How to Create a Blog Content Calendar

There’s so much value in a good plan. I built my content calendar a few years ago and I’m keeping to it today.

Content Calendar

Here’s what I did and how you can do it too.

A content calendar helps you out!

  • It take the guesswork out of what to write
  • It keeps your blog on track with relevant content
  • A content calendar sets you on a strategic plan that moves you forward
  • It helps you avoid burning out
  • It aligns your blog with your core goals
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I’ve been a professional writer for a long time, but up until this year I didn’t put together a blogging content calendar.

Why?

A few reasons I suppose.

First, because I create content calendars for everyone else so my blog was the last thing I touched in an average freelance day.

Second, because I was a bit paralyzed in overwhelm. So many ideas. Too many things to write about. You know, the usual blogging problems.

#bloggerproblems

But I knew the value of a good plan—there’s nothing like a calendar to tell you what to write and keep you on track.

Long story short, I told myself to quit stalling and created a sweet content calendar. I built it last fall, I implemented it in January 2017, and I’m keeping to it today. Here’s what I did and how you can do it too.


How to create an editorial calendar

1. Get clear on who you’re talking to (your ideal reader) and what you offer (what’s your goal? what are you trying to achieve?)

I spent a few months figuring this out. Here’s what I came up with: My ideal readers are creative freelancers. I help busy people do marketing.

To get clear on my blogging goals I took tips from people I trust but I found the most practical help from Denise Duffield-Thomas’ Planning Process. In this post she outlines her step-by-step planning process and links to her simple business plan. I filled it out and used the plan I came up with as the foundation for my content calendar.

Discover your idea reader worksheet

Is it time to refine your ideal reader?

I’ve created a free worksheet for just this purpose! It’s a free PDF but it’s in my resource library and to access it you’ll need the password.

Pop your email address into the form below, confirm your email subscription and I’ll send you the password to my free resource library. Once you’re in look for “Discover Your Ideal Reader Worksheet” in the writing section.

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2. Decide what your topics are

Once you know what you offer, it’s time to brainstorm what topics you want to cover.

For example, my ideal reader struggles with time management, marketing/digital strategy, organization, and overwhelm. Look at that, I have four main topics.

I used these topics as headings, then brainstormed blog post ideas for each one.

From a short session I had 17 ideas. If I decided to blog once per week I all of a sudden had 17 weeks of posts lined up. Wow. OK maybe I could do this.

Want to know more about brainstorming? Here’s my process: How to Brainstorm Ideas for Writing

And third

3. Put everything into a calendar template

There are a lot of options when it comes to editorial/content calendars, everything from paper planners to cloud-based task systems. You need to use what works for you.

After some trial and error I found Trello works for me. If you haven’t heard of it before I’ll give you a little overview of how it works and how I use it.

Trello is a cloud-based visual project management tool. It took me a while to understand how to use it but after a few video tutorials (I watched how other people used Trello) I figured out a system.

How I plan content using Trello

First, I started different boards:

  • Content Calendar
  • Goals
  • Article Ideas
  • Articles in Progress
  • Blog Post Planner
  • Newsletter
  • etc.

Next, I populated the boards with lists. In my Content Calendar board I started with my four main themes and put them on a list of their own.

I have found this keeps me focused on my big ideas when I’m brainstorming individual blog posts. In my Article Ideas board I created 12 lists for the 12 months and put 10-20 ideas/prompts under each list.

For example, my August prompts are back to school, Labour Day recipes, beach crafts, scheduling, planning, gardening, canning, autumn, etc. These aren’t topics I’ll write about per se, but it’s a place to start.

I have different lists in each of my boards. Some are tasks with due dates and some are just lists of ideas, links to articles I want to come back to, or goals for this year.

This is what is working for me. Having a visual plan laid out holds overwhelm back. In fact I haven’t sat down and wondered what to write in months.

Months!

I also like my content calendar because it keeps my blog ideas separate from my freelance work or anything else I’m working on.

Oh yeah, and it never gets lost on my desk.

By the way, if this is something you want to set up I’ve outlined my process in a short (super short) video in case it’s helpful.

Here’s how I plan each month of blog content using a content calendar

I try and plan at least three months of content at a time. When I say “plan” it’s not like I have draft posts written up, but I have a blog topic and maybe a few notes of the direction I want to go with it.

I also have coloured labels for my different types of content and I label it right away.

