Blog Planning: The Importance of Creating a List of Blog Topics for Future Articles

Anyone who follows me online and reads my articles knows how highly I value blogging for business owners. In my opinion having a blog is the single best online marketing tactic for any business, but especially for Website Designers and Website Developers.

Blog Planning: The Importance of Creating a List of Blog Topics for Future Articles

Blogging allows you to convey your knowledge on a particular subject. You can position yourself as a thought-leader on that subject. When you are regularly publishing content to your blog search engines recognize this as continually updating your website. Search engines like Google place a higher value on websites that constantly update their website because to search engine companies a website that’s always being added to provide more value to visitors than a static website.

You’re probably thinking, ok this is great, but what’s the catch? The other side of the coin is that having a blog can be a lot of work. In order to streamline things and save time when it comes to blogging I highly recommend that blog owners take time to do blog planning whereby you pu together a list of article topics so that when it comes time to write a new article you’re not spending time thinking about a topic to write on. You simply pull out your list, pick a topic that you’ve already thought through, and start writing. In this article I am going to talk about the benefits of blog planning, explain what a Blog Topics Document is, breakdown the 4 core components to a quality Blog Topics Document, discuss how often you should update your Blog Topics Document, and provide you with a few tips for coming up with Blog Topics for your blog.

The Benefits of Blog Planning

Blogging is an excellent marketing tactic for Website Designers and Developers. That said, in order to be successful with blogging you must be dedicated to it and you must take time to plan for what you want to cover in your blog articles. Writing does not come easy for everyone and I have found that it can be especially frustrating for Website Designers and Developers. That said, I have also seen many Website Designers and Website Developers overcome their frustrations by simply setting aside some time to do a little blog planning. Taking time to plan out what you want to accomplish with your blog and what you want to write about will save you hours and hours in the future when you are actually sitting down to write your articles.

So what exactly is “Blog Planning”? To me, Blog Planning is a simple exercise that one completes which requires you to think about your blog, your target audience, your goals, and different blog topics that you think will provide value to your readers and allow you to achieve your goals. Below are just some of the top benefits that blog planning can provide:

  • Saves times when it comes to writing your blog articles.
  • Allows you to write higher quality articles as you’re not frustrated or tired from taking so much time to think about what you want to write about. You can actually sit down and start writing right away.
  • Provides a better chance for articles going viral as higher quality articles are more likely to be shared.
  • Allows you to set goals for your articles and set a call-to-action, which in turn makes it more likely that your readers will actually take the action you want them to.
  • Makes search engine optimization easier since you are taking time to think through what you want to write about and what keywords make the most sense.

What is a Blog Topics Document?

A Blog Topics Document is a document that I created as part of my Blogging service that I provide to some of my clients of Catalyst Marketers. I use it for my own articles and I also create Blog Topics Documents for my clients. The Blog Topics Document is the output of your Blog Planning. In the simplest terms is a list of blog articles that you want to write about in the future. Having a Blog Topics Document provides you with a list of articles that you can pull from when you sit down to write a new blog article and you can’t think of something to blog about. You start by coming up with a topic that you want to write about. For example, a Website Designer or Website Developer might want to write a blog article about “Optimizing Your Website for Tablets like iPad”. Once you have your topic, there are 4 main components that you need to flush out for that topic which will allow you to write a quality article on that topic at some future date. Those 4 components are:

  1. Topic Overview
  2. Goal for the Article
  3. Call-to-Action
  4. Keywords

4 Components of a Quality Blog Topics Document

For every blog article topic that you come up with it is absolutely necessary that you flush out each of these four components right away. You don’t want to simply come up with a topic and not think through the four components of a quality Blog Topics Document because when it comes time to write the article in the future, you might not remember exactly what you were trying to achieve if you simply see the blog topic. Let’s breakdown each of these 4 critical components.

Blog Topic Overview

The Blog Topic Overview is just that, an overview of the topic. Having a title or topic is great, but take some time to write 2-3 sentences that describe exactly what you want the article to be about. You don’t have to go into too much detail, but you should include enough information so that when you come back to your Blog Topics Document in the future you have a clear understanding of what you wanted to write about for the given topic.

Blog Topic Goal

For each blog article that you write you absolutely should have a goal for the article. Again, if you follow anything that I do online you know that I’m big into setting goals. Without setting goals you have nothing to work towards, which can lead to an end product that’s all over the place. Setting a goal for an article doesn’t have to be overly complicated. You can have more than one goal, but usually one goal works well and allows you to focus in on achieving that goal. Here are a few examples of blog article goals:

  • Get 10 people to leave a comment.
  • Have 5-10 people retweet the article on Twitter.
  • Attract 100 new visitors to my website through this article in the first 5 days after it’s published.
  • Thoroughly explain topic “xyz”.

