Planning your blog to achieve your business objectives
In my last blog, I discussed how to create a constant stream of content ideas for your SME business blog. If you’ve mind mapped effectively, you will probably have hundreds of ideas for blog posts. Now, your problem is a much better one to have. You need to decide which ideas to promote to your A team blog, and which to keep on the subs’ bench.
You need a business blog calendar.
In this article, you’ll learn how to take your content ideas and turn them into a content stream that will support your business on every level.
Why do you need a blog calendar?
When you create a blog calendar, you get to see the big picture of your blogging efforts, mapped out in front of you. It really does free you from many of the challenges of blogging for a business:
- Your blogs suddenly support your business goals
- You decide what content is needed and when, to promote your products and services
- You can also get other people within your company involved in the process, giving them plenty of notice to provide ideas themselves
- You can plan ‘batches’ of blogs, which you can then turn into eBooks
- You’ll have a focus to help build your standing as a subject authority
Perhaps most importantly, you’ll never be stuck for blog ideas, you’ll always write what your target audience wants to read, and you’ll save a bunch of time.
How far into the future should your blog calendar look?
I’m often asked how long should a blog calendar look forward. This really depends upon your business. Fast-moving, innovative businesses may have a shorter calendar (three months, for example). Others work well with a one-year calendar. Whatever the length, I always recommend allowing for the odd ad-hoc blog. You’ll be surprised how often you may need to comment on news, or get posed a question from a client that you feel would make a great blog post.
Be ahead with your blog content – it makes life easier
Once you have mapped out your content, you’ll probably feel energised to start getting your blog posts written. This is another big benefit of working to a blog calendar. Because you know what needs to be written and for when, you can write when you’re most buzzed to do so. Your writing will be sharper, and it won’t be a must-do chore.
Here’s a tip for your blog: Try and get a few blog posts ahead of your calendar. This way, if you find that other needs of your business get in the way of you writing for a day or two, you won’t disappoint your audience and start to lose the regular followers that you have built up.
Creating your business blog calendar – the five steps
Step 1: Commit to a regular rotation of blog posts
Ok, so you’ve got a hundred or more ideas for blogs. It’s now time to decide when you are going to publish them. Then you can plan your writing diary. From mind mapping blog content, our financial advisor in my last blog chose the following main topics:
- Investing for income
- Investing for growth
- Money management
- Financial news
A great starting point for determining the blog calendar. It’s no coincidence that I recommend having five main topics (and one being news):
- If you decide you wish to write one blog post per day, then you have a natural and varied writing (and reading) calendar. If your clients naturally fall into four categories (in this case, income/growth/money management/tax), you are publishing something for everyone, every week. Plus, you’ll publish a weekly news round-up, appealing to all.
- If you commit to one blog post per week, you will publish something for everyone each month. Plus, a monthly news article.
- Or you might decide to write one blog post per month. That’s three major blogposts on each major subject topic per year.
At this stage, you have a rough timetable. You know, for example, that you’re going to write one blog per week and that your content will rotate between your main topics. But which blog posts to write, when?
Step 2: Think about your customer journey
One way to determine what to write and when is to consider your customer’s journey. “Say again?” you ask. The customer journey: the range of emotions, experiences, and education that a customer goes through as they make a buying decision (and beyond).
Take the following example:
- A shopper walks down the high street, and sees a welcoming shopfront. She decides to walk in.
- The layout of the shops makes it easy to browse.
- The shopper is welcomed by a member of staff, and asked if she requires help.
- The staff member shows his experience and knowledge, discussing the items in which the shopper has shown an initial interest.
- The shop assistant helps the shopper select a great winter coat.
- The shopper pays, and leaves.
But, this isn’t the end of the customer journey:
- The shop assistant collects the shopper’s email address as she pays
- The customer shares a picture of her new coat on Facebook, mentioning the shop where she bought it.
- A couple of weeks pass, and the shop sends an email to their customer. This details a new promotion by the shop, and invites the customer to share the news with her friends.
- The customer is reminded of her previous great buying experience, and shares the promotion on Facebook with her friends.
To understand your customer’s journey, think about the stages through which your potential customers travel as they move towards making a buying decision.
Now, think which of your blog post ideas will support the customer as they make the journey to purchase and beyond. Write these down in order. You may find that some of your original ideas now don’t sound so great. That’s not a problem. You’ve now got an A-list and B-list of blog post ideas.
Step 3: Consider your upcoming events
The third step to creating a blog calendar is to consider your company’s diary. Are you holding any seminars, workshops, or customer meetings over the next few months? Which of your blog post ideas will support those events?
For example, you may have planned to hold a presentation for high net worth clients a week after the Budget. At this event, you plan to discuss the impact of tax changes to income-producing funds, bonds, and shares. You could support such a client presentation with a blog post about tax on investment income. Publish a few weeks before, with a call to action to sign up for details of your event. (Don’t forget to share the post on social media channels, and to email it to your client list.)
Step 4: Don’t forget the outside world
Perhaps you aren’t planning a client presentation to educate about the tax changes proposed in the Budget. But your clients (and your target audience) still want to know what it means to them – a great opportunity to show everyone that you care enough to analyse and write about the outside events that matter. Plan time in your blog calendar to write a blog post about it, and promote that blog post to your clients and your target audience.
Consider writing blog posts for various times of the year, too. Money management for Christmas shopping. How to complete a tax return. The best income funds this Easter. You get the idea.
Step 5: Consider your customer profiles
The final piece of the puzzle is to consider your customer profiles. What makes your clients tick? Where do they live? What are their needs and wants? Write the content that ’speaks’ to them. Use appropriate language, and target the message. Remember, too, that a blog post can target different customer profiles simultaneously.
For example, you may promote your products or services to beginner investors, professional investors, domestic investors, and foreign investors. Think about the combination of investor types that a blog post could be written for (e.g. beginners who live here, professionals who live abroad, etc.).
Now, put it altogether in your blog calendar
You’re there! You now know what topics you want to write about, and when. Your blogposts will be targeted at your specific customer profiles. They will answer the questions your target audience have, and when they need them answered. They will also support your wider business calendar and events.
When your blog calendar is completed, you will have a roadmap of content. All of which has been planned to help your business add leads, increase customer loyalty, and build your company’s reputation as the market authority that people need to read.
Now it’s time to get writing those blog posts! In my next blog, I examine 13 blog post styles that will keep your small business’s customers coming back for more. In the meantime, email me today for your free copy of my eBook “How to write engaging blog posts and grow your online audience”. I’ll reply personally and attach my eBook for you.
Because quality content matters,