When starting out with content marketing, and blogging in particular, many people struggle with when and how often to post. And on top of that, there is always the question of what to write about.

If you wait until the last minute to write a blog post, you’ll most likely spend far too long staring at a blank screen, waiting for inspiration to strike. And, if you’re like most people, you’ll be putting so much pressure on yourself to come up with something brilliant that you might as well pull up a chair for your writer’s block, because it’s guaranteed to show up.

Thankfully, you can avoid this scenario altogether by doing a little something called advance planning. In this article, we’ll show you three ways planning can help make content production easier.

1. Tie your blogging efforts into your current marketing campaigns.

Why make things more difficult than they need to be? If your overall marketing goal this month is to promote a new product, why not create a series of blog posts related to that product? Depending on how often you post (see #2 below) your new product could generate a whole month’s worth of material, with very little effort or brain-wracking on your part.

Keep in mind that your posts don’t have to (and shouldn’t) be specifically about your product. In fact, it’s considered bad form to focus on promoting your products or services in your blog posts. What you want to do is post useful, quality content that is related to what you do or sell. For example, say I have a kitchenware company, and we’ve just released a new gadget that makes chopping vegetables a lot faster and easier. In conjunction with the product’s release, I could do a series of blog posts that include recipes requiring a lot of vegetable chopping. Of course, one wouldn’t necessarily need my company’s gadget to prepare any of these recipes, but it sure would make things a lot easier. That said, at the end of each post, I could include a call to action that directs the reader to the “chop-o-matic” page on our website. Using this strategy, I’d be providing my readers with practical, high value content they can use when they make their dinner tonight – all while reinforcing my brand as a resource for cooking and kitchen related info, and subtly promoting my product.

2. Create a blogging schedule and stick to it.

Decide how often you’re going to post, and on which days. For example, you could decide to post twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Don’t deviate from this schedule for a month. Choose the metrics that are most important to measure for your business (blog visits, website hits from the blog, sales, etc.) and track your results. If you feel you could do better, try a different schedule for the following month (for example, three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays). Constantly measuring and adjusting your strategy and schedule will ensure that you’re optimizing your time and effort – and of course, your results. A word of caution here: Once you’ve found a schedule that works, stay consistent with it.  Your readers and subscribers will come to expect your posts on particular days. If you miss a day now and then, it’s not the end of the world, but if your posting schedule remains erratic or inconsistent, or if there are long gaps between posts, your readers will likely lose interest and/or forget about you.

3. Write posts whenever the mood strikes.

No need to wait for the day a blog post is due to create your content. That’s a surefire way to stress yourself out, not to mention create sub-par work. Better to write posts when you’re feeling inspired, or when you are moved to talk about a particular subject or topic. There’s no law that says you have to publish your posts right away. Instead, build up a library of drafts that you can save and publish whenever you choose. You’ll have a nice stock of posts waiting in the wings, which is especially great for those times when you need to publish but can’t come up with an idea or find anything to say (and this happens to everyone who regularly creates content!). Just imagine the sense of relief that comes from knowing that you have a whole backlog of posts to choose from at any given time.

We hope you’ve found these tips useful and would love to hear your thoughts on content planning and strategy. Let us know in the comments below! And, if you’re looking for more ways to get the most out of your email and content marketing efforts, be sure to subscribe to the blog, where you’ll find loads of practical information you can start using right now!