For blogging to be effective in generating business for your school, it must be done on a consistent basis. To maintain that consistency, planning is the key.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The idea of producing quality blog content on a consistent basis can be an overwhelming proposition. Planning offers the means to break down your efforts into routine, bite-sized tasks.
Specifically, planning allows you to:
Stay on Task
A plan offers a road map to navigate the day-to-day duties of blogging as well as a means to overcome the roadblocks created by the inevitable distractions that can get in the way of achieving your goals. In addition, a plan can help you stay organized and minimize stress by keeping you on target.
Maintain Focus on the Big Picture
Planning ahead allows you to publish content that is more aligned with your overall marketing goals as opposed to simply offering random posts based on your feelings at the given moment. It also allows you to publish date-sensitive information at the right time and helps you maintain a consistent core message while minimizing the chances of posting duplicate or irrelevant content.
Produce Quality Content
Armed with a plan, you spend less time scrambling to meet your posting deadlines and have more time for topic research, more time to allow your creative juices to flow and more time for all the other activities that go into producing engaging and effective content as opposed to “just another blog post.”
How to Plan
Determine Publishing Goals. Taking into consideration your capacity to produce quality content, figure out how often you can expect to be able to post (e.g. once per week, twice per week, 6 times per month). Next, establish a blogging schedule. For consistency sake, it is best to post on the same day(s) at the same time(s) each week.
Brainstorm Content. Brainstorming begins with your parent (buyer) personas. Keeping in mind their pain points and interests, identify topics/titles that would appeal most to your target audience. To maintain a consistent pipeline of blog ideas, conduct brainstorming sessions on a regular basis (e.g. weekly, monthly, quarterly) based on what works best for you and your team.
Create a Blog Publishing Schedule. Once you’ve determined your blogging frequency and have a list of blog topics/titles to work with, the next step is to schedule your blog posts. It is best to have your blogs scheduled out at least one month in advance.
The Blog Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar is an ideal planning tool for creating a blog publishing schedule. It can help you stay organized and on task and makes coordination easier when multiple content contributors are involved.
Editorial Calendar Content
Here are some things to include in your editorial calendar:
Working Blog Title
Content Due Date
Blog Post Date
Some find it helpful to list additional details, such as target persona, keywords, meta description or calls-to-action (CTAs) to be used. To make the most of your blog planning efforts, include as much or as little information as you need.
Editorial Calendar Format
There are many ways to house editorial calendar content. Here are a few ideas:
Table in a Word Processor
When selecting a format for your editorial calendar, consider your needs and choose one that makes sense for you. Something plain and simple might work if you are the only one using it; however, you might need something more elaborate if you will be collaborating with others during the planning process.
Once you’ve incorporated an editorial calendar into your planning process, for best results, review it on a weekly basis and make adjustments as necessary.
The key to effective blog planning is to identify a planning process that works best for you and sticking to it. The effort you spend up front planning will save you time and hassle in the long run and will greatly improve the chances that your blogging efforts will lead to enrollment growth for your school.
This post is part of the “Blogging for Schools” series that covers the basics of creating, executing and maintaining a school blog. Check out the previous installments here: Post #1, Post #2, Post #3, Post #4, Post #5.