Professional bloggers are mentors.
You can be friends but don’t confuse being a buddy with being a mentor. Your reader wants answers, they’ve come to you to get it. They already have friends on Facebook happy to provide emotional support.
If you are still here then you’re probably wondering how to turn this “mentorship” idea into a plan for your blog.
Let’s start with your editorial calendar. Don’t start writing posts this year without an editorial calendar. Your calendar will keep you on message and on objective for the rest of the year. Your editorial calendar can change but the discipline of having one should not.
In “Three Things Your Readers Need to Hear Before They’ll Read Your Blog”, I talked about three roles mentors perform: 1) they offer guidance, 2) give confidence, 3) and provide tools. Your blog posts are the medium for delivering on these roles.
These roles offer an excellent structure for deciding what content you will create for the year.Start constructing your editorial calendar from there. I’ll show you how in a minute.
Why Editorial Calendars Can Be Scary
Inherently, bloggers are creative souls and we love to “wing it”. We believe that out passion and devotion will guide our muse. We fear, deep down, that spreadsheets, charts, and notebooks will dampen our spirit.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Editorial Calendars are an aid to creativity not a hinderance. I’ve learned that nothing kills my mojo more than staring at a blank page. Anxiety extinguishes my creative spark and it will crush yours too.
With an editorial calendar you can give your subconscious a chance to chew on your topics in advance. New ideas will rise to the surface and creative angles will reveal themselves. This happens when you are relaxed not when you are crouched white-knuckled over your keyboard.
Do yourself a favor and create your calendar.
The 55 Minute Editorial Calendar
First tip, don’t concentrate on the number of posts you’ll need. It will scare the crap out of you. Do this instead:
- On a sheet of paper, create three columns, 1) Guidance, 2) Confidence, 3) Tools
- Set a timer for 30 minutes. Clear distractions. I personally prefer a pen and paper for this since my computer can be a distraction
- Brainstorm topics that fit in each category. Guidance posts have new insights. Confidence posts help your audience overcome obstacles. Tool posts teach new skills.
- Don’t evaluate your topics yet just write.
When your timer goes off, take a break for 10 minutes. Review your list. Reset your time for 15 minutes and keep brainstorming until your time is up.
A couple of things will happen. You’ll realize that you have much more to talk about than you thought. All you needed was a little structure. Next, you’ll want to start writing your posts. That is a good thing. If you are inspired, start writing. Don’t stop until your brain has called it quits.
How Many Posts Do You Need?
There are a number of fantastic reasons for writing every day. However, there is no rule that says that you need to post daily. My only hard-and-fast suggestion is that you post once a week.
That means 4 posts to complete an editorial calendar for a month. I bet you’ll have at least 10-15 solid post ideas so you should be good for a few months.
Remember, the idea isn’t to catalogue a bunch of posts. The idea is to brainstorm topics that give guidance, confidence and tools. The end goal is to be a mentor not a prolific rambler.
The “D” Word
Creativity requires Discipline. Once your editorial calendar is in place you’ll be tempted to go off-message and “wing-it”. Resist both. Going off-message will confuse your readers. “Winging it” will just make writing more difficult than it has to be.
Stick with your plan for 30 days. If you want to change direction, wait until you’ve exhausted your topics. Then start with a clean calendar and brainstorm more posts. Following this simple rule will keep your blog’s momentum moving in the right direction without annoying your readers.