How to schedule your blog posts
1st May 2020
Scheduling your blog posts is always a good idea.
The not-so-secret secret to building a great blog is publishing high-quality, consistent content to an engaged audience. Having a solid social media plan is key.
Scheduling helps you get organized and helps you reach your audience when they’re most engaged. Producing high-quality content is all down to you!
Scheduling blog content also means that, depending on which tools you use, you don’t have to sit there and manually press ’go’ for your blog to go live on the right day, at the right time. Having a social media posting schedule will get you organized.
It helps to think of your blog as a marketing channel.
If you’re looking to reach new audiences by attracting traffic through search engine marketing, build a brand voice, and share important information with your followers, nothing much beats a blog.
From a prospect’s first interaction with you to their final decision to buy, your blog is a key tool for converting customers. It’s also a great way to turn customers into strong advocates of your product or service.
But most importantly, your blog shows the variety of personalities, thoughts, and voices within your organization. Like all other businesses, yours is powered by people, and in order to build a relationship with customers, people should be at the center of your brand. There's great social media tools for business out there, that can help get your brand seen, researching them is key and finding the right one.
Check out our blog to find out how various social media experts are managing their social media and content marketing at the moment.
Scheduling what you’re going to write and when is an excellent way of keeping up your blog’s momentum. If you haven't heard of social media marketing automation this will mean tools that help you schedule to various channels and social media platforms.
There’s nothing worse than having to sit down and write a blog when you haven’t got a clear idea of what you’re going to write. If you end up writing anything at all, it’s probably not going to be very good.
Scheduling your blog posts with a content calendar gives you more time to decide what you should be writing about before your deadline is due. And knowing what’s coming is always the best way of helping you prepare.
When you schedule blog posts you can check that you’re not doing too much of one type of post. A content marketing calendar will help you see the plan ahead and categorize your content so you have a balance of themes.
Not doing much video in the coming month? Add that in. Need some more graphics to go with your posts? You can start preparing those now too.
This’ll take you about an hour
You’ll need to produce content that people want to read. But how do you figure out what that is? a content creation strategy will help get you social media plan in place but to start a plan you need to think of ideas.
Well, the best way is to go to a leading forum covering your sector.
Houzz, for example, is the leading forum for interior design. In this bathroom design forum, there are 21 comments on a thread under the question ‘advice on remodeling a bathroom’.
You could make a list of the type of questions people ask that you’d feel confident writing about, then use a social media management system to schedule them into your blog content calendar.
You could also consider using an online blog topic generator. Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator.
Simply type in your subject matter and five different nouns and you’ll get a week’s worth of blog post ideas. We used interior design, bathrooms, tiles, color and shape.
You can even schedule your blog posts a year in advance:
Of course, another way to brainstorm is to get your team together and ask them what sort of questions come up all the time from customers.
Or use an online tool such as BuzzSumo to find out the type of content trending in your niche:
Decide on priorities and time limits
This should take 30 minutes
First things first make sure you have a social media manager platform that yourself or team can all Set up a time to schedule blog posts that fits into your daily routine. If you don’t get up until noon, for instance, then plan to write your first blog for 2pm. That doesn’t mean you send it out then, you’ll store it for a time your audience is more engaged.
Before you write the blog, decide how much time you want to spend promoting your blog. Do you plan to write the blog for another site or publication?
You should secure your spot for guest posts ahead of time, which can take quite a while to organize. Come with a synopsis and a clear idea of what you can bring to the publication.
If it’s for your own blog, you should be thinking about whether the blog you plan to put together will have more or less impact than some of your other ideas. Will it take more or less time?
You should prioritize what’s quickest and most impactful. We measure ‘impact’ by the traffic it drives, how many times it’s shared, and how many people convert to a free trial from a blog page.
This should take two hours
If you want to stay on top of your blogging efforts you’ll need to be really organized. Much more organized than you’d think.
That’s because there’s so much that goes into a blog post. And if you don’t do it right, your blog will lie on the internet unread, like most other blogs.
So first thing’s first. Write down what you’re going to blog about, what your keywords are, what you’re going to blog about, on what date you plan to publish, and what type of blog you’ll do.
Be sure you also have social media publishing tools that can do both graphics and video. It's important to make a note of any of the following you might need:
- How-to Guide
Here’s how you can use ContentCal’s Content Calendar template.
If you haven't already downloaded your free ContentCal Content Calendar template, you can download it here.Download your content calendar template
To get started with your content calendar, go to the grey box on the left of your content calendar and answer the four questions asked there.
Your answers to these questions will automatically pull in to the right-hand side of the sheet, and help you get organized when you're filling out your content calendar.
