Do you ever open your blog and stare at blank screen, wondering what to write? Has it been months since you’ve added a new post to your website? Maybe you have the opposite problem and there are too many blog post ideas in your head and no way to organize them. I’ve been on both sides of that fence and here’s what I’ve found that works.
I’ve previously shared how a blog on your website can boost your search result rankings and generate new traffic. A blog is a key place to curate evergreen content that lives much longer than social media posts or emails. When done right, it provides helpful information and positions you as a knowledgeable guide. Once you learn how to complete careful keyword research for SEO, new and returning users will visit your website over and over again for fresh content… but what do you write about? And how do you plan blog post ideas efficiently?? These are my tried and true steps to plan effective, traffic-building content.
Plan Your Blog Post Ideas In Advance
Blog content performs best (and is less stressful!) when it’s strategically planned in advance. There are two types of people in this world– those who sleep easier at night when everything is taken care of and those who are up all night taking care of stuff. 😉 I’m sure you can guess which group I’m in. Helloooooo, team plan all the things!
While some people work well under pressure or don’t mind running up against a deadline, it’s much easier to see the “big picture” of your content calendar when you can actually see the entire calendar at-a-glance. This ensures you’re adequately covering all your key topics and time-sensitive needs. It also allows you to batch content easier.
If it’s overwhelming to think of a full twelve months right now, start where you are. Most new bloggers can commit to writing posts weekly or biweekly, so a quarterly plan is a good place to start. For a weekly blog, this means having about 12 upcoming blog posts on your radar.
Also, if the thought of committing to a content calendar makes you nervous, remember that you can move post ideas forward or backward as-needed based on current events, reader questions, and timely topics that pop up.
Start With Your Content Pillars For Blog Post Ideas
When planning your blog calendar and blog post ideas, begin with your content pillars. Content pillars are the foundations for your business. They are used to build your content strategy and are the basis for all the content you create.
For example, a teacherpreneur might have pillars such as literacy, math, social studies, seasonal/holiday activities, and classroom management. Their quarterly plan should include variety of topics for each pillar. Month one might look like:
- 5 Must-Read Novels for Third Grader
- The BEST Math Manipulatives for upper elementary students
- How to Keep Social Studies Current through Pop Culture
- Inclusivity Tips For Classroom Celebrations
- 3 Ways To Spend Less Time Planning
Also keep a running list with sections for each of your content pillars. As new blog post ideas pop up, add them under the correct content pillar to be worked into your content calendar later.
Use A Calendar
Whether you’re a paper planner or digital planner, a calendar is your best friend when it’s time to plan blog post ideas. I mark all business-related content on my calendar as soon as I know about it. This includes things like:
- Product launches
- Enrollment windows for memberships, subscriptions, coaching courses, tutoring sessions, etc.
- Standing events
- TPT sales for teacherpreneurs
- promotions your brand runs each year
- hashtag sales
- Timely topics
- Seasonal themes (back to school tips, winter book lists, etc.)
Then you can use the calendar to generate list of blog post ideas for each relevant item. It’s super important to plan ahead at this stage because you need to allow enough time for your post to gain traction on social media, email campaigns, and search results. Think about how stores put out holiday decor earlier and earlier every year! I’m no fan of Christmas in July, but if you wait to promote a Christmas item on the 20th of December, you’re going to be mostly out of luck.
More Places To Find Blog Post Ideas
After you have your content pillars and calendar, it’s time to fill in gaps. Your community is the perfect place to look for additional inspiration!
Reader Questions and Comments
Your audience interacts with you in other areas besides your blog. They ask questions on social media platforms, leave reviews in your store, reply to your emails, comment during your classes or live videos, and engage in your Facebook group. Read through your different forums to look for common questions or intriguing topics. Then add those ideas to your running idea list.
Search for topics that relate to your brand on Pinterest. What content sparks curiosity in you? If it makes you stop scrolling, it will probably make your audience stop too, thus making it a great idea to blog about. When using this method, be sure you have something unique and of value to add— don’t just copy what’s already there.
Use Your Own Data
Your website should be connected to Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Both of these Google tools can be used to provide you with important data relevant to blogging. Read this post on using Google Analytics and Google Search Console for more tips!
Google Search Console specifically provides information about which keywords lead traffic to your website. You can write additional posts to expand your content around what your audience is already searching for. Google Analytics provides data about what posts and pages readers spend the most time on. Then you can expand that specific content too.
Ask Your Audience
Just open social media comments and you’ll see people looooooove sharing their opinion. They love it even more when you (as a business owner they value) interact with them and use their ideas! Tell your audience you’re working on your upcoming content calendar and would love their input. Ask them what they want to know more about… you might be surprised by the answers! Not only does this create engagement and traffic on your social media platforms, but it keeps people coming back to see the answers to their questions. It also helps you make informed decisions about the ideas already on your list.
If you’re still cultivating an engaged audience, keep it simple. Provide options and allow them to vote, ask yes/no questions, etc.
