Before you get started, you’ll need a decent content calendar. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but you’ll want to create a spreadsheet that has at least three columns for the day, date, and blog post idea.
I use a template I got from the Content Brew course I took last year, but you can easily create a standard spreadsheet in Excel or Google Docs.
Here’s a shot of a portion of the calendar I use to give you an idea. Once you have a template, follow these simple steps for planning your 2014 blog content!
How to Plan One Year of Blog Post Ideas
1. Enter the Entire Year
Mapping out the entire year has actually helped me brainstorm. It may seem overwhelming to enter a whole year of dates on your calendar, but it’s such a worthwhile step. Don’t worry! We’re not going to be filling in every single day with an idea. We’re just building a foundation.
Entering each date also gives you a good home base for future post ideas. Spend the extra time needed to enter in the days of the week and dates for the entire year. Remember, copy and paste are your friends!
2. Color Code
Because I’m a visual person, I like to use color when I’m planning posts. I suggest shading the months of the year in different colors. I attempted to use relevant colors where I could. For example, I have February shaded red, March shaded green, etc. It sounds cheesy, but the colors help me focus on what each month’s theme can lend to my idea bank. You don’t have to use color the same way I have, but use it somehow.
More color coding ideas:
Assign a color to each quarter of the year.
Designate a color for each of the four seasons.
Rotate two colors throughout the year.
3. Plug In Important Dates/Holidays
Skim the calendar month-by-month and enter in any important dates or holidays that come to mind. Don’t spend a lot on time on this step. I’m only talking about those dates that pop into your mind immediately. For example, February makes me think of Valentine’s Day. December? Christmas! Continue entering in birthdays, vacations, and any other stand out dates or holidays under the blog post column of your calendar.
4. Brainstorm Around Step #3
Let the important dates you added to the calendar in step 3 be a catalyst for surrounding post topics. For example, you could plan a post about marriage on your wedding anniversary or share birthday party survival tips the week of your child’s birthday.
Most of the important dates or holidays you entered will spark more than one post idea. For example, your child’s birthday may also inspire a cake recipe or party decor DIY. Continue to work through this exercise for each of the dates you added in step 3. You’ll be surprised how many ideas one little date can inspire.
More brainstorming ideas:
Make a list of holiday specific recipes.
Create a mind map for each month of the year.
Write a list of seasonal themed writing prompts, such as “Share a back-to-school moment”.
5. Add Post Ideas!
After you brainstorm like a madwoman, go back to your calendar and assign each post idea a relevant date. Are you beginning to see your calendar fill up?
At this point, you should have at least a few things “penciled in” for each month of the year. These ideas aren’t set in stone, but they will give you some direction and help fill in the gaps when you’re suffering from writer’s block throughout the year.