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The #1 Printable Blog Post Planner Template (2021)

Free Blog Planner Template (My Printable Blog Planner Download) by Ryan Robinson

Are you looking for a free blog planner to help keep your blog posts on track?

Developing effective habits as a blogger is fundamental to becoming successful in your content-focused business. It stands to reason therefore, that using a very straightforward blog planner is something that can help dramatically reinforce adherence to those smart habits you’ve outlined for yourself.

Want My Free Blog Planner Template (Printable & Downloadable)?

Grab my free blog planner in printable Google Doc and PDF format (which helps me plan content that reaches 500,000+ monthly readers today).

How does a blog planner factor into all of this? Well, from the moment you choose to start a blog, you’re presented with a lot of new tasks, to-dos, challenges and time-consuming skills you’ll be building. It can be easy to get distracted, lose focus or find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of things on your plate.

That’s exactly when it pays dividends to have a blog planner you can fall back upon—a printable (or downloadable) document that can guide you through the process of coming up with blog post ideas, doing thoughtful keyword research, writing, nailing your SEO best practices, hitting publish and promoting that content where your readers spend time online.

Free Blog Planner: My Printable Blog Post Planner Template (and Checklists)

What’s in this Free Blog Planner Template (Bundle)
Blog Planner Keyword Research Checklist (Brainstorming Topics)
Blog Planner SEO Checklist: 10 Best Practices to Follow
Blog Planner Promotion Checklist
How to Use the Blog Planner Calendar (Weekly To-Do List)

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products and services I’ve personally used and stand behind. When you use one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me, which helps me run this blog and keep my in-depth content free of charge for readers (like you).

This guide will help walk you through each of the sections that are included in my free blog planner printable template. And remember, each section will help keep your blog posts on track—and your blog running smoothly as you implement your broader growth strategies.

1. What’s in my Free Blog Planner Bundle

Here’s everything that comes in my free blog planner bundle:

Brainstorming prompts and ideas for coming up with smart blog topics
Keyword research checklist to make sure your content ideas align with real needs
Editable blog post outline & SEO-driven writing template to follow (in Google Doc format)
SEO checklist to nail all of your search engine optimization best practices
Promotion checklist for ensuring your content maximizes its chances for success
Content (editorial) calendar to visually plan out your blog posts on a schedule (in Google/Excel Sheet format)
Weekly to-do list with clear tasks that ladder up to growing your blog

Now that we have a clear picture of everything that’s inside of my free blog planner bundle, let’s dive in and talk more about how to use all of these documents to your advantage.

Want My Free Blog Planner Template (Printable & Downloadable)?

Grab my free blog planner in printable Google Doc and PDF format (which helps me plan content that reaches 500,000+ monthly readers today).

2. Blog Planner Keyword Research Checklist (Brainstorming Topics)

When I write blog posts, I always start first with a brainstorming session. There are always a few essential boxes that I try to tick off before I add new (approved) blog post ideas to my editorial calendar.

Here are my proven steps to brainstorming winning content ideas that’ll generate real readers for your blog.

1. Understand Your Target Audience

The first part of my blog post topic brainstorming session is thinking about what my target audience wants and needs.

Here are a few ways you can learn more about your target audience:

Explore social media platforms: Social media is one of the top ways to learn about current trends and interests in your niche. You can search hashtags, users, groups, and followers in your niche to learn more about your target audience.
Check out Quora and discussion forums in your niche: Quora and online discussion forums are a great source of relevant information about your target audience’s interests.
Watch YouTube and Listen to Podcasts: Videos and podcasts are another area that can reveal trends in your niche.
See what your competition is up to: Learn what your competition is already delivering. Are they missing important content in your niche? Can you improve on what is already out there? What are people asking for in the comment section of your competitor’s blog posts?

For a more thorough analysis of understanding the needs of your audience, I’ve written a guide that includes 11 smart ways to find your target audience.

