Updated for the 2022 Blogging Planner!
When I first started working at Dana Corporation in 1999 in their Global IT Division, I was given an allowance to purchase my very first Franklin Planner. I’d used calendars and schedules of course in school, but nothing like this.
This leather-bound tome was amazing and overwhelming.
Not only did it have beautiful calendar pages, but also places to note contact information, goal-setting, to do lists, and all kinds of other helpful information to have (even global, pull-out maps!). I still have that planner today.
But, sadly, I haven’t used it in years.
That’s about to change, for me and for you.
I’ve put together my own planner, a blogging planner, that I’ve specifically designed to help myself and other bloggers and content marketers like you plan out everything you’re going to do in the coming year.
I’m going to take you through each of the planner pages so you’ll know exactly what to do with them, including how to make sure that the planner helps you achieve all that you want in the coming year. (By the way, if you haven’t yet grabbed a copy for yourself, it’s very affordable! You can check out everything that’s included. Then come back here to continue learning more about how to use it!)
This blogging planner includes each and every month and week already printed out for you – over 170 pages of worksheets and calendars!
“Whether you’re looking to start a new blog or reinvent your current one, Mike Allton has built the roadmap. Inside his new guide is everything you need to know to launch, manage, and monetize your blog.”
– Rebekah Radice
I created this planner because, frankly, it’s something I wish I had been using from the start. I might not have wasted so many posts and years on content and directions that weren’t intended.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” That’s what we’re going to address here.
I also created the blogging planner to help you see the big picture for your blog. It’s hard, when you’re focused on writing a specific article or social post, to see how it’s all going to work together to further your long-term business goals. It’s also hard to identify patterns and themes. That’s where the annual and monthly calendars really shine.
So let’s take a look at your new blog planner, which has been completely updated for 2022!
First, note that when you purchase the professionally published version from Amazon, everything is now included within one fantastic workbook.
- The Ultimate Blogging Planner, and then your bonus items…
- The Blogging Planner Guide, which includes a printing guide and instructions
- Guest Post Planner
- Facebook Group Promotion Schedule
- “How To Make The Year Your Blog’s Best Year!” – an article that I’ve written just for you.
- A free digital copy of the planner that you can print as needed.
Here you can see the original blogging planner from 2017 when I printed it out, 3-hole punched the pages, and inserted them into a 3-ring binder. While your new planner will be printed for you, you’ll still get the digital version if you want to print additional pages!
If you’ve never used a Blog Planner, you might be wondering exactly how it works. Do you really write things out and use this is plan your blog content? In a word, yes! The planner’s calendars and worksheets are designed to be completed – either initially or over time – giving you a resource and guide to refer back to over and over throughout the year.
Note that this planner is specifically for your blog, and is therefore applicable whether you’re blogging freelance or as part of a larger business. There are other planners that offer a business plan outline that you should refer to if you need that level of assistance.
What follows is a brief explanation of each of the major planner sections and accompanying calendars and worksheets. The planner itself also comes with instructions.
Blog Planner Goal Setting
In the beginning of your blog planner, you’ll find sheets for Last Year’s Goals & Accomplishments and Long Term Goals for the Year. You don’t have to come up with exactly 5 – you can write more or less, and the same is true for improvements. But the point is to give these some thought and write down concrete goals and changes to make. Use the Reflect & Improve page for a bit of journaling about your past year of blogging and content marketing, and your business overall.
One example for an improvement might be to implement HTTPS protocol for your blog if you haven’t already. While a goal might be to create 4 new content upgrades in the coming year to drive more subscribers.
You can use Monthly Blogging Goals sheets for each month to come up with new, different goals each month, all aligned with your annual blogging goals and objectives.
Make a point every month to revisit all of these pages to help you keep your goals and achievements in mind!
Blog Writing & Growing
Once you have your goals and tasks in mind, it’s time to start thinking creatively about the content you will write and publish.
New this year, we’ve added a series of worksheets to prompt you to think about the audience you’re writing for and the specific keywords you’re using. By developing key audiences, or personas using the Audience Worksheet, you will have a target reader in mind for every piece of content you create. And by using the Keyword Brainstorming and Keyword Research worksheets, you’ll discover exactly what phrases that target audience is searching, the kinds of questions and problems they have, and that will help guide your writing.
You then have a Monthly Theme Brainstorming worksheet so that you can consider creating comprehensive messaging for the entire calendar year. This will help not only your blogging schedule, but also social media and marketing overall.
