When it comes to blogging, everywhere I look these days I see discussions popping up around editorial calendars. Now that we’re firmly planted in the era of professional bloggers, it seems like everyone’s openly discussing theirs. What is an editorial calendar? In a nutshell, it boils down to having your blogging schedule planned out in a calendar format. That’s it!
When I first started blogging, long before I even had a niche figured out (or cared if people were reading!), an editorial calendar wasn’t on my mind at all. I posted what I wanted when I wanted. If I was feeling particularly inspired and wanted to post twice a day, I would. If I wanted to take four days off, I would. That’s the life, right?
On the contrary, I found that it could be incredibly stressful. I’m a creature of habit and thrive on routines and structure. As the years went by and I became a lot more serious about blogging, any time I woke up and didn’t know what I was going to be posting that day, it stressed me out! I know that sounds ridiculous but fellow bloggers, you know exactly what I mean — it’s that same feeling of not getting your homework done and winging it. As we all know, posts that are cobbled together in the moment are not always the tightest. In my case, visuals come easily but words don’t always flow out as readily. Though I enjoy writing, I’m not a professional and stringing together words doesn’t just happen — columns like this take some serious forethought and many read-throughs before I’m comfortable posting. Having these topics outlined in advance gives me time to think through my drafts and rewrite sections before they go live. If I was writing this content off the cuff, I know for a fact I wouldn’t be putting my best work forward.
Slot in Specific Columns
I’d blogged on Live Journal for six years just for fun. But, by the end of 2007, I was getting a lot more serious about blogging. Plotting out my editorial calendar is actually the reason why I developed columns to fit in slots for specific days. When I looked out over the next month, knowing I had certain days of the week already covered took away a lot of the stress and allowed me to really get creative and explore those “free” days, whether it was diving into sharing sharing business tips, peeks inside recent travels or pulling back the curtain and showing my adventures in home renovation.
If you’re a regular reader, you already know this but my weekly schedule currently looks something like this:
Monday: Style Post or Client Project
Tuesday: In The Mood or Typofiles
Wednesday: Advice or Blog Log
Thursday: Link Love
Friday: Week In Pictures
And then, I’ll sprinkle in the occasional post that doesn’t fit into these slots to mix things up.
Contrary to what it may seem at first glance, what I’ve found is that having an editorial calendar doesn’t confine me at all — instead, it gives me the spark I need to produce certain kinds of content. It holds me accountable to my blog and deadlines. If I didn’t have a calendar, I might slip away more often. It’s wonderful to be a blogging free spirit and I admire the folks that live their lives with wild abandon. But, having some structure is good for all of us. And if I was staring out over a blank month, I would be back to where I was when I started: posting a hodgepodge of everything with some hits, a lot of misses and very little consistency. I’ll leave that for my personal journal!
Tracking Your Editorial Calendar
Some people like Gala hand write their blogging plans out by hand. Others use Google Google Docs. I keep it simple and put together a text document that I keep on my desktop. There’s no surefire way to keep yours. I find that the more basic I keep these documents, the more likely I am to check in and follow my plan.
As your blog becomes more established, whether you like it or not, readers begin to expect a sense of consistency. Regular columns coupled with an editorial calendar will make your life run a whole lot smoother and as a bonus, if you can work ahead, it’s always nice to pre-schedule posts and take a few days off!
View more of the Blog Log series here.
It’s your turn: Do you keep an editorial calendar?