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How to Create an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog and Use it to Plan Posts and Series

What's On Your Calendar?

As promised, here is the 1st post in this impromptu series for beginner bloggers. Actually, I can rename the series as “What I Wish I’d Know When I Started Blogging!”

Last week, we answered a few questions that a reader and fellow blogger had about taking her blog to the next level. One of those questions was creating and using an editorial calendar.

Here is an in-depth look at what an editorial calendar really is and how to make it work.

What is an Editorial Calendar and Why Use It

Traditionally used by print publications like magazines and newspapers, editorial calendars have become an integral part of online publishing too. By helping bloggers plan the outline or theme of their content months in advance, editorial calendars ensure that a blogger:

  • Doesn’t run out of ideas
  • Can coordinate daily or weekly posts to establish a routine and rhythm
  • Can coordinate between multiple authors without duplication of content
  • Keep blog content interesting, relevant and engaging

So, yes, an editorial calendar will help ensure that your blogging spark burns bright while ensuring that readers look forward to your posts and that your blog, like any big publication, has a posting schedule.

How to Create an Editorial Calendar

Now that you know that it is important to have an editorial calendar, how do you go about creating one. Here is my favorite method broken down into easy steps to help you come up with plenty of blogging ideas and a calendar to help you plan series and more!

1. Schedule time for planning your calendar and decide for how many months would you like to plan. I usually go for 4 months and now may move to 6 months of planning, but if that sounds overwhelming, try 2-3 months to begin with.

2. Open a blank Excel form or try the Blogger Add-on in the updated version of Organizing Life as Mom eBook {OLAM} by Jessica Fisher. You can also use any of the automated tools that I’ll mention below and while I think they’re really cool, I find the “paper” option the best!

3. For ease of explanation and understanding, I’m going to use the OLAM Editorial Calendar template as my example. Feel free to adapt it. So, at the top of the sheet, type in the Theme or Themes of the Month. So, say, we’re planning for September, my themes are Organizing and Simplifying across all categories.

4. Next, in Advertisers, I write current advertisers as well as a few that I’d be pitching. I usually try to pitch sponsors relevant to the theme or the series.

5. Finally, in the date columns, write down your tentative post titles, or the names of guest posters or contributors, along with the categories in which they fall. Ta-dah! You’re done.

I’ve explained my Excel Editorial Calendar method in an earlier post, so if you’d want to explore that, do check that out.

Using a Calendar to Plan a Series

So, now that you know how to plan your editorial calendar, time for you to think about series and how to use them to share content and grow your community.

Here are 3 ways to go about it:

1. Let’s say that you have Organizing and Simplifying as your themes for September. Once you have your post titles listed, see if there is a common theme. For instance, 5 Ways to Declutter the Bedroom, 5 Ways to Organize Kitchen Cabinets, 5 Ways to Make More Time. Voila, you have yourself a “5-Ways to Do Anything” Series. This method, however, is more disorganized and not the best way to go about planning a series.

2. The second method is to take your month’s theme and then, plan a series around it. So, if Organizing and Simplifying is your theme, create posts that tie in together. You can choose to do this across categories or in just one category. I prefer focusing on just one category. So, I can have a series of 4 posts on Organizing the Home Office under the Work-at-Home category or Simplifying Life in the Kitchen under the Home Management category.

3. The third method is one I learnt from Jessica in the updated Organizing Life as Mom. I have yet to put it into practice but I’ve seen Jessica and other bloggers use it with great success. You create a special Blog Series that runs during a particular date range. You have a theme/s for the particular series, collaborate with other bloggers and host giveaways relevant to that series.

Jessica has a special Blog Series template to help you brainstorm this type of series and I would surely be using this very soon!

Tools to Help You Plan Your Editorial Calendar

If you’re not a pen-and-paper kinda gal like me, or in fact, are more tech-savvy than yours truly, there are several tools to help you plan your editorial calendar. Here are a few basic and advanced options for you to play around with:

Google Calendar

Simple, fuss-free planning tool to help you see what goes up when and how. You can use different colors to indicate categories, guest posts, interviews and more. Plus, if you’re using an Android, you’ll be able to sync them and keep track of your posts on the go as well.

WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin

I’ve never used this but have heard it rocks. It can help you if you use a WP blog and need help with scheduling. Here is Chris Brogan’s review of this plugin to help you understand it further and see why it is so awesome.

Win Calendar

If you’re not on WordPress, you can try the Win Calendar that allows you to create calendars for Excel and Word, months in advance with the ability to import Outlook and Google Calendar data as well. You can customize it with fonts, colors and layout as well.

Do you use an editorial calendar? What type? How has it helped you grow your blog?

Photo Credit: Liz

Prerna


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Comments

  1. Prerna,

    Thanks again for this series. I look forward to each week’s post. I’ve only begun using the Editorial Calendar plug-in and it’s great for visual people, like me. You can drag and drop if you need to make changes and see a month’s schedule at a time. I’ve also played with an Excel spreadsheet. I’m leaning toward to calendar.

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Raki, I’m so glad you’re finding the WP Plugin useful. Like I said, it comes highly recommended:-) Can’t wait to see how it help you take your blog to the next level!

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