Have you ever wondered why editorial calendars are so important for bloggers? As a blogger I’m sure you’ve encountered one of the following:
- missed a blog post deadline
- felt overwhelmed with other blogging tasks
- missed an opportunity to promote a trending topic
- felt completely unorganized and out of control
If you feel like your blog is an unorganized mess of a thousand ideas with no real form?
You’re not alone.
The world of blogging moves at the speed of a mouse click, if you’re not pushing relevant, valuable content, your blog will be like an empty stadium. This is why every blogger needs to have an efficient calendar that keeps them on schedule, tells them what projects are coming up and what tasks need to be done before the due date. A blogging calendar also helps you keep your content relevant and timely.
You may be asking, “How do I make an effective blogging schedule that works for me?” Well, whether you run a large website or you’re a one man / woman show, you can create an effective blogging calendar that fits your life in just a few steps.
Let’s start with:
1. Establishing Goals for Your Blog
Ever wonder what makes a blog so popular? Look at any high-traffic blog, and you’ll see that the content is targeted and specialized to the needs of its readers. How do you capture that mojo for yourself? Set goals and give your blog a purpose. You want to provide your readers with something they can use. So, how do you set goals for your blog? First, answer these 3 questions:
Question 1: What is your blog about and who will it benefit?
Your blog needs to offer specialized content, a niche that people are looking for. To find that niche, fill in the blanks:
- “I want my blog to be known for helping people with/do __________.”
- “People who want to __________ will benefit from the topics I cover.”
- “My blog will provide __________for people who are looking for __________.”
The answer to these questions will help you find the following:
- What your blog specializes in?
- The topics you’ll cover?
- Who are you writing for?
Set your goals based on the responses to these three questions. All the content you create should be driven by the goals you set. That way you can keep your content focused, and visitors will see you as an expert.
Question 2: How often will you produce new content?
Be realistic. Will you blog full time or part time? Fortunately, there is no right or wrong answer.
Smaller blogs may post one to two times a week. Medium-sized blogs and large business blogs can post up to seven times a week, or multiple times a day.It’s really up to you and what your personal schedule allows. Got a lot of visitors and a big budget? You may be able to hire a freelance blogger that can produce content for you.Do you have a small budget, a day job or a family to care for? You may want to scale back how often you publish new content.
People searching the web for answers to their questions are looking for quality over quantity. So don’t think you need to post 10 times a week to get a following. It’s more important to provide visitors useful information.
Decide how often you want to post new content, so your blogging calendar is manageable.
Question 3: What type of content do you want to produce?
Are you planning to write articles longer than 1000 words, short posts around 500 words, list posts, infographics, how-to guides, videos, book or product reviews, opinion pieces or the like? Some types of content will demand more of your time than others. And it depends on how quickly you can produce new content.
For example, product reviews take less time to put together if you’re familiar with the product than with one you don’t know anything about. Long posts of commentary will take longer than short list posts of 500-700 words. Answering these questions will help you create goals that will keep your content focused on the right audience, focused on the right content, and help you create a schedule that is manageable.
Manageable = Effective
2. Have Space to Capture New Ideas
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck
No doubt, while you were working on your goals, new content ideas surfaced. Don’t let those ideas get away!
Set up a place to capture all your topic ideas. Use a notepad, a mobile app, or computer software like Google Keep or Evernote. Some of your ideas will be perfect for your target audience, and some ideas will not. But all ideas should have a place for you to evaluate them. How is this related to having a blogging editorial calendar? Ideas are where your blog projects and content are born. Being able to refer to a list of ideas makes setting up your calendar easier.
Don’t worry if an idea doesn’t fit with your blog, don’t throw it out. That idea may be useful for:
- A guest post on someone else’s blog.
- Repurposed for one of your existing articles.
- Set up as a topic idea for a second (or third) blog.
You’ll be glad you have a list of ideas to refer to when putting together your blogging calendar.
