“This year is going to be different!”
How many times have you said that, come January first? I know I say it every year. I love that clean slate feeling you get when, even though things are basically just continuing as planned, you can mentally press the “restart” button on your life.
I've tried many different resolutions and goals in my day, from work to health, cultural adventures and social commitments. This year, I'm channeling my refreshed and renewed motivation into my blog. Specifically, taking a more tactical and thoughtful approach to my editorial calendar. I want to outline where my content is going, what goals I have and create a realistic and inspiring guide I can (and want!) to follow.
How to get started:
Make it visual. We bloggers are highly visual, so seeing your year right in front of your eyes can really help you picture the plans you are making. Whether that means creating a spreadsheet, a slideshow of month-to-month notes or using a hanging wall calendar, put it somewhere you will be reminded to look at it often, and somewhere easy to get to. Add images, use bold colors, do whatever you can to make your editorial calendar appealing, motivational and fun.
Look at your stats. Part of planning your future comes from understanding your past. Take some time to review your posts, browse your archives and refresh your memory of all you have accomplished since you began your blog. Pick out favorite posts and put their URLs somewhere you can always find them. Next, get into your analytics and look for clues as to what your audience wants. What search terms have the highest click through rates? Where do most of your readers live? Which posts did the best, and which ones had the most comments?
Set goals. What do you want for yourself and your blog in 2013? Figure out the direction you see your blog going, visualize it in your mind's eye, then write it down. Make a list, make a vision board – whatever you need to help keep your goals always in front of you and present in your mind as you work on your site.
How to break down your blogging year:
The Year. Whoa. That sounds big, doesn't it? Pick a goal you see yourself achieving or surpassing by December 2013! Will you double your traffic? Will you post 5 days a week? Set up check-in times for yourself throughout the year, to assess where you're at in your journey to achieving these goals. It's helpful to start big, and work your way down into the specifics.
Seasons. Mark on your calendar where different seasons begin and end. Make notes about when you want to start talking about different seasonal topics. Look what kinds of seasonally themed posts have been historically successful for you in the past. What will resonate with your readers? Trend predictions? Shopping ideas? Editorials from magazines?
Each Month. How many posts will you do each month? Do you have any timely series you might run during a specific month? Giveaways planned? Projects with brands? Schedule these out so you can see clearly where to fill in more content or block out time to execute and promote. You might even want to think about giving each month a loose theme, like magazines do.
Holidays: Mark official holidays, as well as when their “season” begins, so you can be on top of posting for those times. When will you begin posting gift guides? What about 4th of July recipes or party ideas? Leaving yourself notes to think and plan ahead will ensure you don't miss the boat on timely content that readers (and search engines) love.
Weekly: It's next to impossible to know every single thing you will post in the next year, but if you have different series or themed posts you run on specific days of the week — note them! You can fill in specifics as the dates draw closer, but having a framework will free up more creativity and energy to attend to details.
Personal plans: Don't forget about your life! Be sure to note important days, vacations, travel plans, weddings, birthdays and more so that you can properly enjoy them without missing a beat on you blog.
Will you create an editorial calendar for 2013? What are some of your goals?