The Blog Post Writing Guide is a really helpful sheet that will guide you through the vetting process of a new post idea. Instead of just writing up whatever article ideas come to us, this brainstorming guide makes you think about what kind of post you’re going to write, when you plan to publish it, what’s interesting about it, and so on. You can jot down any specific ideas for the article you might have, as well as To Do items.
For instance, if you were thinking about writing an article about how to make money with a blog, you might want to gather some insights from some blogging influencers and include them as quotes within the article. So that might be an Idea, or even a To Do item.
That sheet is for specific article ideas that you want to flesh out. For more general brainstorming – quickly generating a number of post ideas – use the Blog Post Topic Brainstorming sheet.
As you research keywords and develop audiences, you will spend a lot of time going back and forth among these sheets planning out all of the content that you can potentially create, and that’s where the Content Pyramid Worksheets come into play. A Content Pyramid is a tactic for creating and prioritizing blog content with the goal of achieving a high search engine ranking for a very specific keyword phrase that you’ve researched and determined will be profitable for your business. When you’ve identified a keyword and the key piece of content you need at the top of that pyramid, you can note it as one of the three pyramids available on that worksheet and start to fill in relevant blog posts and other pieces of content below it as you brainstorm them.
For example, if I wanted this page to be the #1 Google result for “blogging planner” I would start a Content Pyramid with that phrase and this page at the top. As I researched the issues my target audience was experiencing, the questions they have, and started to come up with ideas for blog posts related to “blogging planner”, I would create writing guides for each and note them on the Content Pyramid Worksheet accordingly. This would help me visualize which blog posts are the most important for me to create first!
Blog Planner Tasks
I’ve included a Blog To Do List planner page to give you one place to track all of those things you know you need to do, or that you discover over time. Any improvements you note in your goal planning should be copied here, as well as any other tasks you have on your plate or want to tackle. In the coming year, you can then set aside a little time each week to work through these items.
Similarly, I’ve included Weekly To Do List worksheets which you can use for more detailed and scheduled work.
Blog Planner Calendaring
The Monthly Calendar planner pages give you a place to note major events, meetings, create plans, and so on. They’re now designed so that you can customize each worksheet for whatever month you wish, allowing you to start using your new planner immediately, no matter what month or year it is, and get a full twelve months of use out of it!
The Monthly Editorial Calendar, which your planner includes twelve of, is particularly useful.
With these sheets you can plan out when you’re going to publish specific articles and see at a high level how those can work to support each other. You can then also incorporate specific social media posts, webinars, Live Videos, content / product releases, contests and many other kinds of activities to create an overarching message.
Again, this is hard when you’re just publishing one post at a time and not thinking ahead to what the rest of the month and year are going to look like. But when you have a plan, you can support those activities and create an amazing impact on your audience.
Suppose, for example, you want to build your authority on a particular topic. Publishing a blog post is nice, but if you spend a whole month talking about that particular topic, supported by four blog posts, numerous social posts, and other activities, I guarantee your audience will see you as an expert by the end of that period.
In political campaigns, we call that “sticking to message,” and it’s a technique you can apply weekly or monthly as you see fit.
Blog Planner Organization
Next is a series of worksheets designed to help you organize both your blog and your blogging business. For instance, the Contacts sheet is particularly useful for keeping track of other bloggers and colleagues in your niche.
The next sheet is one of my favorites and, again, one that I wish I would have had years ago – a designated place to note all those details from the wonderful people you’ve met at networking events!
Whether it’s a local chamber meeting or a huge conference like Social Media Marketing World, you’re going to begin to meet other people that you’ll want to stay in touch with. But since these are offline meetings and not Facebook Connections, you have to make an effort to organize and do something with those contacts and contact details. Exchanging business cards is great, but I’ve found stacks of business cards to be too easily lost or dismissed.
You can also opt to supplement your written Contacts sheets with laminated business card holders designed for 3-ring binders, if you tend to get a lot of business cards and like keeping them.
As you begin to meet more people, both online and off, some of those people will be influencers in your niche. It’s important to carefully consider how you can best build relationships with those individuals and keep track of how those develop. I do recommend being open to any number of possible directions and activities.
Usernames & Passwords
The Usernames & Passwords sheet is a sensitive one. You must carefully consider your own situation and where it might be safest to store your usernames and passwords. If, like me, you work from a home office, a sheet like this, within the middle of a planner, isn’t easily found, and would not be susceptible to online thieves.