Every good content strategy starts by outlining what its objectives are for the year.
Whether you want to grow traffic, grow engagement, grow leads, or grow sales from organic channels, add in these objectives to keep a record of what your goals are.
Then, when you're adding these into the plan, you'll have these front-of-mind, helping you focus that are going to help you reach your target objectives.
A content channel is any place where you share text, images or video to a wider audience.
These include all the social channels, including Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, but also video streaming services like Youtube, and blogging platforms like Medium or Wordpress.
We wouldn't suggest posting to more than five channels, or you begin to lose focus and it becomes difficult to keep track of results on every platform!
There are so many different types of content out there that you could share. But which are the top 10 content types that are going to shift the needle?
These could include guest posts, social image cards, client case studies, and many others. We've added a few examples within the doc which you could use.
If you're struggling to think of different content types, take a look at your history of posting on social media. What are the broad themes and what do you want to introduce more of?
Now you've written down each type of content you expect to post, it's time to understand how many of each type you need to add per month.
If you're not sure, that's totally fine - just add in your best guess. You can always come back later and change any part of your answers in the Excel sheet and the rest of the spreadsheet will update automatically.
As you filled out the answers to each of the questions, you'll have noticed that some cells on the right-hand side of the screen started to populate automatically.
Once you've answered all the questions, you should be able to see:
- Your content objectives for the year
- Your target channels
- The different types of content you plan to post
- How often you plan to post each content type each month (on a grid)
Now you all you need to do is populate your calendontent car.
Each of the colored boxes represents a different content type to paste into your calendar. To the right of the colored boxes you'll see a countdown of how many times you still need to add that content type to the calendar.
This will countdown to zero and turn green every time you've added your quota of content types to each calendar month.
So here's what you do:
- Copy (CTRL + C) a color box for the post type and right click, choose 'Paste Special' then 'Paste Values and Formatting Only'.
- Do this again, but with different dates, until the countdown box for the selected month in the right of spreadsheet reaches zero and turns green.
- Once you've done this for each content type, for each month, the whole grid should go green.
- You've planned your content types. Now get drafting & get posting with ContentCal
This rest is straightforward. Add your colored content type boxes to the calendar until the grid goes green.
Once the grid is green, you're all set up for the year, and you know exactly what to do.
Using different mediums adds variety and will appeal to different readers, but you could always schedule blog posts with the same type of content on the same days of the week.
For example, you could post a How-to guide on Fridays, a Trend Watch blog on Wednesdays, and a guest post on Mondays etc. This helps your audience understand what’s coming next, and sets up your own organizational structure to help you post.
This should take half an hour
Whether you’re writing the blog post yourself or hiring a writer to do it, it’s important to set out a clear brief.
Even if you’re writing a post for yourself, you’ll know what to say because it’s all in your head. However, putting the structure into a brief makes it easier to write.
This allows you to change things around before you start writing. You can check if you need more research or surveys to back up what you’re writing.
If you’re hiring another writer to produce the blog post then a brief is essential. Having that brief means you’re both on the same page, so to speak.
Or you should be, if the writer doesn’t produce what you’ve asked for then you have the brief to prove it.
So, how do you go about producing this first brief?
First, you make sure you communicate why the blog is being written, who the audience is, and where the blog will appear.
Next, send the writer a brief containing:
- A summary of what the blog should say
- Word count
- Types of asset needed, e.g. imagery
- Where the blog will feature, e.g. is it an opinion piece for LinkedIn or a guest post for a site?
- The tone of the piece
- Any links and keywords to be included
- Link to similar content
- Call to action throughout the blog
Here’s the brief we used for this blog.
If you don’t already have a writer for your blog then there are various ways to find one. You could, for instance, search one of the job boards out there.
There are a few options, but the most common are Fiverr, People Per Hour and Upwork.
On each of these sites, you can advertise the fact you’re looking for a blog writer that covers your subject matter. Ask to see examples of similar blogs they’ve done before so you know that they’re right for the job.
You’ll probably get a number of bids. Just choose one that you think will fit best, based on their previous samples and background. As you can see from this ‘featured’ post on PPH, 52 writers have applied.
Another way to find a writer is to ask fellow bloggers if they can recommend someone. When you find your writer, never promise to schedule blog posts weekly, unless you’re sure they’re a great fit.
Take it post-by-post, and build up momentum before booking in more of your writer’s time. You might also want to have a Skype or Zoom chat with them if it’s for a long-term gig.
Even if you’ve written your own blog post, you’ll want to set some time aside to edit it.
Editing isn’t just about the nuts and bolts, like getting the spelling right. It has more to do with fitting the post into your publication.
