Are you bored of writing the same old things, or writing what someone else has told you in a generic content plan?
Wouldn’t it be better to start with thinking about what your target audience and customers actually want to read?
September is a great time to have a new content plan. Why? The real start of the year feels like September. This is something that’s engrained in us, because it’s back to school, and the start of the academic year.
Let me help you come up with fresh ideas that your readers will love, and that you will even enjoy writing.
Here’s my guide to creating ideas for original new content, that focuses on the needs of your target readers, rather than anything from AI, someone else’s content plan or what some key word research gizmo has told you.
- 1. How a Content Plan fits in with your Blog Strategy
- 2. Brainstorm ideas for Fresh Content for your Blog
- 7 easy steps to generate fresh content ideas for your blog
- Step 1: Yellow post-it notes for what your readers care about
- Step 2: Green post-it notes for how can you help your readers
- Step 3: Take a break
- Step 4: Add more ideas
- Step 5: Group the yellow post-it notes
- Step 6: Group the pink post-it notes
- Step 7: Add the green post-it notes underneath
- Brainstorming recap
- 7 easy steps to generate fresh content ideas for your blog
- 3. Turn your Brainstorm Ideas into a Content Plan for your Blog
- 4. Integrate your blog content plan with your social media
- 5. Final Thoughts
1. How a Content Plan fits in with your Blog Strategy
Before you start your content plan, you need to remind yourself of the strategy for your blog and wider website.
Here is a recap of the key Why, Who, What, How and When questions that make up the strategy for your blog:
- WHY – Your goals for your blog. Why are you blogging? What are you wanting to achieve?
- WHO – Target readers. Who are you writing for?
- WHAT – Your content. What are you writing about? What are your topics? These can loosely transfer into your blog categories.
- WHAT – Outcomes for your readers. What will you provide your readers? What transformations will they undergo?
- HOW – Your means. How will you do it?
- WHEN – Your content schedule. When are you going to publish? What frequency?
In order to create a content plan for your blog, you need to understand the goals for your blog, your target audience, and what outcomes you are hoping to give them. The content plan itself involves working on the your content and the outcomes (the 2 WHATs) and your schedule (the WHEN), shown in pink above.
Before you start generating new content ideas, reassess the WHATs of your content and the outcomes. In other , and think about what content your subscribers and target readers may be looking for. What transformations are they looking for?
In short, what value can you bring your target readers so they love reading your content and come back for more.
Now you’re ready to start brainstorming ideas.
2. Brainstorm ideas for Fresh Content for your Blog
In order to create original, high quality content that will stand out among the 600 million blogs across the world, it’s best to start with a fresh sheet of paper. Or rather, different coloured post-it notes. And start brainstorming ideas.
A very effective way to brainstorm is by using colour post-it notes. It might seem a bit basic. However, it’s a technique used by management consultants for team projects. It also works really well if you’re alone.
7 easy steps to generate fresh content ideas for your blog
Here are my 7 steps to effectively generate ideas about new topics to write about for your blog using yellow, blue and pink coloured post-it notes. (I’ve chosen specific colours, but there’s no magic to it. Use whatever colours you like!):
Step 1: Yellow post-it notes for what your readers care about
- Start off with a stack of yellow post-it notes and jot down things you believe your target readers cares or worries about, or maybe loves.
- If you’re not sure what your target readers are pre-occupied about, do some research, and then try and put yourself in their position.
- Think in particular about the issues that are new in 2023, like the impact of inflation, rising mortgage costs, but also new fun things. Then write down whatever comes into your head, however wacky. Don’t judge or think. Just write it down.
Step 2: Green post-it notes for how can you help your readers
- Think about how you can help your target readers with their preoccupations through your blog. It might be by bringing them a new perspective, helping them with problems, amusing them or inspiring them.
- Write down any ideas on your green post it notes. Keep going until you can’t think of anything else.
- If you need to do some research, that’s fine.
Step 3: Take a break
Call it a day, take a break and sleep on it.
