I never went to journalism school. I never really wanted to be a journalist, I just liked writing and telling stories. Lucky for me, a series of serendipitous circumstances led me to a pretty illustrious career as an award-winning journalist and, more importantly, led me to a pretty amazing editor. I knew how to write; she taught me how to be a journalist.
One of the basic lessons she taught me was to always ask the five Ws: who, what, when, where, why, and how. That’s like Journalism 101 for covering a story. (In fact, you probably learned that writing reports back in grade school.)
But it’s also Blog Editorial Calendar 101. You have to be able to answer the five Ws for your blog and all the posts you plan to write if you want your blog to be an effective marketing and selling tool for your business.
Wait, why do I need a blog editorial calendar again?
Let’s step back for a second.Lots of people think a blog editorial calendar is all about knowing what you’re going to write about, to avoid the dreaded blogger’s block. But the what is only one fifth of the things you should be thinking about when you’re putting together your blog’s editorial calendar.
If your blog is the nexus of your social media strategy, then you need to have a great plan for what you’re going to blog about so that you can translate that into a great plan for marketing your business and selling your stuff. If you want to use your blog to help turn your readers into raving fans and customers, you’ve got to have a PLAN for how you’re going to achieve that.
And if you want to sell stuff using your blog, you’ve got to make sure your blog is working for you 24/7, no matter what you’re writing about; that means choosing what you write about carefully, not just blogging about your lunch. ⬅That’s the difference between a business blogger and just a blogger. Get it?
Think Like a Journalist: Use the 5 Ws to Build Your Blog Editorial Calendar
So, to have a good solid plan—also known here as an editorial calendar—you’ve got to think like a journalist and address those five Ws. (If you’re a little type-A like I am, you can create a spreadsheet that has a column for each of these questions.)
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- Who are you writing for?
Who is your ideal reader? (Here’s a hint: your ideal reader is the one who converts into a customer!) If you only have one ideal reader profile, you probably don’t need a column for this, but if you have more than one, be sure you know which reader each post will appeal to.
- What are you going to write about?
This is where you answer that age-old question that plagues writers everywhere. But if you’ve got a bigger overall plan, it shouldn’t be too hard to answer.
- When are you going to write each post?
In the most basic sense, this is the calendar part of the editorial calendar. But it also refers to that bigger plan that takes into account your sales cycles, your product launches, discounts and coupons, guest blogs, and the like. Start with the stuff that’s already written in your calendar (a product launch, for example, or a holiday you want to promote for) and work backwards.
- Where are you going to promote it?
Derek Halpern over at Social Triggers says that writing the blog post is only 20 percent of the work, and promoting it is the other 80 percent. If you’re not thinking about where you’re going to promote your work, you’re wasting a lot of your effort.
- Why are you writing this post?
You shouldn’t write anything unless you can answer this question, because the answer tells you where each post fits into your overall blog strategy.
- How are you going to write it?
In essence, these are the nuts and bolts of your blog post. Will you use images, video, audio, or any other media to help you get your point across? Do you need to do any research before you write it? Do you need to schedule the time to write it in your daily calendar? Whatever needs to happen to get this thing written, put it in this column.
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