How to Write Traffic-Building Blog Content
While blog content is considered “long form content,” it still needs to be easy to digest. Readers are often scrolling through their phones with only a few minutes to spare (or only a few minutes of an attention span). You need to help readers through your content and provide value to get the best results.
The short answer here is… it depends. And also (spoiler alert!) there is no answer.
The longer answer is this is going to vary based on your style, goals, niche, and audience needs.
Some data suggests the ideal post length for blogs is something that takes between five and seven minutes to read. When I saw that, I instantly thought, “No way!” because my blog attention span is about three minutes. But then I thought about the types of blog content I usually consume casually– recipes, quick answers to home or life questions, etc. I need short and sweet for those.
However, when I’m really dig into a blog post in order to learn something new, I need more content! If you notice, my free guides here on this blog (like the one you’re reading!) are lengthier. That’s because I want to be your guide and give you valuable information that makes a difference in your business. I also use headlines and tables of contents to help you navigate the post. You’ll also likely revisit the posts that are more helpful to you in order to expand your knowledge one section at a time.
If word count makes it easier to understand, informational blog posts rank highest when they’re around 1,500 words. Guides and how-to articles can push to 2,500 words. You can experiment with different post lengths to find the sweet spot for your audience.
If you have a ton of value to add about a topic and end up going way over the average word count, break down the topic into several blog posts instead. This gives you more “bang for your buck” with multiple posts streaming from a singular idea and builds up your “expert factor” in rankings.
If you really want to dig into blog post length, this article from SEMRush is full of data on the ideal blog post length if you want to take a deep dive.
Always use links to connect your posts to one another. This is especially helpful when you’ve taken one long post and broken it down into a series. Internal links keep traffic moving around your site and external links give your posts authenticity in the ranking algorithm.
Call to Actions
If you don’t utilize at least one call-to-action (CTA) in your blog post, then you’re missing out on a powerful tool!
CTAs often go at the bottom of a blog post, but they can also be sprinkled throughout as well. These are specific pushes for readers to take action on what you’re offering. If you write a blog post on “How to Build Student Writing Skills,” one CTA might be for the reader to buy your Daily Writing Prompts workbook.
CTA’s don’t always have to sell something. You can get creative, think outside the box, and still grow your following with CTAs. A few examples:
- Sprinkle in a free sample with a lead magnet/subscriber box to get readers on your list and into an email funnel that sells them on the workbook over time
- Highlight “Pins for Later” (embed Pinterest links that you’ve created for re-pinning)
- Include a CTA near an “ah-ha” paragraph that people might want to share with others
- Invite replies or questions via Instagram
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SEO “rules” are always changing and fresh traffic on your site helps keep your rankings high. Check your SEO often and adjust your blog posts so that they continue to rank well.
If you put out a stellar post, but it isn’t getting traffic, don’t be afraid to revisit the content. Can you revise the existing post? Boost its SEO? Promote it on social media or in an email campaign? My Free Post Promotion Checklist can help. This amazing, free tool will help you tick all the boxes so all that hard work you put into planning effective, traffic-building blog content isn’t wasted.
If you have older blog posts that are performing well (or were performing well, but have slowed down), you can revise them to provide more up-to-date information, add relevant new products, etc.
Finally, I mentioned batching content above. One of the biggest advantages to planning your blog posts in advance is the ability to batch content.
I rarely process a single blog post at a time. Instead, I set aside time on my calendar for each step of the batching process. Consider your strength and weaknesses when it comes to each part of the content planning process. It’s often easier to “eat the frog” and get the harder parts out of the way all together than allowing that specific part of the process to slow you down on each blog post you write.
If you decide to use a virtual assistance and outsource some of your work down the road, batching can also help with that!
When you make a list of 12-15 posts topics at the same time, you don’t have to remember which topics you’ve already covered or want to cover in the future. This helps fill in gaps and avoids duplicate content.
SEO research is intimidating for many new bloggers. Instead of doing that four separate times each month, sit down and do it for all four blog posts at once. You’ll get the hang of it faster and remember exactly what you did for the previous post so each one gets a little easier.
Then once you have the topics, you can batch the outlines. This can help you identify and differentiate exactly what content will go into each post.
This will vary based on your niche, but most posts need visuals. Product photos, mockups, pin images, watermarks, etc. are all more efficient when you do them in groups.
When it’s time to actually write each post, I personally like to do them one at a time. Some of my friends work on multiple drafts at the same time and bounce from one to the other when they experience writer’s block. You’ll find a system that works for you.
Finally, don’t skip editing. I am constantly rereading and editing as I go, but then I move post drafts to a “finished” folder. I come back with fresh eyes and give each post a final polish in batches with my editing hat on.
Final Thoughts on Blog Post Ideas
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for almost 12 years now. My process has changed over the years and yours will too. Be open to trying new strategies, and don’t be afraid to experiment with what works best for you!