I recently wrote a post about why you need a content calendar for your blog. If you read that post, you know that the content calendar is the heart and soul of your blog and the tool that keeps the whole thing running. If you’ve ever sat down in front of your computer just before a new post should be going up and can’t think of anything to write, you know why a content calendar is important! It allows you to plan ahead and stay organized. It also helps to ensure you don’t hit writer’s block and blogger burnout.
Just making the decision to commit to a content calendar is a big step, but the next big step is actually putting it together. It can seem daunting, but just a few simple tips will make it infinitely easier for you.
Determine Your Publishing Schedule
I always think it’s a good idea to have a publishing schedule for your blog. Not only does it make it easier to put together your content calendar, knowing when you need to have a post scheduled for, but it also holds you accountable to your readers and gives them an indication what days they should check back for new posts. If you tell your readers you post every day, but they check back four days in a row to no new post, they’ll likely be disappointed and might not check back again.
Be realistic about what you can manage. If you know you won’t be able to write five posts per week, don’t make that your goal. You’ll get burned out quickly. When I first started this blog, I published daily Monday-Friday. It worked at the time because my posts weren’t as extensive and I had more free time. In the last 4-6 months, I’ve had to admit to myself that I’m spending more time on each post, and simply don’t have as much time for writing anymore. Soon I lowered it to four posts per week, then three posts, and now I post twice per week.
Determine Your Platform
It’s time to decide what you want to use to create your content calendar. Maybe you do everything on your smartphone and can’t imagine carrying around another tool to use for your content calendar. No problem! Google Calendar is a great tool to use for your content calendar and can be accessed on any computer, phone, or tablet. It will be easy to see the month at a glance and move posts around if need be. There are also WordPress plugins available that can act as a content calendar for your blog.
If you’re like me and prefer to write your content calendar by hand, consider buying a planner for yourself. I hear many people wracking their brain about what the “best” blog planner is, and spending upwards for $40-$50 on their planner, but there are super affordable options available at literally any store for under $10.
Keep a Running List of Ideas
The easiest way to quickly plug post ideas into your content calendar is to keep a running list of blog post ideas. I do this on Google Drive, but you can also do so in a notebook. Schedule yourself a weekly or monthly brainstorm session to keep the list topped off, and break the ideas down by category. If you’re struggling to brainstorm post ideas, you’ll want to read my post about how to come up with blog post ideas.
Color Code Your Calendar
One important thing to do when you’re creating your content calendar (and something that will actually make it easier to fill your calendar) is to break down your blogging categories and evenly disperse your post dates among those categories. To do this, you’ll definitely have to have a firm grasp of what your categories are. I can easily break down most of my posts into 4 main categories: 1. blogging; 2. productivity; 3. personal development; and 4. lifestyle.
So if I post twice per week, averaging about 8 posts per month, then I can pretty quickly decipher that I’ll post in each category twice. Suddenly coming up with those two posts per category doesn’t seem like such a daunting task! For me, an easy way to visualize when each of these posts will happen is by color-coding the calendar, and each category gets a color! For this, I have loved using Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils, which I picked up at Michaels.
Make sure to check out Michaels coupons for additional savings, in newspapers and online! That way you can pick up a set of Prismacolor Premier pencils for yourself!
This has been a huge stress-reliever for me! Not only does it allow my stay organized (which is always a stress reliever), but it allows me to get my coloring fix, which can be surprisingly relaxing. Being able to use my content calendar as a doodle board has been an added bonus to using the Prismacolor Premier pencils.