2. Perform Keyword Research

Keyword research is another way to determine which topics to write about on your blog. Keyword research allows you to map your reader’s needs to actual keywords they’re searching for in order to get the answers they’re seeking.

Once you’ve determined what topics they may be interested in, you can also learn what keywords they’re most likely to use when searching for answers on Google and other search engines.

For a free search keyword research tool, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner or Twinword Ideas. Today, I use the more premium-priced SEO tool, Ahrefs to do my own keyword planning, but it’s not an essential expense when you’re still in the earlier days of blogging. That being said, it’s extremely powerful for determining which keywords you should focus your content around—so if you have a friend or two who’d be interested in splitting the cost, Ahrefs is a great investment.

When you’re doing keyword research, there are two main factors under consideration:

Keyword search volume
Keyword difficulty

Keyword search volume is the number of people that search for a given word or phrase in a month. I’ll use Google’s keyword planner to show you an example of keyword search volume.

Below, I typed in the term “best travel destinations” to see if this is something that people search for on Google:

The results show me that 1,000 – 10,000 people search for this phrase each month. The results also show me other similar phrases that people search for like “best vacation spots” and “best places to travel.” In fact, these other related terms actually yield 10,000 – 100,000 searches each month.

Next to the average monthly searches column, there’s a column that says Competition. This is the section that shows you the estimated keyword difficulty—suggesting how challenging it’ll be to rank your content for each particular phrase. For each of these phrases, the keyword difficulty is “low.” That’s really good news for a potential travel blogger.

In short, the assessment you can walk away from this screenshot with, is that a very sizable number of people are searching for these phrases, but there aren’t a lot of people writing about them (today). Here’s a formula I usually seek out when choosing which keywords to target for my upcoming content calendar:

Medium to high search volume + low keyword difficulty = the perfect keyword for your blog post.

If you can find low competition keyword phrases with a meaningful amount of monthly search volume in your niche, that’s the sweet spot to go after.

3. Pick a Winning Blog Post Topic to Pursue

You know what your readers want to read, you’ve picked the perfect keyword phrase, now you need to translate that into an article topic and working headline.

Going back to our example of the travel blog, we can choose the best topic based on our keyword phrase above. I’ll choose “best vacation spots” since it has a higher search volume than “best travel destinations.”

Thinking about your target audience, the term “best vacation spots” may be a little broad. Best vacation spots for whom? In this case, we’ll choose to write about the best vacation spots for families. That gives the blog post a very specific direction that helps a specific group of people.

From there, a travel blogger could use their own experience and research to write about the best places for families to vacation.

For a working headline, I might use something like:

The Best Vacation Spots For Young Families in 2021
11 Best Vacation Spots For Families to Travel This Year
11 Best Vacation Spots Your Family Will Absolutely Love

4. Choose a Blog Post Type (Guide, Roundup, Review)

The last thing to determine during the brainstorming stage, is what type of blog post you’re writing.

There are a number of different directions that you can take a blog post. Some popular ones include:

Guides and how-to’s
Reviews
Roundups
Checklists
Interviews
Case Studies
List articles

For a blog post about “best vacation spots for families” I’d highly recommend using a list-based format. This means you’d be listing out X number of places around the world (possibly in grouped sections) that’d be great spots for families to vacation.

3. Blog Planner SEO Checklist: 10 Best Practices to Follow

I mentioned keyword research above, and that’s one part of the broader SEO process for every blogger. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the way in which Google (and other search engines) rank content in search results for their users. The more SEO-friendly your content is, the more likely you are to rank higher in a Google search result for the terms you’re writing about.

My SEO checklist includes a few important steps to help your content rank on search engines. I also recommend using the Yoast plugin for WordPress for keeping track of how SEO-friendly your content is.

Here’s the target keyword phrase my roundup of the best blogging jobs websites is targeting:

And from there, here’s the rest of the Yoast SEO recommendations all filled out:

Now, let’s dive into the SEO checklist portion of my blog planner.