All the blog topics go in a list I’ve called Articles in Progress. Then when I go to plan a new month I create a new list with the month name and pull the different brainstorms from Articles in Progress to the month blog lineup.

From there I look to see each theme is covered (easy to tell when they’re colour-coded!) and assign dates.

Of course, none of this is set in stone so if a sponsored post comes up, I’m able to swap my calendar around to make room.

Oh, and how awesome is it to actually know when you can post something when speaking with a client? I mean, how pro!

Once a month is over I archive the list and set up the next month of content, so I always have a rolling three-month plan.

And when I have a new idea? I add it to the Articles in Progress list. A sponsored post comes up? I figure out when is the best time to post and move my calendar around.

It was a lot of initial set up but now that it’s rolling I don’t know how I blogged before this. Not only am I keeping on track but it is an enjoyable experience. No more stress!

If my story isn’t enough to convince you to build and keep to an editorial calendar, I don’t know what will. You can’t be strategic without a good plan.

How to Create a Blog Content Calendar

To create a content calendar you’ll need:

  • Some sort of calendar template
  • Themes
  • Monthly topics
  • Blog post ideas

One last thing

Before I could plan what to write I decided how often I would write. I decided I’d post each Tuesday at minimum. I want to write more, but deep down I knew once per week was even asking a lot.

My blog hadn’t been priority for a long time and I needed to get back in the habit of posting with consistency before I could do anything grander.

Create a Writing Schedule Worksheet

Want to create a writing schedule for yourself? Grab the free PDF from my resource library. Put your email in the form below and I’ll send you the password!

Once you’re in the library navigate to the writing section and look for “Create a Writing Schedule Worksheet.”

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I also made posting on Tuesdays the priority over posting on topic.

Weird, I know. I spent all that time coming up with what and who and why and how and all that. But here’s the thing, all the topics I came up with were things I’m also struggling with.

Some of them needed to simmer on the back burner while I figured out what I have to say about it.

Some ideas needed testing.

Like this topic for example. Can a blogging content calendar help a busy writer who doesn’t have time for a personal blog? Six months ago I wasn’t sure. Now I know.

So sometimes my posts aren’t 100 per cent on topic. And I’m good with that. Because I am still posting every Tuesday.

Need help cutting through the paralysis of analysis in order to get focused on what you want your blog to do for you? Let’s chat!

There's so much value in a good plan. I built my content calendar last fall and I’m keeping to it today. Here’s what I did and how you can do it to.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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There's so much value in a good plan. I built my content calendar last fall and I’m keeping to it today. Here’s what I did and how you can do it to.
There's so much value in a good plan. I built my content calendar last fall and I’m keeping to it today. Here’s what I did and how you can do it to.
There is so much value in a good plan—there’s nothing like a calendar to tell you what to write and keep you on track. I built my blogging content calendar last fall, I implemented it last January, and I’m keeping to it today. Here’s what I did and how you can do it too.

Small Business Marketing Ideas for the Real World

In order to be profitable you need to make sales, so you’re always looking for new and improved small business marketing ideas.

Small Business Marketing Ideas for the Real World

Or at least you should be.

Today we’re talking about real-world strategies you can use to promote your online business.

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
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Small business marketing ideas for the real world

Having a strong digital presence is important but don’t discount traditional tactics.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m biased because I spend most of my time working with traditional media and dealing with people who don’t have a digital-first approach. That said, there are a LOT of people who don’t live in the Internet bubble and they like buying things too.

Here are a few small business marketing ideas to consider.

In-person networking

Networking is super important in business. Even if you’re introverted. People are often shy to talk about their business because they don’t want people to think they’re bragging or pressuring them to buy something.

But trust me, there’s a way to talk about your business in a non-threatening way.

You do need to find creative ways to sprinkle it into your conversations but the point is, mention it.

If you’re hoping people discover you online so you don’t have to do the scary marketing thing I’m sorry to say this is going to be a slow venture.

Find a natural way to integrate your business into your every-day life and then when it fits, mention it. Networking is an art and there are many people who don’t do it right. If you can learn strong networking skills, it is effective. SUPER effective.

Local events

Attending or sponsoring local events doesn’t fit every type of business but make sure to go if you find one where your ideal customers will be hanging out.

If you have a physical product make sure to bring those and hand out samples or have a booth. If you sell digital products or services you can have some sort of swag that makes sense to pass out.

I’ve found great results from attending events and participating in them as a speaker or vendor. This small business marketing idea can be a great business booster if you apply a little creativity to it.

