When it comes to writing a blog that works hard and makes a difference, you need to think ahead.

A blog, like any other type of publication, deserves careful planning. Be deliberate about choosing your blog topics – don’t come up with half-baked ideas on the fly. Your planning, or lack thereof, will be apparent in your writing, and a slapdash effort can ultimately turn off many of your readers.

I highly recommend that you create an editorial calendar. It’s not just something the big magazines do – if you want to create (and then maintain) a professional blog that’s worth reading, you’re going to need one. Your editorial calendar includes the topics you’ll blog about and the dates for each entry.

Creating an editorial calendar has the added benefit of helping to overcome writer’s block by providing a template of subjects for you to write about.

In addition, if you have features that repeat on a regular basis, your blog will often attract readers who know what to expect that day (or week) and who will make it a habit to check in at that time. (You know….like Messy Monday or Interview Thursday or Fun Friday.)

So how do you begin creating one?

Start by looking at the next three months and consider what subjects work best for that time period. Here are a few ideas:

  •  tax time
  • a particular season or holiday
  • a story, trend or statistic reported on in a magazine or on a website (or one that has taken flight on social media)
  • new laws in your industry or sector
  • the start of a new year
  • an upcoming event (like a conference, trade show or even contest)
  • a debate within your professional community

If you like, you can also choose a particular topic or format for a specific day of the week. For instance, maybe every Friday you post your Top 10 list (Top 10 ways to save your marketing dollars, Top 10 ways to create buzz for your business, etc.).

An editorial calendar forces blog writers to look at the big picture – and this is a good thing. One caveat, however: If a relevant news item should break, don’t hesitate (in fact, rush) to change your calendar to accommodate a hot topic of interest to your readers.