1. Choosing a Smart Keyword (or Phrase)

The first step is to choose your focus keyword phrase that you’re going to use for the blog post. Since we already covered this point earlier in this post, we’ll go ahead to the next step.

2. Are Your Headers Fully SEO Optimized?

Your headers are an optimal place to boost your SEO ranking for a blog post. A few  things that are essential to making our headers SEO ready:

Make sure you only have an H1 header once (post title)
Follow proper header hierarchy (H2 sub-header sections with H3 subtopics within)

I use this cascading structure in each of my blog posts. You can see how this is done on my blog post How to Make Money Blogging. The top header is an H1 header (my post title):

I use an H2 heading for the first major section of this blog post:

This is an example of an H3 heading which is a subtopic within my subheading:

Yoast can help guide you about how to optimize your headers. For example, Yoast will recommend using your keyword phrase (or keyword phrase synonyms) in your heading and subheadings. If your blog post is weak on this, it will alert you.

3. Are You Using Your Keyword Phrase In-Text (Keyword Density)

Your keyword phrase should also be woven throughout your content. Take the time to repeat your chosen keyword or keyword phrase in the main body of your text.

In my guide How to Start a Blog, I use the keyword phrase “how to start a blog” two times in the opening section alone:

These keyword phrases should be written in a way that reads naturally in your writing but repeats many times in your content. Yoast will let you know if you’ve used your keyword phrase often enough in your blog post under the category “keyword density.”

4. Use Outbound Links and Internal Links

Outbound links and internal links are two things that Google uses to rank content. Outbound links refer to links you include in your content to other websites, and internal links are links you use to link to other blog posts you’ve written.

Yoast keeps track of how many external links you’ve included in your content and will give you some guidance on you when you need to include more. Aim for linking out to at least 3 to 5 authoritative websites (on non-competitive topics) in each of your blog posts.

5. Optimize the Meta Description

A meta description is the tiny blurb that comes up after a link in a search engine result. You can write and edit your meta-description using Yoast’s plugin near the bottom of your WordPress editor, when you’re editing a post, like so:

It’s recommended by Yoast to include your keyword phrase again in your meta description, usually somewhere near the front.

You can see another example of how I did this for my blog post How to Choose a Domain Name:

The keyword phrase “how to choose a domain name” is written again in my meta description below the title in a Google search result.

There’s also an optimal meta description length that Yoast will help you determine. Descriptions that are too long are cut off, but when they’re too short you’re missing out on precious real estate.

6. Is Your Keyword Phrase Unique?

Another thing that Yoast searches for is if you’ve used the keyword in previous blog posts. In most cases, you will only use a specific target keyword phrase once. You may choose to do other blog posts that are similar to drive traffic for similar searches, but the exact keyword phrase is usually only used once per blog.

7. SEO in Image Alt Attributes

Image alt attributes, also known as “alt tag” or “alt description,” is the HTML attribute used to provide a text alternative for images used on websites. When you add an alt tag to an image you’re showing search engine crawlers what the images are. A search engine can’t identify the manner of images without alt attributes—so it’s another way to boost your SEO.

8. Length of Your Blog Post

Another thing that can help with your SEO optimization is the length of your blog posts. Longer posts—with meaningful helpful writing—tend to perform better than blog posts that are less than 1,000 words.

According to Yoast, defining the text length of your blog post is quite obvious: it’s how long your text is. But, why does it matter? Well, you have a higher chance of ranking in Google if you write long, high-quality blog posts, of 1,000 words or more…

When your text is longer, Google has more clues to determine what it’s about. The longer your (optimized) text, the more often your focus keyword phrase appears. This is no excuse for keyword phrase stuffing though! If you optimize your copy naturally, your focus keyword phrase will pop up here and there throughout your text. You can also fit in more synonyms and related keyword phrases.

In a longer post, you can add more headings, links and images—wherein you can also mention the keyword phrase, where relevant and natural. So the more content you can fit into a blog post (while still adding value to readers), the more on-topic your content will appear and search engines are more likely to treat it as high-quality information.