Discover your ideal reader worksheet

Do you you want a bit more guidance discovering your ideal reader?

I have create a free worksheet just for you! Pop your email address into the form below, confirm your email subscription and I’ll send you the password to my resource library.

Once you’re in look for “Discover Your Ideal Reader Worksheet” in the writing section.

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Local media

Don’t discount local newspapers or radio stations. They work hard to produce relevant local content and are an excellent way to get the word out about your business.

If you don’t have an advertising budget think about other ways you can get media coverage.

  • Can you contribute a weekly column about your area of expertise?
  • Are you able to provide an interesting point of view on a subject they’re asking for community input on?

Call the outlet and see how you can help them.

Another way to get local media coverage is to join local boards and campaigns. Make yourself available for interviews to talk about the great work your volunteer group is doing when the journalists call to cover the event. It’s a win-win-win.

In order to be profitable you need to make sales, so you're always looking for new and improved small business marketing ideas. Or at least you should be. Today we're talking about real-world strategies you can use to promote your online business.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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In order to be profitable you need to make sales, so you're always looking for new and improved small business marketing ideas. Or at least you should be. Today we're talking about real-world strategies you can use to promote your online business.

Revolutionary Small Business Website Tips

You’re probably here because you heard that you need a small business website.

And you’re like, OK, great. But what does that mean?

Small Business Website Tips

Here’s a quick look at seven key pieces of information to include on your website.

Small business website tips

No matter how small your business is, a website is par for the course these days. It’s the one place where you have complete control over your message and branding.

Your website is the hub for your marketing strategy. Another amazing benefit? It’s open 24/7, allowing you to generate leads while you sleep.

In order for your website to do its job well, there are a few key elements to include on your small business website.

Elements of a brand worksheet

Wondering what branding is all about?

I’ve created a tip sheet on the nine elements of a brand, available for download. This is a free resource but it’s part of my resource library and you’ll need a password. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Then once you’re in the library, navigate to the blogging section and look for the worksheet called “Brand Elements.”

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1. Simple website name

When it comes to your small business website URL, keep it simple. You want visitors to by able to type your domain name from memory as well as tell their network about it.

Don’t be clever and avoid made-up words, dashes and numbers. This is confusing for people and it also causes SEO problems.

And whenever possible, use the dot com domain, as this is the one people are used to typing.

2. About page

When a prospect or potential customer is browsing one of the first things they’ll do is look for your business profile in order to see what your business is about.

You want them to learn about you! Make this page accessible and the content compelling. This is another opportunity to build trust. If you’re stuck on what to write, here are some great tips for an about us page.

And if you need more evidence, here’s a case study where we tweaked the content of an about page, which resulted in transforming a small business.

This page could also be called something similar like bio, the company, meet your expert, experience, who I am, my story, profile, etc. I’ve called my about page “Why Me.”

Small Business Website Tips for Freelancers

3. Relevant contact information

No matter what type of business you run, you should include a way for people to contact you.

Think about how you want customers to get in touch with you and list those methods on your website. Make it easy. When you seem like a real person online it builds trust and community.

Want an example? Check out my contact page

4. Links to social platforms

Give your prospects and loyal customers a way to connect with you socially. You don’t need to list EVERY platform you’re on, but try and link to the ones where you’re the most active.

Social media offers a great opportunity for your business to stay top-of-mind in an organic way. Just make sure you’re posting valuable content consistently.

Want to know how to optimize your social media profiles?

I’ve created a free ebook in my resource library. While this is a complimentary download, you do need a password to access it. Pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send it to you!

Once you’re in the library, navigate to the social media section and download the ebook called “Social Media Optimization.”

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5. High-quality articles

Nothing allows your sparkling personality to come through like a blog.

Oh wait you don’t want a blog.

OK how about thought-leadership articles? Can you post some of those?

I don’t know what it is about the medium, but it WORKS! It both drives traffic to your site plus gives people a reason to come back to your site, even after they’ve read your about page.

6. Reviews and recommendations

Reviews, recommendations and endorsements from previous clients and customers matter. I know you know this.

If you’re browsing a site and are wondering if you should hire someone/purchase from someone you check out the reviews. It’s what we do.

You can ask for reviews (on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever) from clients as part of your marketing strategy. However, if you’re feeling awkward you can also offer some sort of an incentive to get reviews.

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
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7. Clear calls to action

One of the easiest ways to convert visitors into leads is to tell them what you want them to do.

