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Blog Better With an Editorial Calendar and Style Bank

Editorial Calendar

So you sit down at your desk, rest your fingertips softly on top of your keyboard and...

Nothing.

What on earth should you write about?

It's an old question.  Business bloggers often find themselves stymied by the question of what to write about, and just exactly how to write it.

There's an easy solution -- use an editorial calendar and a style bank so that you always have a ready answer to the questions What should I write? How should I write it?

1. Create an Editorial Calendar

First, decide how many times each month you plan to publish on your blog. Say you've decided on twice a week. Now, put your plan on paper.  Open up a new Excel document, or create a new Google calendar just for this purpose, and for each day that you plan to write, assign yourself a topic.  Better still, go to the local bank and pick up one of those free calendars they're always handing out. Stick it up next to your computer where you can see it.

Mark off the days you plan to publish. Twice a week, you say? Put big black marks on every Tuesday and Thursday of the week. Now write "BLOG POST" on those days. Commit to it, in writing, someplace you -- and other people -- can see it every day.

Now decide which keywords or topics you want to write about for each post.  Write those down under each day that has been boldly marked "BLOG POST." Now you know what each blog post will be about, weeks before you sit down to write it.

Align your topics with upcoming events, with the changing of the seasons, with the day of the week. Try to stick to one simple idea, one keyword, one easy-to-carry thought per post.

If you sit down to write one day and you have a better idea for a post, no problem! Just toss your discarded assignment into a Word document or some other notepad or sidebar, and refer back to this file when it's time to write your next month's schedule.

Remember that you are writing for your audience (whether you have an audience yet is beside the point), so try to build your topic bank with them in mind.  What do they need? What do they want? How can you help them? What do they come to you for?

2. Create a Style Bank

This is really the blogger's secret weapon.  Once you realize all the different ways in which you can create a blog post, you can free yourself from writer's block forever. No kidding.

Blog posts don't always have to be long-form essays.  Oh no. They can be:

  • A bulleted list
  • One photo with a caption
  • Several photos with captions
  • A review of a book, a film, a product
  • A How-To guide
  • A How-NOT-To guide
  • A short video
  • A short audio clip
  • An interview
  • A profile
  • A rant
  • A rave
  • A thoughtful response to somebody else's blog post

And the list goes on.  Sometimes, you just don't have an essay-form post in you. And frankly, sometimes your audience can't stomach another wordy post, either.  Grab a striking photo from your file of pictures or your Flickr photostream, post it, and write a line or two about it. Record a short video using your webcam and post it on Youtube or Viddler so that you can easily embed it on your blog.  

Just remember: you're not blogging for the sake of blogging. You committed to do this because you decided that it would help you achieve a certain goal, and you are trying, with every post, to serve your audience and to give them something that they value. This really isn't about you; it's about them. Keep that in mind, and go forth and blog.

Beth Dunn is a member of the Inbound Marketing Consultant team at HubSpot. Beth also blogs at www.bethdunn.org and An Accomplished Young Lady.

Image by  Joe Lanman

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