Until three months ago, the way I would go about writing blogs was something like
Content Writing Process [Until 3 Months Ago]
- Think of some topic to write about
- Research, analyse, write, re-write,
- Create or gather and include suitable imagery
- Post it, in next couple of days
Basically it is like, being copy writer, editor, graphics designer, marketer, social media manager, SEO pro and many more things at the same time.
Though, content writing wasn’t the only activity I was doing.
I would keep juggling between product design, product how-tos, customer calls/ demos, customer support, social media, team interactions, product testing among many other things a founder would typically do. When I have been juggling with all these activities as a founder, I also have to taking care of your two kids, look after my parent as well.
I will be honest, using process I mentioned above, the publishing date for the article/blog post would get delayed by few days if not few weeks.
Having said all these, I knew I could write a bit and the content to will make people visit, stick around.
You can imagine it and rightly so, if certain activity took priority (e.g. we have a major product version release, our energies would be focused on related things such as testing, smooth delivery, communicating changes to customers, answering their questions), the blog post, article would get delayed even further.
If you are like me, you know this is not the best case scenario. We also know how important it is to have engaging content and publishing it regularly. The research and popular finding such as Hubspot says, if we publish blogs more frequently, our business is more likely to get more traffic and inbound leads. Some of them have quantitative as well as qualitative justification for the same.
[Img Ref: Hubspot]
Yes, it was decided long back that I need to have content marketing in place and I should publish two-three articles a week which would be be about 8-11 per month.
Such a wishful thinking !(however achievable it was!) But the reality is far from the ideal one.
There were times when I was able to write series of blog posts, articles in a go. But I knew, some of the topics were so huge that I needed to break those down into set of articles/blogs. For few other topics, I got so much interested that I end up writing them in a go.
Yet, something was wrong
What was wrong?
It was not repeatable.
it was not scalable.
It was not consistent.
It was just not done.
I felt like, I needed to relook at things differently. I needed help.
I started listing down the challenges I was facing, things I was stumbling against and unable to reach my goals.
Difficulty I Faced While Writing Blog Post
Finding Engaging Blog/ Article Ideas
Initially I thought the problem is with the articles/ blog ideas that I am struggling with. Id wake up early Wednesday morning with all zest to write some stellar content, only to grapple finding the exact and specific topic to write about.
I would start reading articles, will get few ideas and inspiration to explore about.
And as I’d start reading more and more, I would get distracted from the topic I started with. Then getting back to the topic, pulling all researched items together would feel like mammoth activity.
But was that the only difficulty I though I was having? Of course, not.
More Challenges to Writing Content?
There were other aspects I thought I would have to spend even more time, doing activities such as such as
- Getting right theme to present the topic
- Expertise around a given topic
- Information available for a given topic
- Availability of time to write about the topic
- Creating image, graphics for the blog post (yeah, I think I need someone to help me with visual graphics things)
- Proofreading the blog post, re-editing
- Linking it to suitable articles (for on-page, off-page SEO) (Why that look? Oh come on, nothing wrong with that. In fact one should do SEO carefully and deliberately but the content has to be engaging-useful to the audience)
It seems exhaustive, right?
But honestly, none of the above challenges was a real show-stopper for me.
Yes, None of the above.
When I did bit of deep thinking about it to uncover the actual issue, I realised it was not about ideas.
It was not about graphics
It was not about themes
It was’t about proofreading, neither it is about SEO.
I’d love to do these things (or get it done) any given day.
But I needed to invest in a serious and repeatable system to make content writing work. Click To Tweet
And I wanted to unearth the really-real problem.
The true problem, I came to realise was, lack of planning – connecting above dots together with specific timeline.
I was unable to meticulously plan for writing blog posts.
When some other priority work came up, I had to hop on to it; thinking I can edit/write the blog post later.
There was no time dedicated or devoted for writing blog post. That’s the problem.
It struck me as a sudden realisation of failure (yeah, sort of), like a slap in the face.
I’d talk about planning things, organising activities and yet, clearly I did not apply same principles for writing blog posts.
