How to Grow Your Blog with a Month-by-Month Action Plan
One of the best things about kicking off a new year is that feeling of a fresh start.
For bloggers, this is likely when you’re ripe with new ideas.
You may start the year ahead of schedule, but once life settles back in, it can be difficult to conceptualize and execute an idea with even a week’s notice.
A monthly action plan can help you build momentum and achieve growth, while also providing a realistic base into your timeline.
Our sister blog, Beyond PR, outlined a year-long plan to appeal to new audiences with “12 Months of Content Marketing,”
While it’s primarily directed toward brand marketers, many points hold value for content creators of all shapes and sizes.
Here are the 12 ideas from the list, re-tooled for bloggers.
January: Rethink How You’re Using Email
How are you enticing subscribers? Are you relying on readers to subscribe to a (now practically dead) RSS feed, or are you using an email newsletter to keep readers in tune with what you’re up to? A newsletter — whether automated to share just your blog posts or manually updated to share hand-crafted information — can be a lucrative way to keep new and existing audiences visiting your blog. Already have a newsletter? Use this month to brainstorm new types of content to draw people in, says Susan Payton, author of “12 Months of Content Marketing.” An e-book, “secret” post, or giveaway can encourage new sign-ups, more so than your standard “sign up!” button.
February: Strategize Blog Posts in Advance
As Payton mentioned, a lot of businesses come up with blog topics in the moment rather than advance planning. A better strategy is to plan out your blog post schedule several weeks or months — even quarters — ahead. This allows you to ready yourself for timely points in the year. It also can help keep you accountable to your goals and make writing more of a ritual. For example, if you plan to partner with another blogger or brand for a big event in the summer, you could schedule a few posts in the weeks beforehand on related topics that help tease the event.
March: Revisit Your Best Performing Content
You can easily see which of your posts were the most popular by taking a quick peek at your analytics. “This is great fodder for future content,” says Payton. You could update tips from a past post or expand on points to generate a series of related blog posts. For example, say you shared self-taught tips for increasing a blog’s Instagram following, and it got a lot of traction. A follow-up post could be on XX ways to engage audiences using the new Instagram live feature. Following that, you could share XX tips for successful live Instagram Q&As, or adapt your post for a different platform. You already know your top topics are winners, so the new posts should also do well, says Payton.
April: Get Upcoming Holidays on Your Radar
January through April is a bit slower on the holiday front, making this month ideal for planning around future holidays — starting with Memorial Day. Holidays are great for fueling content at particular times of the year, says Payton. By mapping your editorial calendar to include holiday-related content, you can boost post views simply because people look for content having to do with those holidays.
May: Share Your Older Content
A great way to get audiences looking back at your blog is to re-share older posts. Creating social posts to your old content can help drive traffic. You should also consider reviving and republishing old blog posts. Posts can get buried with time. Unearthing this content can help draw in new readers who may not have caught the content the first time around or who skipped it due to an old date/time stamp. Plus, it’s typically much easier and quicker to update and republish an old post than it is to write a new one from scratch. Tip to automate the process: Payton suggests a WordPress plugin called Revive Old Posts that automatically will share your older blog content to your social media channels. “It’s a great tool to make sure that a valuable post doesn’t just sit on the shelf,” she says.
June: Plan Around Launches or Announcements
A big announcement should have a certain degree of fanfare surrounding it, says Payton, and your blogger action plan should play a big role in that. The launch of a webinar or ebook could spur a teaser video, a peek behind the scenes of its creation, or even a tutorial on how others can create similar products for their own brand.
July: Leverage What You Learn
As a blogger, you should always hone your craft and be learning new things — like how to better your design or how to code. If you attend a blogger conference or related workshop, don’t keep what you learn under wraps, says Payton. Instead, use it to fuel your content plan. The lessons you learn can make for good instructionals, webinars, ebooks and more. Note: This is a tactic we love. Check out our top performing post from 2016, featuring lessons we learned from a Snapchat workshop.
August: Tell Your Story
Authenticity is one of the most important elements of a successful blogger brand. Your voice and story should be woven into all the content you create — it helps build credibility. Place your attention this month on making sure your brand ethos and individual pathos is obvious in all the content you produce — be it a blog post, social media update, or original ebook.
September: Work Partners Into the Mix
If you’re struggling for fresh content or just need a different perspective, try adding new and interesting voices to your content through partnerships or Q&As with bloggers or experts in your niche. Partnering with a brand for a sponsored post, or featuring an interesting person’s story, is a mutually beneficial activity that can have big payoffs with regard to traffic and engagement. Bonus: if your partner picks are share-happy, your content’s network will greatly expand, says Payton.
October: Study What Other Bloggers Are Doing (Outside of Your Niche)
It’s natural to take a peek at what bloggers in your niche are doing to see what works for them and if there are natural ways for you to replicate their success. This month, go the less obvious route and see what others not related to your blog or brand are doing. You may discover new ideas or rhetorical skills that you can incorporate into your work that help you stand out against the crowd.
November: Brainstorm a Mega List of Topics
Beyond having an editorial calendar laid out, it’s imperative to have a spreadsheet full of evergreen topics you can use when your Idea River runs dry, says Payton. Whenever a new subject springs to mind, add it to your spreadsheet. You’ll be grateful for this list when you’re feeling crunched for time, or simply want to replace an idea on your calendar that no longer makes sense. This also will help you get a head start on next year’s calendar, which you should soon begin outlining.
December: Break Out of the Box
December tends to be one of the slower months of the year, which makes it a great month to try new things. If you always publish text-driven blog posts, mix it up with a video post. Tired of your homepage design? Give it a refresh in time for the new year. Or, get a move on that podcast or Twitter chat you’ve been wanting to start. Test out new ideas and see how it resonates with your audience. You may find some practices you can build on in your 2018 plan.
When it comes to managing a blog, a calendar is your best ally. Learn how to schedule with PR Newswire’s Interactive Editorial Calendar for 2017. Access the guide now to learn how to: plan content around specific dates and events, identify the optimal times for publication, and more.
Anna Jasinski is manager of audience relations at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter at@annamjasinski or on Snapchat. You can also catch her sharing the latest news in journalism and blogging on @BeyondBylines.