Step 4: Add more ideas
The next day, retrieve the post it notes and add any new ideas that have come over night. (You’ll be amazed how sleeping on ideas can stimulate the unconscious mind into more creativity!)
Step 5: Group the yellow post-it notes
Take the yellow post it notes and group ones that cover similar themes together. These yellow post it notes are your ideas for individual blog posts or sections of blog posts.
Step 6: Group the pink post-it notes
Take the pink set of post-it notes, and write down a short description for each of them, and put them above the yellow post-it notes. It’s likely that these pink post it notes will be categories or sub-categories for your blog,
Step 7: Add the green post-it notes underneath
The final step is to place the green post-it notes underneath the pink and yellow ones, which will be your angles on the blog posts.
At this stage you can weed out duplicate ideas. For those you don’t like, keep them in reserve, and bring them out at the next brainstorming. There may be a gem of an idea in it, that you can develop another day.
Finally, take a photo of each “family” of post-it notes under each pink post-it note, and note down what you’ve put. You can also save them in their piles.
Now you have the foundations of your content plan for the autumn of 2023! In summary:
- Pink post-it notes: Your categories and sub-categories, which are the general themes of what your readers care about. Sometimes people call them content pillars. It’s a good idea to revise these from time to time.
- Yellow post-it notes: What your readers are looking for. (One or more will make up a blog post)
- Green post-it notes: Your angle on what your readers are looking for.
3. Turn your Brainstorm Ideas into a Content Plan for your Blog
Content planning is quite a hot topic among bloggers. Some like to wing it, and go with what comes to mind. Other bloggers like a very structured plan.
This is how I go about making a content calendar:
First of all, start with a 12 month calendar with the key dates already inserted, such as Easter, Christmas, Bank Holidays, St Patrick’s Day, Halloween and Black Friday. Add other awareness days that might be relevant to your niche eg Veganuary, Dry January, International Women’s Day, Pride Month, May Day, Earth Day, Movember etc.
If you’re wondering about the dates that actually mean something for a UK audience, here’s my detailed list of the key UK-specific dates to use in your content calendar.
Secondly, after you’ve inserted the relevant special days and months for your niche, you can map out ideas for each month. This will change, but it gives you an idea of what you’ll post when.
Thirdly, fill in more detail for the next three months, and even more detail for the coming week and month.
To recap, here’s how the content plan changes in detail, depending on the proximity of the date.
- Next week. Blog posts and pages near drafted. Finalise social media content that will drive traffic to your website.
- Next month. Detailed plan of all new blog posts and pages, with outlines already written. Outline of social media ideas.
- Next 3 months. Each month should have a list of key dates that might be relevant to your niche. An outline of topics to be plan in detail the blog posts and new pages for the next 3 months and how you will integrate each blog post with your social media accounts.
- Remainder of the year. Key dates for your niche already completed, with provisional topic ideas for each month. Don’t forget evergreen content from the previous year which you can update.
4. Integrate your blog content plan with your social media
Think how to adapt each theme for the social media platforms. Don’t just repost the same content, as that’s boring and repetitive to those who follow you on different platforms. It still should however be cohesive, with the same brand personality and message shining through.
Should bloggers have a content plan for Threads? For Threads, I actually advise winging it more on Threads. It’s like a written version of stories, and it’s most authentic when it feels spontaneous. (Btw, I’m @the_web_smith on Threads – come and say hi!)
If you’d like to build on something that someone else has written, here’s a fantastic content planner from Ivory Mix that has every conceivable thing you might need. However, it’s been written for the American market, so you’ll need to add the dates that are UK specific. I’ve got that covered for you in this blog post: Special UK Dates for your 2023 & 2024 Content Calendars.
5. Final Thoughts
The way to stand out among the myriad of competing blogs and general noise on the internet, is so write something that matters to your target audience. It’s not doing what someone else has already done, or even using AI, as that’s just a summary of what the bot has scraped off the internet.
Far better to have your target reader at the heart of your content creation process.
Let me know how you get on in the comments. 😊
>> Read more: Special UK Dates for your 2023 & 2024 Content Calendars
>> Related post: How to get the best from your blog images