Next, you have an opportunity to begin filling in your affiliate program relationships. Again, just as with the calendar, the act of filling this out will help you far more than just giving you some place to list them. Seeing them all in one place may help you visualize how they do or do not overlap, work together, and even generate ideas on how you might further promote those affiliate products.
Sponsors & Advertisers
Similarly, your Sponsors sheet will help you track your paying advertisers, as well as potentially inspire new collaboration or cooperative activities.
While it’s nice to track all of the revenue coming in from our blogging activities, it’s also important to be realistic about our revenue and track our expenses at the same time. These will likely include domain name renewal and hosting, as well as any premium themes and plugins, and other services. The sheets are designed to be used monthly so for any annual expenses (like your domain), you can either budget the cost across 12 months, or just note it in the month you get billed.
Monthly KPI Tracking
“That which is measured, improves.” That is an axiom that every blogger should memorize.
If you pay attention to “key performance indicators” (KPI) for your blog on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, you will soon get a sense for how well aspects of your blog are working and begin to think about ways to improve them.
For instance, because I pay attention to which of my past articles continue to bring in new readers every day, I was able to discern that my readers are really interested in learning about Facebook. That knowledge empowered me to create a new digital download and offer specifically about Facebook which has been 10X more effective than my previous offers.
The Monthly KPI Tracking sheet is a convenient place to note each month’s metrics for your blog and business so that you’re forcing yourself to monitor them, as well as give you an easy way to flip through and compare past months.
I’ve pre-filled lines for Unique Visitors, Pageviews, Bounce Rate, Avg. Time on Site, Organic Google Referrals, Social Media Referrals, New Subscribers, Email Referrals, and Total Revenue. Plus you have more lines available to add other metrics that are important to you (i.e. Facebook Fan Growth).
Monthly Email Campaign Tracker
I like to use the Monthly Email Campaign Tracker initially to plan out campaigns, and then after the fact to record their performance. Just as with our editorial calendar, it’s powerful and effective to concentrate on a single message (topic) for a given period of time so that each individual post and email can build on the last.
Trust me, the shotgun approach of blogging or emailing about whatever comes to mind just doesn’t work as well.
After each campaign you can note details like Opens, Clicks and Unsubscribes. While most every email marketing solution has that data, it’s not always readily available, or easily compared to other campaigns. If you are diligent about documenting the performance of every email campaign, you’ll see trends develop and be able to respond to them far more quickly.
Have you ever noticed that suddenly your site started to get more (or less) traffic, but you couldn’t recall what you might have changed to have that result?
The Change Log will help you with that.
Every time you make a chance or improvement to your blog, just write it down here. You don’t have to go into detail – just enough to jog your memory.
Also note that there is one line per date and change. That’s deliberate. If you’re working on anything which might impact SEO or usability, it’s best to effect one change at a time and then allow some time for any benefits or repercussions to show up. If you make 5 changes in a day and then, a week later, notice that your Google traffic has dipped, you’ll have no idea which of those changes was the culprit, or if perhaps it was all 5 together.
Implement and record one change at a time and use the log to help you identify what’s worked or hasn’t for your blog.
Holiday & Event Tracker
This worksheet gives you a great place to collect all of this year’s important dates for easy reference.
These might be key holidays or industry events or National days of observance that are important to you!
Guest Post Planner
One of the best techniques a blogger can use for expanding his or her audience is to publish great guest posts on other people’s blogs. The Guest Post Planner will help you document and track the major blogs and publications that you identify for potential publishing.
Facebook Group Promotion Schedule
Facebook Groups are terrific places to connect with other people who share mutual interests, which means they’re often filled with likely readers of your latest blog posts. However, each Group has their own set of rules and permissions. Pat Flynn, for instance, allows members to share their latest posts and promotions only on Fridays as a comment on his invitation post. The Promotion Schedule will help you track which Groups you can post in, when.
Blog Planner Notes & Ideas
If, like me, you need to write down whatever ideas come to you if you’re to have any hope of remembering them in the future, these pages are for you. Print as many as you need, and use them liberally.
Whether you use this Blogging Planner or one you put together yourself, the key is to PLAN and then document the results of your activities. My planner gives you a structured way to do that.
“Holy smokes – I’m definitely going to use Mike’s blog planner and you should too! Blogging without a plan isn’t going to be effective or work well. Use the planner and put the time in to plan and you’ll see results.”
– Peg Fitzpatrick
If you haven’t yet ordered your Ultimate Blogging Planner, it’s time to get started! Order your pre-printed book today and get the digital version for free!