I think the idea of a blog is really attractive to most people. A place that is entirely your own where you can publish the things you're passionate about. Sounds amazing! But the reality is that most blogs fail miserably. Usually before they even get off the ground so to speak, i.e. acquire a readership and traffic. And many others simply limp on, devoid of regularly updated content...and readers.
So how can we solve this lack of content problem? We already know what to do with posts once we've written them, so now lets make sure we always have something of value to write by following this simple two step process.
Step 1: Concept by Category
When setting up a blog it's common to choose a general topic and then break that topic down into multiple categories. On this site for instance, we blog about WordPress. That is our general topic. We have nine categories that help direct readers towards the WordPress related content they're looking for: WordPress Guides, WordPress Interviews, Wordpress News, WordPress Plugins, WordPress Themes, WordPress Tips, Blogging, BuddyPress and Featured.
The first step in mapping out months worth of blog posts is to systematically concept a minimum of five posts per category. If like us you have nine categories, that means you will end up with a total of 45 post ideas. This will take a few hours of your time but when compared to the amount of planning it will accomplish for the near and even distant future of your blog, it's relatively small and time well spent.
See our post here about how to generate blog post ideas.
If you run into trouble coming up with ideas (which is common) then I would suggest doing web searches for posts and articles within the categories that you blog about. If the posts you find are things that you would like to cover then you can simply do your own take on the posts you see. You can also do response posts (agree/disagree with someone else) or use what you find to help spark new ideas of your own.
This is a great exercise for a free afternoon or weekend. I highly recommend that as you jot down your ideas you run them through the tips and tricks described in this excellent series of articles over at Copyblogger called How to Write Magnetic Headlines.
Step 2: Schedule Posts & Work Ahead
Next, I recommend that you use a plugin we reviewed here on WPLift called Edit Flow. This plugin allows you to, among other things, view your upcoming posts in a calendar view. This really helps when planning ahead.
After Edit Flow is installed, begin creating new post pitches/drafts and scheduling them into the future by using the options under the publishing options.
Unless you're an established blog with a lot of readers I suggest spacing them out so that you blog a maximum of once a day, but optimally once to three times a week. At the beginning fewer but high quality posts will actually help you gain traffic by giving you more time to promote the work you do as opposed to forcing tough deadlines on yourself. Another great benefit to the less is more approach is that as you continue to blog a little bit each day, you not only find that you have time to complete your planned posts AND promote them, but that you're getting ahead; meaning you have more time spend getting each and every post just right.
It really is that easy
That's it! I did warn you in the title that it would be quick and easy. However, I realize that some readers might claim this post is not easy at all, but easier said than done. I disagree though. I don't think it's difficult to come up with meaningful post concepts when you have a clear subject and specific categories. If you sit down to complete the exercise I've described above and it feels impossible, I would ask yourself if your blog's direction is specific enough and if the categories you've chosen are a good fit.
If you have any questions please let me know in the comments below!