Today’s savvy writer recognizes the importance of blogs in building their author’s platform and their writing business. The proof is in the pudding. A recent Google search for the term “Writing Blogs” rendered 479,000 entries.
Still, with all the popularity this marketing tool provides, a very common problem exists for the average blogger. Most experience a “blog fog.” They struggle with how to maintain the frantic pace required in keeping their blogs infused with quality, fresh content–week after week, month after month, year after year.
I’m sure you’ve witnessed them online. Look for the very noticeable posting gaps in the site’s content – anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months. They are M.I.A., so to speak.
Recognizing their challenge, I had an epiphany. I devised a plan to supply my services to lessen these bloggers’ loads while maintaining their sanity. As an “idea person” with endless energy (not to mention a few “Top Blogging” honors for my creativity), I decided to pitch a few fellow bloggers and small business owners to help them generate ideas and keep them on track by formulating Editorial Calendars.
A new income stream was born. The first time, I charged a busy real estate executive $350.00 for a six-month calendar. This was followed up by assisting a fellow blogging friend with generating timely topics for her health and wellness blog. And, the list goes on.
It was a “marriage made in heaven.” Unlike “Ghost Writing,” I’m not actually penning the pieces, so I earn more at an hourly rate for my time.
You can do it too, with a little creativity and strategic effort. So, if you’re on board, here’s what you need to know.
WHAT ARE EDITORIAL CALENDARS?
For the uninitiated, an Editorial Calendar is simply a way to manage content by planning and scheduling blog posts based around topics, months and themes. Many of the magazines you read use them. Instead of “winging it,” an editorial calendar provides a more organized, functional, systematic approach to blogging. The benefit to your “client” is that it saves them time and mental wear and tear, and enables them to work “smarter, not harder.” (Not to mention, it combats procrastination.) This results in a blog that is regularly updated, faithfully followed, and favorably recognized by Google’s search engines.
With this in mind, here are some do’s and don’ts to observe to optimize your efforts.
1. To get started, consider these options. You can do direct “pitches” to fellow bloggers who would benefit from your services, and/or list Editorial Calendars as a service on your own website, with your other creative offerings. You can even place an ad at Craigslist under “Creative services offered.”
2. Keep it simple. Though the approach may differ for different businesses, a simple spreadsheet divided into columns and sections for the breakdown of the months, topics and titles is a good
3. Offer packages. They allow for greater flexibility. For instance, you could provide 3-month calendars, 6 month-calendars, or even an entire year. Depending upon the fees associated with each package, clients can base their purchasing decision on how much their budget can bear and how much content they will require.
4. In constructing the calendar, make sure to keep the client’s target audience and blog’s focus in mind. Don’t just go for what’s popular on the Net. Share industry related news. You’ll also want to check their archives so as not to duplicate any recent content.
5. Consider tying monthly themes in with National Awareness Months or significant holidays. It gives you more bang for your buck. Here’s a listing of various awareness months for 2015.
6. Don’t skimp on the details. Your calendar planning should clearly identify topics, headlines, and due dates for publishing. If it’s a blog with multiple authors, it should also include the designated person who will write each post.
7. For ultimate success, strive to align the client’s content with his goals. Not all blogging objectives are the same. For example, some clients may want to increase their customer base while others might want to bring attention to an important social cause. Confer with your client to make sure your vision and strategic direction are the same.
8. Get the project details in writing, either through a formal contract or an email agreement. This helps to clarify things and provide structure in the event of any future “miscommunication.” My contracts have always included the number of months the calendar covers, the deposit amount required to begin work, other payment terms, and a targeted date for completion.
We’re living in the “information age,” which means that your creativity is a commodity – not just your ability to pen pieces, but your ability to sell “ideas” to others as well. Follow these timely tips to expand your creative range of services and your bottom line.
Jennifer Brown Banks is an award-winning blogger, veteran freelance writer, and relationship columnist. Publishing credits include: WritersWeekly, Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, The Well-Fed Writer, Funds for Writers and Writing World. To learn more on how to hone your craft and increase your cash, visit her site: http://penandprosper.blogspot.com