ideas here!

  4. Thanks for sharing the valuable information. Finding a good idea for drafting an engaging content is always a tough task.

    Your post help me a lot to add value to my content.

  5. Nice Post ! Thanks for sharing useful information. Fresh and quality content through social media helps your business building presence in the web.

  6. Amy W. says: 12/14/2016 at 6:07 am

    What blogging websites do you recommend for the beginner blogger to use for posting?

  7. This is so helpful thank you! I’ve been blogging for about a year but don’t really have much of a plan. This looks like a great way for me to start.

  8. I am a new born in this blogging world, and working on my blog and till now written 90posts.
    As a new chapter, I am now focussing on editorial calender, as you have mentioned. It really helps me alot.
    Thank you so much :)

  9. thanks for bringing this up. I agree with your final verdict 100%. Why? Not only because I just read your blog post and nodded all way through :) but also because I’ve gone through a couple of years with this dilemma and have finally found out FOR SURE that planning ahead is the way to go.

    Writing content when inspiration strikes and trying to publish consistently are two things that never go together. In this context I like what you said about using the inspiration to plan out a bunch of content rather than settling for one blog post.

    I’m proud to say that I spent quite some time for the past couple of days to brainstorm content for the whole of 2016 (yes I already had CoSchedule’s content calendar templates printed out), and I had them written down on my personal online calendar. I have also started “doing” outlining for some of that content. Feels great. Of course I can be flexible – when I get an awesome guest post submission, or when something really hot happens in my niche. But for other days, I know I’m good.

    And, having things planned out well before gives me a great sense of relief – I don’t have to stare at the blank screen every time I have to publish a post. Also this helps me to plan my content strategically (taking into account holidays, seasons, etc.) instead of publishing filler stuff!

    Thanks once again for sharing this Julie :)

  10. Thank you very much for your post, I’m just starting a blog and no idea about what to do next, this help me a lot.

  11. Hi
    What an interesting blog! This is so chock full of useful information. Excellent blog. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Hello, Nicole!

    I read the best of the post today! :)

    I do need the content planner for me, to become serious with the blogging.

    And for blog post ideas, I mostly scan up the question/answer-related websites to find the ideas.

    These do work so well for me, the QA sites.

    And reading the answers do give a good shot of the content idea too.

    So, I am surely going to try it out for me!

    Thanks for that!

    ~ Adeel

  13. Patricia Adams says: 12/19/2016 at 6:47 pm

    Thanks for sharing such great ideas. They would definitely be helpful to a novice too. I want to redesign my blog content plan and wish to conduct survey to elicit exciting ideas and topics from my readers. I am looking out for a survey tool that would help me design surveys and is cost-effective. I have come across sogosurvey, survey monkey and survey gizmo. As I have never used online survey tools, I’m confused as to which tool would be effective. Can you help me out with this? It would be grateful.

  14. Now for the hard part – doing it.

  15. Nichole i have read your post earlier but this one is really helpful. Using google spread sheet for planning is a new idea for me. Thanks for bringing up all the points in a post. Connecting with readers is best idea to bring their ideas in your writing. i found this point really interesting and i will make a survey before writing for my readers. Thank you so much

  16. Nicole, this was a great list. It helped me to fill in a lot of blanks for the year. Thank you.

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