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How to Create Your Blog Content Calendar

Today’s episode is the last in the ‘Today, Not Someday’ series of 11 podcasts and 10 challenges that you can do now to make next year your strongest year of blogging yet.

The focus is actioning your ‘someday’ list, the things you’ve always wanted to do to improve your blog but have struggled to make happen. For details about how the series works, check out episode one here. I’ve included a full list of episodes below.

The focus of today’s episode is about how to plan what content you will post on your blog during 2016. Having a plan will save you stress, energy and time, and will make your blog more consistent, increasing your chances of attracting new readers and keeping current readers engaged.

gray pencil on a open calendar business agenda by Mihai Ologeanu on

In This Episode

You can listen to today’s episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment). In today’s episode:

  • Why thinking ahead about your editorial calendar is important
  • Why reviewing your blog’s previous performance will fast track your plan for the future
  • 3 areas to look at to measure what your strongest content in 2015 was
  • How to review your previous content to work out what is getting readers the most excited and engaged
  • 11 quick questions to answer that will help you work out your blog’s most popular topics, times, post types and more
  • How to work out key themes you could cover in your content
  • How to work out ideas for series of posts for your blog
  • Why thinking about the rhythm of your publication schedule can help you plan your blog content
  • How to work out how often you should post content
  • How to decide what mediums of content you will post
  • How to decide and schedule when you will have breaks from blogging next year
  • Quick, easy things you can do to make your content look fresh and attractive and cut down your workload
  • Tools you can use to help you with collecting ideas and planning content
  • How to brainstorm great content ideas for the new year

Further Reading and Resources for How to Create Your Blog Content Calendar

Tools I mention in this podcast:

Other episodes in the Today, Not Someday Series:

Meet my new friend, Edgar (and a SPECIAL OFFER)

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I’d like to welcome a new sponsor to the ProBlogger podcast for the duration of this 10 part series, my friend ‘Edgar‘.

Edgar is a tool I’ve been using since January of this year that does exactly what this series is about. It enables you to make the work you do on social media keep paying off for the long term. You put a little work into Edgar today by adding social media updates highlighting the great content in your blog’s archives and Edgar goes to work to share them to your followers not just once but by queuing your updates to keep delivering to into the future.

The team at Edgar have put together a special deal for ProBlogger readers which gives you a free one month trial. Sign up for your free one month trial at Here’s a video of how I use Edgar:

If watching videos isn’t your thing – here’s a blog post I wrote on how I use Edgar.

Hi there. My name is Darren Rowse and welcome to episode 76 of the ProBlogger Podcast. This is the last in a series of 11 podcasts and 10 challenges that you can do on your blog to help you prepare for a fantastic year of blogging next year. We’re working through 10 things that often get put off and put onto our someday list and really should be on our today list. This is the last challenge in this series.

I want to thank those of you who have been listening and following along. I know some of you are putting off some of these challenges to do a little bit later, but I’ve just been amazed by the stories that I keep hearing from listeners of this podcast who are implementing these things. For me, that is the biggest compliment of all, people who are taking action on the content that we’re presenting. Today’s challenge is one that all bloggers should be thinking about, at least to some level. We’re going to be thinking about next year’s content on your blog.

You can find today’s show notes at You can follow along on Twitter or Instagram by sharing what you are implementing from these podcasts with the hashtag #TodayNotSomeday. Also, check out Edgar, which is a great tool that you can use to help with your social media. They’ve got a special offer for you as a podcast listener at

The last little announcement or logistical thing that I need to say at the top of this show is I hope you have a great Christmas if you are celebrating Christmas. If you’re not, I hope the end of your year is a fantastic one. It has been my absolute pleasure this year speaking with you two or three or even seven times a week when we started out in this podcast. I have loved podcasting and really look forward to continuing to podcast in the new year.

With that said, I’d like to get into today’s episode, episode 76, where we’re going to talk about your content.

Your challenge today is to think about your content calendar for next year. Yesterday’s or two days ago, the podcast that we put together was all about your promotional calendar. The things that you’re going to do to monetize your blog, but really a blog is not a blog unless it’s got content of some kind going on to it. I think it’s really useful at this time of year to be planning our approach to content for the new year. I actually would suggest you do this more regularly than once a year, but it’s certainly something that it’s great to do at this time of year as well. Just a few reasons why I think this is important, I think having some forethought to your content rather than just sitting down one day and working out what to write about on that particular day. Giving it some thought ahead of time really has some key benefits.

