Planning your blog posts in advance

Plan your posts in advance. Some bloggers plan up to a year ahead. Personally, I think 3  to 6 months is better, dependent on the niche.

I see hundreds of questions relating to “ what do I write about on my blog”.  Apart from the obvious MAKE IT INTERESTING FOR READERS,  there are many advantages to planning into the future. 

First – make the best use of your time. You don’t want to sit down and not have a  clue what to write about.

Plan Your Posts 1: Brainstorming Topics and Keyword Research

In just a few sessions, you can identify which topics under your niche will attract the readers and if you’re doing affiliate marketing as I advise, stand the best chance of making sales especially in that important first phase of blog making.

When you spend time doing this research, make lots of notes, copy the links onto an excel sheet at the very least, don’t make the mistake of thinking you will remember the sites and content.

As a beginner, you will most probably be able to write a 1000 to 2000 word article once or maybe twice a week, so it is doubly important to have the list of planned posts, with your notes and data ready and waiting to be written.

It is likely that, to get to a point where the organic traffic to your site is sufficient to earn anything, it’s going to take at least 6 months to a year. So do not wait until you have time to write, to wonder what to write about!  Make a plan and transfer it to your calendar – get organised. 

Plan Your Posts 2: Selecting the Best Topics:

There are many methods of starting this, my own favourites are Competitor Keywords and Seed Keywords. Try both methods and add the best keywords to your list.

Competitor Keywords Method: Scan your top competitors sites for their Keywords using Google Keyword Tool or Ubersuggest

Seed Keyword Method: Using Keywords that your Brainstorming session came up with, again use Google and Ubersuggest to get a seed list of keywords.

Now go to Pinterest and start typing in the search box, remember Pinterest is a search engine

As with Google, the Pinterest search bar will start to auto-complete, giving massive clues about topics with heavy searches and therefore big followings. Unlike Google the search terms are more general and less long-tail.  Don’t forget you can search boards, pins and pinners. It would be worth your time to create a ‘future post’ list from the pins and boards found

Also, the pins on pinterest boards are pinned in order of popularity, so the pins at the top are going to be the ones with most views and so are the subjects and sub-topics to write posts on.

Good blog Content Sources

Quora 

This is the biggest Q and A site on the net. There are few questions that have not been asked or answered at some time.  It’s a great source of inspiration and if you’re just starting and have no existing audience to ask, Quora will provide lots of questions that you can blog about.

Competing Websites:

Your direct competitors will have content lists, which you can scan. It is always worth taking a look at their content, to see if it is worthwhile to “Skyscraper”, in other words, to write bigger, more detailed content on the subjects you find. Ensure that it ranks well, has a good number of searches per month as shown in Ubersuggest or Google Keyword planner, otherwise you may be wasting time writing something of no benefit. Again I would make a note of traffic volume on your research excel sheet.

Medium.com

This is a platform used by many bloggers, not having their own sites. (personally I would always advise blogging on WordPress and paying for hosting, it is not expensive and your content cannot be pulled down or accounts banned, unlike on sites owned by others like FB, Wix,  Medium et al.

The advantage of posting on Medium of course is the huge traffic it gets. Medium is full of high-quality posts. Studying these can reveal many topics within niches you will explore that are on-target or related to your own, so again, take a note and add to your to-do-posts, or ‘future post’ list.

HARO 

Help A Reporter Out is a popular site where you can offer your expertise or experience to reporters writing about various subjects. The site can not only work to create links back to your site but also work for you to find ideas to create posts

BuzzSumo:

a great social media monitoring  site to see what’s HOT in your niche. And see WHERE your audience is ‘hanging out’. This is a very important factor since you may be missing the target if you post on sites other than the main ones. This site has a free (10 searches per month) package, which is ok to start with and to see if it’s useful for you.

Keyword Sheeter

You can run this list through Keyword Sheeter, you can add filters within the search to add or exclude words, this does a reasonable job of filtering out the nonsense to leave the best list which you can manually edit. Although KS doesn’t give you any stats, it is good to generate a seed list.

