In the last couple of weeks, we’ve looked at the 5 Ws of your blog editorial calendar—because it’s not enough to know what you’re going to write about, you’ve got to know who, when, where, why, and how as well.
But this is the WHAT post, when we finally talk about…
What the flying zucchini am I going to blog about?!?
I’m not talking about the overall topic of your blog. (If you need help with that one, that’s a whole other post!) I’m talking about the day to day, week in and week out, “What am I going to write about?” blues that hit all of us once in a while.
And do you know why these blues come knocking?
Because you don’t have a plan, my lovelies. But we are going to fix that.
Your Blog is a Sales Letter
If you’re blogging for your business, you’re a copywriter.
Does that scare you?
Somehow, just being a “blogger” seems a lot less scary to a lot of people than calling themselves a “copywriter,” but if you’re blogging with the intention of selling something… I hate to tell you, but you’re a copywriter!
The cool thing about copywriting is that it’s all been done before. Don Draper relied on most of the same tools, techniques, and formulas that modern copywriters do. The difference is that modern copywriters have figured out how to turn these formulas on their head to make them work for blogs and other new media.
A great blog is really just a classic long-form sales letter turned sideways and dripped out over time. If you want to create a blog that sells, you have to provide valuable content over time that serves a sales function ⬅ and that’s the piece that most people forget.
If you’re blogging for your business, you’re nuts to just write whatever comes to mind and cross your fingers that somebody will decide to buy from you. You have to have a plan.
And in the blogging world, that plan is your blog’s editorial calendar.
The AIDA Copywriting Formula for Blog Editorial Calendars
One of the classic copywriting formulas is the AIDA formula. AIDA isn’t just a fabulous opera; it stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action, and you can use it to categorize your posts and plan your blog’s editorial calendar.
In the attention phase, you’re working to bring in the audience. This is the content that has the possibility of going viral. It might be a special report or white paper that you offer, your cornerstone content that shows your expertise, or even traditional “link bait” posts (done well) that get other people to link to you.
Attention is the easy part; maintaining your reader’s interest is harder. These are the posts that let people know that you have something to say. Here, you focus on your readers’ problems so that they want to do something about it.
You can’t manufacture desire, but you can harness and increase the desire people already have for your product. These posts should come right before a product launch or sales push and eliminate objections, make people trust you with hard evidence, and help them imagine what life would be like with your product or service.
And finally, the action stage is mainly contained on your landing pages, but it could also be a blog post (or email) that launches a product. It should remind your readers of all the steps you took leading up. And it has to be the right offer at the right value.
66 Blog Post Ideas: How to Translate AIDA to Your Blog Editorial Calendar
In a long-form sales letter, all of these steps would happen in a single piece of content, but in a content marketing strategy (which is what you’re doing, by the way—you copywriter, you!), you want to drip the first three steps out over time, priming your readers to become customers when they reach the action step.
How do you do that? Start with the end in mind: Plan when your “action” posts will go live, and work backwards, making sure you include some from each of the other steps along the way.
I created this list as an inspirational starting point. You don’t HAVE to write any post on this list, and there are probably ideas that I missed, but this list shows a lot of common post types and where they fit on the AIDA spectrum. *Take note that some posts can fit into multiple categories, and I’ve just slotted them into the one I think works best.
- white papers/special reports
- connection content — makes a connection between you and another post/blog
- different angle/different audience — try to interest someone else’s audience with what you have to say
- interview frenemies (or profile bigwigs)
- link round-ups
- reviews of other products/services
- blog carnivals/linkups
- Influential people round-up post
- Over-the-top Generous Free-Resource Post
- (Almost) Too Good to Be True results post
- soul-baring personal post
- the Ultimate Guide post
- create controversy
- answer a question no one else in your industry is answering
- “What other people are saying about X”
- What if X? (try to find something outrageous to draw attention, like what if the Internet had never been invented)
- parody post
- cheat sheets and quick reference guides
- moderate a debate between two experts
- share your data (traffic stats, expenses, income, whatever)
- have contests, drawings, etc.
- give away freebies (logos, icons, printables, checklists etc.)
- share a presentation you gave (SlideShare, audio recording, etc.)
- “where I’ve been” or “where I’m going to be” post of your speaking/blogging/whatever schedule
- live-blog a conference or event
- give kudos — X people doing it right, brands I love, etc.
- create an arch enemy for your industry
- opinion / editorials
- timely posts: memes, holidays, current events, pop culture
- sharable images
- your autobiography
- EPIC posts—this one really straddles attention and interest if you do it right
- raise your customer’s problem
- agitate the problem—what happens when it doesn’t get addressed?
- talk generally about the kinds of strategies people use to solve lower level problems
- convince people they have a problem
- “news at 11” posts
- new research (and how it supports your product)
- do hypothetical client work “how I would do SEO for J-Lo” or whatever (also attention)
- the problem is worse than you think
- tutorials/how-to articles
- before and after post
- ask me—solicit questions from readers and answer them
- start a debate or discussion post
- show examples of what not to do
- ROI reports based on actual customers
- community oriented posts: customer stories, ideas, feedback, lifestyles
- case studies
- personal discovery story: how you discovered/learned a lesson
- success story — how you or someone else succeeded
- failure story — how you or someone else failed (and learned from it)
- eliminate objections in this phase
- X mistakes [your ideal customer] makes
- show the benefits of YOUR approach
- features — how your solution is different
- comparison post — compare how two solutions work (yours and someone else’s) and how they’re different (yours is better, right??)
- let them know that a more powerful tool exists than what they already know about
- illustrate what life would be like with your product
- watch for questions in emails or comments that indicate they might be willing to buy—and answer those questions in a post
- “What if you had the perfect solution to your problem?” post
- FAQ post
- SAQ (should-ask questions) post
- product demos (videos, photos, case studies, etc.)
- landing page
- post that reminds people of all the steps leading up
- clear CTA post
- event (like a webinar, conference call, etc.)