Firstly, it takes the pressure off at the moment. In the day-to-day of your life, it means that you don’t have to come up with ideas to write about or plan what you’re going to do over the next week on your blog. If you’ve got a plan already set out, you just need to sit down and implement that plan rather than coming up with ideas and working out the direction for the next week or so. It also helps you to create content that is much more thoughtful and that builds from one post to the next. It enables you to create content that takes your readers on a journey rather than just hitting them with semi-relevant content from day-to-day.

It also really fits in very well with episode 75, where we did come up with a promotional calendar for the year. When you are thinking about how you’re going to monetize and how you are going to create content, those two things really should sit together. When you’re creating content that builds up to the product launches that you have, all the affiliate launches that you have, you’ll find that it’s much easier to monetize.

Lastly, it helps you to be more consistent with your content and more disciplined over time if you have a plan. It’s very easy in the day-to-day to say, “I’m just going to let today’s post slip,” or, “I’m going to let tomorrow’s post slip.” But if you’ve got a plan with some sort of a deadline, some sort of a structure to it, you’ll find that you will stick to that and stick to creating and producing and publishing content on a more regular basis. At least that’s been my experience.

The first thing that I’d love you to do today is to spend a little bit of time reviewing your content from the last year. Again, we have put a post up on the ProBlogger blog which we will link to in today’s show notes, which encourages you to do an audit on your blog from the last year. Part of that audit is looking at content. If you’ve already done that, you might want to skip over this for a couple of minutes. But if you haven’t, there are a few questions that I typically would ask at the end of every year that help me to work out how content went over the last 12 months.

Probably the starting point, the most obvious question to ask yourself is what posts did well over the last year? You probably want to open up Google Analytics and check into the report that shows you the content that was the most read. You might also want to dig a little bit deeper by using a tool like BuzzSumo, which allows you to look at which content got the most shares over the last 12 months. You may want to dig in a little bit deeper and look at the content that got the most comments as well.

There are three different ways of measuring how well content in traffic shares and comments. What topics this year were hot? Was there a certain subtopic within your overall niche that was really hot this year that did really well? On the flip side, were there topics that just did not fly at all that people just didn’t respond to? That may give you some indications about what you should be focusing on in the next 12 months.

Is there a topic that’s slowly growing in its popularity that could emerge into its own category going forward? Take a look at the length of posts as well. Were they longer posts or shorter posts that did well? Or was it a mix of both? What type of headlines seems to hit the mark this year? Were there certain words that were trigger words that seemed to get people reading the content? What category of content on your blog did best? What categories didn’t work? Were there certain times of the year that you struggle with creating content?

Maybe it was a busy time for you. Maybe there was something else going on in your life, but it’s good to do some analysis in your own energy for content. Were there times that were particularly good for creating content? Do some analysis on that. Do some analysis on the times of the year and how they’re related to traffic. Were there certain times of the year where traffic just exponentially grew because something seasonal was going on? On the other side, were there times that were really flat? Maybe that will inform your strategy for next year.

What was the hardest part about creating content this last year? Was it coming up with ideas to write about? Was it finding time to write? Was it finding time to complete your content? Where were the stumbling blocks? Where were the challenges for you? By identifying those things you’ll be in a much better position for the next year to be able to come up with strategies to overcome those challenges.

Were there certain days of the week that did better than others in terms of traffic and shares and comments? What formatting of posts tended to work better? For instance, the images that you use, did those have an impact upon the content, it being shared and commented on? What type of questions have you been getting from readers lately?

All of these questions are worth spending just 30-60 seconds on each and jotting down the answers to it. Hopefully, as you ask those questions, you begin to see some trends, you’ll begin to see some opportunity, or perhaps you’ll begin to see some things that just aren’t working that you need to stop focusing upon.

I’ll also include in today’s show notes a little exercise that I published, I think it was at this time last year on ProBlogger, which is an exercise that I go through every year in Google Analytics. It does touch on content but it also touches on some other areas of your blog. While we’re in review mode, it might be worth going back to that post that I wrote and I will share it in the show notes. Just working through your Google Analytics reports, to see what worked this year and what didn’t work. Having done that review, hopefully, you’re in a much better position to be able to come up with a content strategy for next year.

