Business doesn’t happen by accident.
You know this. You have to make a plan for your business if you want to be successful — what you’re going to sell, who you’re going to sell it to, how you’re going to deliver it, etc.
Yet people approach business blogging without a plan all the time.
And then they’re surprised when their blogging doesn’t lead to more sales for their business.
**insert extremely skeptical emoji here**
I don’t want you to be one of those business owners — wasting tons of time (and therefore money) writing blog posts that do nada for your bottom line.
So let’s start the year off right with a solid business blogging plan that will lead to solid results, m’kay?
OK, so you’re supposed to have a plan for your business’ blog — a content marketing strategy if you wanna get fancy.
But what exactly is a business blogging plan? And is it worth having one for your business?
A business blogging plan doesn’t have to be something fancy; in its most basic form, it’s a calendar that tells you what you’re going to write about and when.
Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t think I want that! I like to blog when inspiration hits.” Or, “I just like to go with the flow.”
But let me ask you this: What do you do when inspiration doesn’t hit? And how do you know if your blog is really working for your business in the long run?
My guess is you don’t: you either don’t write when inspiration doesn’t hit, or you’re not sure what your overall blogging strategy is. And that’s where a blog editorial calendar comes in.
Want to know more about my blog planning strategy? Click here to learn more about my premium content marketing strategy program, Content Intelligence Academy.
One of the biggest objections people seem to have with planning their blog posts ahead of time is that it will interfere with their creativity. They claim they like to write when inspiration strikes.
And, in theory, that’s fine. Great, even!
If your creativity naturally provides you with awesome blog post ideas, on a regular schedule, and those post ideas are not only beneficial for your readers but also serve a purpose for your business — then I say AWESOME! You’re amazing. Get on with your bad self.
My muse doesn’t work that way.
My muse is a bit more fickle. I tend to come up with great ideas in bursts — and usually in the most awkward situations, like when I’m in the shower or working out, or stuck in traffic. In other words, not when I’m sitting down in front of a computer. And then I might have long dry spells when my muse goes on vacation, and I have exactly ZERO great ideas.
And sometimes, I have GREAT ideas and lots of things I want to talk about, but they don’t tick all the boxes for being useful to my business. (This is why I have no less than three personal blogs going at any given time. It’s a sickness, I know.)
That’s why I use planning ahead to actually support my creativity. When I plan ahead, I never have to worry about blogger’s block, or my muse being on vacation, or having tons of ideas that have nothing to do with my business.
Take, for example, Jacquette Timmons. Jacquette participated in the Content Intelligence Academy program in June 2015, and she approached me with an interesting problem.
Jacquette wanted to plan out her blog editorial calendar, but she also wanted to write about timely topics. For example, she might write her weekly post about a TV show that was popular or a story making the rounds in the news.
She was afraid that she couldn’t plan her blog posts ahead of time — because she had no way of knowing what would be making a splash in the cultural zeitgeist weeks or months ahead of time.
Instead of planning the specific topics she was going to write about, I suggested she instead use her calendar to plan out her sales cycles. That way, she would always know what her post was supposed to accomplish even if she didn’t know exactly what it would be about. She would still save time in the writing process, because she would be able to narrow down her focus to the points she wanted to make, regardless of the topic. And her blog would still serve a business purpose.
If you’re looking for more information about how to plan your blog editorial calendar from start to finish, I recommend you check out my comprehensive content strategy program, Content Intelligence Academy.
Of course, it all seems counterintuitive.
When I ask you to sit down intentionally and plan out your next three to six months of content ideas, you probably immediately think that it will take more time. You already spend hours each week creating content for your blog, and it’s tough enough to find that time. Why would you want to spend more time writing out a plan?
Brian Tracy, an international time management guru, says that spending every minute spent in planning saves 10 minutes in execution. So even 10–12 minutes planning can save you up to 120 minutes of work. WOAH! That’s a 10x return on your time investment.
Where else in your business can you see a ten fold return? And the only investment you have to make is your time.
