Planning out your content for the coming year has a number of advantages to just writing by the seat of your pants. While there is something to be said for being spontaneous with your writing, having a plan ensures that you won’t run out of ideas or go months without posting fresh content.
Why plan ahead?
Advantages to planning out your content include:
Writers block is eliminated
Ideas are more solid and fleshed out
Topics will vary, covering more categories
Yes, there is still a place to write about a trending topic or something you come across that you know your readers will love. Having a plan in place doesn't negate your spontaneity, it just adds to it and keeps you focused.
Choose Categories and Balance Them
Before you come up with a year's worth of blog topics, you'll want to take a close look at the categories on your site. Do they all make sense? Should any be tossed out, combined or expanded? What categories could be added?
You are not tied to these categories. As the year progresses, you can add them, remove them, or modify them.
Once you have all the categories in place you think you'd like, count them up. Just as an example, let's say you have 10 categories.
Now, decide how often you want to add new content. Let's say once a week for the purposes of this article. You may want to post every day or every other day, depending on your schedule.
So, if you have 10 categories and you have 52 weeks in the year, you should probably plan out 5 topics for each category. That will cover 50 weeks and give you two weeks for flexibility. During those two weeks, you can plan seasonal content or look to trending topics from Google, Twitter and other online sources.
Here is one example:
Content Plan for Writers' Blog
Category: Learn to Write
Article: Coming up with an Idea
Article: Writing a Rough Draft
Article: Creating Characters
Article: Great Dialogue
Article: Passive vs. Active
Category: Promoting Your Books
Article: Social Media Promotions for Your Books
Article: How to Have a Successful Booksigning
Article: Selling More Books on Amazon
Article: The Power of a Good Review
Article: Setting Up an Online Blog Tour
Do you see how the example above simply goes through each category and lists some ideas for articles? At this point, the titles don't have to be perfect or the idea fully fleshed out. You're just making a basic plan for the year.
Where to Find Ideas
Even if you are basing your content planning on categories, you may still be unsure where to come up with ideas for articles. After all, you likely already have content on you site. Here are just a few places to find ideas for your content planning for 2015:
What questions are customers asking over and over? How can you turn this into an article idea?
Plan around major holidays and seasons. For example, if you own a business blog for CEOs, you could plan an article about whether or not to give employees a present or bonus during the holidays.
Take a look at social media trends. What are people chatting about?
Stay up-to-date on changes in the industry. Read studies, news and white papers.
Are there any conferences that you can cover throughout the year?
Who can you interview and write an article about it?
Are you releasing anything new? New process? New product? New head of the company?
How can you educate your reader about your products or services?
Once you have a list of ideas, you'll want to make sure at least a large portion of them are evergreen in nature. Instead of writing an article about golf clubs to buy in 2015, write an article about how to choose the best golf club for a specific playing style.
One of the hardest things bloggers face is finding the extra time to write the ideas they come up with. For most writers, coming up with a number of different ideas isn’t all that difficult. Even if you run into the occasional block, there are so many ways to work through it.
However, extra time is a commodity that is hard to come by. Once you’ve planned out those article topics for the year, you’ll want to commit to writing those articles and getting them scheduled.
Set aside time to write each and every week. If you've chosen to write one article a week, then finding an hour or two to research and write that topic should be fairly straightforward.
If you find that you can't spare the time to write, hire a content specialist to create the articles for you. You can hire someone to ghostwrite them and publish the articles under your own name or you can give the person a byline. Giving a person a byline can be useful in bringing new traffic to your site as that person shares their articles and you reach even more readers.
Enlist the Help of Printables and Software
Want to get even more organized with your blog planning efforts? There are some excellent tools online (both free and paid) that you might find valuable as you plan your blog topics for the coming year.
Say Not Sweet Anne: Although this blog planner was from 2013, many of the sheets are still valuable to use today and are 100% free for download. Major holidays are highlighted. You'll find weekly to-do lists and a place to track weekly blog posts and social media posts.
Ciera Design: This site offers some planning sheets that will help you as you come up with ideas for topics to write about.
Flexibility Is Still Important
When it comes to planning out topics for your blog, flexibility is vital. If you have a plan to cover the latest invention in prosthetic and news breaks about something new, be prepared to shift your topic. Planning combined with flexibility will keep your blog timely and interesting.
About Lori Soard
Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor's in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she's had several books published. Since 1997, she has worked as a web designer and promoter for authors and small businesses. She even worked for a short time ranking websites for a popular search engine and studying in-depth SEO tactics for a number of clients. She enjoys hearing from her readers.