Now that you’ve done your review, comes the time to do some planning. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. What I want to do is share some questions that you might want to ponder and some points that might stimulate you to a fresh approach with your content in the next year. 

The first question is, is there a theme that you could focus upon next year? You probably don’t want every single post that you write next year to be on that particular theme, but maybe there’s some overarching journey that you want to take your readers on, some emerging trend in your particular niche, or some message that you really want to convey to your readers and encourage them with over the year that you want to keep coming back to time and time again.

Maybe it’s the type of theme where you might kick off every month with a post on that particular topic. Your readers begin to see that you’re returning to it. You may announce it to your readers and use it as part of your branding for the year. You might even create a product around that theme as well. It might just be something that you know and that you keep coming back to and your readers may not even notice that you’re doing it. Is there a theme that you could focus on in the next year?

In a similar way, you might want to identify some series of content that you want to work through in the next year. In Digital Photography School, we do week-long series of content, and we do one week per month. Recently, we did a whole week of content that was focused upon the topic of composition. In the past, we’ve done other weeks that have been focused upon macro photography, landscape photography, or photography for beginners. During that particular week, most of our posts are related to that particular topic. We find our readers really respond well to that.

We do mix in some other content during those weeks as well for those who aren’t interested in that topic. By having this little mini-series of posts sprinkled throughout the year, it enables us to really beef up our archives on those particular topics. It also gives our readers a sense that we’re taking them on a journey over time. We find those weeks are really good for growing traffic to our blog.

They’re also opportunities for us to promote products, whether they be our own products or an affiliate promotion as well in a gentle way in those series. During our week on beginner photography, we will be promoting an eBook for beginner photographers and giving a coupon code away during that week. By identifying the series that we want to do over the next 12 or so months, we can begin to think about what products we could match with those things.

In a similar way on ProBlogger, I did a series of podcasts this year on 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. In fact, I’m finishing that series of podcasts today. What I found in both of those instances and working through a series of content is that it gives readers something to join in on. While I believe the content that isn’t a part of a series on this podcast has (hopefully) been just as useful as the series, by defining a period of time that you’re going to tackle the topic just seems to really motivate people to listen in for that period of time and to make the most of it in some way.

Your series could be a week-long series, it could be a month-long series, or it could even be a series that you return to periodically. The first day of every week for a month or the first day of every month for a year. Whatever it is, a series can really bring a lot of life to your blog.

Another question, is there a certain type of post that you want to feature as a recurring thing on your blog in the next year? An example of this on ProBlogger this year we decided to start trialing Reading Roundups on, I think it’s on Fridays that they go out. It’s a list of links to other sites that we found really useful during the last week. It’s something that we trialed this year for a period of time and it worked really well. It’s actually grown in terms of its popularity since we started doing it, but you might want to try something else. You might want to have story Sundays or Tutorial Tuesday or some other type of post or topic of post that goes out on a weekly or a monthly basis.

Another question, is there a new category that you might want to create to capitalize on a growing trend on your blog? It’s really important, so pay attention to new emerging sub-niches within your niche or new technologies or new trends that are happening within your niche that relate to your niche. Maybe it’s time that you need to start a new category and come up with a bit of a strategy for how you’re going to build up the archives of that category. Again, it might be with a weekly post or a monthly post or just a whole series of content on a particular day.

Another good question that is worth asking during the year as well as how often should you be posting? Going forward into the new year, what will be your posting frequency? You may decide that what you are doing at the moment is just fine and working quite beautifully for everyone including you and your readers. Maybe now’s a good time to change it up. Maybe you want to go more frequently with your posting. Maybe you’ve been doing three a week and you want to try every weekday. Maybe you want to actually decrease it. Maybe you want to try a period of slow blogging, increase the quality and maybe the length of your posts, and post less frequently.

There’s certainly no right or wrong with that. I will share some links in the further reading on some pros and cons of more and less frequent posting, but now’s a good time to at least ask that question and to assess how your energy levels are as a writer, as a creator of content. You need to change the frequency based upon those. How are your readers responding? Are they wanting more content or are they feeling a bit overwhelmed with that at the moment? Maybe now’s a good time to begin to experiment with a new frequency of posting.

Similarly, you might want to begin to experiment with some different mediums of content. Over the last year, we’ve certainly seen the rise of live streaming, Periscope or Blab. Even Facebook’s live if you have access to that yet. We’re also continuing to see the rise of video and podcasting. 

