How a content calendar will increase your productivity
I’m a huge advocate of preparing your content ahead of time. It’s been a game-changer when it comes to blogging.
You see, it’s easy to have thoughts about giving up in the first six months.
When you’ve given it your all and only have a meagre trickle of traffic.
I’ve been there, and it’s depressing as hell.
Why bother thinking up ideas for blog posts when no one’s going to read them?
How does a content calendar help?
It removes the ‘what should I focus my time on?’ element.
In the first few months of blogging, you need to be getting articles up on your site. There’s no point spending hours on Facebook and Pinterest to get people to your site if there are only a few posts to look at when they get there.
I’ve been there. Spending hours commenting on other blog posts hoping that they’ll reciprocate, finding every possible way to syndicate content, learning to use Tailwind only for the algorithm to change, and a thousand other get traffic quick schemes.
Even if they do work, they’re not sustainable, and it’s unlikely that they’ll be your favourite way to spend your time.
(If you do enjoy blog commenting etc. that’s great, but I advise doing it in your free time)
A content calendar focuses your time.
It’s like YNAB for your day.
You need to get up 10 posts a month, first. If you have plenty of time left over, cool, but those 10 posts are your goal for the month.
But plan more than a month’s worth of content when you first get your site.
I would advise planning a year’s worth of content when you first start
Yup, a whole year.
I know it’s a lot, but it’ll make blogging So. Much. Easier.
You’ll have a lot on your plate in those first few months of blogging, so give yourself a break by doing all your keyword research and writing down 120 ideas that could become blog posts right at the start.
They don’t need to be more than an idea.
I tend to write more concrete article plans a month in advance, but I still keep things flexible.
Don’t let your content calendar hold you back
If something big happens in your niche then you want to cover it when it’s still relevant.
Say, you blog about space and aliens show up one day.
You don’t want to ignore that massive event because your content calendar is saying that today’s blog is about Saturn’s rings. Your readers will be like, ‘who gives a shit, dude? WHAT ABOUT THE ALIENS???’
The calendar is a tool to help increase your productivity, not a rigid itinerary you must adhere to.
If you find you have an extra ten articles to write because of something big that happened in the news, then good for you — you’ve added an extra month to your content calendar.
A content calendar helps prevent writer’s block
If you already know what you’re going to write about, it’s that bit easier to actually sit down and write.
If you plant out a year, or at least several months worth of content, then you’ll be able to gain enough momentum to create a habit.
Remember when some guy said that it takes 18 days to make a habit stick?
Some habits take days to form, others take years.
If writing is something that you struggle to find the time for, planning your content in advance is a lifesaver.
Say you only have ten minutes a day to write. Those ten minutes can be used to their full potential if you already know what you have to say.
Where should you write your content calendar?
I keep my content calendar ina few places. It’s not a perfect system, but it does what I need it to.
If you’re a planning pro, and you have a digital or analogue preference, good for you. Put your content calendar in your preferred planner and you’re good to go.
I haven’t perfected my planning skills yet. I like to handwrite my planner, but it’s a big book and I can’t really carry it with me in my bag. If I have an idea when I’m at work or otherwise away from home, I keep all my notes in Google Keep.
I LOVE Google Keep. It’s free, it syncs up with Google Calendar and Google Docs, and you can save stuff like brief notes, pictures, and links to articles.
A master list of all the ideas I have for my three blogs is kept in a notebook.
Random thoughts that aren’t quite a whole article’s worth are in Google Keep.
When I go to plan my next week or month, I consult Google Keep and my notebook and write the name on each article on the day I’m going to write it.
If something crops up, I make sure to move the article that was meant to be written to another day.
(If you haven’t tried the Frixxion pens, get some. They’re erasable, so are great for when you’re writing in your planner.)
It’s not a particularly elegant system, but it works.
I used to use a bullet journal, but it was too much hassle drawing up the calendars, so now I just use a pre-printed planner.
I’m a naturally lazy person, so if I want to get something done, I need to create the path of least resistance.
When I’m a really organised person (I’m thinking next year, but who knows?), I really want a calendar on the wall, perhaps on a whiteboard so I can erase stuff, so I can see all the posts I’m going to write in the year.
I don’t know if that’ll actually be useful, or if I just like the idea of making my office look more…officey.
If you haven’t got a content calendar and you struggle to add content to your blog, sort one out now.
Put a day aside to put everything in place to make 2020 your most productive year yet.