The Mix Formula for Blog Editorial Calendars

plannerOver the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at the 5 Ws of creating a blog editorial calendar that works as hard as you do.  First, we looked at the WHO—talking to your ideal reader; and then we went into the WHAT with 66 ideas to get you writing.

This week, we’re going to look at the WHEN or, more specifically, how to figure out when to post what.

You gotta know when to hold ’em…

How do you know when to employ attention-getting posts and when to go in for the sell?  How often should you try to write a “timely” post as opposed to a timeless one? When should you write something personal on your business blog?

There are no hard and fast rules here, but I find that a lot of my clients would like some guidance—somewhere to start when they’re thinking about their editorial calendar.

First and foremost, you’ve got to figure out how often you want to post.

Used to be that every blog expert and his dog said you had to post DAILY—and sometimes multiple times a day—if you wanted to be big.

But nowadays, we know that’s just not true.  First, unless content is your business—like Lifehacker or Gawker or Organic Authority or even Copyblogger—there’s no reason to try to post every day. Those businesses are largely based on the number of eyeballs they get on any one day (through ad revenue and the like). If you have a different business model, you may only need to post once a week.

Or less…

I know. It may sound like heresy, but research has shown it’s not how often you post, but how consistently that matters.

In other words, pick a schedule you can stick to.  Then stick to it.

Use the Mix Formula to Figure it Out

So, let’s say you’ve decided to post once a week.  Multiply that frequency by the number of months you want to plan in advance (I suggest 6).  For example:

Posting once a week for six months = 24

Posting twice a week for six months = 48

Posting once a month for six months = 6

Now, divide your number in half.  That’s the number of posts you’re going to plan today.

Why? Here’s the deal. When I was first doing meal planning for my family, I would plan seven dinners at the beginning of every week and inevitably there would be at least one night (usually more) that I didn’t want to cook or eat what was on the plan.  I would end up with wasted food in my fridge and wasted money that I paid for it.

The same goes for blog posts. If you plan out every single post for the entire year, chances are you’re going to get to one of those posts (or more than one!) and not want to write about it. OR, more likely, something will come up in your life or business that needs to be written about right away, and you won’t want to write your planned post.

So my advice? Only plan out about half of your posts and leave the other half up for inspiration.

Check out this little chart:

Now, I can’t take 100 percent credit for this; this formula is based on one I learned from Copyblogger’s Authority training library—which means it’s solid. (That’s an affiliate link, but I HIGHLY recommend their program if you’re interested in becoming a better marketer!)

I’ve just parsed their formula out and run some numbers for you.  So you can see that it’s broken down between six post types: valuable tips, which will be the majority of your blog posts; EPIC high value content; pure entertainment posts; posts that build relationships between you and other bloggers; selling posts; and timely posts.

Most of these posts are going to be timeless: people can find them on your blog at any time and they will still be relevant.  A small number will be more timely, those ripped from the headlines posts I’ve talked about before. I suggest planning out most of the Tips and leaving some of the entertainment posts, timely posts, and relationship posts to be the ones you use when you planned Brussels sprouts for dinner, but really want pizza, if you catch my drift.  😉

Putting it all together.

So here’s what you’re going to do:

  1. Start with the number of posts you’re going to plan.
  2. Figure out the mix—again, it’s just a place to start from. You can tweak it as you go.
  3. Brainstorm your topics, keeping in mind their purpose in your overall strategy. (See the WHAT post for more details.)
  4. Assign dates. I usually like to work backwards from a product launch, a sale I’m going to run, or even an epic piece of content (drumming up attention before and after).
  5. Leave space for those timely articles when something unexpected comes up.

Interested in getting a personal consult on how to put all this together for your business? Check out my Traffic Bump Package here.

Got questions? Ask away in the comments!  I’ll be here all night… 😉

Photo Credit: stirwise via Compfight cc

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