Doing Yet More Research to find the Gold

Sometimes Articles can be a source of topics, so have a look in PLRPLR.com and other free content PLR sites, true most PLR is old and poorly written, but it is sometimes worth a quick look.

Ezine Articles

This is an old site, not used so much these days, but there are actually some good articles on there

Google Trends

This is very useful to explore topics that are very popular and discover whether it is trending up, down or is consistent (flat).

Lastly try Hubspot’s topic generator 

You have to sign up for the Hubspot newsletter email, but it is worth it,  the results are usually a solid list of topics – Generator

When it comes to writing the posts on your list, you can use a calendar, but scheduling posts that way has a certain air of “deadline”  about it. I prefer to look at trends, news articles and popular blogs in my niche and try to pick something from my future post list that fits in.

For new blogs with little content on them yet, there is one other consideration to take into account when choosing what to write first.  Ranking  ability will be very low at  first, so aim to write something with low competition and fairly low traffic. I go into this in more detail in How to Write a Blog Post

Example: My search to find ideas for this blog 

As an example I entered the keyword “blogging plan” in Pinterest, Google and Ubersuggest and in no particular order I got the following list of keywords, very few of which had any search volume. I also use “Answer the Public” to rephrase my keywords, which dramatically helps sometimes!

 Initial Keyword List

1 year plan
1 year blogging plan
blogging planner
blogging planner
blogging content planner
blogging planner 2021
blogging planner pdf
blogging planner 2020
blogging event planner
how to make a blogging planner
blogging wedding planner
ultimate blogging planner
blogging startup planner
blogging planner printable
blogging planner etsy
best blogging planner
blogging planner template
blogging planner app

Sometimes, as with this initial search,  nothing much will turn up with suitable subject matter and its then time then to turn to other sources:

More Good Blog Content Idea sources

Quora 

This is the biggest Q and A site on the net. There are few questions that have not been asked or answered at some time.  It’s a great source of inspiration and if you’re just starting and have no existing audience to ask, Quora will provide lots of questions that you can blog about.

Competing Websites:

Your direct competitors will have content lists, which you can scan. It is always worth taking a look at their content, to see if it is worthwhile to “Skyscraper”, in other words, to write bigger, more detailed content on the subjects you find. Ensure that it ranks well, has a good number of searches per month as shown in Ubersuggest or Google Keyword planner, otherwise you may be wasting time writing something of no benefit. Again I would make a note of traffic volume on your research excel sheet.

Medium.com

This is a platform used by many bloggers, not having their own sites. (personally I would always advise blogging on WordPress and paying for hosting, it is not expensive and your content cannot be pulled down or accounts banned, unlike on sites owned by others like FB, Wix,  Medium et al.

The advantage of posting on Medium of course is the huge traffic it gets. Medium is full of high-quality posts. Studying these can reveal many topics within niches you will explore that are on-target or related to your own, so again, take a note and add to your to-do-posts, or ‘future post’ list.

HARO 

Help A Reporter Out is a popular site where you can offer your expertise or experience to reporters writing about various subjects. The site can not only work to create links back to your site but also work for you to find ideas to create posts

BuzzSumo:

a great social media monitoring  site to see what’s HOT in your niche. And see WHERE your audience is ‘hanging out’. This is a very important factor since you may be missing the target if you post on sites other than the main ones. This site has a free (10 searches per month) package, which is ok to start with and to see if it’s useful for you.

Keyword Sheeter

You can run this list through Keyword Sheeter, you can add filters within the search to add or exclude words, this does a reasonable job of filtering out the nonsense to leave the best list which you can manually edit. Although KS doesn’t give you any stats, it is good to generate a seed list.

Doing Yet More Research to find the Gold

Sometimes Articles can be a source of topics, so have a look in PLRPLR.com and other free content PLR sites, true most PLR is old and poorly written, but it is sometimes worth a quick look.

Ezine Articles

This is an old site, not used so much these days, but there are actually some good articles on there

Google Trends

This is very useful to explore topics that are very popular and discover whether it is trending up, down or is consistent (flat).

