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There’s nothing worse than sitting down at your computer, knowing you need a blog post for tomorrow, and having no idea what to write about.
Luckily, there’s a way to avoid this: planning content way in advance.
Great idea, but how the heck are you supposed to do that? And how are you supposed to remember it all? It’s easy! With one of my absolute favorite blogging tools: CoSchedule.
What is CoSchedule?
First, let’s talk about what CoSchedule actually is.
CoSchedule is an all-in-one editorial calendar that combines your blog posts, newsletters, and social media all in one.
Plus like, 15 billion other things if you really devote yourself to learning the ins and outs of it. But even if you don’t utilize every single tool that CoSchedule has to offer, it’s going to change your life.
It integrates with WordPress, so everything is in one place. (Don’t worry, Squarespace users—there’s a web version as well.) It’s a drag-n-drop calendar, so whenever you change your mind about a blog post (#allthetime), you just move it to the new date, and it automatically updates the WordPress post with the new date and time as well!
Once you write your post, you can schedule your social shares right from the same calendar. Content management and marketing have never been so easy.
Here’s a general overview of just some of the amazing things CoSchedule can do:
So, now that we understand what CoSchedule is, let’s talk about how it’s going to help you plan awesome content way in advance.
1 | Decide on a posting schedule.
First, you need to decide on a posting schedule. This is going to be one of your first steps as a blogger, whether or not you have CoSchedule.
How many blog posts are you going to publish per week? And on which days?
Try to keep these as consistent as possible. Life happens, and I totally get that, but the more consistent you are, the more your readers will know when to expect new content from you!
As you’re creating your schedule, keep in mind other types of content like email newsletters as well.
To give yourself an idea of what your posting schedule is going to look like, I recommend using the Notes feature in CoSchedule. It’s automatically going to show you five weeks, with the current week as week 2. To show an entire month instead, simply go to the top of the screen where it shows the dates, click on it, and select the month you want.
Next, pick a date to add content, and hover over it. You’ll see a small + appear in the top right corner. Click on that and choose Note. Include a description of what you’re going to add.
You don’t have to have your blog post ideas thought out yet—just mark down that you’re going to be publishing a blog post on a certain day.
I like to rotate through my categories with each blog post, so I would label one note Feminism, the next Blogging, and the next Design.
Pro tip: Color-code your notes per category so you can easily see how diverse your content is.
Again, don’t forget about newsletters! Fill in your entire calendar with all of the content you’ll be posting so you can get a full picture of what the month will look like.
Here’s what mine looks like:
2 | Grab a cup of coffee or a pint to plan out content way in advance.
Now for the fun part: planning your content way in advance!
For this, you’re going to need to grab a cup of coffee or a pint (beer or ice cream—either one is great) and a timer. I like to set aside 30 minutes to plan out my content, but plan accordingly if you need more or less time!
Once you set your timer, you’re going to think through as many content ideas as you can. Log all of them—good and bad! You never know what inspiration might strike from your “bad” ideas.
I like having a spreadsheet to log all of my blog post ideas, but if you’re more of a pen-and-paper person, that’s great too!
If you’re stuck, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- If someone was just starting out in my niche, what would they need to know?
- What tutorials can I share that relate to my niche?
- Have I overcome any problems within my niche that I could share with my audience?
- What pieces of inspiration can I share with my audience to help them continue?
- How can I tie my niche into the current season or any holidays coming up?
As you’re asking yourself these questions, remember to think about each of your categories. So, I’d ask myself what beginners would need to know not only about blogging, but also design and feminism. And within those, I could break it down even farther. What would beginners need to know about InDesign? Photoshop? Web design?
Once your timer is up, divide your content ideas into categories. Whip out your highlighter and color-code them to get an idea of how diverse your content is.
Ask yourself which ones would be best as newsletters, and mark those differently as well. This will make it easier when you fill in your calendar. Personally, I pick out the ideas that are better suited for short-form content (300-500 words, vs. 1,500+ words) and set those aside for newsletters. Blog posts are strictly long-form on my blog.
3 | Fill in your calendar accordingly.
Now that we’ve got a ton of awesome content, let’s add it to your calendar in CoSchedule!
Decide on a piece of content to add (I like to start with the piece I’m most excited about, but it might be easier to plan around holidays if you have seasonal posts) and click on the + icon in the top right of the date you want to add it. When the popup opens, select Blog Post.
From here, type your blog post idea in as the title of the post. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect; you can always update it later!
Next, click on the “+ Description” box and write some notes to yourself about what the heck you want to cover in this blog post. There’s nothing worse than opening up a blog post draft to start writing, and having no frickin’ idea what you were going to talk about.
If you have ideas that juuuuust aren’t quite right yet, save them in the drafts area! Just add it to a random date, then drag the post over to the left side of the page to put it in your drafts.
Now, the next time you need to start brainstorming content, you can go to the drafts area first!
4 | Repeat every 2-3 months.
Now that we’ve planned a ton of awesome content way in advance, it’s time to start writing that content and sharing it with your audience!
But we (likely) didn’t plan out years of content, right? So repeat this process every 2-3 months, or however long you have content planned out for.
I like to start planning out my new content while I still have about 2-3 weeks of content, just to give myself a good cushion.
What are you waiting for? Go download CoSchedule and start planning out all of your awesome content way in advance!
Questions about how to use CoSchedule? Leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do to help!