If you aren’t using some kind of editorial calendar for your blog and you want to be serious about growing your blogging business, then stop what you’re doing, grab a coffee, and read this post, OK?
I had started using an editorial calendar to plan out my blog content a few years ago, but I wasn’t really taking my blog all that seriously and after a few months my new habit totally fell by the wayside. Last year though, when I was having a “make it or break it” moment with my blog, I picked up that editorial calendar idea again and actually stuck with it.
And OMG. Has it ever made such a huge difference to my ability to stay on track, plan out my work, and be way more productive.
Instead of using any kind of software or online calendar, I decided to go old school and plan out my calendar with pen and paper. I had been using a google calendar before, but once I went to paper (and kept my calendar with other blogging paperwork in a “blog planner”), the whole routine just stuck.
*Note: If you are working with a team, then you’ll need some kind of online tool like Trello to manage your calendar and task list so that everyone can update it and knows what’s going on. The paper method is better for the solopreneur or someone (like me!) who does all the content myself but hires help for things like social media managing.
Here is my method from start to finish.
Step 1 / Brainstorm
At the end of each month (before the next one starts), I sit down and have a brainstorming sesh.
My first step is to write out all of my blog post ideas for that month. Usually I go overboard and write out every single idea that comes to mind.
When you are doing this, be mindful of any products you are wanting to promote. If you have an Etsy shop with printables, think about a blog post that somehow incorporates a framed print (maybe in a room makeover?). If you are trying to sell online decorating services, maybe you could have one post that is dedicated to showcasing some past client work. You always want to use your blog posts as a marketing tool for any paid product or service you have.
Once I have those ideas down, I also add in any sponsored posts I know are coming up. Because I only plan one month at a time, it means that I usually have a pretty good idea of any sponsored content I have coming down the pipeline.
Step 2 / Categorize
After all of the ideas and sponsored posts are down on paper, I categorize them.
If you are a home and DIY blogger, then those categories might look something like this:
- DIY project tutorial
- Home decor finds (ie. some kind of round up)
- Room makeover (not necessarily just “before + after” – could be a progress post of a makeover)
- Home decor lesson or trends
- … etc, etc. (you may also do recipes, fashion, or other “lifestyle” posts – these categories will be different from blogger to blogger)
So why do I categorize?
Well, not only to make sure that I have scattered the posts appropriately throughout the month, but it’s also because each category has a different time requirement. Doing a DIY project where I need to gather supplies, do the project, take photography, edit photos, write, etc, takes WAY longer than doing a round-up post of favourite marble bathroom accessories. Or doing a round-up of past projects that relate to a holiday, like thanksgiving, for example. And then something like a room update post would be somewhere in between those two. So by categorizing, I can be realistic about how many of each type of post I can get done within the month.
You want to focus on writing good evergreen content instead of too many “filler” or quickie posts, so you need to be realistic about how many you can actually do in a month without running yourself ragged or not accomplishing your other, bigger blog biz goals (you can read about my method for planning and accomplishing goals here).
I’m a big believer in quality over quantity in terms of blog posts. By focusing on really stellar evergreen content and not trying to stick to an unrealistic posting schedule, you still have time to grow the other parts of your business model AND stay sane.
Step 3 / Enter into the Calendar (old school style)
So when I go and actually write out the posts into my calendar, I do it on paper. I have a binder-based blog planner that I use every single day. I print out 12 date-less calendar sheets. Then I use one calendar sheet per month and plan my content out on it.
I like to be able to look at the calendar easily within my blog planner and if it’s hidden in a software, then it’s just one more tab I need to have open on my computer. By seeing the calendar everyday on my desk (along with other things like my to-do list, goal sheet, etc.) I stay WAY more focused and on track.
I keep the editorial calendar solely to content: basically blog posts and newsletters. Just the things that are being delivered to my readers. If you are having a product launch or a webinar, then you could write those down as well, and add in any emails that are going to go out in relation to those events.
What I don’t write on this calendar? Social media posts, my to-do list tasks, appointments, calls, etc. It’s JUST content based. Things like appointments and calls I put into my Google calendar. My to-do list tasks go onto another sheet within my blog planner. And social media scheduling happens in Buffer (Facebook + Instagram) and Boardbooster (Pinterest).
Getting the calendar down on paper not only means I can look it over and make sure I like the overall plan for the month, but it also makes it super clear to me what I need to be working on. It gives a natural priority to the task list.
Step 4 / Be a blogging biz badass
Since I started utilizing this method, I can usually be a couple of weeks ahead of schedule for blog post writing. No more feeling rushed to whip out a last minute blog post because I feel like I “have to”. Honestly, it’s been a huge time AND stress saver. And I actually feel like I have my shit together (most of the time).
Oh, it also means that your content will be better – it’ll planned more thoughtfully and strategically. Basically it’s an all around win.
Wanna get started creating an blog editorial calendar like mine?
I have the date-less calendar sheet here for you as a free download. Snag it, print out 12 copies for a whole year’s worth, and start your own editorial calendar!
Grab The Editorial Calendar!
What about you guys? Do you use an editorial calendar? Map out your content somehow? What’s your method?
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