Having a blog editorial calendar is an incredible tool for staying on track, knowing what to work on when, and delivering amazing value to your readers. It gives you high level visibility to what’s coming up, and can act as the map for your blog content.
But how do you go about actually creating a calendar that captures the right information and is easy to work with? In today’s post, I’ll be sharing my step-by-step approach to creating an editorial calendar that works for you. This is the process I follow with my blog, and it’s helped me get WEEKS ahead in content development, making it easier for me to take time off and work on different projects.
(PLUS you can grab my FREE Blog Editorial Calendar Template when you sign up for the Free Resource Library! Enter your email address below, and you’ll be sent an email with the link and password to access it. The Blog Editorial Calendar Template can be found in the Business Building section of the library.)
Let’s jump into how to create your editorial calendar, step by step!
Decide When (and How Often) You’ll Publish
Instead of jumping right into slotting blog post ideas into days, it’s important to take a step back and look at the broader picture. That way, you know how many posts you need to publish and when.
Start by deciding how often you’ll publish a new blog post. Once a week? Three times a week? Once a month? This will be impacted by the amount of time you have to write and prepare posts, the amount of content you’d like to publish, and your growth objectives. In some cases, posting more frequently (at least at the beginning!) can help you grow your blog traffic.
Currently, I publish blog posts twice a week on Beyond the Safe Harbor.
Next, determine when you’ll publish. I’d recommend sticking to a consistent schedule so that your readers know what to expect. This will also make it easier for you, as you’ll have a rough schedule to follow.
If you’re planning on publishing once a week, what day of the week and at what time? WordPress lets you schedule posts in advance, so you can easily stay on schedule.
I decided to publish blog posts on Mondays and Thursdays at 11:30am EST (my time zone). I chose them based roughly on this article from CoSchedule about the best times to publish a post. Choosing a weekday was great because it allows me to do any promotion during working hours. And late morning works well for me too, since I’m normally finished my most strategic work by then and can switch gears to the more tactical tasks.
Create a Monthly Schedule
Now that you know when and how often you’ll publish, create a schedule. I like planning a month at a time, and work ahead by a few months so that I always have some buffer in case things come up. It’s also nice to be able to see an entire month at a glance.
I use a simple Excel document for my schedule, and it works really well. When I start planning a month, I look at a calendar and write in all the publishing days that month – in my case, Mondays and Thursdays. I then write in the date, which helps me know when to have them ready for, and also the context around timing (for example, if I have a blog post to publish on Christmas Eve, maybe I take that timing into account with the topic choice). Lastly, I leave space to write the blog post topic or title.
In my blog editorial calendar for Beyond the Safe Harbor, I enter and track other things too, but this pared down version below is a simplified view of the most important things to include, especially if you’re new to creating an editorial calendar.
Want to download a similar spreadsheet to use for your blog? Grab my FREE Blog Editorial Calendar Template when you sign up for the Free Resource Library! Enter your email address below, and you’ll be sent an email with the link and password to access it. The Blog Editorial Calendar Template can be found in the Business Building section of the library.
If you’re not a spreadsheet person, you can instead use a WordPress plugin, your calendar, or planner, to note which days you need to post and eventually, what you’ll be publishing those days. My post The Best Way to Use an Electronic Planner has some tips on making the most of a digital calendar for scheduling your work.
If your blog covers multiple topics or sub-topics, you may want to give some thought to cycling through them so that you’re not publishing too many consecutive posts about the same thing.
Right now with my blog, I post about 3 main “pillars”: boost your impact (relationships, career, community, pregnancy), master your money (earn more, save more, spend smart), and better yourself (mindset, productivity, purpose, wellness). I try to avoid posting about the same pillar twice in a row. It doesn’t always matter, but it helps me ensure I’m covering a broad range of topics.
If this applies to you, you can add this to your editorial calendar to provide guidance as to what topic to cover when. See below for an example.
Populate Your Calendar
Now it’s time for the fun part: actually filling your calendar! Here are a few ways to get the brainstorming juices flowing:
Consider the Season
Depending on what month you’re planning, there’s likely some seasonality you can work with. If you’re a personal finance blogger, perhaps you dedicate some posts in January about paying off any holiday debt. Or if you’re a food blogger, maybe you focus on healthy salads and light meals during some of the summer months.
Look through Your Files
Did you save any interesting articles, cool blog posts, or relevant emails over the past few months that could inspire a blog post? Scroll through any bookmarks or notes you’ve made, and slot those into your calendar.
Reflect on Your Experience
What topics or situations have been coming up for you lately? Consider writing about those! it was my experience working with contractors that inspired my post The Best Advice for Hiring Home Improvement Companies. And when I reflected on my struggles with the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, I wrote How to Weather the Problems Faced by Entrepreneurs.
Similarly, if you’re a food blogger, you could share a recipe for something you’ve been making a bunch recently.
Are you a finance blogger that has recently discovered a new way to make money online? That could make a great blog post topic.
Pinterest’s Smart Feed shows you things Pinterest thinks you’ll be interested in. So it’s a great place for inspiration on topics that may matter to you, and your audience.
Rinse and Repeat
As I mentioned above, planning at least a few weeks out is a great practice as it keeps you on the ball and prevents you from getting behind. I’d recommend setting aside some time about once a month to craft your next month’s editorial calendar, or at least to begin to fill it in. Putting reminders in your calendar or planner and making it more of a process you can repeat will save time.
There you have it – how to create an epic blog calendar that will keep you on track and give you the guidance you need when it comes to publishing on your blog. Have a question about crafting your calendar? Leave it in the Comments below and I’ll be sure to answer!
And don’t forget to grab my FREE Blog Editorial Calendar Template when you sign up for the Free Resource Library! Enter your email address below, and you’ll be sent an email with the link and password to access it. The Blog Editorial Calendar Template can be found in the Business Building section of the library.
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