Guest Author - Violette DeSantis
Editorial calendars are great planning tools for writers. Bloggers who want to challenge themselves to post on a regular basis should consider planning their content in advance. Creating an editorial calendar is an important blogging task and can be as simple or as detailed as you like.
An editorial calendar can be created using any program online, on your personal computer, on any of your smart devices (phones, tablets, etc.) or on a traditional hard copy of a calendar, datebook or notebook.
Depending on what software you use, many companies (Microsoft for example) provide templates that you may find of use for your project. Calendar templates are available for MS Word, MS Publisher and MS Excel for instance and are a great starting point without having to create something from scratch. Your email program or account may also have a calendar, project management or task management tool that can be utilized to plan and display an editorial calendar.
Keep in mind that although the term calendar is used, an editorial calendar does not have to be formatted in any traditional calendar or datebook layout. Do what is comfortable and in a manner that meets your needs.
To keep it simple you can create a cross-tab spreadsheet with date rows and month columns. For each day you are planning ahead you add post titles, relevant events or ideas. Use Excel’s cell formatting to change to different background or font colors designating when a post is written, drafted or scheduled.
Multi-bloggers and pro-bloggers alike might prefer a detailed cross-tab spreadsheet of date rows with blog/client columns to plan each day’s work in advance by month or year. Use of the cross-tab spreadsheet could work two-fold to keep track of earnings. Insert rows at the end of each billing period to calculate earnings and sub-total each by client.
Decide how many months in advance to create blog post content ideas. Some writers prefer baby steps, monthly or bimonthly post planning, while others like to see the big picture and strive to create an editorial calendar in quarterly increments or one big yearly one. If this is your first editorial calendar and you are not sure how to start, have a format in place to add content anywhere in a year’s time but set small goals to have each month’s editorial calendar completed by a certain date. Set a goal for when to write your posts in a timely manner giving yourself enough time to schedule for publication and apply SEO tags and categories as well before publication.
Once your format is established and you have a draft of how you want to organize your editorial calendar, it is time to fill it with info. Upcoming holidays and events relevant to your topic serve as the starting point. Start there and do the following to add to your ideas and blog content:
- Search for online calendars with complete lists of holidays around the world.
- Find commemorative months lists (i.e. January is National “such and such” Month etc.)
- Look for special events via websites of relevant associations, groups or organizations.
- Sign-up for Google news feeds on search terms related to your topic for up-to-date information.
- Research your blog’s search statistics which serve as a treasure trove of post ideas.
- Study what keyword phrases are searched in the various search engines on your blog’s topic.
In addition to writing posts from ideas generated from the above exercises, you can also add to your blog’s content by hosting a blog carnival, exchanging guest posts with another blogger and highlighting a number of your older posts in a new post (viewer’s favorites, posts with most comments, posts with common themes, etc.).
In a short time you can find out how successful your planning is. If you periodically fall short, consider special theme days once or twice a week to write about standard topics you find are easy for you to add content to your blog. Have a weekly product review or video review, end with a weekly news roundup on your topic or highlight a favorite blog related to your topic.
If you are still short on finding blog post ideas visit the Blogs and Social Networking Forum to discuss with other bloggers.