Get Ahead of the Avalanche: Plan a Year of Blog Posts

One of the unexpected bonuses from working with a VA is that since she’s doing a lot of the posting and updating for me, I need to get her content in a timely manner for my blog and ezine and social media posts. Having to think about all those bits in advance keeps me accountable for actually getting them done! I’m consistently about a week ahead of writing my posts now, and I want to work towards getting even farther ahead than that.

`Target 2013I have a plan for content, though, that takes me to about the end of January 2013 right now. And I’ll be working hard on that plan over the next couple of weeks, so I’ll have thought about post titles and topics well in advance.

For me the toughest part of writing is figuring out what I want to write about! I’m good at writing reactively: give me a topic, and I can write about it. I’ve gotten in the habit of keeping a running list of possible topics in Evernote (so the list is with me on my phone, my tablet, my PC). Whenever I see something or hear something or read something that provokes some thought, I’ll add it to the list and see if it’ll make a good post.

It’s that list, those topics, that I entered into that schedule that will take me to the end of January.

But I want to plan farther in advance than that. I’ve got some travel planned for next year already, both business and personal. While I can write while I’m away, it’s a lot harder and a lot less likely to happen. I know if I’m attending a conference, or visiting my mother, or sitting on a beach with my husband, I’m not writing blog posts! I may think of a topic, but I’m not writing the post.

And a lot of this content can be written well in advance. It isn’t date-sensitive. Yes, technology changes, the online world changes (and I write about both) but the beauty of working online is that I CAN CHANGE THINGS!

I look at the schedule I create the same way I look at a budget: it’s a plan to get me through the next time period. It’s not written in stone. I can, and have, moved posts around in my schedule or added something timely in between or deleted an idea when my preferred tool or method for getting something done was no longer as useful as it had been.

You can use whatever calendar method works best for you to plan out your content for a year. This one came to my attention just this past couple of weeks. It’s a free blog post schedule; it walks through 2013 day by day and week by week, and helps you plan your own blog posts, guest blog posts, what you plan to send to your list (your regular ezine plus announcements), and promotions.

The article is here: Even if you don’t use it exactly as it is, it should give you some good ideas about how to work through a year’s worth of content.

And it’s not only blog posts and ezines I want to write next year. I want to start guest blogging, and have a couple of lines to tug to start making that happen. I will be launching my very first online membership program next year, and while I have the basics of the content worked out I will be turning that loooooong Word doc into modular content to be delivered online, plus adding supporting material. I want to start using video, which means scripts and rehearsing and recording.

And then there’s the strategy sessions I love doing with my VIP clients.  While I can’t write content for them in advance, DOING them takes time and I need to block that time into my schedule.

So I’ll be combining that calendar (or some derivative of it) with the big erasable month-by-month calendar I used this year. I start by blocking off my scheduled travel (because as I mentioned, if I’m sitting on a beach I’m not writing blog posts!).

Then I’ll add the VIP client strategy sessions I already know about. I know what a “full practice” is for me, for this sort of work. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m going to block off this writing schedule as if I am. I want to make sure I plan enough time so I don’t feel over-booked.

Then I’ll probably add the big chunks of content I know I want to create next year: that modular membership program. I’m a little challenged here, as I don’t honestly know how long it’ll take me to write and edit and product supporting material for these pieces. So I’ll be generous in my estimates here.

The other piece of launching a program like that is the pre-launch marketing that has to happen to fill the program. I’ve got about 3/4 of that already written, but it needs to be finished up and tweaked and polished – and the recorded as video. Again, since I’m not experienced in doing full-motion video (me on camera, rather than slideshows with voiceover) I’ll be generous in my estimates.

Seeing all those pieces in the erasable calendar will help me schedule the launch of the program. The beauty of an erasable calendar, or an electronic one, is the ability to move bits and pieces around and reschedule. I also like using sticky notes or those little sticky labels on my big wall calendar; they make it easy to move an entire block of planned work.

Add in the writing and editing and submitting of blog posts, and wow! My schedule is starting to look pretty full! That gives me a whole lot of incentive to plan and write as many blog posts in advance as possible, so I can focus on the bigger, heavier writing efforts. I know I won’t get them all written by the end of 2012, but I want to be about a month ahead of publication. At least.

So as 2012 starts to wind down, I want to get a jump on 2013. I want to have that tentative schedule hanging on my wall by the end of November. And I’ll get some breathing room in my blog posting by starting to write in advance based on the topic schedule.

Mittens Buried In SnowWhat about you? What are you doing NOW to plan for 2013? Do you work with a content plan, or do you just wing it week by week?

Sometimes the thinking about writing all this content feels like the snowball that triggers the avalanche. Then you have to run as fast as you can to stay ahead of the snow slide.

How about taking a different route down the mountain this year? Would you be interested in a virtual workshop on content planning? Let me know!