We bloggers are busy people. Blogging is something we love but it's far from our only focus. (Though that's the dream for a lot of us, right?!) So how can you make sure that your blog posts are topically on point and regularly showing up in your reader's inbox despite your busy schedule? Simplify things for yourself by creating an editorial calendar. Here's seven easy steps to knock out your editorial calendar and make sure your blog posts are getting written and you're hitting your goals.
7 Steps to Creating an Editorial Calendar
1. Determine how often you will post. You've got to start here. What's a feasible goal for you? What is the minimum effective dose? Does your audience need to hear from you daily? Weekly? 2 times a week? 3? Determine how often you will post and which day of the week.
2. Narrow down topics. Bloggers are people so naturally we like as much variety as anyone else! But your blog needs to be predictable to your audience. Giving your audience a survey of the Platforms of the Current Republican Presidential Candidates one week and then your Top 5 Reasons Hanson is the Best Band Ever the next week may seem fun and exciting but your audience likely won't trust you as an expert on both topics. And beyond that, they probably won't care about both topics. Remember: keep your audience in mind first! What is useful to them?
3. Add contributors. Are you authoring your blog solo? Do you have a team? Plug your writers and their areas of expertise into your editorial concept. Make sure to communicate expectations to them and give them at least a week of cushion between their deadline and when you actually need to move forward with the post.
4. Batch tasks. I take a half day every quarter to brainstorm blog post ideas for the next three months. Likely I've been reading and mulling over ideas that I can plug in right away. And another thing you can batch and knock out at once? A month's worth of posts. I prefer to write one at a time (I'm just a little ADD that way) but if you can sit down and knock out 4-8 blog posts in a day, you've potentially created content for a month or more. Avoid interruptions and knock out tasks all at once.
5. Brainstorm headlines. When you are clear on the kinds of posts you will write--my post categories are around social media, writing, marketing, productivity, creativity and goals--you can begin to flesh out post ideas that fit within each category. Don't overthink it. Just, stream of conscious, write down as many post ideas as you can. Then review them and refine them to put them into words that are the most intriguing and "clickable."
6. Plug headlines into your calendar. Once you have a good solid list of post ideas, plug those headlines into your calendar on the days you're committed to publishing new content. Be sure to spread out the types of posts throughout the month so there's a nice variety. I really like the Excel calendar template but you can also use a desk calendar, a planner or even your Outlook or Gmail calendar.
7. Schedule weekly time to write. Habits are wonderful because they eliminate troublesome decision making. If you know that you write every Wednesday morning from 7:30-9:30, you don't have to look at your calendar each week and ask yourself "when am I going to write?" When Wednesday rolls around you don't have to ask yourself if you should make time for it. The decision has been made. Plug in meetings with yourself on your calendar. It's an unfortunate truth but blogs don't write themselves!
If you've ever been stumped at your laptop or just stared at your screen because you couldn't figure out what to write about, an editorial calendar may be the perfect solution to help guide you on the path to consistent blogging.