An editorial calendar is your first step in mapping out an exciting and multi-faceted blog. Think of it as your road map for your blogging journey— because to get where you want to go, it’s helpful to have directions. And once your calendar is built, it’ll be easier to adjust for any detours or changes you want to make to your posting plan along the way. An editorial calendar can be as simple or robust as you desire: as long as you have the basic tools you need to build it, you’re one step closer to your destination.
Determine how often you will blog. The first step to creating your editorial calendar is to set a blogging goal. That will give you insight into how many posts and how much content you need to create to keep your blog up to date and on track.
Also, think about reoccurring posts. This is the time to set up a Motivational Monday post and make sure you have content ideas that match for each Monday. Try scheduling interviews on Fridays or “Words of Wisdom Wednesdays,” so readers have a sense of your blog and know what to expect weekly. This will keep them consistently coming back.
Choose a calendar. There are many different options when choosing how you will write down all this information. Pick something that you feel comfortable with—whether that’s a wall calendar, planner, notebook, digital calendar, spreadsheet, Wordpress plug-in, or post-it notes arranged in rows and columns. Whatever works best for you is how you should map out your calendar.
If you’re looking for a more complex calendar, consider downloading Pam Marketing Nut’s free editorial calendar. Also, check out Social Media Examiner’s article 3 Tools to Better Manage Your Blogging Editorial Calendar for tools and ideas about how incorporate an editorial calendar into your blog.
Add holidays and special occasions. To keep content timely, put all the important events, holidays and occasions that you may want to include in your posts on your calendar first. This will give you an outline of when these events take place and enough time to plan a post before the event or holiday, so your readers have time to see the information before the big day.
Brainstorm topics. You may already have a long list of topics you want to incorporate into your blog, or you may not be sure where to start. Brainstorming about ideas to feature on your blog is a great jumping off point, providing you with a list of ideas that could lead to individual posts. If you need help organizing your brainstorm, try HubSpot Blogs’ brainstorming spreadsheet. If you’re having trouble coming up with new ideas, read our article 15 Out-of-the-Box Blog Topics or visit our Facebook Page for our daily writing prompts.
Keep it simple. It can be overwhelming to plan an entire year worth of content in one sitting, so start by planning out a single month. Keep a running calendar of each year, so when you come across a good idea for spring, you can add it, but don’t try to plan all your content up to December 31, 2015 today. There are too many variables that will change, and new ideas that will pop up to map out your entire year in one sitting.
Know your audience. It’s important to know who you’re talking to when mapping out your calendar. Understand what is important to that audience and base your content decisions on who you want to attract and what you think they’ll want to read about.
Don’t forget social media and extras. Your editorial calendar doesn’t have to be limited to blog posts; keep a running list for social media posts as a reminder to stay up to date with your latest blogs. You can include extra information like accompanying videos, references and photo files in additional tabs (if you’re using a spreadsheet calendar) to keep all your information in one place.
Stay updated. You can’t just set it and forget it; always keep your calendar up to date and make adjustments accordingly. If you change a post or day, note it on your calendar. When you take a look back at this calendar as a reference for next year, you’ll be glad you kept it all in order.