Up until a few months ago, an effective editorial calendar was not part of my blogging strategy at all. I simply posted whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, without much forethought or reasoning behind it!
After I’d been publishing blog posts for a few months, I started to get into somewhat of a rhythm. My posts go out every week at 6am on Mondays, and I try to do at least one newsletter a week, on Thursdays.
But, let’s be honest: that’s still not really much of a plan! And it’s certainly not an editorial calendar.
I wouldn’t even pre-write my posts! I can remember talking to another blogger about this a few months ago (it might’ve been Kayla Hollatz?), and she was shocked that my process for writing blog posts was simply to….write them. And then publish them. No editing process, no outline, no anything!
Well, I still don’t do outlines (there’s always something to work on!). But I finally have a super effective editorial calendar that I can’t wait to share with you!
How to Create a Super Effective Editorial Calendar
While I’m calling this an editorial calendar, it’s actually really more of a content calendar, since it includes overarching themes and even what my newsletter topics will be!
Choosing a Style of Calendar
This is such a personal decision, and there are so many options out there!
Are you a paper planner girl, or maybe you LOVE Google Calendar? Any type of organizational tool can work for this. I even know some people who use Trello!
When it comes to how I like to organize things, I’m totally a spreadsheet girl. I have a template in Google Sheets that I use to create my editorial calendar, and it’s always opened up in a browser tab on my laptop. The super rad part about Google Sheets, though, is that you can access it from anywhere as long as you have internet!
Back when I wasn’t that organized about my content, I used to use Google Calendar. But eventually I realized that I wanted to include more information that it was allowing me to, and everything was getting way to cluttered. So it was time to upgrade to a spreadsheet!
Planning Your Calendar
The first step is to decide how far in advance you want to plan this baby out.
I personally choose around 4 months, since I like working in quarters. But if you are someone who posts every single day, that might not work for you! If you put out a ton of content, you probably will want to start out with just a single month at a time.
Making Use of Overarching Themes
Right now, I have all of my overall themes chosen up until November. For example, June was all about social media!
As a reader, you probably didn’t even notice this — but, behind the scenes, I really enjoyed how easy it was to organize everything when all of my posts and newsletters needed to conform to that one theme.
Adding themes into your calendar certainly isn’t necessary…maybe you are someone who writes a lot about current events. Obviously this sort of thing wouldn’t be best for you! But if you are a lifestyle blogger, working in “seasons” could actually create a very effective editorial calendar for you, as you could write posts based on the relevant holidays or certain times of the year. For instance: “back to school.”
Nailing Down the Nitty Gritty
Once you’ve decided the main aspects of your calendar, it’s time to input the smaller details, like the actual specific things you will be posting about, and what days your newsletter sends out.
Here’s an up-close look at what types of details I like to include in my spreadsheets. This is exactly what my calendar looks like for July in the spreadsheet, and I’ve organized it so that, at a glance, I can immediately see:
- Which days blog posts are going out
- Which days newsletters are going out
- How many guest posts I have that month
- How many blog posts still need to be written (I highlight things in gray when they are completed, so that this point, I have nothing done for July!)
There’s also information included about what types and how many content upgrades I’m sending out each month, and whether or not I have guest posts that I’m writing for other people’s blogs (that’s what the “location” column is for).
An Effective Editorial Calendar Helps with Guest Posting!
One of my favorite benefits of this editorial calendar is how much it helps me secure guest posters for my blog.
I get quite a few guest post submissions (head over here to submit your own!), and it used to be a little overwhelming and hard to remember what was going on before I had this handy spreadsheet.
Now, when I get a submission and approve it, I can instantly see what dates I have available for that post (based on topic and general availability). Super handy!
It also helps me figure out if I have too many guest posts going on during one month (in July, I have three, which is a lot for me! I definitely can’t accept any more for this month), and reminds me to submit my own guest posts out (in July, I have no guest posts going out, so I probably could’ve done better in that area).
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All around, having this effective editorial calendar in my life has been a HUGE timesaver and productivity helper. Now, I’m getting blog posts written weeks in advance and scheduling everything out in advance so that I don’t have to be rushing last-minute on a Sunday night to get something published in the morning.
Do you use an editorial calendar? Let me know about your process in the comments!