Procrastination. It’s one major enemy of a blogger. The biggest form of this is when you wait until the day before (or even the day of) you want to publish a blog post before you start typing it. Problem is...you have NO CLUE what you are even going to post about. Blogging has made a huge transition over the past 5 years, so much so that people are blogging and making a full-time income. Bloggers are starting to work with major brands which says a ton about the blogging world as we now know it.
There are different reasons for wanting to blog, but if you are wanting to blog seriously (and for money at some point), you have to start acting seriously. One way to do this is to start implementing an Editorial Calendar into your planning process. Editorial Calendars are used to define and control publication of content across different media according to Wikipedia. They are widely known for being used in the magazine/publication world. In the blogging world, it is used for planning and scheduling all of your blog content and processes related to it.
Today I will be discussing five reasons that your blog needs an editorial calendar. Since I know that some people prefer using a digital calendar while others prefer a physical one, I've brought my friend Katrina from the amazing DIY and home decor blog, Chic Little House, in to discuss her planning process using a physical calendar and I will be discussing how I use a digital one. But first, why do you even need an editorial calendar?
This is the absolute most important reason why you need an editorial calendar. You have a nice place to list posts on specific days and can plan them out accordingly. By having a calendar to place tasks on, you can see the whole picture and know what needs to be done in a specific order. You can schedule photos that need to be taken, days to write posts, days to post content to social media, brainstorming time, etc. Anything that you do to make your blog run and posts come alive should be included on your calendar. If you are going to interview someone, include those details on your calendar. If you are going to send an email to your email list, include that on your calendar. By using an editorial calendar, you can also plan things out well in advance just like magazines do. In the summer, magazines are already publishing content for the fall, so that means they have probably been planning content for at least 3-6 months prior. I tend to plan out my content a month or more in advance. Being able to see the big picture by viewing everything in one place rather than having to dig through tons of random notes written on napkins or scrap paper is an amazing feeling.
When a task is given an actual due date, not just a general timeframe for completion, it makes it instantly real. When you create deadlines for yourself, you become accountable. You treat your tasks as a real thing and not just a hypothetical figment of your imagination (read more about how setting deadlines helps with productivity). You know what else happens when you become accountable? You begin to create healthy blogging habits that turn into your standard operations.
By using an editorial calendar, you can easily map out a schedule for your blog so that you can stay consistent. This can be by choosing the same day of the week to post about a specific topic, certain days to work on photography and editing, one week day to dedicate to social media planning, etc. By putting all of this onto a calendar, it will help you be more consistent with your processes. You can also plan out your social media content/posts so that you know how many tweets, Instagram photos, Pins, etc. you want to post each day and what they will be about.
Scheduling tasks onto a calendar will help you to prioritize tasks. One way of doing this is by color coding. You may choose to use a certain color for high priorities for the day and another color as low. This will help you to get a visual of the hot items to complete first in your day, and if you happen to finish them with time to spare, you can then work on the lower priority tasks.
Having an editorial calendar is incredibly professional. It’s a standard in the media/publishing world and for plenty of bloggers (especially the pros). The more habits that you embody from professionals, the more that you will set yourself up for success and not just be seen as an amateur blogger. While you’re building your brand and may not be as well known, you should be taking the time to build healthy habits for your blog so that when things really start popping you are well prepared and able to keep up!
Now that you know the five main reasons why your blog needs an editorial calendar, Katrina and I will be walking you through our process both on a physical and digital calendar.
I personally love creating a monthly Editorial Calendar for my blog, it helps me stay on track and better plan out my content. Before I started creating a monthly Editorial Calendar, I used to create draft posts. Those posts would sit untouched for months, nothing was getting done. Now that I have a system in place to plan out the content I want to share on Chic Little House, I’m able to look at the big picture, prioritize and better plan out my month. I’m a visual person and love the process of having a physical calendar in front of me when planning out the month. Below is the process for creating my Editorial Calendar.
- During the month, I use the notepad in my phone to write down ideas.
- One to two weeks before the new month begins, I put aside a few hours to plan out my content.
- I start with a draft Calendar. Then I start adding my Blog Series to my Calendar. For example, every Monday I share design ideas and inspiration for small home dwellers on my series Small Home Style. I block out all Mondays for this series and the title plus note the category the post falls under.
- Next I add in Blog Posts based on projects I’m working and the timeline and the work that will go into each blog post: taking photos & editing and the time to write the post.
- After the dates are set, I create my Editorial Calendar for the month and start working on my blog posts and creating content.
Of course there are times when life gets in the way and I’m unable to post. However, with a plan in place, I can easily move blog post dates around.
I use the digital project management tool/calendar, Asana, for keeping track of all of my tasks. Prior to Asana, I kept track of tasks in my sketchbook. Switching to content planning on an actual calendar has been a gem for my blog/biz productivity and organization.
1. Monthly Planning session- I start off my content scheduling by dedicating one day a month to map out all of the content that I will be blogging about, email subjects that I will be emailing to my crew and products that I will be creating for the month. I use a Google Doc to keep track of all of my thoughts initially before I finalize the plans and add them to Asana.
2. Create individual calendars for main tasks- I organize my calendar by creating different “teams” so that I can keep track of each task that needs to be done for it. For example, I have teams called Blog Editorial Calendar, Products and Campaigns. Each team has a list of calendars for specific tasks. The Blog Editorial Calendar team has calendars such as photos, social media content and blog posts. By breaking each team down with one calendar per task, I can easily see what needs to be done. Calendars can also be color coded so that it’s easier to keep track of when you’re looking at all tasks at once.
3. Schedule each step of a task- To break it down even further, I have the ability to schedule every single thing that needs to be completed for each item. For example, if I am planning on launching a free email course, I would add that to my calendar for it’s launch date. The problem is, when you only schedule an end result, you are missing out on keeping track of the checkpoints to get you there. An awesome thing about Asana is that you can also schedule sub-tasks. By doing this, I can see every step that needs to be done, and it’s all linked to the main task.
4. Determine if the task will be recurring- Some of my tasks are recurring, so when I mark them as complete, they automatically move to the date that it should be completed on next. If the task that I have created will be a recurring one, I would then update the settings for that.
5. Get it done- Once I complete a task, I simply check the item off on the calendar and the color for the task changes so that I know it’s complete. Every item still appears on the calendar, so it's easy to see what has been completed and what still needs to be completed.
If you currently don't use an editorial calendar for your blog, I hope that this post encourages you to start one! To give you even more of a nudge, Katrina and I are offering you her physical calendar sheet and my monthly planning sheet as a free download. You can type directly onto the planning sheets or print them out along with the calendar!
Thanks so much for offering your tips and calendar, Katrina!
So what’s your take on an editorial calendar for your blog? Do you use one, and if so, do you prefer digital or physical? Leave a comment below!