Lastly try Hubspot’s topic generator 

You have to sign up for the Hubspot newsletter email, but it is worth it,  the results are usually a solid list of topics – Generator

When it comes to writing the posts on your list, you can use a calendar, but scheduling posts that way has a certain air of “deadline”  about it. I prefer to look at trends, news articles and popular blogs in my niche and try to pick something from my future post list that fits in.

 

How to Make the Selection From Your List

This is the MOST important factor. Miss this and your site may never reach its full potential.

Go through the big Idea List and initially Google each term. 

Note that you should use the anonymous browser setting ( Chrome’s “incognito” mode )  for this AND most important if you are not in the same country as your audience, use a VPN set to the audience’s country, so you see the same  SERPs they will see. 

What type of site comes up in the SERPs? Are they huge well-known household name sites? Or are they Forums or just small blogs with little authority?

As a new site, you need some No 1 rankings, so choose queries where there is NO  COMPETITION.

With no Domain authority, you will not stand a cat in hell’s chance of beating the top site. So while you are the new kid on the block, stay away from that exact topic. You can try rearranging the order of words in the query, or adding new synonyms, context, etc ( Look at the “Answer the Public” categories for ideas)  and Google it again.

Queries with only Forum Answers in the top 10 results are perfect as you can usually write a much better article than the user-generated, short, and sometimes ill-informed answers.

Using this technique, filter out the best ideas from your big list and get to work!

One last tip. When you have been doing this for a while, you will notice that a lot of blogs come up with very similar content. Beware of too much reliance on Keyword tools and competitor’s sites. Use more of a brainstorming method FIRST  to get more original ideas!

Plan Your Posts 3: Planning Site Navigation

Once you have a list of posts to write, organise your site’s Navigation. The structure of the Main Menu on your website, is what tells Google what it’s all about. Google is a computer program and understands organised data a lot easier than just textual information, which has to be interpreted.  Group all the posts into Groups. Others refer to them as SILOs, Clusters, Categories. Be ruthlessly LOGICAL about where each post goes.

Try to organise 7 to 10 Groups. The way the mind works, 7 is the optimum number of categories you can keep focused on. Note I have not counted the sites must-have pages like contact, privacy, terms of business….. etc.

One key thing that emerges when you organise things this way is obvious internal links. You can then build these into the pages and gain that big SEO advantage.

                LIST OF POSTS TO WRITE  ====>  WEBSITE NAVIGATION

If you want to see how I do this task, check out this article, where  I create a sitemap in Elementor, to layout my Articles-to-Write list. This shows what the blog will look like in the future when the listed articles are all completed.

Plan Your Posts 4: Writing the Posts

Take the idea and keyword list, pick one, make a post on it. Remember what Google wants – so keep it relevant and ON TOPIC. When first starting your blog it is important to have a high throughput, if possible 20 to 30 posts in the first month would be perfect. 

If you find that this is just not possible, either start writing before you actually start publishing,  so you would build up a buffer of articles first. This would enable you to schedule posts at a faster rate, just for the initial 2 month phase.

Alternatively just establish a pace you can keep up, it may be a little lower than 20 per month, but try not to be too much lower, you need to show that you are producing serious work.

When starting to compose your blog, you will have to decide at what point to try to monetise it. Some jump in straight away with the first affiliate product idea that they think of. I would be more cautious. Give, rather than appear to want to take immediately.

Monetisation and List Building Timing

These topics are beyond the scope of this article but it is important to consider them early in the blog development.

How you organize the blog will to some extent depend on how you intend to monetize it in the future. 

It is never too early to start building a list of emails. A simple option form is all that is needed, maybe just in the sidebar. Offer a simple eBook showing one particular blog feature perhaps.  Email is a great way to stay in touch with the few initial visitors to the site.

Last Thoughts

Have a  look at the sites ranking on pages 2,3,4 and beyond. Sites that fail to rank well usually do so because they don’t answer the query that the user typed into Google. 

  • Stay ON TOPIC 
  • Fully ANSWER THE QUERY
  • ANSWER it in the first paragraph of your article then fill in the detail and the slightly off-topic themes

I go into full detail about actually writing and covering a topic in How to write a Great Blog Post