On my blog, I specialize in long-form content because it ranks well for the niche I talk about in the most important keyword phrases I go after on Google—and also because I’m able to provide more valuable content for readers. With longer, more thorough guides, people visiting my site will be able to find most (if not all) of the answers they’re searching for on any given subject.

9. SEO (Meta) Title Length

Yoast also checks the width of your title and lets you know if it’s too long or too short.

When you have the optimal length, Yoast will put a green bullet point next to the headline in your SEO analysis section (also pictured in the screenshot above).

10. Keywords in the Slug (Blog Post Permalink)

Bloggers become familiar with a lot of interesting terms and “slug” isn’t one that’s easily self-defined. The “slug” is the portion of the permalink that comes after the .com:

The permalink is the entire URL, but the slug is the part that’s unique to each blog post you create. To make the slug SEO-friendly, it should include the keyword phrase that you’ve chosen for your blog post.

Here are some examples of how I’ve used keyword phrases in the slug:

4. Blog Planner Promotion Checklist

When you’re done creating and publishing your content, the next step is to promote it. A checklist will help you remember all of the places you hope to promote your newest piece of content.

Here’s a list of possible places you might want to promote your content:

1. Share on Your Top Social Media Channels

Choose the social media platforms where your audience spends the most time online (and where your content medium fits best). That could include sites like:

Facebook or Facebook groups
Twitter
Instagram
Pinterest or Pinterest Group Boards
Snapchat
TikTok
Medium

2. Schedule an Email to Your Subscribers

Whenever I publish new content on my blog, I send out an email to my subscriber list, altering them to new content and encouraging them to click through and read.

Here’s an example of an email I sent out promoting a recent explainer & guide—What is Evergreen Content? How to Create Long-Lasting Content:

You can choose to send out an email update for every new blog post, or you can send out a collection of blog posts in one encompassing newsletter. Either way, you can use the promotion checklist to keep track of when to send out an email promoting a new blog post.

3. Promote Your New Work in Existing Blog Posts

When I write new content I find ways to promote it with other blog posts on my blog. Sometimes I go back to old blog posts and find ways to fit in a link to my new content. I also include links to old content when I write new blog posts.

In my ultimate guide about How Much Does it Cost to Start a Blog I wove in many links to other blog posts:

4. Notify Everyone You Mentioned in Your Blog Post

When I mention someone in a blog post, I like to reach out to them to let them know (particularly those with clear audiences or brands that I want to collaborate with one day).

It’s a very smart way of networking, building connections and the right influencers or brands may even share your content with their audience.

5. How to Use the Blog Planner Calendar (Weekly To-Do List)

The calendar and weekly to-do list included in my free blog planner will help you stay on task for each item mentioned above.

A full editorial calendar can help you map out when to publish content you’ve been working on.

Your weekly to-do list will give you a clear idea of when you should complete each important task on your blog post planner.

A Weekly to-do list might look something like this:

Monday: Brainstorm new blog topics and doing keyword research
Tuesday: Prioritize which article to begin writing first (and outline your blog post)
Wednesday: Start writing your blog post
Thursday: Finish writing and work on your SEO checklist to fully optimize
Friday: Publish and promote your new post (using your promotion checklist)

Important Note: I’m not suggesting you should expect to write an entire blog post in one or two days every week (especially if it’s long-form content like what I publish here on my own blog), but I do highly recommend picking at least a couple of days each week to dedicate mostly to writing—and have a publish date planned for each new piece of content as a loose due date on your blog planner.

Download My Free Blog Planner (Printable) Bundle and Get Started Today

Are you ready to use smart habits to build a successful blogging business? My free blog planner bundle is available as a printable set of downloadable documents.

What’d I miss? What are some of your own blog planning habits, tips or process that work well for you?

Want My Free Blog Planner Template (Printable & Downloadable)?

Grab my free blog planner in printable Google Doc and PDF format (which helps me plan content that reaches 500,000+ monthly readers today).

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