A blank content calendar can be pretty intimidating. When thirty empty spaces are staring at you from the computer screen, you may get hit with a sudden bout of writer’s block or feel like every potential topic has already been written about.
In reality, there are plenty of viable subjects that you can write about for your blog — it just takes a little bit of thinking and planning ahead.
Use these six actionable tips to fill out your blog’s calendar with high-quality content that your audience will find valuable.
1. Look at Your Calendar. No, not the blank content calendar, silly! Take a look at a monthly calendar to see what holidays, anniversaries or celebrations are on tap for that month.
For example, if you work for a Mexican restaurant, a blog post about the history of the margarita would be appropriate for National Margarita Day on February 22nd. Around Thanksgiving, maybe your co-workers can submit one thing they’re each thankful for that happened this year — a new industry tool, or maybe something fun that happened within your company. And your company’s yearly anniversary is a great reason to look back at all that’s changed in your industry and your company since you started, and what you expect to change in the future.
Planning some of your content around events that are naturally occurring is a quick, effective way to start filling in the blanks on your calendar.
2. Browse News Aggregate Sites. Sites such as Feedly or Alltop gather news for a wide variety of industries, making it easy for you to conduct a simple search and read about the latest happenings in your industry. Skim these headlines to get a brief overview of the news, and use these topics to spark ideas of what your audience needs to be updated on.
With these posts for inspiration, you can plan a few different types of blog posts. For instance, you can post a quick update about a big piece of breaking news, or you can set aside more time to write a longer, opinion piece of a controversial piece of news. No matter what, it’s crucial to stay updated on your industry’s latest updates and breaking news so you can demonstrate your authority to your readers and potential customers.
3. Explore Quora or Yahoo! One of the most helpful types of blog posts you can write is one that answers a common question that your audience has. Of course, your customer service or sales reps are a valuable resource for questions that your customers frequently ask, but another way to get insight into your customers’ minds is by browsing sites like Quora or Yahoo! Answers. These question-and-answer sites let users create, answer, edit and organize questions by topics so that the information is crowd-sourced.
Writing a blog post from a question-and-answer perspective can be especially valuable considering that many people these days search for answers by typing actual questions into the search box (that is, searching for “what are the ingredients for a margarita” rather than “margarita ingredients”). Using this strategy, you can capture many of the long-tail keywords that your audience is searching for while also creating evergreen content that will be helpful on your site for years to come.
4. Comb Through Your Archives. If you’re struggling to come up with a blog post idea, look back at past blog posts or content you’ve created to see what’s resonated with your audience. You can update a popular piece with more recent information, or repurpose a post to be another type of content. For example, maybe you can argue an opinion piece from the opposite perspective, or repurpose a blog post into a SlideShare.
If you’re just starting to create your first blog posts and don’t have archives to fall back on, have no fear- you can still look back on social media comment (Facebook posts or tweets) or offers (such as e-books or other downloads) to see what your audience has responded to the most.
5. Play With a Blog Topic Generator Tool. Who said you have to write the post first and then come up with a topic? Sometimes, it works better to start with an attention-grabbing title and then write an informative blog post based on the title.
Several sites will let you enter a keyword or two and then will automatically generate several potential content ideas. One tool that works particularly well is HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator, which lets you input three nouns and then comes up with five different blog post topic ideas. Of course, these blog post topics aren’t always ready made and may require some tweaking to be grammatically correct or relevant to your audience — but they’re a great place to visit for fresh ideas.
6. Think of a Regular Series You Can Do Easily. Having a regular series of blog posts is a fast and efficient way to fill out your blog content calendar. It’s one less box you have to worry about each week, and having a structure to your blogging schedule helps make the brainstorming and writing process a routine.
Some examples of possible series include a weekly roundup of links to the latest news in your industry around the Internet, a weekly post addressing a customer’s question, a monthly post highlighting an employee or customer of the month or a bi-weekly post from various employees detailing a day in the life of their jobs and how they help customers. Creating a regular series you can rely on makes one less thing for you to worry about when building out your blog’s content calendar.
Once you get into a habit of filling out your blog’s content calendar, you’ll find that thinking of new topics to write about isn’t actually that hard. With the right tools and the right perspective, you can easily come up with a month’s worth of blog topics in one brainstorming session while learning what topics your audience engages with the most!