'The Blogger's Guide to Editorial Calendars'

I’m a calendar person, the kind who gets excited when December rolls around, not because Christmas is coming (although that’s cool, too), but because it’s about time to buy a new planner. I was that freshman who wrote down every assignment in her planner the first day of class (I also thought syllabi were awesome. I miss them), and I am that person who schedules out most of the day in advance. So before I started blogging, I read about editorial calendars for blogs, and I thought to myself, self, you need to start a blog so you can have an editorial calendar! Actually, that’s not why I started blogging, but it definitely is one of the perks. Regardless of your calendar addiction or lack of it, if you plan to blog and blog consistently, you should consider creating your own editorial calendar.

So what is an editorial calendar?

An editorial calendar is a calendar that maps out upcoming content for the next month, six months, year, or whatever timeframe you deem appropriate. Bloggers and content marketers stole editorial calendars from the world of magazines and brought them online. And, seriously, the magazines used them for a reason. They work.

Do you need an editorial calendar?

You do not need an editorial calendar if A) you are not a blogger or don’t have content to market or B) you don’t really care about blogging consistently. But if you want to survive the grind of generating content on a regular basis, you should consider mapping out your upcoming posts.

Is it a big deal? Why is it so important?

Um, yes it’s a big deal. Otherwise I wouldn’t waste my time or yours writing about it. Here’s the deal: an editorial calendar can be a lifesaver for writers who struggle with consistency, with brainstorming, or with content strategy. If you take the time to plan an editorial calendar, instead of struggling to come up with ideas on a regular basis, you’ll have topic brainstorming out of the way. While you will still have to brainstorm some for the actual article, the hard part of determining what you will write about is done in advance. Additionally, an editorial calendar allows you to plan ahead for any upcoming events or holidays that could generate content for your blog as well as allowing you to plan special campaigns for content. On top of all of that, you can write in to your calendar to repurpose content as a slideshare, infographic, or ebook a month or two down the road to save some more precious brainstorming time.

So how’s it done?

1. Find yourself a good calendar.

I’m a paper and pen type of girl, so I prefer my paper planner to Google Calendar or calendar apps on my phone. Electronic calendars, though, can work just as well as hardcopies, if you prefer those. There is also a nice editorial calendar plugin for WordPress that I just installed on my site. I haven’t played around with it much, but it may turn out to be a handy tool.

2. Spend some time creating your mission or vision statement.

Doing so will help with the overall plan for your blog and will help you keep your topics on topic.

3. Develop some attainable goals for your blog.

Do you want to write three posts a week for a year? Do you want to generate revenue from your blog? Do you have any particular topic series that you would like to run or any special content you would like to create in the next several months? Planning out goals before you map your content will help you know what types of content you should be focusing on.

4. Get to know your audience.

What are their interests? Their habits? Their pain points, their selling points, and their goals? When you know your audience, you’ll be able to tailor your content specifically to them.

5. List any relevant events or holidays that could help generate content.

Is Talk Like A Pirate Day just around the corner? Great! Now come up with a topic that relates to your blog that you can tie in with pirates somehow.

6. Brainstorm.

Start a running list of possible topics that could work for your blog. I write mine in the notes section of my planner and move them to my editorial calendar when I’ve narrowed them a bit and have determined the most appropriate time to schedule them.

Conclusion

Developing an editorial calendar will help you become a consistent blogger as well as allowing you to plan killer content marketing campaigns in advance so you have plenty of time to make them awesome.

So what do you think? Are editorial calendars a big deal? Or can you live without one?