For a long time I was flying by the seat of my pants when it came to content. Each week I’d sit down to write a new post… but first have to think of what to write about.
Truth be told, there were more than a few weeks when thinking of what to write about took longer than actually writing the post.
This method of creating content was fine at first when I was not only figuring out what my audience wanted week-to-week, but also when I was only monetizing my blog through ads. I didn’t need strategy because… well, I didn’t have anything to strategize about!
If I were starting my blog today, however (more on that in a future post), and I had Teacher Blog Academy to guide me (shameless plug), I would have a game plan from the start. That means I could monetize more effectively, and I’d definitely want more of a plan.
So here it is! Here’s how I plan out 12 weeks of blog posts.
Gather Your Data
If you’re just coming off your end of year blog cleanup, this will already be on hand. If not, head over to Google Analytics and grab a notebook.
You’re going to want to make note of your most popular posts in the last 3 months and up to a year. I suggest you run queries on both so you can see both short- and long-term trends in what your audience is engaging with.
This is important because your most popular posts in November and December might be very different from what’s popular the rest of the year, especially if you write seasonal content.
This is not a heavy duty deep dive into analytics. You simply want to get an understanding of what existing content of yours is connecting with your audience.
What were your most popular posts about?
How long were they?
Did they have anything in common?
Use this information to help you plan more of what your audience wants.
What’s on the Calendar?
Take a look at what’s going on for the next 90 days that you may impact what you write about. This may include holidays or upcoming launches.
Holidays. If your blog includes seasonal content, you want to make a note of anything that you want to include on your site. And you don’t have to be limited to things that are on the calendar the bank gives you every year. You can create content around specialized “holidays” that are relevant to your niche, but not widely celebrated, like National Make a Friend Day (Feb 11). You can find all the national day/ week/ month celebrations on the National Day Calendar website.
You can even use your blog to celebrate holidays that are only important to you or your community. Things like your business anniversary or even your birthday can inspire content!
Launches. If you are launching or opening a program in this time period (or soon after) you’re going to want to plan content that centers around it. Amy Porterfield actually creates 3 months of content that all create interest in her program before it launches. She uses this time to give previews of what’s in her course, highlight successful students, and address objections that potential students might have. But you don’t have to use your entire 90 days to focus on your launch – in fact, unless you have a ton of students to feature and years of launches behind you, I’d recommend starting with 4 weeks.
Even if you don’t have your own course, product, or service to sell during this period, you can build content around an affiliate launch. If there’s a business you support and are an affiliate for, you can create content to promote their launch to your community.
No major launches going on? Determine which of your affiliate programs resonate best with your audience, and which ones pay really well, and create your own promo campaign.
Consider Your Earning Goals
During this 90-Day period, how are you going to make money? Of the various streams of income a blogger can utilize, which are you going to focus on for the next 3 months?
If you have a launch you’re creating content for, you may want to pare back on other streams so as not to overwhelm your audience. For example, while ads are always fine (and too much of a pain to continually take down and put up), you probably want to forgo sponsored posts while actively promoting either your own or an affiliate’s program, product, or service.
No matter what your next 90 days look like, it’s essential to think about how you’re going to monetize your blog. If you don’t plan to make money, it’s a lot less likely that you’re going to make money.
Go Back to Basics
While it’s essential to look at the calendar and plan out your promos when creating a content plan, you also have to stick to the core of what your site is about or people will get confused, and as Donald Miller says, “When you confuse, you lose.”
Content Pillars. The primary topics that your blog addresses, your content pillars keep you focused on your niche and who you serve. Especially when creating promotional content, it can be really easy to lose sight of the big picture. Make sure to have your pillars on hand and visible when planning for the next 3 months.
Content Purpose. Not every blog post is written with the same goal in mind, and you want to make sure that you have a plan to address all 3 primary purposes of blog content. You want to strike a balance between building authority, strengthening relationships, and actively selling. This is another reason a 90-day content plan is so helpful – you can take a longer view of what you’re publishing and make sure you’re not putting too much time into one thing at the expense of the others.
Make Your Content Plan
Now it’s time to actually come up with the posts you’re going to share over the next 90-day period. Remember that 3 months is approximately 12-13 blog posts, so you don’t need a massive list. If you’ve taken my 5-Day Content Challenge, you may already have a list of ideas to start with. If not, no worries, just put on your thinking cap.
Brainstorm. Starting with any launches you are going to be promoting, then holidays or special occasions, then self-run affiliate promos, and finally general content, come up with a list of potential post topics.
If you have more than you need, take the 12-13 best ideas and put the rest on a “maybe later” list.
Match Game. For each post topic, match it to the content pillar with which it fits, and then the purpose it fulfills. Look for any gaps, like any content pillars you don’t have many (or any) posts for. Then review the overall balance of the proposed topics. Is it too heavily weighted towards one pillar or purpose at the expense of the others?
Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be an equal distribution, but you want to be strategic about what you’re addressing and how. Maybe in this 90-day content plan there’s more active selling than usual because you’re launching a program. That’s okay, as long as you know there’s a reason not just spammy.
Assign Dates. The last step is to decide when each of your posts is going to be published. You should already have a particular day of the week you go live, so this is just a matter of picking which post goes where.
Again, start with promotional content that goes with a launch, holidays and special occasions, then you can fill in the rest. If you’re creating evergreen content, it doesn’t really matter when it gets published, or in what order you share it – the only exception being posts that build on each other – so don’t overthink it.
Just Do It
Like many things in blogging (and life) done is better than perfect. So once you have your content plan in place, you just have to follow it.
I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of perfectionism and constantly tweak your plan to the point of not implementing it – trust me, I know – so now you have to just do it. There are very few things that should be considered valid excuses for deviating from or altering your plan. So unless there’s a global pandemic, zombie apocalypse, or we all have to abandon the earth like in Wall-E, follow the plan and see what happens.
In 3 months, take what you’ve learned from this round and apply it. That’s the fastest way to get closer to perfection!