Each of your blogs have something very important in common: your audience. When you’re editing your blog, you should always be thinking - how is this relevant to my audience?
The most effective brands think of themselves as media companies, and each blog or ad they create is an articulation of their brand to bring them closer to their audience.
- Does your audience want punchy sentences?
- Does your audience want to quickly find an answer?
- Does your audience want to be taken on a longer journey, where they learn more around a certain topic?
The desktop app HemingwayEditor helps you improve your writing style:
To make your blog post more readable, you’ll want to add any relevant photos or charts to break up the text and highlight the most important points you want to get across.
Be sure to make sure you have all this in your social media marketing plan. Charts, infographics and all other helpful visualizations are all great ways to simplify what you’re trying to say to your readers.
Finally, preview before getting ready to schedule your blog.
If you don’t already have a working knowledge of SEO, I’d recommend Wordpress users use a tool like Yoast to optimize your posts.
If you don’t use Wordpress or don’t want to use Yoast, that’s fine too. Just as long as you’re taking the relevant steps to ensure your blog is SEO-ready.
- Choosing which keyword or keyword you want to target
- Writing an effective headline
- Optimize images with alt text
- Make a good number of internal links
- Write a meta description
- Add relevant social sharing images
This is all you need to add to a post to tell Google what it’s about, and whether it would be relevant for page one.
Of course, there’s much more to SEO, and using these techniques alone won’t be enough to get your blog post on page 1. These are more hygiene factors, than part of an SEO strategy.
You always want to publish your blog when your audience is most likely to be online, and most likely to be engaged with your marketing channels and social media platforms.
You can schedule blog posts to be released at a certain time within tools such as Wordpress and Squarespace.
ContentCal, too, has integrations with blogging site Medium that allow you to schedule posts to be sent out from within your content calendar.
But when is the best time to schedule your posts for?
A survey by social sharing site Sharaholic, showed that 9am was the best time of day to get a post seen. The worst times were 7am and 1pm.
To find out when your readers are online, look at your analytics – both on your blog - with Google Analytics page views - and the engagement stats for whichever social media channels you link to the blog.
If you’re looking for people to share your blogs the best time of day would be later in the afternoon and in the evening, according to a study by TrackMaven:
In order to really make your blog post work, you have to promote it. Promotion falls into three categories: owned, earned and paid.
Owned promotion is the promotion of your blogs through channels you’re directly in control of. That could be through pop-ups on your site, your social channels and your email subscriber list. This promotion is the simplest to organize, and takes the least time.
Earned and paid channels are for blogs that have the promise of doing really well. You could mention an influencer, send him or her a link to the post and ask them to share it. Do the same if you’ve linked to a company’s product in a blog post.
We’d also recommend collaborating with other bloggers in your sphere. If your blog is about interior design, for instance, then ask other bloggers to write a guest post for your blog and vice versa. That way, you are sharing your traffic.
Share a link to your blog on Facebook and Twitter. Post the whole article on your company LinkedIn page (especially if it’s an opinion piece).
If - and only if - your blog performs well on owned and earned channels, we’d recommend you put some spend behind it and target audiences that are relevant to you.
A social media management app can help here. Retrospective on how things have gone
This should take two hours
Every quarter, you should look back at how your blog posts are doing. Which are performing best and why?
As a rule of thumb, when something’s doing well, you want to do more of that thing. Do your readers love your sense of humor, find your how-to posts interesting, or are you driving lots of search traffic to a certain post?
Perhaps video content or mostly image-led posts were shared more than others. Again, think about producing more of these…
It’s obvious when you think about it, but it may not seem as obvious to periodically check in with your blogs to see which is performing best.
Sometimes it takes months for a post to climb the rankings on search engines, and sometimes it takes something strange like lockdown to completely change your prospects’ searching behavior.
We’ve found traffic coming to a previously dormant blog about the social sharing app Squad in recent weeks, for example.
You can also look at which posts received the most interest on social media, and which were shared. This retrospective of the top five posts of 2018 showed which blogs were keeping content marketing agency Brafton’s audience engaged:
The most important part of blog production is the first step. Is what I plan to write about worth writing about?
If it’s not - either because there’s already a lot of content available that says the same sort of thing, or because you’re not writing about something that your audience wants to read - then you’re going to waste a lot of time.
Only schedule blog posts that have the biggest chance of winning engagement. And if a blog post doesn’t get the engagement you think it deserves, find out why that is by asking around. It’ll save you time in the long run.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on your competitors' blogs. What are they doing right? How can you emulate that, while bringing more of what makes your brand unique?