For many bloggers, a good day can be as simple as opening a blank page and cranking out a new post. At least we published something, they might think. But, for those of us doing serious content marketing, flying by the seat of our pants won’t cut it for long. We need a content plan.

We need a content marketing editorial calendar.

content marketing plan

A blogger, a blog, and a content plan.

Simple content planning, even for the individual blogger, is one of the easiest steps that anyone can take to improve the traffic on their blog. By making a content plan and deciding where we want our blog to go over the next week, two weeks, or even a month from now, we become very purposeful about the type of blog that we want, and the type of traffic that we need.

We also make our own lives much easier.

Why Do I Need A Content Plan?

It isn’t much different from planning a birthday party.

Which party will turn out better, the one that we threw together last minute, or the one that we spend an hour or two contemplating ahead of time? As the event organizer, which party will you enjoy more? Even a little planning can go a long way; it isn’t difficult, and there are many benefits.

Your Writing Will Improve

When we know the idea we’ll be writing about ahead of time, the writing becomes easier. Not only are we able to ruminate on the idea for a few weeks – constantly adding and editing it in process – but we are able to get started writing long before we would have if we still needed a topic. By pre-selecting topics, you can cut your writing time in half. This allows for more time spent on creating great content.

Your Team Will Have A Clue

Pre-planning puts your team on the same page. It is amazing how far a little conversation can actually go when everyone is able to provide input and make decisions together. This will give your content a united front, ready to tackle every traffic situation imaginable.

You Will Publish More

So, you’re human, and you’ve struggled with publishing your content regularly. Welcome to the club. The solution might be as simple as content pre-planning. By setting a schedule, we force ourselves to maintain a level of consistency that we aren’t otherwise required to have.

You Will Do Better Research

When you know what you need to write next, you will leave yourself more time to do the research that a great blog post requires. I always find this step easy to skip, so I’ve learned to be very purposeful in getting it done.

Your Content Will Be More Strategic

Content marketing has many variables. There are keyword and SEO considerations to be made. We need to keep our posts friendly and readable. There is also the post structure to consider, the audience, and of course, the social media scheduling. All of this requires much strategy, so leaving ourselves time to get these things done is vital to our success. If we don’t plan, we rush, and the content suffers.

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So, content planning is important. How do we implement it?

  1. Get an idea bank.  You need to have an idea system where you can categorize your post ideas and keep them handy. CoSchedule allows you to organize them as unscheduled drafts in a simple fly-out menu. Some bloggers us tools like Evernote to keep their ideas organized. The method is far less important than the practice, so find something that works for you.
  2. Put it on the calendar. It can be easy to rest on a set of ideas once you have them, but that won’t cut it. You need to put your ideas on the calendar or they’ll only stay an idea. You should know what you are going to write, and when you are going to write it, at least two weeks ahead of time. This simple step adds accountability to your workflow, and can be made easy with a drag-and-drop editorial calendar.
  3. Develop a content outline. Lots of people like to come up with systems for the scheduling their writing by category or topic. For example, on Mondays they post about category A, and category C on Thursdays. While it may seem simplistic, it is a good strategy that can be easy to work with.
  4. Hold yourself to it. A plan is only as good as your willingness to stick to it. This takes discipline, but it will certainly pay off in the long haul.

A Few Content Planning Tools

A good content plan usually requires a few tools, but they don’t have to be complicated.

There are a lot of free editorial calendar templates out there, if you are simply willing to look. A Google search with provide you with hundreds. If you don’t find anything to your liking, a simple Google Doc that you can share with your team should do the trick.

There are also more advanced solutions like CoSchedule (of course), an editorial calendar for WordPress, that may be better suited for your needs. In so many ways, though, the tool is far less important than the actual content planning habit. Focus on developing the habits first, then fulfill your needs with the right tools.

Content marketing isn’t hard. Anyone can do it. But, for those who choose to take the extra steps and invest in their content and their schedule, it will pay a greater dividend in traffic, attention, and your own satisfaction.