It’s important that you think about what you are looking to achieve with your article and once you know what that is, put it down on paper under the Blog Topic so that you remember your goal when it’s time to write the article.

Blog Topic Call-to-Action

Now that you have a goal for the article, it’s time to come up with your call-to-action. Normally your call-to-action is tied directly to your goal. For example, if your goal is to get 10 people to leave a comment on your article, your call-to-action is simply a sentence or two in your article that asks readers to leave a comment. A call-to-action is a fancy way of saying “getting your readers to take action”. Each article your write should have some sort of call-to-action, this way you’re getting the most out of every article.

Blog Topic Keywords

The fourth component, and perhaps the most impactful, is a list of keywords for your article. Each blog article you write should have at least one keyword that you try ranking for in search engines. You can include more than one, but probably no more than 2-3. Think about the article topic, think about the type of visitors you want to read the article, and then think about what search terms they might use if they are looking for an article like the one you are going to write. Once you go through that process you should be able to come up with a keyword or two that you can use in your article. Once you have that keyword down, you will want to use it throughout the article, and especially in things like the article title, sub-titles, image tags, etc.

How Frequently Should I Update My Blog Topics Document?

One of the biggest questions I get from clients or readers of my blog is, “how often should I update my Blog Topics Document”? My response is normally, “as often as you feel necessary”. That said, many clients don’t like that response. Normally I say that you should create a quarterly Blog Topics Document. When creating your Blog Topics Document simply think about how many articles you want to write each month, then come up with that many Blog Topics for each of the 3 months within a quarter. This gives you plenty of ammunition for the days when you can’t think of something to write about. Then once the quarter is coming to an end, revisit your Blog Topics Document, check out which topics you have wrote articles on throughout the quarter and remove them. You can keep any of the blog topics that you didn’t get to and include them in the next quarter’s Blog Topics Document. This way you will never run out of things to write about and you’re constantly refreshing your blog topic ideas.

Tips for Coming Up with New Blog Topics

Coming up with blog topics doesn’t have to be difficult or frustrating. Again, when you follow the steps above and you think about your audience and what you want to achieve, blog topics normally start flowing out of you. Below is a list of a few tips that I use when I’m struggling to come up with new blog topic ideas:

  • What’s in the news? Anything relevant to Website Design and Website Development?
  • Any new web design tools or software that have been released recently? Write a review.
  • What are your competitors writing about?
  • Are you attending or hosting any upcoming events?
  • Talk about your products or services (don’t write about your products and services all of the time, but don’t shy away from writing about them sometimes)
  • Are there articles that you’ve written in the past that received a lot of comments? Can you expand on that topic?

These are just a few of the things I think about when I’m stuck on coming up with new blog topics. Once I answer these questions I can usually come up with a few blog topics that I want to cover.

Create a Blog Topics Document

Now that you know just how valuable blog planning and creating a Blog Topics Document can be, will you take the time to do so? Blogging is a great tool, but if you let it, it can be frustrating. By doing things like Blog Planning and creating a Blog Topics Document you are empowering yourself to write quality articles and minimizing frustrations. What do you think? Will you write a Blog Topics Document next quarter? Do you think it will help you keep the quality blog articles flowing? Leave your comments below (hint: my goal for this article is 20 comments :)).

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8 Comments

  1. True Ryan,

    Usually I post articles without any goals. Recently i realized that “quality of the content” and “consistency” is very important. Now came to know that “goal” is also very important through your article. Thanks for the great article.

    – Sankar Datti

  2. Very well put and I can relate to everything you said here except the goal having anything to do with how many people reply or re-tweet it. Or have it read X amount of times in 5 days. None of which can be guaranteed for most of us and therefor should be considered unrealistic goals. If in fact any of these conditions can be met that only justifies writing a blog in the first place.

    I say the call to action should be more down to earth and less about what the blog can do for me and more about what the blog can do for the reader! Otherwise what is the point of writing one in the first place. I don’t think feeding my Ego should be one of them.

  3. Really useful article.Sometimes its really important to get details of past blog for future blogging.

  4. I have always had a list of different Blog Topics, and I add and take away from it all the time. This is taking it to a whole new level though. I think I am going to take your advice and some of these things to what I have been doing. Thanks again for the wonderful tips as always.

  5. Very true you always need some in your draft for when you can’t think of anything.

  6. This is great and helpful. Thank you very much. I needed this.

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