This could be encouraging a sale, subscribing to an email list or asking for a review.

Whatever the desired action is, make it clear and your ask direct.

Some small business websites use buttons saying “Buy Now” or “Sign Up Here,” while others use pop-ups and pop-overs. Test different calls to action to see which ones work best for you.

You're probably here because you heard that you need a small business website. Here's a quick look at seven key pieces of information to include.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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You're probably here because you heard that you need a small business website. Here's a quick look at seven key pieces of information to include.
You're probably here because you heard that you need a small business website. And you're like, OK, great. But what does that mean? Here's a quick look at seven key pieces of information to include on your website.

Simple Marketing Tips to Take the Pain Out of Branding

There are a lot of options when it comes to marketing your small business but these four simple marketing tips are ones you can implement today.

Simple marketing tips for small businesses

I know I sound like a broken record, but you have to keep your marketing machine running. Even though you’re too busy and you hate marketing.

Let’s agree to choose one thing from this list and implement it today. Deal?

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
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Simple marketing tips for small businesses

To make the most out of digital marketing and branding opportunities, you don’t need to crack the social media algorithm.

Here are some simple marketing tips that require far less effort and deliver better results.

Do I have your attention? Read on.

Submit directory registrations

Registering your business on various directories is an easy way to improve your search results and be discovered. Google and Facebook reviews help too!

If your business is home-based you may also want to get a business mailing address to avoid putting your home address online.

Discover target keywords

Once you’re clear on who you serve and how you can help them, finding the best keywords to use online will bring more qualified traffic to your website.

Start out with SEO tools you can download for free and go from there. Understanding the terms and phrases people use in search helps you better connect with your target audience.

Automate your social media

No one has extra hours to spend on social media. You can and you should automate your social.

I’ve outlined my top six social media scheduling tools that I use every day. Trust me, you can still engage authentically even if you don’t live-post every single image on Instagram.

5 Tips for Optimizing Your Social Media Profiles Ebook

By the way, optimizing your social media profiles is important! You want to ensure potential clients know who you are, what you do, and why they should hire you.

Download your free ebook from my resource library! All you have to do is pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password.

Once you’re in the library, navigate to the social media section and download the ebook called “Social Media Optimization.”

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Distribute press releases

I think media releases are amazing and I think they can work to create a real buzz about your brand.

However, for this marketing tactic to work you do need to be doing something worth talking about.

Brainstorm an angle that would be considered newsworthy and pitch your story to local media outlets. Just keep in mind a business profile isn’t news, it’s advertising.

Craft a story where you’re someone doing something interesting for a compelling reason.

Marketing your brand doesn’t have to be complicated.

Get your small business online and set yourself up to be discovered on search and social.

Then do cool stuff that makes people want to talk about you and make sure they know about it. And if you want some extra help, that’s what I’m here for.

There are a lot of options when it comes to marketing your small business but these four simple marketing tips are ones you can implement today. I know I sound like a broken record, but you have to keep your marketing machine running. Even though you're too busy and you hate marketing.
Let's agree to choose one thing from this list and implement it today. Deal?

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
There are a lot of options when it comes to marketing your small business but these four simple marketing tips are ones you can implement today. I know I sound like a broken record, but you have to keep your marketing machine running. Even though you're too busy and you hate marketing.
Let's agree to choose one thing from this list and implement it today. Deal?
There are a lot of options when it comes to marketing your small business but these four simple marketing tips are ones you can implement today. I know I sound like a broken record, but you have to keep your marketing machine running, even though you're too busy and you hate marketing. Let's agree to choose one thing from this list and implement it today. Deal?

Want to Know How to Rock Your Marketing?

What if you could rock your marketing while you’re busy so you stop having dry spells? (Spoiler: You can, and I’ll tell you how.)

Rock Your Marketing (Even if You're too Busy for Marketing)

Rock your marketing

Freelance writers are business owners, busy business owners. We’re so busy, we lack the time to work on our business because we’re always working in it for our clients.

Blogs, social media posts, and marketing in general fall by the wayside in favour of the now money.

But what about later? Do you go back to hustling when the gigs dry up? Do you stockpile your rainy day fund in case there’s no work for a while?

Before I get into how to rock your marketing, I have a little story for you.

I’m part of a bi-monthly marketing challenge in one of my professional networking groups and the most interesting parts of the challenge is how many people “sit this one out” citing they have a full client load so they don’t need marketing.

What? You’re too busy for marketing!?

