Today’s guest post is from Brittany Berger of eZanga.com
Developing a content calendar can be tricky. Every content marketer has a moment (or ten) where they just feel stuck. You have three ideas for blog posts, but you need five. Or worse, you don’t have any at all.
It’s always good to have a virtual bucket full of ideas that you can pull from at times like those, but even that will be empty from time to time. That’s why it’s good to be able to come up with any idea and morph it into what it needs to be.
If you need to fill multiple spots on your blog’s editorial calendar but only have one general post idea, you can easily turn it into a series that lasts two, three, or even five or more posts. You just know how to structure the posts so that they each stand on their own but also fit together perfectly enough to be considered part of a series.
Here’s how to plan your blog series out in three simple steps:
1. Brainstorm around your single post idea
Once you’ve come up with a rough topic that could maybe, sort of be a blog post, start brainstorming. It can help to write an outline of how that idea would be manifested as a single blog post. Think about the important points you would want to make, examples or case studies you could mention, related ideas, etc. Just get it all out.
For example, let’s say your vague idea is about creating a social media marketing strategy. Parts of your outline could include different social networks, best practices for each network, different goals companies have on social media, types of engagement, analytics, etc. Don’t worry about organizing it all; that comes later.
2. Broaden or refine
You might find that what you come up with in step one doesn’t seem like enough to provide content for several blog posts. That’s okay. It might also seem like your ideas are so scattered that they wouldn’t seem at all related to your blog’s readers. That’s okay, too. We’re still in the planning stages.
If your topic seems too specific and like it is still better suited for a single post, outline how that post would go. You’ll probably come up with a bulleted list at some point. Take that list and separate each item into a separate document or put each item on a separate piece of paper. Boom! Now you have several additional post ideas.
If your brainstorming in step one seems too general, you don’t necessarily need to get more specific, which is what someone might assume. Continuing our previous example, you could write a series on social media without sticking to the same network or writing in vague terms that could be applied to any network. Instead, choose one activity or goal and look at different best practices for each network, or how to accomplish one goal on different platforms.
3. Outline the series
Here’s where you add structure to the brainstorming you did in steps one and two. Think about how to categorize the ideas you came up with, how different items relate to each other, and more. It’s important to break up the idea in the proper places and put each piece in the right place to make sure each post can stand on its own, but that there’s also a flow to it.
Continuing the example from step one, let’s say you’ve decided on a series about creating a social media strategy. Obviously, the order of the posts should go in the order that someone would complete them when creating an actual social media strategy.
Since we all blog about different things, let’s look at a few more examples of how one idea can be developed into a series.
- Let’s say you have a technology blog. You sometimes write product reviews, but you want to be able to write several reviews and link them all as part of a series. Instead of writing general reviews for 5 different pieces of technology, pick one feature or one need that the products solve. Focus your reviews on that one commonality and compare and contrast products.
- If you sell a product, you can break the rule of “not talking about yourself on your blog” by putting the focus on your customer instead of your product. For example, if you sell hairdryers, start an ongoing style series where each post focuses on a specific hairstyle and teaches your customers how to blow dry their hair and create that style. It’s not sale-sy because technically, they could use any hairdryer to follow your directions, and it’s showing your product in action instead of promoting it.
- Spotlight your customers. You can hold a contest where you ask your customers or fans a question related to the industry you’re a part of. Highlight one or a few answers in each post. If you’re in the fitness industry, you can have a contest asking your readers what their motivation is for staying fit, or what their fitness goals are and how they’re achieving them.
Have you ever successfully created a blog series? How did you go about planning and executing it? Share your process to provide those who’ve never done it with even more help.