Maybe now’s a good time to begin to think about experimenting with a new medium that you want to tackle in the new year. That doesn’t mean you need to hit the ground on January 1 with that new medium up and running, but you can begin to schedule that and put that into a bit of a plan for the next year. What do you need to learn to get that happening? What do you need to set up in terms of your blog to get it working as well? By making those plans now, you’ll be in a better position to make them actually happen rather than just having them on your someday list.

Will you develop any new rhythms to your posting? Sometimes blogging can get a little bit monotonous. It can get a bit the same for you as a writer just doing the same kind of stuff every week. It can also get that way for your readers. Sometimes, by changing up the rhythm of your posting with new types of posts at new times, it can just bring a bit of freshness, a little bit of life to your blog.

Maybe you want to do what I know many bloggers do and come up with certain themes or certain types of posts for certain types of days. Monday might be the day that you write a list post, Tuesday might be the other day where you ask your community a question, Wednesday might be a day where you write a review, Thursday might be an opinion-writing day, Friday might be a tutorial day where you write a how-to. You can really come up with your own style of post for whatever day of the week suits you.

I’ve talked to many bloggers over the years who’ve got a bit dry and a bit stagnant with their blogs and decided to come up with this rhythm where they take all different types of posts on different days. It just helped them to get going again. That might be something that you want to start the new year with as well by giving a bit of structure to the types of posts. It may be that you don’t want to change the type of posts but might want to put a different topic each day. You might have five or six categories of content on your blog and you might want to assign each of them for a different day of the week. Again, that’s a good way to kind of get back to some of those categories that you haven’t been writing much content for recently.

Another good question that is really good at this time of year when we are feeling quite often a bit tired and sometimes feeling a bit burnt out is when are you going to have time off next year? When are you actually going to allow yourself to have a break from blogging next year? This is something that I have learned this year that is really important that you do need to have those times off your blog.

I have been blogging now for 13 years and I haven’t missed a day of publishing in that time pretty much. It’s been 13 years of creating content and that’s good on some levels but that takes its toll as well. I have taken time off. The way I approach that is to work harder the week before I go away and schedule posts. More recently, I’ve been able to get other people involved in the creation of that content as well. I don’t have to be involved in the publishing of every post.

I think it’s really important, at the start of the year maybe or during the year, to work out when over the next 12 months you’re going to have breaks. This is something I’ve been in discussion with Vanessa, my wife, about over the last month or so, is when are we going to take our breaks next year? We’ve actually started to put time aside at certain times of the year where we’re just going to get off our blogs and not work.

The second question related to this is what are you going to do in those times? Are you going to work harder the week before to schedule content? Are you going to just take time off and not let content go up on your blogs during those times? Are you going to get someone in to do some guest posting to help you out with content in those times? Perhaps you’re going to use that week to highlight content on your blog?

On ProBlogger the blog, between Christmas and New Year’s, we’re actually going to do that last option. We’re going to do our summer series of content that we’ve run on ProBlogger for the last year. During that week, we actually just write very short posts that point out the best content that we’ve published over the last 12 months on different themes.

It serves our readers because those who have missed out on some of that content get reminded of it, but it also helps us as a team to take a week off. It gives Stacey as an editor a bit of a lighter week and it gives me time off as well. What are you going to do in terms of taking a break from creating content this year? Also, what are you going to do during those times?

Another question that’s sometimes good to ask at this time of year, if you haven’t had enough questions already, is what were your approach be this year to visual content? Do you need to change things up a little bit? It’s very easy to create the same graphics for your blog day-in-day-out if you create social media graphics or header graphics for posts. They work really well to help your content get more shared on Pinterest or on Twitter or on Facebook, but after a while, they can all start to look the same.

If you’ve been using a certain template maybe you want to design something for next year. Fresh colors, a fresh font, something a little bit different to help your content to stand out, to be a little bit more alive to your readers. You may want to use a tool like Canva. Canva for work allows you to create some templates. That’s a great way to go about this. It’s something that we’re using as a team at the moment. I’ll link to that in today’s show notes.

Similarly, you might want to ask yourself the question, how are you going to approach repurposing your content next year? This is something that could actually help to bring some life and freshness to your content as well and also cut down a little bit of the work.

