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?

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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

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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.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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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.

10 Reasons to Start a Blog

If you’re thinking maybe it’s time to start a blog, I hope this overview helps you decide one way or the other. I’ve seen many benefits from blogging so recommend it if you’re willing to put in the work!

Start a Blog

Why start a blog?

Blogging is one of those things people hear they should do…and then hear they shouldn’t do. So you may be wondering if there’s any merit at all in it.

There is. Merit that is. However, it’s not something to be taken lightly. Before deciding to start a blog think about your goals.

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  • What are your reasons?
  • What do you want to get out of it?
  • Is it something you can commit to?

If you think blogging will make you an overnight success or you’ll be discovered or some other get-rich-quick dream I’d take a step back and adjust your expectations. Sure, that could happen but the chances are low.

However, there are still other excellent reasons to start a blog.

Elements of a Brand Free Downloadable Tip Sheet

Free download: Elements of a Brand tip sheet

Branding is an interesting science mixed with art but there are consistent elements when you’re looking to brand your blog. These are all things you’ll need to think about, decide upon, and commit to if you want your branding to be solid.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by signing up here, just pop your email address into the form below. Once you’re in the library navigate to the blogging section and look for “Brand Elements Worksheet.”

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10 reasons to start a blog

  1. Regular blogging improves your writing
  2. By managing a blog you can also improve your tech and design skills
  3. A blog is a great way to share your ideas and passions with others
  4. You can blog any day or time, no restrictions
  5. Blogging helps you find your voice
  6. You can help people through your blog
  7. Blogging helps you express yourself
  8. There are a lot of networking opportunities in the blogging world
  9. Publishing a blog helps you put your writing out there
  10. Blogging helps you gain confidence in yourself and your writing

In my opinion, blogs are brilliant. And for those just starting out in freelance writing, your blog can be an excellent source of writing samples (until you build your own portfolio). It can also give you a ton of useful resources to share on social media to help build your platform.

Of course, launching a blog is only the first part. The real secrets to blogging success are proper positioning and consistency. Over time you’ll carve a nice little space for yourself and build a community.

If you want another perspective I thought this article from the Unveiled Wife about why start a blog was insightful.

Other helpful Articles

If you're thinking maybe it's time to start a blog, I hope this overview helps you decide one way or the other. I highly recommend blogging!

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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If you're thinking maybe it's time to start a blog, I hope this overview helps you decide one way or the other. I highly recommend blogging!
If you're thinking maybe it's time to start a blog, I hope this overview helps you decide one way or the other. I highly recommend blogging!

Steal this Simple 3 Step Evergreen Content Ideas Strategy for Writers

One of the hardest things about being a working freelance writer is coming up with content. Which is why you need an evergreen content strategy.

Trust me on this, it will change your life.

Evergreen Content Ideas for Bloggers

Writers who want to build an online platform know they should be producing content. Maybe a blog or something similar.

And in theory it makes sense.

A blog is an excellent way to showcase your skills as a writer and advertise your services. In reality things are a bit trickier.

  • What do you write about?
  • How do you balance writing for yourself/your site with writing for clients?
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This is where an evergreen content strategy comes in

Evergreen content can be described as the foundation of your blog—and this surprises many people for a couple reasons.

First, because it’s hard to comprehend how timeless articles can stay relevant over time.

Second because hardly anyone has heard of it.

How can evergreen content be a foundation when I’ve never heard of it before!?

I know! But I’ll explain everything and you’ll never wonder what to write about on your website again.

Brainstorm Ideas for Writing Worksheet

Do you find brainstorming ideas a total nightmare? I have a process for that! Check out the worksheet and free training in my my resource library.

This is a free training but you’ll need the password—just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you it to you. Once you’re there, navigate to the writing section and download the “How to Brainstorm Ideas for Writing Worksheet.”

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*Back to the training*

First I’ll talk about what evergreen content is, then I’ll explain how to come up with ideas in a way you can balance with your freelance writing workload.

What is evergreen content?

“Evergreen” is jargon but the word makes sense—think of evergreen trees, they keep their needles year-round and the needles maintain their green colouring thus, ever-green.

Evergreen content works the same way, it stays relevant year-round and answers questions people are asking years after it was written.

