Whenever people have asked me about blogging, one of their main concerns is “how long will it take?” Strategies for saving blogging time are therefore very important. Knowing the different types of blog post and being able to quickly and easily generate ideas are key, as well as knowing the structure of a blog post. Good preparation saves time in almost every activity, so here is a key tool for saving time blogging by planning a few months or a year’s worth of blog posts in advance.

To help, you can download a free template year planner for the second half of 2010.

To create your blog content plan, first decide how often you are going to blog – which depends on:

  • the purpose of your blog
  • the time you have available
  • the availability of content

Start by looking at the shape of your year. If you’re in education the academic year will be important, if you’re in business there may be busy months or seasonal differences or major conferences or trade shows that you attend. Fill in important dates and they will help guide the themes and topics that you choose for your blog posts.

To help, look at statistics of your blog in the past – when were the heights and troughs? When did you get most visitors? Are your target audience reading at weekends?

Are there any seasonal or monthly aspect to your blog topic? For example if you’re writing about family days out, the summer will be really important, February might be snowdrop trips,October Halloween themed trips.

Then, suitable spread out, add regular items like theme days, “Previously on…” (roundup of the previous year’s posts in this month or revisit an old post and update), regular features or series. Go through the kinds of post types (from link posts to interviews) and categorise by how easy they are for you to write: easy, medium and hard.

Spread the easy ones around the period you’re planning (usually 3, 6 or 12 months), then the medium ones, then another round of easy ones, then the difficult ones, scheduled at times when you are likely to have a little more time beforehand, to write them.

Now flesh out the blog content plan with ideas and topics. A mindmap can be an excellent idea at this point.

When you have a blog content plan ready, you don’t have to stick to it! If a news item comes up that’s topical and relevant to your blog then respond to that instead. The main benefit of having created the plan is that you can write most of the post in advance. If it’s written more than a week in advance, look over it shortly before posting it as things may have changed in the meantime or you ,may have something topical to add. If you’re writing in a fast-moving area – and social media is one of them, with Twitter or Facebook or other networks changing every week – then you can’t write much in advance, but you can write the posts in a batch.