Ideas = Fresh content
3. Find and Use the Right Tools
Prevent analysis paralysis by using tools that work for you. This means finding a calendar that you love to work with, whether it be a paper calendar or an online application. Go analog and write blog post schedules on a paper planner. Or go digital and use an online tool like Trello or Asana. If you’re using WordPress try a plugin like Edit Flow so you can manage everything about your blog in one place. Just use something that makes sense to you and is easy to use.
The right tool = Constant use
4. Establish a Realistic Schedule
If you over-schedule yourself, you’re bound to burn out before the month is over.If you under-schedule, you won’t be utilizing your time properly, and your blog will suffer. Full-time blogger? Then you’ll be able to add more to your schedule than someone who needs to blog around family, school, or day job responsibilities.
Schedule blogging tasks around your personal responsibilities and your energy levels.
If you’re a night owl who does their best work after 9 pm, plan your serious work in the evening at the first half of your shift. Leave the super easy tasks for later when you’ve used up most of your energy. If you’re a lark, and your best work is done before 9 a.m., schedule the work that takes most mental energy first thing in the morning.
Start with a yearly calendar
Based on your blog’s goals, map out an annual calendar that will list your monthly topics.
Every month of the year will have a content theme.
For example, if you run a health blog, each month will cover something regarding health.
- January covers diets.
- February includes healthy recipes.
- March talks about popular exercises.
Keep listing the particular topics to cover for each month. This will make up your yearly calendar.
Next, you’ll take those monthly topics and create your monthly blogging calendar.
Work on a monthly calendar
Using the health blog as an example, with January’s “diets” as the overall theme, you would come up with 3-4 feature article ideas that revolve around diets.
- All about vegan diets.
- What is a cabbage diet?
- How to find the best diet.
- Recipe 1
- Recipe 2
- Recipe 3
Then do the same with the articles you’ll work on for the March topic.
Keep scheduling all the articles you’ll work on for each month. You can do this ahead of time or work on it just before the previous month ends.
Now that you know what you’ll be working on each month, it’s time to create your weekly blogging calendar.
Work on a weekly calendar
This is where you’ll schedule due dates for your articles and set up the project lifecycle for each piece of content.
A project lifecycle lists out each step you need to take a project from beginning to end. Here’s an example of a life cycle of a typical 500-1000 word blog post:
- Outline/research – 30 minutes
- Write – 1-3 hours
- Edit and capture images- 1-2 hours
- Publish – 30 minutes
- Social media outreach – 1 hour
- Network outreach- 1 hour
Stay focused on your most important work by scheduling your project lifecycles into each day of the week. Just be sure to give yourself enough time between posts for research, writing, editing, and post-production/publishing.
Here’s an in-action example, let’s say that post about vegan diets is due on Saturday. You’ll schedule the 30 minutes for research and 1 hour of writing on the previous Monday. Another hour of writing on Tuesday and Wednesday, finish writing and start editing on Thursday, Images on Friday, post on Saturday.
This allows you to plug in the times to work on your project throughout the week, so you don’t overschedule yourself. Some content may take longer than others so you could spread the life cycles out over the course of 1-3 weeks. This method keeps your calendar realistic since you’ll be scheduling blog work around your personal responsibilities and energy levels.
Realistic schedule = On-time content
5. Use Your Editorial Calendar
At this point, you’ve worked hard putting together goals, topics, and an editorial calendar to house them all.
There’s no point going through all that work if you’re not going to use it.
Make it a habit to check your blogging calendar every day you sit down to work on your blog. And if you really want to be productive, check into your editorial calendar every day before checking your email. Trust in your calendar to tell you what you need to work on and when you need to work on it so you can create targeted, high-quality, consistent content for your visitors. Use your blogging calendar every day.
Using your editorial calendar every day = Focused work
With a focused, tailored-to-you blogging calendar, you won’t have to miss any more blog post deadlines or feel disorganized. Follow these steps, and you’ll have an effective blogging calendar that’s tailored to you and your work style. What steps have you taken to make an effective blogging calendar that fits your life?
NOTE: This is a guest blog post from our pal and fellow Triberr user – Devesh Sharma. Visit his site at WPKube.