I can also attest to the fact that you will see financial returns on your investment as well; my income numbers for this year bear that out.
That’s because having a strategic plan solves three of the biggest problems bloggers report, as shown in a survey by CoSchedule:
But you can solve all of those problems just by doing a little business blog planning ahead of time.
In my Ultimate Guide to blogging effectively for solopreneurs, I listed some of the big rocks you need to understand when blogging for business, like defining your blogging goals and your most valuable readers.
Once you’ve figured those out, the next step is to put them into an editorial calendar.
In addition, if you need help coming up with ideas for your business blog, here are some great resources:
I’ve also written a best-selling ebook on the subject of content marketing called, Make a Killing With Content: Turn content into profits with a strategy for blogging and content marketing.
In it, I lay out the reasoning behind my content strategy plan and I’ve included a bunch of free worksheets as well (and it’s EXTREMELY affordable on Amazon — I’m just saying).
And if you’re looking for a little more guidance, I have a whole course dedicated to brainstorming great blog post ideas and organizing them into an editorial calendar. Click here to learn more.
So, once you’ve decided that — yes — you need to put together a business blog plan, the question becomes: What will you use to keep track of your blog and plan and business and life?
Here’s a not-so-secret: I am ADDICTED to calendars and planners. And as a result, I’ve tried a bunch of different ones. Here are some of my favorites and what they’re best for, so that you can find the best one for you:
This is a brand new planner this year from powerhouse Natalie MacNeil of She Takes On the World, and it’s based around the power of planning out your year in 3-month “sprints” and then focusing on achieving your goals by breaking them down into manageable action steps.
The planner has some goal-setting pages at the front, and then again at the beginning of each 3-month period. Then, you get a two-page spread for each week — and the weeks are undated, meaning you don’t have to start January 1, but any time you want! (Now, perhaps??)
Each day includes space for your top 5 tasks, 3 things for which you are grateful, plus helpful checks for drinking your water, exercising, and practicing a daily habit of your choice.
In addition, the weekly spread includes space for your weekly intention, big-picture priorities, deliverables, receivables, a section for weekly reflection, and a place to jot down tasks to tackle next week.
I love the sprint planning and reflection pages, but if you need a detailed calendar because you have many appointments to keep track of, this planner may not be for you — or, you can use it in conjunction with a more traditional calendar like Google Calendar.
For Blog Planning: This is an excellent planner for keeping you on track with your quarterly content marketing goals. However, there’s not a lot of extra space for brainstorming or note taking. It’s more like a fantastic weekly to-do list to help keep you on target toward your goals.
Note: Natalie’s publisher sent me an advanced review copy of this planner, but I was not compensated for this review in any other way.
This is the planner I’m going to use this year — probably in conjunction with my Bullet Journal (see below). I chose the Daily Edition (shown left) but there is also a Weekly Edition if that’s how you like to roll.
Each month starts with a full, 2-page monthly calendar spread, followed by a monthly check-in page and blank page for notes. Then you get a full page for each weekday, with the weekend sharing a page.
Each daily page has room for a schedule, 3 priorities, a to-do list, a stop-doing list, a spot for a gratitude note, and a place to note things you want to change. There’s also space for a few lines of journaling at the top, and you could even get some additional notes in at the top as necessary.
It features cut-out tabs for months, and tear-off corners to help keep your place! Spiral-bound, it lies flat with nice quality paper, heavy cardboard cover, an elastic band, and a pocket in the back.
For Blog Planning: I’m choosing this planner for its many other features — but I know I will be able to use it for business and blog planning as well. The monthly and weekly check-ins will help keep me aligned with my bigger goals, and I can easily plan out launches and content strategy with the monthly and yearly overview pages. Combine that with lots of room for thoughts and notes and I’m excited for the first of January to start using this beauty!
Several years ago, I supported the Passion Planner Kickstarter and received the printable version as my reward. And I went on and printed a copy for myself and a couple of my friends for Christmas gifts and had them spiral bound.