One of the things I’ve been trying this year is to do daily Periscopes, that’s a new type of content. On the Periscopes that go really well, I’ve actually turned them into blog posts. I’ll take the Periscope and I use a tool called Katch Me,, and it allows me to embed those Periscopes into the content.

You might want to just have that video as the content itself or you might want to write content around that. I’ve experimented with both. I’ve actually found that my readers like the embeds with content around it. I write a blog post on what I’ve written about in that Periscope. It creates a second piece of content from that first one. It gives that work that you do in creating that Periscope a second life. Maybe you want to experiment with the repurposing of content in the new year.

In the same way, you might want to think about your promotion strategy. I’m not going to talk a great deal about that because I talked in episode 73 about really thinking about your social media strategy and mapping that out. This is a good thing that intersects with this idea of creating content.

One of the last questions I’ll get you to think about today is do you need a new tool for your editorial calendar? Sometimes the tool that we use becomes a bit dated or sometimes we just need something new and fresh to play with that brings a bit of energy to our content creation. 

Recently at ProBlogger, we’ve switched our editorial calendar system over to CoSchedule, which I know many of you use and love. It has energized us as a team. We love it. It’s great for planning out content. It’s great for collecting ideas. It’s great for sharing your content on social media. Again, we’ll have a link to CoSchedule in today’s show notes.

The last thing I’d encourage you to think about is brainstorming some topics for next year. I actually find that this is really useful to do as I am looking at my review of this last year. As I go through Google Analytics, I’m looking for the content that’s done really well, the topics that have done really well, the headlines that have done really well. Often as I’m looking at that type of content, I’m seeing opportunities to update it, create a follow-up post, or to take that type of post further and to make a more in-depth post, or to tackle it from a slightly different angle.

Spend some time before this year ends actually doing some brainstorming, so when you hit your blog in the new year, you’ve got a list of posts already there waiting for you. If you’re using a tool like CoSchedule, you could even take it to the next level and put into your calendar the posts that you want to create on certain days so that when you sit down to write, there’s already a draft in WordPress for you.

I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you with this podcast today. I have asked you, it must be 20 or 30 different questions to ponder. It may be that you want to go back to the start of this podcast and work through them again, pressing pause along the way and writing down your answers. It probably is worth taking some time on this particular challenge. It may be something that you need to break up into a couple of parts to do your review of this current year and then to do your plan for content for the next year. I’m sure I could have said a whole heap more as well.

If you find yourself asking other questions, then, by all means, throw them into the mix as you plan the new year. I’ll actually love to hear what questions you found helpful to ask in the comment section on the show notes at podcast/76.

Again, on those show notes, there is information about our fantastic sponsor, Edgar, who has sponsored this last series of 11 podcasts. I want to give a huge shout out to Laura Roeder and her team for believing in us and sponsoring us in this way. It does help us to continue to create content for you. So, check them out. Thank them on Twitter as well. Check them out at

What excites me most about having Edgar on as a sponsor is that I genuinely use them. I’m a paying customer and I’ll continue to be. It has really changed the way I do social media. Again, as I’ve mentioned before, I will put a video in this particular blog post about how I use Edgar as well. You can see the way I use it and how useful it really is.

Thanks again for listening to this particular series—it’s been a lot of fun for me—and thank you for listening to the ProBlogger podcast in 2015. I have learned so much in engaging with you and you with your reviews, your tweets, your feedback on Facebook, and the emails that you’ve sent me have really energized me. I feel like I’ve kind of fallen in love all over again with the topic of blogging (not that I was ever out of love with it). By approaching it in this new way with this new medium, I feel like it’s brought a lot of life to me.

I want to thank you for your support. I do wish you a happy time of year, whether it be celebrating Christmas, or celebrating the end of a year and the start of a new one. I hope that it is a meaningful time for you, a time where you find some rest, a time where you are energized and excited, and that you connect with those that you love, not just your blogging community (although there’s nothing wrong with that either).

I look forward to chatting with you in the new year when I continue the ProBlogger podcast. Thanks for listening and have a good few days off before I get back to you with the first episode of 2016.

How did you go with today’s episode?

What will you include in your content calendar? What other questions do you ask yourself to help you plan your content calendar?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. The hashtag I’ll be using to talk about this journey on social media is #TodayNotSomeday and I encourage you to share your journey too, using the same hashtag.

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