An editorial calendar makes it much easier to plan out your blog content for the month and to help keep the blogger’s block and writer’s rut gremlins away. I have a calendar that I plan out my content each month. Based on my calendar, I use Google Docs and Asana to write and schedule everything, as well as a spreadsheet. In today’s post, I’m going to walk you through how I plan out everything, step-by-step.
Before you even think about using an editorial calendar, there are a couple of things you need to decide.
- How often will you blog? Don’t take on more than you can handle, consistently If you can only start blogging once per week, then blog once per week; work your way up if necessary.
- How will you keep it all organized? I love my editorial calendar because it gives me a quick snapshot of everything there right in front of me, but you may need more than just a calendar. How will you keep track of the posts you’ve written and hopefully you are planning ahead so what do you do with all of those ideas that randomly pop into your head at the most inopportune times?
You don’t have to get fancy; a simple Excel spreadsheet will do with headings such as:
- Publish date
- Delivery method (infographic, video, text, audio, etc).
- Blog category
- Completion date (when will you have the blog written?)
- Points to be made (for when those ideas just randomly pop in your head)
- Image URL (for when you are looking for a photo for blog post-A, but find an image that would be perfect for blog B)
- Stock photo source
Of course, you don’t have to use a spreadsheet, there are plenty of online tools available such as Trello.
#1: Come up with a theme for the month
A theme makes it so much easier to stay focused and can be any topic that is of interest to your readers. Your topics don’t have to stay primarily with your services. Here is an example of what I mean.
As a Web designer, there are a lot of themes I can discuss. Of course websites, but what about them? I can discuss branding, layouts, website platforms, analytics, and SEO to name a few.
Take a moment to brainstorm not only your direct services but also any service that is related to what you do.
Mindmaps are a big help with this type of brainstorming. You can have one topic in the center, and several other topics which build off of that. Below is a simple mindmap example.
Now that you have your theme, what events do you have coming up which relate to this topic? Those you are hosting or those you are attending? If my theme for the month was analytics, I could host a webinar on various areas of analytics such as 5 Things You Need to Pay Attention to In Google Analytics. If I was attending a seminar, or event about Google Analytics, I could also write about key takeaways from the events and relate them to my audience.
Holidays can help trigger blog post ideas. I don’t mean the usual holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and Memorial Day. I’m speaking about the holidays people are unaware of and that are fun. I use the website, Holiday Insights, to find the holidays. Some of them are pretty whacky, but many you can relate to your business, and or take a break, be human, and have some fun!
If I was going to launch a new product or service, or even host a challenge around Google Analytics, this is the month to do it! What better time to launch one of these when I’m already talking about it and it’s fresh on the minds of those who read my blog?
#5: Get Personal
Those who need your services want to know not only what you can do for them and how you can help them, they also want to get to know you! From time to time, throw in a personal post; notice I said personal and not private. For example, one of my sister’s is pregnant and I’ll be an Aunt for the first time. If I were to design her baby shower invitations, I could create a blog post surrounding being an Aunt, share a picture of the invitation I designed, and a picture or two from the shower.
See how it’s personal and I can still relate it to my business design? In one post, I’ve shared a couple of personal things, I have a sister (actually I have three), I’m going to be an Aunt for the first time, and something I did when I’m not coding my life away! It also adds a professional touch to it because I designed an invitation.
#6: Case Study or Client Testimonial
Do you have a happy client who is singing your praises because of the results received? Create a case study blog post! Share the situation your client was in before working with you, some of the processes of working with you, and the results your client received, and end it with a client testimonial. Make sure you get permission from your client before you share the story!
#7: Guest Bloggers
There is only one of you so it can help to have guest bloggers. If you are going to have guest bloggers, it’s best to plan this in advance. You will also want to create guidelines so you aren’t just accepting blogs from anyone. Make sure your guest bloggers are aligned with your brand; don’t just accept anyone!
Once I’ve filled in the blanks on my editorial calendar, I schedule everything in Asana (this is the best tool…eva!). For each blog post, everything is scheduled a week in advance so I am a week ahead, at a minimum. I schedule:
- The dates the blog has to be written and any images to go with it,
- The date for my interns to add it to my blog,
- The date the social media posts need to be scheduled in Hootsuite.
Scheduling may not be necessary for you, but to keep me on track, it’s a necessity.
This is where my spreadsheet comes in handy and I keep track of my posts. One of the reasons I love using a spreadsheet is because it helps me to see what I’m blogging about and if I’m getting too heavy on a topic. It also helps me to decide what I can repurpose and I can come back to things later. I always seem to find images or come up with points I want to make in a blog post when I’m working on another post or at random times.
With my spreadsheet, I can just add it to my Google sheet and not have to try to remember for later. It’s quite handy!
I’m old school and prefer a pen/pencil and a notebook to write my blog posts and I usually write in bulk. So Sunday mornings seem to be the day my ideas flow so I grab my pen/pencil, notebook, tea, and write until I can’t write anymore, but no more than 2 hours.
Once I’ve written my post, I have a template that I use to make sure I don’t miss anything with my posts so they are consistent; this makes life much easier!
Once the blog is written, I go on my keyword hunt. I decide on keywords that I can use as tags, I create my meta description and make sure my main keyword for the post is in all the important places.
So that’s it. That’s my process! It may seem like a lot, but it’s what works for me. It keeps me organized and on track and with all of the other hats we as entrepreneurs wear, it’s great to not have to wonder if something is done or if you’ve done it.
One last note: Make sure you are flexible when it comes to your calendar. Things can come up and this is why it’s important to follow trends in your industry and on the topics you write about. As a Web Designer, things come up-especially when there is a WordPress update that may cause issues with a website. When things like this happen, I am flexible enough to know that is time sensitive material that is helpful and valuable to my readers so I may add in an extra post or replace one already planned.
What’s your blogging process? Please share in the comments below!