One of the biggest secrets to blogging success is to create and stick to an editorial calendar. Since I want to experience said blogging success, I thought I’d get serious about my editorial calendar this year.
Here’s what people don’t tell you: it isn’t easy. I mean, think about it. If you post 3 times per week, then you are planning 156 posts for the year. That’s a lot for one little calendar to handle.
But, I stumbled my way through three years of such exhaustive planning and I finally found an easy, seven-step method.
In fact, I just completed my 12 month editorial calendar for this blog, and it only took me an hour and a half. That ain’t half bad if you ask me.
Here’s how I did it:
Step 1: Know Your Goals
Start by writing down your blog goals. What do you want your blog to achieve? Who does it target?
Then, write your goals for the year. What do you want to do this year? What new areas would you like to explore?
Step 2: Make a List
Write down everything you can think of to blog about. Be as specific as possible. My entries were things like review Scrivener, editing vs. proofreading, etc. Make sure each of your entries is a post topic, not a post tag or category. In other words, don’t write “editing”. What are you going to say about editing? Write that down.
Also include any series ideas or major projects. I have three series here: Pinterest boards for writers, monthly Linklove, and #WriteMotivation check-in posts. I also have a biannual goal check-in. Write your series down, preferably in a list of their own.
If you want to host guest bloggers, include those entries as well.
Make sure you have enough entries on your list. Remember, you’re planning posts for the entire year. It’s fine to give yourself wiggle room (I left myself two open post spaces per month), but don’t be too generous or you may end up without anything to post for an entire week.
For your convenience, I did some math for you:
- 2 posts per week X 52 weeks = 104
- 3 posts per week X 52 weeks = 156
- 4 posts per week X 52 weeks = 208
- 5 posts per week X 52 weeks = 260
- 6 posts per week X 52 weeks = 312
- 7 posts per week X 52 weeks = 364
Step 3: Note Themed Months
If applicable, make note of any themes you may have for certain months. For example, I’m going to have an MFA theme in May. I noted that. I also take part in Camp NaNo and NaNoWriMo. I took note of that as well, because I use those months to encourage other NaNo participants.
4. Make Month Cards
You can also use different pages of a notebook, but I liked being able to look at my months side-by-side. This allowed me to keep up with my series and themes.
You can see an example of mine in the photo.
5. Add Givens
Remember when I suggested you list any themed months and series ideas? This is where those lists come in handy.
Add any given information (themes, series, etc.) to your month cards. For example, I wrote “NaNo” on April, July and November because I will be participating in NaNoWriMo during those months. I also wrote “MFA” on May to remind me that May is themed.
Then, I added my series posts in. For each card, I wrote “LinkLove” to remind myself of that series. I also added “Pinterest” to every other month. This creates placeholders and works as a reminder of recurring themes.
Step 6: Add Entries
This was the fun part for me.
Start with your themed months so that you don’t accidentally add themed content to another month. List all the entries you plan to write for those months on the corresponding month cards and check them off of your list.
Then, plan for the remaining months. I found it easiest to go through the list entry by entry.
Keep in mind the weight of each post. I have some content that will be very heavy (large word count, complex subject matter). Other material will be short and light. Try to vary the weight of your entries each month. I aimed for 3-4 heavy posts a month. The rest are lighter and easier to digest.
Step 7: Plan Each month
You’re almost finished! Huzzah!
Now, you can plan each month more specifically. Take your month cards and either a planner or a piece of paper and indicate which day you will post your entries. Again, keep the weight of each post in mind. And note any other responsibilities that may interfere with your writing time. Plan ahead as much as possible.
Remember that it is best to stagger your posts for SEO purposes. In other words, don’t post Monday, Wednesday, Saturday every single week. Keeping one day constant and staggering the rest is best.
Once you’ve planned the days that you will post, you can plan for the writing/editing of each post. If you’re posting heavy content on Thursday, you can indicate that you need to research Monday, write it Tuesday and edit it on Wednesday. You don’t have to get that detailed, but I do, because it helps keep me on track.
Now, the key is sticking to it. There will be weeks when things come up and you won’t meet your goals, but do your best. If you want your blog to succeed, you need to have discipline. And I say that as a person that still struggles with the whole discipline thing. Even as I write this, I’m thinking, I should watch Downton. I’ve seen them all, but I want to see them all again. And it’s cold. And drizzly. And blog posts can wait. I already have 900 words. No one will read 900 words. I deserve to watch Downton after 900 words.
But, I resist. Because Downton Abbey can wait. Most things that call me away from blogging can. And if I’ve learned anything from my past three years of multiple blogs (all since abandoned) it isn’t about thinking of something good to say. Or finding people willing to follow you. It’s about saying good things to your peeps on a regular, dependable basis. You’re trying to build trust. The best way to do that is to post good content regularly. The editorial calendar will help you do that.
Get crackin, blogger friends. Let me know if you need anything.