In these year-long Blog Exercises dealing with editorial or content calendars, we’re working on exploring all the dates you can add to your calendar, including adding seasonal post content and other date-sensitive blog posts and articles.
In this exercise, we’re going to create a content project form.
The goal of a content project form is to collect all the information you need to complete an article or article series in one place. In theory, you may have one project sheet for every article, a page-by-page to do list.
Some people keep these as files on their computer, saving paper, organized in folders by category or date.
Many print the content project forms and keep them in a file or notebook, again organized by category or date, whichever works for you. You may easily attach notes and additional material to the page.
Whether printed forms or files, consider what method of organization will work best for you at first.
If your site is timely, focused on the calendar, organize these by date. If it is first idea come, first serve, organize the content project forms by category or topic.
I’ve seen some people dive even deeper into organizing their project sheets, grouping them by category, then by date within each category and sub-category. Some will even cross-index these with their editorial calendar.
There is no right or wrong way to create and collate notes on the article ideas you’re generating through this series of exercises for your blog. Experiment to develop a system that works best for your needs. Trust me, I’ve tried just about all of the methods out there.
I’ve created a template of a content project form PDF to download and print, or you can create your own. It consists of the following areas on the form. Use the form as a guide and create your own to meet your site needs.
- Deadline: Every project needs a deadline or it will sit on the procrastination shelf forever. You may not have a specific date in mind at first, so note an approximate date, season, or event where this would best fit in your editorial calendar.
- Idea Date: While optional, I always note the date of an idea. I consider it the “starting date” of the project. Some projects take years to complete, others minutes. It’s just a reference date you may use in a variety of ways. It also will serve you with any issues of copyright infringement that may arise.
- Subject/Topic: Every project gets a category, typically one of the categories on your site. With some projects I will print content project forms on different colored paper, each color representative of a specific category on that site to help me stay better organized. This helps me quickly note if I have too many articles in one category over another. It visually keeps the content in balance.
- Working Title: Sometimes the title motivates the article, sometimes it takes a bit for the title to bubble to the top. Write down a working title to get you started and to trigger your memory as reference later.
- Description: Write a general description summary of the idea. It doesn’t have to be complete sentences, just ideas, thoughts, goals, notes to help you remember what the idea was about and where you want to go with it. There is an area for notes, expanding in greater detail if necessary, so use this for a general description. If it takes a while to get back to it, you have some referencing points to trigger the old gray matter’s recall.
- Status: Check off the status of the project as you work with it. Some people are content with draft, in progress, on hold, pending, and completed. Others need percentages or some other measurement to give them a reminder of how far along they are in the process.
- Publish Date: Once published, set the status to complete and note the date the article is published. This serves as a reference record and helps with copyright infringement issues in the future.
- Content Type: If you write your blog posts, your content type will always be “Post,” but occasionally it could be “Page” as in the pseudo-static Pages of WordPress. It could also be an article series, video, audio, podcast, graphic, document file, pdf, ebook, infographic, or another form of content type.
- Target Audience: I’ve talked about defining your target audience in a previous blog exercise. Make a note on your target audience on your content project form to remind yourself of the voice and words you need to use to frame the content to reach them.
- Distribution Channels: Not all content projects happen directly on your site. You may use YouTube or another video hosting service, forums, social media, newsletters, email, or guest blog on someone’s site.
- Promotion: Most promotion online happens within social media channels, but not all. And not all social media channels need to promote everything you do. Sometimes your content is only appropriate for your Google+ fans or Facebook fans. List your promotion targets appropriate for this concept.
- Keywords: Whether you use these as tags or some form of categorization, note down the keywords you wish to target as you write the topic.
- References and Resources: Sometimes your article needs information or references from multiple resource sites. You may need these to research the article or to include these references as resources in your article or content.
- Notes: This is where you fill in all the notes you need to not just define the project but to remind yourself about it months or years later when you revisit it.
- Ideas: Every idea spawns new ideas. If you feel inspired, take note of future ideas and projects in the Ideas section of the form. When ready, move those to content project forms of their own.
- Results: Drop a pebble in a puddle and watch the ripples. Your published content creates a ripple and response effect as well. A day or two, maybe a month later, take stock in how this project went. Did it work? What do the stats for the published post report? What did you learn. Should you repeat something like this in the future? Take a moment to review your past content to see how you are doing and how you can improve.
Download the content project form (PDF) file and play with it. Experiment with a filing and organization system. Change the form to meet your needs.
You will come up with your own system, but consider your exercise today to use the form to create five content projects.
If you have any insights on the process, share them in the comments below.