How to plan your blogging activities for next year

fairy blog mother cropThe end of the year is nigh! What have you accomplished during 2015? Were you successful? Did you learn a lot? Did you get everything done?

However, now’s the time to start thinking about whether you should plan your blogging activities ready for 2016, and how you are going to go about it. 

And it’s always a good idea to take advantage of the ‘dead’ days in between Christmas and the New Year to do some planning.

This Infographic gives you a quick visual guide:

How to plan your blogging activities for next year

And here’s some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.

You probably know the old adage “Fail to plan, plan to fail”. 

And yes, it is right. In the past I’ve wasted so much time pootling around without a plan, when I could have got so much more done!

How you go about deciding how to plan your blogging activities for next year will depend, of course, on whether you have any formal marketing training.

Honestly I don’t think that matters, as a blogger armed with a spreadsheet and a lot of common sense does just as well as any fancy marketing chap with his latest app or similar technology.

Are you a vision of loveliness?

You need to have a purpose in whatever you do. Otherwise you will continue to flail about without any direction, going round in circles and never getting anywhere.

Once you have created a proper focus, which also includes understanding who you are writing for, and why you are blogging in the first place, you will find it much easier to begin your journey. 

I suggest writing all of this down so you can refer to it throughout the year. It needn’t be set in stone, visions and missions statements can easily be reviewed and adapted as your blog grows and develops, or if you achieve your goals sooner than you expected.

What are you trying to achieve?

Part of deciding to plan your blogging activities is to set objectives or goals. Objectives are goals with timely and measurable aims, as any marketing chap worth his salt will tell you.

If you know where you want to get to, what you want to achieve and know when you’ve got there, then that’s half the journey done. There are plenty of people who don’t.

Success is understanding where the focal point on the horizon is, and finding the path to get there. Aim as high as you like, the more you strive, the better you will become.

How effective is your writing?

There are plenty of bloggers happily writing away who moan that they don’t have many readers. This is because they haven’t bothered to find out what their audience wants, and especially who their ideal reader is.

So before you start to plan your blogging activities, it’s worth doing a bit of research first. Just to find out what people want to read, learn, or be entertained. And if you have created the ‘avatar’ of your ideal reader (note it is in the singular), this will help you focus on finding and writing about the right kind of information they want to know.

Create a simple survey (surveymonkey.com is free for the first 10 questions) and spread it around your contacts and friends. Incentivise them with a prize to get more answers. If you catch them on a good day, they will give you some valuable information to help with your planning.

How topical are you?

The results of your survey, or even just by asking questions in forums and social networking groups, will give you a good idea of the topics you should be including in your plan.

Make sure these topics reflect your readers’ needs and desires. Analyse their problems and provide the solutions within these topics. Your audience is much more likely to respond favourably if they can relate to each subject offered.

Select the best 12, and allocate them to each month of the year. If you’re feeling very inspired, you could break them down into 4 or 5 sub-topics for each week within the month.

Are you ever realistic?

It’s so easy to get carried away and say to yourself that you’re going to blog every day in the New Year. But we all know that this verve and enthusiasm will soon quickly wane.

And short bursts of intense activity followed by periods of fallow is not good for your blog. Your readers will soon wonder what has happened to you, and the search engines will write off your blog as ‘neglected’ or even ‘dead’. 

So when you plan your blogging activities, make an informed and realistic decision how many times a week you really can post (maybe twice a week?) in order to maintain the consistency needed to help your blog to survive and thrive.

I hope you won’t stay the same?

Blogging nowadays isn’t just about writing a lot of words. You all know that it helps to adapt how you produce your posts.

Now you needn’t get in a flurry about videos, podcasts and such like, if that’s not necessarily your sort of thing. However, if you’re keeping to a particular topic each month (according to your new plan), it’s worth varying how your approach your communication with your readers.

Try a list post, a review of a related product or an influencer’s post, a rant or opinion piece about your chosen topic, a quick how-to post that could transform your readers’ lives, a round-up post of other blogs you admire – anything that varies your delivery and maintains the entertainment value of your blog.

Do you abide by the seasons?

When you plan your blogging activities, allow enough time to write posts in advance of any major event or seasonal happenings that your readers can relate to.

For example, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, May Day, Midsummer’s Day, Summer Holidays, Harvest Supper, Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night, Advent, Christmas, and New Year again!

And I’m sure you could easily slot in some extra meaningful and poignant events in between my list that your readers will appreciate. In fact following the social calendar make your planning a little bit easier.

Now this planning thing doesn’t seem so hard?

Take a spreadsheet or draw up a large grid on a piece of paper and allocate your topics to their chosen months. You can choose either paper or electronically, the latter being easier to change or adapt, the former probably benefitting from post-it notes stuck all over it.

Then divide up the weeks and the number of posts within them. If you have successfully created lots of sub-topics during your brainstorming, now’s the time to fill them in. Any gaps can be solved through a spot of blog surfing or some good-old thinking over a cappuccino and sticky chocolate cake with a good friend. 

Remember your plan should be thought of as a flexible work in progress, because whatever you think about at the beginning of the year may not stay the same as the year progresses. So leave some room for manoeuvre and improvement.

How much time should I allocate?

Top planners don’t just allocate which posts should be published and when, they also schedule other vital time-slots to get their blogging done efficiently.

If you are going to publish twice a week, be mindful of all the hard work that happens before you click that publish button. When you plan your blogging activities, spare enough time for adequate research, outlining your post, the actual writing in draft form, editing and optimising for the search engines, rewriting the headline for a better impact, and last minute alterations before finally publishing your pride and joy. 

And even then you haven’t finished. Your newly published post will need to be promoted, so a time-scale of marketing activities can swing into action to ensure as many people as possible have the chance to read what you have written.

And another tip is to schedule in some time for a draft writing session at the beginning of the month. Leaving your draft posts to ruminate and gestate until their time comes for publishing means they will probably end up being of a superior quality than if they were created in a mad rush!

What do you think of it so far?

It’s all very well being really clever and planning your publishing strategy in advance, if you don’t take the time to analyse and revise how it is coming along.

This is not only to make the process less stressful, but also if it has made any improvements to your blog. Allowing yourself enough time to produce and promote your posts will certainly result in a better quality of post, but have any of your readers noticed? And have you acquired new readers as well?

Part of your review is to see what your audience thinks of your blog and if any of them approve. Find out what is successful and do more of it, learn what was a flop and avoid or adapt it in future. This is all grist to your mill when it comes to doing your planning again in the following year (when by then you’ll be a dab hand at it!).

Do you need further encouragement?

I’ve been practicing what I preach and have managed to plan my blogging activities ahead to create various activities that help bloggers achieve more success.

In the New Year I shall be holding two e-courses: a 1-week course for beginners to start their first blog, and a 2-week course to kickstart your blogging and writing to set it up for the coming year.

So if you’re interested in finding out how to improve your blog, especially in relation to your new plan you’ve just created as a result of this post, then we’d be delighted to hear from you!

Picture: Elena Kharichkina via Shutterstock

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About Alice Elliott

If you are a beginner blogger who is looking for someone to "explain things really simply" about blogs and WordPress, then go ask Alice Elliott! Her award winning blog Fairy Blog Mother explains blogging using ordinary, everyday words. Why not take part in her 90 Days Challenge to Commenting Mastery to get more readers and traffic!

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