In Building a Successful Blog — Part 12, we discussed posting to your blog and getting organized. I want to continue a bit further along this path in this episode and spend some time discussing one of the blogging tools which has helped me. At least it has helped when I use it like I should. The tool I am talking about is the “editorial calendar.”
One of the biggest complaints or concerns I hear from new bloggers and even seasoned bloggers is they don’t know what they are going to post about in future post. In Part 12 of this series, we discussed organizing all those ideas you come up with for blog post. However, the problem is we don’t have a system to tell us when to write about those ideas. And we don’t have a reminder system to use so we remember to write about all those great ideas we come up with. (BTW, in the next part of this series, we are going to discuss where to come up with all these great post ideas).
The life and times of a “normal” blogger
Let’s consider for a moment the typical blogger who sits down to write a blog post. He sits down at his computer with the full intentions of knocking out a blog post. It has actually been a week since he has posted a new post and it is not due to lack of material. The problem for our “normal” blogger is he doesn’t have a plan. He doesn’t even think about what he wants to write about until that dark black, blank computer screen is staring back at him. Crap, he is sitting here with all these great ideas in the folder on his desktop. Evernote is full of post ideas. He has notecards with post ideas written on them. And all of these ideas are swimming around in his head and he has no idea what to write about. What the heck is he to do?
What if when you sit down you know exactly what you are going to write about? What if you knew what you were going to write about every week of the month? I know it would be too much to ask, even of myself, to know what I am going to write about for more then a month. How are we going to take all these great ideas we have stored and organized and know what we are going to post about?
We take our blogging a step further. We setup an Editorial Calendar.
Let me first of all say, I am just as guilty as our “normal” blogger above. I have had times when I had no idea what the heck I was going to post about. Even with folders and Evenote full of ideas, I sit down and would draw a complete blank. Picture the deer in the headlights look on my face when I would stare at that blank computer screen glaring back at me. So, “I feel your pain.”
The actual editorial calendar
What you use for your calendar is not nearly as important as just using one. I operate pretty much paperless when it comes to GTD and my calendar. So I use my computer and iPhone as my calendar. If you use your computer to run your calendar, than you most likely already are using the calendar you are most comfortable with. The key is to make sure you are using one that gives you the ability to have multiple calenders in one main calendar. What I mean by this is you can color code the entires so you can keep them separate and can clearly see what needs to be done on any given day. Google Calendar works great for this. You can actually set up a calendar for every area of your life. When I look at my calendar on my MacBook Pro I can see exactly what I am suppose to be posting about on any given day of the month. I can do this just by looking for the color blue.
When I plan each month of post, I start out by putting in those post which might be in a series, like this one. Or the one I did in February called, 28 Days to Build a Successful Blog. Which brings up another point. There is no way you can do a month long series on a particular topic if you don’t use an editorial calendar.
In addition to a blog series, you may do a post on a particular subject on the same day each and every week. Put it on your editorial calendar on the same day each and every week. In the past, I have done a post on Fridays where I would provide links to some of the post I found interesting that week. I had the post on my editorial calendar.
For the other post you are going to write this week and over the next month, open up whatever tool you are using to gather all of these post ideas. Start putting them on your editorial calendar on the days you plan to write a post. The difficult part of this is just going to be decide what post ideas you are going to put on your calendar. However, the key is to actually put them down on the calendar.
I certainly don’t expect any of you to do a post every day. While this would be great. I don’t even do that. To start with, try 2 days a week. Better yet, do 3 days a week. If you are using the methods we discuss in the last post to organize the ideas you come up with. An editorial will help you focus on the writing.
While I want you to use an editorial calendar to organize and write down when and what you are planning to post about. Don’t be such a stick in the mud that you don’t venture off your calendar from time to time. Post something just because you had a great idea come to mind. And don’t be afraid to post something other than what you have on your calendar too. If you do, move the item on your calendar to another day.
If you will get in the habit each and every month of writing down on your editorial calendar what you are going to post about each week, you are one step closer. And, if you will make it a habit each week to review what you are going to write about for that week, you are one step closer. One benefit I have found from using this tool is that I will review my calendar and know what I am going to be posting about. It gets my mind starting to think about those post and I find I am actually writing them in my head before I even sit down to start typing them out.
In addition to that, if you know what you are going to be writing about for the week, you are more apt to start jotting down ideas before you even start to write too. If you are one of those who just shoots from the hip and does not start to think about the post before you sit down to write, you will find these methods will really help you in the process of writing.
I know all of this may sound really silly and very elementary. However, if it was, we would all use it. The key to any tool is to just start using it. Test different methods of how you use an editorial calendar. And test different types of calendars. Use the one that works best for YOU.
Leave your comments and questions about using an editorial calendar. Let’s keep the conversation going.