There are only two weeks left in the 2013 calendar year – what have you done to ensure a strong start in 2014 regarding your business (or personal) blog?
Please tell me you’re not waiting until the first week in January to create a stellar editorial calendar for 2014. Please tell me you’ve committed all your fresh blogging ideas to a nearby tablet, smart phone, computer, or “archaic” paper notepad. Please tell me your first month’s worth of blog posts are ready for publication.
Okay, that last one was a test to determine whether you’re actually reading the words currently displayed on your screen. Even I don’t have January 2014 locked up and ready to go! Perhaps the blogging genie will grant my wish and magically ghostwrite multiple entries for me. But I’m not counting on it, which is why I suggest you should be “taking care of business in a flash” with the following tips:
Your Editorial Calendar Wants You to Come Home Real Soon: I mentioned the necessity of an editorial calendar for your blog way back in 2012, and my obsession with that notion has yet to waver. If you haven’t yet done so, do a “save as” of your 2013 blog calendar, delete all the old topics/entries, and update the entire calendar year starting with January 1st (or the designated date for your first post of 2014).
If you have any overflow topics from 2013 sitting patiently in limbo, unloved and unused, go ahead and dump them into your 2014 editorial calendar at the end. This way, you’re not exactly looking at a blank (blogging) slate right now, are you? Okay, here comes the fun part – the brainstorming.
Consider Google Alerts Your Blogging Wake-Up Call: You don’t have to tell me that spinning brilliant, timely, helpful, desirable, sticky blog topics out of straw is the toughest challenge a blogger faces. Lord have mercy, I know all about it – and I adore writing for profit. Beyond the beloved sites I have on speed bookmark, I discovered the joy of Google Alerts earlier this year.
Just go to the appropriate Google page, enter the keywords/phrases you consider the core of your blogging repertoire, and begin to “Monitor the Web for interesting new content.” Don’t forget to tell Google how frequently you want all this amazing content (sifted from “the Internets”) to poke you by email. Your choices are: “as-it-happens,” daily, and weekly.
A Quarter’s Worth of a Blogging Calendar Is Worth “Calendarizing” Well: (Please note: Calendarizing isn’t a word acknowledged by any reputable dictionary, but that won’t stop this blogger from using it.) Your 2014 editorial calendar awaits your input like a party balloon in need of air. Start plugging specific topics into your January, February, and March entries/slots. If certain topics are a good fit with particular holidays, seasons, etc., schedule them for the appropriate month.
A few examples: “A Little Common Sense Goes a Long Way, and Other January Business Advice”; “How to Write the Best Client Break-Up Note for Valentine’s Day”; “Why the Peace Corps Keeps ‘Marching’ Along…” (I just spewed these headlines, so don’t be tempted to, um, lift them from this post. Even if I don’t intend to use them, your liberal borrowing would still be considered plagiarism. Don’t do it!)
The more specific/detailed your topic brainstorming, the less you’ll agonize when it’s time to quit procrastinating and actually write a blog post. You can always modify ideas and change the order of your topics as necessary.
Either Say “Cheese!” or Ask “How Much Is That Online Stock Photo in the Window?”: I discussed the poetic justice of building an in-house photo library for your blog in a previous post. (Using proprietary images also protects you from the anguish of receiving those pesky “cease and desist” letters.) Rather than re-shoot that pretty picture, I’ll just direct you to the 11/27/12 link.
If you’d rather source free (or mostly free) blog photos/images online, I respect that decision. Several widely used and reputable stock photography collections include stock.xchng, dreamstime, morgueFile, and StockPholio. For more royalty-free photography options, read Denny Tang’s full post.
Additional Eclectic Online Cures for Your Blog Post Brainstorming Blues: In a very recent post, I revealed some online resources that help me to “speak the Charm of Making” in my weekly blog entries. But a good blogger is always on the prowl for more mind-blowing inspiration, especially when creativity has (temporarily) left the building.
A few recent finds I’ve taken the time to bookmark (in my search for continued blogging bliss) are BuzzFeed, Cracked, and Lifehacker. As I stumble upon additional websites I consider useful in my quest for the holy grail of blogging inspiration, I’ll continue to share…
Be honest, my fellow bloggers – how much progress have you made with your 2014 editorial calendar? Did this post put a bee (or perhaps an entire hive) in your blogging bonnet, or were you already on the righteous path to “calendarized” redemption? If your topic-generating powers come from sources other than the ones mentioned here, please speak up via a comment or shared link (thank you). Whatever you do, don’t start your 2014 blogging year with a bare-bones calendar…
Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business-to-business (B2B) writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing copy. Call her (856-810-9764) or email her (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a no-obligation project quote today!