I recently discovered that there comes a time in your blogging life when you finally find your groove. Have you experienced this yet? After weeks, months, maybe even years of trying to figure out what to write you finally find your niche and the floodgates of your creativity burst open.
Suddenly your brain begins to fill up with great ideas for posts! These brainwaves come to you when you’re making breakfast in the morning, commuting to your day job, or taking a shower. Sometimes they wake you up in the middle of the night. If you’re like me, you might start feeling a bit overwhelmed by all these thoughts and worry that you might forget them.
If you’ve been scribbling these ideas down on scraps of paper, napkins or sticky notes then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Your ideas are important – do you really want to risk losing them? While organization and creativity seem to be unrelated entities, the truth is that a little structure will go a long way in improving your blog.
This is where Editorial Calendars come in.
What is an Editorial Calendar?
Think of it as a plan, outline, or detailed to-do list for your writing. This document will help you keep track of the ideas and deadlines that you don’t want to forget and can be customized to suit your needs. It’s a great blogging resource.
Publishers and journalists use editorial calendars to keep track of interview dates, upcoming events, and publishing deadlines. Bloggers seem to prefer details about categories, keywords and photos.
Why do I need an Editorial Calendar?
An editorial calendar gives you more control over your content. It keeps you accountable, helps prevent writer’s block, and allows you to see trends in your writing. You can also use your calendar to keep track of posts that are popular and posts that didn’t do very well. And, most importantly, it takes those great ideas from your head and begins to turn them into something concrete.
How do I get an Editorial Calendar?
#1. Use an Editorial Calendar template.
The easiest way to get started is to download a free template. You can find several different templates with just a simple Google search. I’ve also created a generic 2-week template for FBC readers. Just click here to download the Two Week Blogging Editorial Calendar, then print it and fill it out.
#2. Make your own Editorial Calendar template.
You can create your own Editorial Calendar using a program like Word, Excel or Publisher.
When I made my calendar, I just inserted a table and then wrote in the headings that I thought would be useful for blogging. I put a calendar on the top of the page for reference, which can be easily done in Microsoft Publisher.
Here are some headings to consider when you make your own calendar:
- Category/Type (ex. Recipe, How-To)
- Post Date
- Publication Location (if you have multiple blogs or often guest post)
- Reception (keep track of how many tweets, likes, or pins the post got)
Keep in mind that you can create a calendar for one week, 2 weeks, a month, or a year. I prefer to plan one week at a time.
If you’d rather not create a computer document, you can purchase a desk calendar and then write the information for each post on the date that you want to work on it.
#3. Use a WordPress plugin for your Editorial Calendar
I have used the Editorial Calendar plugin so let’s take a look at it.
Once you’ve installed Editorial Calendar, you will find a new Calendar link under the Posts drop down menu. Here you will be able to see a calendar with all of your previous posts, and any posts that you have already scheduled. The month-by-month view is easy to scroll through with your mouse. If you hover over a date you will see a New Post link at the top of the box. Clicking on this will allow you to add basic details for the post you want to schedule.
How do I use an Editorial Calendar?
Once you’ve printed your template, created your document, bought your calendar, or downloaded your plugin it’s time for the hard part. You have to set aside some time to plan your posts.
Grab a snack and find somewhere quiet where you can focus on filling in your calendar. Think about what kinds of posts you want to create. How long will it take for you to write the text? When will you shoot the photos? You should also consider if your ideas are seasonal or time-sensitive. These are all factors that will affect when you should schedule each post.
Don’t fret over creating a “perfect” calendar, with a post scheduled for every day of the week. This is like goal setting; you have to make a plan that is specific and attainable. If you know you don’t ever blog on a Friday, then indicate that this is an “off” day on your calendar.
The only downside of pre-planning your posts is that life happens, and you won’t always be able to stick to your plan. That’s ok. It’s important to be flexible! If the power goes out for two days and you can’t blog, don’t feel bad. And if new opportunities come up, great! Just adjust your schedule as you go.
Are you currently using an editorial calendar? Let us know what works for you!
Bonus!! If you missed it above, here is Shareba’s Free Two Week Blogging Editorial Calendar Printable. Just click on the link to download it, print it and fill it out!
Shareba Abdul is a food blogger from the GTA. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Applied Arts in Media Studies, a Diploma in Journalism, and has a passion for writing, photography, and blogging. You can check out her yummy discoveries at InSearchOfYummyness.com or connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.