I used to be a very bad blogger. I’d post inconsistently, and every time I tried to post I’d load up WordPress and stare at the screen wondering what I should write about. Even if I had an idea, trying to force out a good post was difficult. I knew that consistently posting quality posts was important – but I found it really hard.
Being introduced to a little tool called an Editorial Calendar was a bit of a lifesaver, and it is something I absolutely recommend for all bloggers. Since using an editorial calendar I’ve found that my post quality has increased (I’m not fighting to put a post together because I feel that I should), quantity has increased (from having a wealth of post ideas written down in advance, with a date assigned to them) and my overall satisfaction with my blog has gone way up.
How To Create an Editorial Calendar
The idea is to spend time at the beginning of the month (or week) coming up with post ideas. This means you’re coming up with great ideas at the beginning of the month and telling yourself in advance when you are going to write those posts (without being in a rush/pressured/etc etc!). Here’s how I do it:
Print Off a Real Calendar
Regardless of how accustomed I am to digital reality, I prefer to plan using paper and pen. At the beginning of the month I print out a blank calendar of the month ahead. This is my canvas, with each day-of-the-month square awaiting to be filled in.
Consider How Often You Want to Post
How many times do you want to post a week? I think that 3 is the magic number, but anywhere between 2 – 6 is perfectly acceptable.
Mark Down Regular Features
My first step is to fill in weekly features, for me that’s ‘Links Out’ every Saturday. The benefits of weekly features is that they create an element of consistency, and encourage readers to return as they know what to expect each week. I am toying with the idea of creating a new weekly, but for now there’s just the one.
Then I fill in features that I do often, just not every week. For me this includes outfit posts, blogging tips, and a feature on New Zealand fashion. Once I’ve filled in all of these, I take a step back and look at the space I’m left with.
Schedule In New Post Ideas
Using the blank space, and keeping in mind how often I want to post, I fill in other ideas for posts. I keep a running list of post ideas in a notebook, but if you don’t have this on hand you may want to spend some time brainstorming your ideas first. Here are some things to consider:
- Come up with ideas for features/series and schedule in their installments. These can allow you to tackle large topics – difficult to do without some form of plan.
- Consider areas of your blog that you want to grow, perhaps there’s a category that’s not getting as much love as you’d like it to. Schedule post ideas around those categories.
- Pre-plan posts that relate to special events – especially fashion week. You don’t have to wait for fashion week to have an idea of how you might write about it! This can also be useful for planning content holidays and other special occasions. Your editorial calendar can help you be more prepared for the event by taking the ‘ack, have to come up with a post idea now!’ part out of it.
Note Down the Contents of Each Post
Once I’ve filled the calendar in, keeping the number of times per week I want to post in mind, I then make a few notes about what will go into each post. This isn’t always necessary (for example, with outfit posts), but for more “in depth” posts having an idea of how things will unfold makes the actual writing so much easier. I do this separate to the calendar itself, but its more because of not having enough room on my calendar than anything else.
The best part of an editorial calendar is that it gives you the freedom to write in advance, and post it when it’s ‘due.’ I find that writing the majority of a post ahead of time, and putting the finishing touches on when I’m ready to post it works for me.
However, an editorial calendar is not an unrelenting force! I deviate quite frequently, and sometimes the mood does just strike and I bang out a great post without pre-thinking about it. In my view, the true purpose of an editorial calender is to be a backup plan – one that prevents you from having nothing to post about.
Tools for Creating Your Calendar
- Paper and Pen. You can download and print out your own blank calendar templates, or you can use a wall calendar, diary calandar… whatever works for you. I download and print my own, punch in holes and stick them in the front of my Filofax. Here’s a link to a calandar template you can download and print yourself.
- Spreadsheet Chic. If you prefer to keep things digital, then you can set up a spreadsheet for yourself to mirror the days of the month. The advantage is that you can freely edit your calendar, and use as much space as you need on any given day. You can download a great spreadsheet template here, or create one yourself.
- WordPress Plugin. WordPress also has a great plugin for creating a digital calender inside of WordPress (thanks Awais for sharing this!).
Do you use an editorial calendar? I know that I’m not the only fashion blogger who finds them incredibly useful! In fact, if you do use an editorial calendar I would love to know more about how you use yours.