This is difficult to hear. Because this tells me you’re not thinking about the long game, you’re focusing on the here and now. Don’t get me wrong, you should. But the present can’t be your sole focus.

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Here’s what no marketing plan gets you:

  • Scattered, inconsistent presentation in front of potential clients
  • Random posts and self-promotions on social media
  • Irregular networking (in person, virtual networking groups, bi-monthly marketing challenges…)
  • Unfamiliarity with competitors’ strategies

Oh, and no new clients. Unless you’re so busy month after month that you’re turning away new clients, you need marketing. Even when you’re too busy for marketing.

So, how do I rock my marketing even if I’m too busy for marketing?

I’m glad you asked. Since we’re at the beginning stages of this conversation I’m not going to ask you to do new things…yet.

Right now let’s focus on what you’re already doing and sprinkle in some focused marketing. Getting it going is the first step.

Rock your marketing with these three tips

First, think about the content you put out on social media right now

Be honest. When you post something on social media, what is it about?

  • Personal?
  • Photos of your weekend?
  • Political memes?
  • Food?

Is anything you post related to your business or how you serve your clients?

If you’re going to rock your marketing, I challenge you to consider your social media platforms places where you can attract new clients and brand yourself rather than something separate.

  • Who is your ideal client?
  • How can you help him/her today?
  • How can what you post be useful in moving him/her ahead?
  • Even better, how can you inspire someone?

Need help? Here’s your five-step social media strategy for freelance writers.

5 tips for optimizing your social media profiles ebook

By the way, this training also exists as an ebook. This seven-page ebook is a free download in my resource library. Sign up below and I’ll send you the access password.

Once you’re in the resource library navigate to the social media section and look for “Five Tips for Optimizing Your Social Media Profiles Ebook.”

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Second, carve out time to connect with your ideal clients or colleagues

And no, this does not mean sending out cold pitches by email. CONNECT!

Remember, I’m not asking you to do anything new…yet. So who are the people you speak to every day? Do you pass them on the street? In a store? In a restaurant?

Look them in the eye and make a connection. Start with hi, hello, how are you. One or all of those will do.

Next? Have a conversation. It doesn’t need to be deep or time-consuming, but make sure you mention something about how what you’re working on lights you up and you love your job.

Make a connection, then continue on with what you were doing.

But what if you don’t go out because you’re chained to your computer desk all day? How about a nice email to a contact? A check in, a hey how’s your business going? Is there anything I can help you with today?

Or how about an old client, why not send a nice note and see if there’s a project you can help out with. If not, no biggie. But you tried. You reached out. You connected.

Third, you don’t need to post new content every day

Hear me: you need to post content, but it doesn’t have to be new. Whoa.

This was a huge mental shift for me.

When I let go of the idea that every blog post was a slam dunk and lived on in my readers’ minds I was free to re-use them as appropriate. (By the way, I wrote about my favourite tools to re-share content here.)

I combed through my archives and pulled the articles I thought my ideal clients would enjoy.

Then I plugged them into a content library, created a schedule and let them go.

I’m still amazed at the freedom I feel setting up this small automation.

Because I can accept that not everyone will see my LIFE-CHANGING articles and freelance writing tips the moment I write them I’m free to keep sharing them on various platforms.

All it takes is this careful balance of humility and pride.

Want to learn how to rock your marketing?

See? That wasn’t so bad. Don’t you feel ready to rock your marketing?

These three itty bitty marketing tweaks can help you ROCK your marketing!

Visualize how stress-free your freelance marketing game could be. Dream big, my friend.

Now, a word of caution.

You can go down the marketing rabbit trail and end up overwhelmed and not sure which shiny object to focus on.

Because there is always more you can do. All we’re talking about today is not doing nothing.

Don’t do nothing.

Keep putting yourself out there, even if you’re busy and have a full client roster.

Continue networking, keep posting relevant, helpful content on social media, and putting your work out there even if you haven’t created anything new in a while.

Keep going!

What if you could rock your marketing while you're busy so you stop having dry spells? (Spoiler: You can, and I'll tell you how.)

One more thing. If you’ve got these three daily tasks down you may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
What if you could rock your marketing while you're busy so you stop having dry spells? (Spoiler: You can, and I'll tell you how.)
What if you could rock your marketing while you're busy so you stop having dry spells? (Spoiler: You can, and I'll tell you how.)

Extra credit: How to Weather Cash Flow Problems. Helpful advice from Ed Gandia.