Why you should employ an evergreen content marketing strategy is because this timeless, relevant information will deliver a consistent stream of leads to your website month over month.

It takes a bit of time and effort to set up but once you have the wheels in motion this approach will allow you to spend your mental energy on your freelance clients while your website works in the background.

evergreen content ideas

How to come up with ideas

The best way to come up with ideas is to know your audience. In a freelance writer’s case, your audience is your ideal client.

Think about who you serve and what problems they’re trying to solve. Your website or blog content should solve those problems and answer common questions. The more questions you answer the stronger your foundation.

Here’s what you need to do when coming up with evergreen content ideas:

  • 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?)
  • Decide what your topics are
  • Put everything into a calendar template.

To systemize these ideas (and actually get them written) you’ll need to take your ideas and build a content calendar with them.

Of course we could go a lot deeper when talking about creating evergreen content—there’s SEO, keyword research and virality to consider.

But for today we’ll stick with the concept of evergreen content and building a strong online foundation as the base of your freelance writing business. When done well it’s a beautiful thing.

Bonus: here’s a helpful post on what type of posts work best for evergreen content from Thirteen Thoughts.

One of the hardest thing about being a freelance writer is coming up with content for your website, which is why you need an evergreen content strategy.

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

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One of the hardest thing about being a freelance writer is coming up with content for your website, which is why you need an evergreen content strategy.
One of the hardest thing about being a working freelance writer is coming up with content for your personal website and digital platforms, which is why you need an evergreen content strategy. Trust me on this, it will change your life.

Easy SEO Tips and Tricks You Can Actually Understand

While we may understand the importance of search engine optimization on an intellectual level, these SEO tips and tricks will (hopefully) help freelance writers understand how to vet a keyword to give their articles the best chance of being discovered.

SEO Tips and Tricks for Freelance Writers

SEO tips and tricks for freelance writers

Finding keywords is just the first step. Next is to figure out if it’s a good keyword or a bad keyword.

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But what does that mean?

Here’s how I like to think about good versus bad keywords.

  • A good keyword means if I use it my article will have a chance of being discovered on the Internet
  • A bad keyword means it’s too competitive so don’t use it.

Keyword vetting to me means this. If I write an article about the keyword I’ve selected, will it have a chance to hit the first page of Google?

How to vet a keyword

Once I’ve brainstormed my keyword ideas I take my top ones to KWFinder and do a quick check for difficulty.

Brainstorm Ideas for Writing Worksheet

By the way, I’ve created a worksheet to help you with brainstorming. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password for my resource library. When you’re there, navigate to the writing category and download the “How to Brainstorm Ideas for Writing Worksheet.”

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Anyway, back to the training.

KWFinder is a simple keyword research tool to use—you pop in your word or phrase into the search bar and then click “Find Keywords.” A few seconds later your results populate and you can consider your options.

I thought I’d include a couple screenshots from my research for this post. After doing my initial research I was down to two key phrases for this post: SEO tips and tricks or keyword research tools.

My results?

The keyword “SEO tips and tricks” is possible to rank for with a difficulty score of 39 out of 100. The keyword “keyword research tools” is hard to rank for with a difficulty score of 61 out of 100. You can see these results on the right-hand side of the screenshot.

KW Finder keyword research example

On the left-hand side of the screenshot you can see variations on the keyword and the difficulty associated with it.

It helps you see what people are already ranking for and helps you come up with a strong direction to go with your article.

Final thoughts about seo tips and tricks

If you want to try KWFinder out there is a free account, which gives you five keyword searches every 24 hours. It’s a commitment-free way to try out the tool and decide if it’s a good fit for your writing flow.

You can make search engine optimization as complicated as you want. And you can make keyword research as expensive as you want. There are a lot of shiny objects in this world. But until you’re ready for that level of SEO, I suggest taking a simplified approach to vetting keywords.

Do you have a process for vetting keywords? I’d love to hear about it!

These SEO tips and tricks will help freelance writers understand how to vet a keyword to give their articles the best chance of being discovered.

