When you’re shopping for a house, one of the things you look for is a solid foundation. Because if the foundation is suspect, the whole house could tumble down. It might not be immediate, but it will happen eventually.
Just like houses, successful blogs must have a solid foundation. So how can you build one that’s sturdy enough to withstand time? It’s quite simple: create a publication calendar and stick to it.
Why you should create a publication calendar
I know, I know — you don’t have time to sit down and map out your posts. You barely have enough time to write your posts and publish them, much less plan them out. I hear you, but I guarantee that your blog isn’t living up to its potential if you’re posting about whatever you want whenever you can. This approach lacks consistency and strategy.
Isn’t the whole point of maintaining a blog to achieve an end result? Maybe your goal is to drive more traffic to your site, maybe it’s to establish yourself as an authority on a certain topic. Whatever it is, how can you reach that goal with a nonexistent strategy? Having a schedule is part helps you achieve your desired end result.
Calendar Benefit #1: Less stress
Calendar Benefit #2: Greater chance of achieving your goal
Scheduling the topics you will cover and the types of posts you will have in advance gives you a greater chance of achieving your goal. Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you own a pool company that is expanding its services by adding pool repair to its repertoire. The goal of your company’s blog in the short term is to establish your company as a pool repair leader to earn trust of current and potential customers.
Now you could launch the service and only describe the new benefits customers will receive the day you decide it’s available (i.e. go calendarless).
Or you can use a publication calendar to map out a strategy in under 30 minutes that will be exponentially more effective.
How to create a publication calendar that delivers
If you choose to go down the calendar route like our pool company decided to do, first brainstorm topics you’ll want to cover that will establish you as an authority on pool repair. Some examples include: proper pool maintenance, steps homeowners can take to prevent malfunctions, simple tips you’ve learned while preparing to offer this service, etc.
Now that you have a few topics in mind, think about timing and frequency. Before you launch the new service, tease your audience and tell them that you have exciting news coming up. When you launch the service, I recommend that at least half of your posts should be related to pool repair in order to establish your company as an authority on the subject.
Once you’ve established yourself as a pool repair specialist for a few months, then you can scale back on the frequency of pool repair posts…unless that’s what your audience is most interested in reading about.
After you’ve developed a rhythm that you feel comfortable with, you need to analyze your data and respond appropriately. You have all this data from Google Analytics – which is great – but it does you no good unless you use it to your advantage. Maybe you get most of your readers on Thursday, maybe you get a lot of hits on a certain topic. Whatever the case, continue to do the things that bring you traffic, but also try new things and re-analyze site data.
I’ve created a list below of things you should think about when you’re planning your calendar. The more details you can add to your calendar, the better. At the very least, schedule the topics you will cover and target strategic dates.
Things you must consider when creating a publication schedule
- Article topic. You’ll want to change up your topic and not focus on one thing for 3 weeks in a row – people will think you don’t know anything about other topics!
- Frequency of post. Once you commit to a frequency, you need to maintain it. This is one of the hardest things to do, especially if you stop tending to your calendar. (Guilty as charged here – I was doing well on this blog for a couple of months and then stopped. This post serves as a reminder for you as much as it does for me.)
- Where you want your business headed. If you’re an IT company wanting to push your computer repair services, schedule more posts about repair services: how people can protect their electronics, how to minimize damage once they damage them, warning signs, etc.
- Topics that resonate with your audience. Pay attention to your analytics. Which topics drive the most traffic to your site? Look at comments if you them — which articles got the most reaction? You’ve got all this glorious data at your fingertips, but it does no good if you don’t periodically (I’m talking at least once every 2 weeks) review it for trends, spikes, etc.
- Types of articles. Did your Top 10 list get the most pageviews last month or was it a commentary piece you did on a current event? This goes along with varying the topics. You don’t want the same thing over and over again.
Treat your calendar with some TLC and it will reward you by giving your blog the foundation it needs to succeed. You have to do many other things to create a successful blog, but you’re on the right road if you’re planning.