This is much nicer than printing it yourself, with a soft cover, elastic band, and perfect-bound spine. The planner includes monthly planning and brainstorming pages, a 2-page monthly spread, and a detailed weekly spread.
If you have lots of appointments to keep track of, or like to use time blocking to get stuff done, this is the planner for you! I loved being able to block out time in the weekly spread just like I might do in the weekly view of my Google Calendar.
It also has prompts and spots for jotting notes about current projects and to-dos, and a blank space for doodling, brainstorming, jotting notes, or journaling.
For Blog Planning: The planning pages at the front of the planner help you visualize and choose your goals, which could be very helpful when you’re working out your overall content marketing strategy, and then the monthly and weekly planning prompts help remind you to stay on track with your overall goals. It would also be easy to include blogging tasks in the to-do lists and schedule content and activities in the calendar. This is probably the most traditional planner of the bunch.
For the past year or so, I’ve been exclusively using a Bullet Journal for everything in my life. I love the flexibility and ability to customize everything.
If you’re not familiar with Bullet Journaling, it basically is a system for turning a blank journal into your ultimate planner. There’s a video on the Bullet Journal website that shows the basics — but there are infinite ways to customize the idea to your needs. Inspiration and creativity are your only limit!
If you search Bullet Journal on Pinterest, you’ll find a zillion photos from people who are much better at art and have better handwriting than I do — as well as people with an unhealthy addiction to washi tape — but I don’t decorate my pages much. My Bullet Journal is much more utilitarian: lists of all sorts, daily to-dos, events I want to remember, notes from courses, webinars, and conferences, ideas, brainstorming, and much more.
I intend to keep a business and blogging Bullet Journal this year in addition to using the Desire Map planner; anything that doesn’t fit in the Desire Map planner (brainstorming, idea logs, notes from conferences, etc.) will end up in the Bullet Journal.
If you want some more detailed ideas and inspiration (not to mention beautiful handwriting to drool over) check out this post on Bullet Journaling for blogging from Tiny Ray of Sunshine.
The image above shows one of my layouts for a two-week sprint. I plan to do similar layouts in my Business BuJo (that’s short for Bullet Journal) in 2017.
For Blog Planning: Because of its flexibility, a Bullet Journal is going to be your most flexible, most robust planning tool. But it’s not for everyone. If you have trouble using a planner or calendar in the first place, probably a BuJo will seem like too much work, or you may find that you like being prompted more, as with the other printed planners. But if you love being creative, would love to have ONE PLACE to write down everything in your head, and have one single planner for everything from your content marketing strategy to your grocery list, Bullet Journaling is for you.
You can easily see your blog calendar from one place — inside WordPress, so there’s no need to switch around from website to website. It helps you track, measure, and repromote your best content, syncs with all your social media channels, and even has a new requeue feature that allows you to create a bank of past social messages that republish automatically.
I use this as our main social media scheduling tool and I ADORE it. It’s especially great if you’re working with a team to help create and promote your content.
Maybe this all sounds great, but you know you, and you’re not likely to implement any of this on your own.
That’s OK — I’ve got your back.
I’ve put together my entire business blog planning system, from understanding your audience, to brainstorming topics, all the way to scheduling those posts to support your sales cycles in my Content Intelligence Academy program.
Unlike most courses about blogging, Content Intelligence Academy is focused on strategy, which means my goal is that you come away not only knowing WHAT to write about, but also WHY you’re writing that particular post at that particular time and HOW it’s going to lead directly to your next sale.
Because if you’re just blogging, without a bigger plan and strategy around it, I hate to burst your bubble, but that’s not content marketing.
And just blogging like that, without a plan, is pretty much a waste of time.
So if you’re pouring your heart and soul into your content every week, or creating epic resources that never seem to get any traction, Content Intelligence Academy will show you how to translate that content into traction for your business.
Ready to stop blogging into the wind and start making some actual progress with your business blogging plan? Then click the link below to learn more about Content Intelligence Academy today.