One more thing. I think you’ll enjoy 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
These SEO tips and tricks will help freelance writers understand how to vet a keyword to give their articles the best chance of being discovered.
SEO Tips and Tricks: At some point in your writing career you'll be asked about finding keywords or SEO (search engine optimization). To be clear, SEO is a marketing skill, which writers may or may not have. So you're off the hook there. That said, it's a good idea to become acquainted with the concept as it will make you more valuable to your clients.

How to Create Better Blog Post Images with Canva

In the writing world words are the thing. So when people tell us writers we need (nay, require) better blog post images we recoil in shock. What now!? But I’m a writer! I cannot! Even!

How to create better blog post images with Canva

Create better blog post images with Canva

And a few years ago I would have commiserated with you. Because there was a learning curve if you weren’t a professional photographer—you have to learn design and of course then you had to figure out Photoshop (and pay for it).

If you gave up on taking photos yourself then you entered the world of stock photography and, a few years ago, the cost was high and the competition was low.

But the story is tres different today. There are so many tools available to non-designers and non-photographers it’s time to accept your need for better blog post images and hop on the bus.

Elements of a Brand Worksheet

By the way, good graphics start with a solid brand

I’ve created a worksheet to outlining the elements of a great 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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For creating better blog post images I recommend Canva to anyone who asks. It’s a free design tool for non-designers—and it’s so easy to use. It’s in the cloud so you don’t have to download anything and you can use it from anywhere, including your mobile.

You can design your own graphics if you’re inclined, or you can take suggestion from their huge template library.

The first thing you should do is figure out a few image templates you’ll use over and over in your blogs. This cuts down on decision fatigue and helps keep your blog brand consistent.

Don’t freak out! This is all a part of creating better blog images. Templates are your friend. And remember what I said earlier? Canva has a massive template library! You’re going to be fine!

When building your templates you may get tripped up on fonts, images and colours. Since we’re not design trained I suggest we don’t trust our instincts.

At least, that’s what I suggest to myself. Here’s what I do instead.

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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Create better blog post images with canva

Fonts

First, you need to choose a font, which is no easy feat. There are bajillions of fonts to choose from.

In the link I dropped I’ve offered a few ways to narrow it down but here are the main points: choose something readable and stick with it.

Now, when you’re creating images you may want to use a couple different fonts—risky stuff! If you want to spice things up font-wise, use Canva’s free font combinations thingy. Select your main font and let Canva show you what will pair well with it. Done.

Images

While you can create graphics without photos there is still a decision to make here—will you be an exclusive image-only blog? Or just graphics? Or a mix of both? Figure out how you want your site to look and go from there.

If you’re going with photos, Canva has a large stock photo library—some of which are free to use. There are many, many options online for stock photography these days so you have options if you want to use photos but can’t/don’t want to use your own.

Even if you’re not planning on using many photos I still recommend finding a photo style you resonate with (be it nature, lifestyle, flat lay, etc.) as it will help you in your ongoing branding and in colour selection.

Extra credit: If you’re looking for unique, free stock photos, allow me to recommend Sage Media & Marketing.

How to Create Better Blog Post Images with Canva

Colours

If you’ve chosen your website or blog branding colours then this isn’t a decision you have to make—stick with your branding.

However, if you haven’t done this yet it’s time to pick a palette. And, since we’re not designers, how does one know what colours go together?

I use Canva’s colour palette generator every time I need one. And I don’t just use it for my blog images—it’s how I chose my living room colours and how I decide the palettes for my knitting projects!

When you find your inspiration image, one that you feel represents the essence of your blog and/or brand, upload it to the colour palette generator and watch it do its magic. Because it’s magical.

As a writer, the subject of website images can be overwhelming. The goal of today’s post is to help simplify it—yes you should have images on your blog and yes, I think you can create better blog post images.

Here are the highlights.

  • Use a program like Canva
  • Remember, templates are your friend
  • Build a visual brand using fonts, images and colours
  • Stay on brand!
In the writing world words are the thing. So when people tell us writers we need better blog post images we recoil in shock. What now!? But I'm a writer!

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
In the writing world words are the thing. So when people tell us writers we need better blog post images we recoil in shock. What now!? But I'm a writer!
In the writing world words are the thing. So when people tell us writers we need better blog post images we recoil in shock. What now!? But I'm a writer!