I needed to be consistent about it. And to publish regularly, it has to become ritual or habit.
It means, I have to plan things right, to make it happen.
No, I am not talking about a holistic project plan but yes, knowing what to do, sequencing, exactly when to do, and so on.
And even if I have to make content-creation scalable, this would work perfectly.
In fact, it will work amazing if team collaborate, tasks are delegated (e.g. graphics designer can start working parallelly, knowing when to start, what to refer to and so on.
I am guessing, I am not alone. Most other content creators. bloggers would find themselves the same situation, don’t you?
Creating Content Schedule / Content Calendar
Sticking to a content calendar can turn someone like me, from being an ad hoc (or sporadic) blogger to professional content creator. Not only it will help getting more
So I started putting things in the calendar. Sounds just so easy, right? Just write down the list and dates, no?
It’s not that simple.
In one line, to create content calendar one has to think ahead of time about the topics to write about, when those will need to be published, setting deadline, enabling team & activities to write copies and publish it.
Creating content calendar requires one to invest time in carving out content strategy (SEO strategy as well) Click To Tweet and even keep a sharp focus on required activities such as
- Deciding topics and selecting sub-topic ideas to write about
- Selecting style/theme to fit well with the strategy.
- Researching the topic, developing the plot
- Start writing the actual copy
- Rewrite/rephrase title, headings
- Search, Create images
- Include relevant links, check for on page, off-page SEO
- Proofread, update the copy during review-approval
I will come to the content calendar I created and using now, in a section below.
How Does Content Calendar Help?
As it is still ‘Work In Progress’, no way I am not going to claim full benefits or success, but I do see following advantages of having content calendar.Advantages of creating content calendar for content marketers Click To Tweet
No more an ad hoc process
Creating and publishing content is now pretty much streamlined.
Gone are the days when I would wake up one morning and start exploring blogs/places for ideas. To work on random, ad hoc idea/ topic is a thing of past for us. Now we have ready-to-refer list of topics to write about.
See the bigger picture now
Everyone can see the bigger picture now: which all topics are we covering, who is writing and when. Team members understand these things clearly and they are involved in this process.
Bring consistency to content creation efforts
Content calendar brings certainty, predictability and most importantly consistency to content delivery. Because everyone involved knows for sure – which topic are up in next week, who will be writing, editing, proofing, when it will be published, distributed, etc – this elevates certainty as well as predictability of delivery. This whole ting induces us to be more consistent to adhere to the schedule.
Have a well thought out content / keyword strategy to execute
Because while preparing content calendar, content as well as keyword strategies are considered, even if individual working on a particular blog idea may find as if s/he is working a piece of puzzle. But when all these pieces are put together, it solves the jigsaw puzzle and gives us to implement the content as well as SEO strategy much better way.
Establish you/ your company blog as an expert
Definitive content strategy coupled with consistent content publishing will help us establish as a subject matter expert. This is pretty much true in most cases – as you go deeper & deeper and put in sustained efforts, you become knowledgeable person;; nothing short of an expert.
What Does Content Calendar Include?
We do have a guideline as well as a process, when it comes to writing content. These guideline or checklist ensure we are able to publish sizeable quality articles, implement SEO techniques yet focusing on enticing content, distributing content and engage with audience.
Having set of guideline/process checklist in the content calendar items brings more clarity to planner as well as the ones who are going to execute the content strategy. Here are the typical items/ information included in the content calendar.
- Topic of the post / article
- Theme of the article
- Colour coded category of the blog
- Directions about
- Focus keyword
- Suggested Title/ sub-headings
- Call to action
- References to be explore/to include
- Cross links
- Scheduled date to publish
- Follow up idea/ content upgrade
Tools to Create Content Calendar
Tools I considered to create content calendar
- Microsoft Excel
- Google Spreadsheet
- And may be 100+ other tools like sticky note, Evernote, Any.do, etc
I am planning to write a separate post wherein I will share more info/ detailed review of using some of these tools for content calendar purpose and talk about the one I am using regularly to organise content calendar.
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