Once upon a time (6 months ago), my writing process for this very blog looked something like this:
- Wake up Wednesday morning and decide on the topic for the next day’s blog post
- Research, write, and compile that blog post in one day
- Edit and post the blog the next morning
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Honestly, it was how I’d been blogging for years. Sure, when I took a vacation I’d get a few extra blogs ready in advance and feel really proud of myself. Occasionally I’d get one or two blog posts ahead for no good reason at all and I’d be so busy celebrating my awesomely-prepared self that I’d forget to stay on top of it and end up back in the old same-day-publishing routine.
But, friend, it wasn’t until this last month that we got some serious systems in place for this blog and it’s a real game changer.
If you’re taking your blog seriously, you need an editorial calendar. Period.
I know what you’re thinking.
“I’ve tried having a calendar and it lasted a week. Why should I put time into it now?”
An Editorial Calendar Helps You Build Authority In Your Subject
You know how everyone is telling you “niche down” all the time? Well, if you set up a few key categories you blog about and then make sure you’re consistently covering each of those categories as you do your blog planning, you’ll build authority on those topics and become the go-to person for your readers.
If you don’t have a calendar, you might forget one of your categories for months at a time and confuse your readers when you bring it back all of a sudden. Consistency is king in content land and calendars help you get consistent.
A Calendar Allows You to See The Big Picture
With our new editorial calendar, we decided to theme each month’s content based on a part of our customer’s journey as a blogger. While that theme isn’t something we come right out with in the blog itself, it’s something that guides what we write, who we partner with, how we promote, etc.
Without the calendar, we’d be where this blog was earlier this year. Publishing helpful content that our readers want but lacking in a bigger picture that helps our readers move from one phase to the next.
A Calendar Lets You Get Others Involved
Blogging alone is hard work (as you likely know). Being in charge of coming up with the content, when it’s published, who you’re promoting, what you’re talking about, which products you’re driving readers to…. It’s all exhausting for one person to manage.
When you put a calendar in place, it’s a living document you can share with other team members, potential collaborators, or guest bloggers. They can see the overall vision for the blog and say “Hey, I can help right here!”. Hearing how other people can contribute or letting them show you where there might be a gap can keep your brand consistent in both publishing and in messaging.
Are you feeling convinced that this whole calendar thing is a good idea now? Great! Here’s how you can make one happen:
Decide On Your Format
We went with Asana for our blog planning. I know lots of bloggers like Trello (or other KANBAN systems), but Asana was already built into the way our entire team works and we didn’t want to introduce another tool.
Our Asana Blog Schedule project looks like this:
We use sections for each month and every post has someone assigned to it and a publication date set.
What I love most about Asana is that you can have a calendar view of your blog once everything is scheduled. I mean, look at this!
Multiple views means multiple ways to double check my work (which is always a good thing for a busy blogger).
The trick with picking your format is looking at a few options and deciding what makes the most sense for your brain. We use Asana. Peg Fitzpatrick uses Trello. Renee Shupe uses CoSchedule. Amy Porterfield uses Google Calendar. And there’s more.
Picking your system and moving forward is typically the hardest part for most bloggers but it’s a crucial step in creating an editorial calendar you’ll actually use long term.
Add Themes/Structure For Your Posts
For our blog, every month has a theme and we’re using Asana’s tag system to indicate the category (or multiple categories) the post falls under.
You know that long list of blog post ideas you’re compiling in your notebooks, on post-its, on the Notes app on your phone, and maybe even in email drafts?
Now’s the time to pull all of those ideas together in one place and start categorizing.
When I pulled our “Potential Blog Topics” project together and went through each idea adding it under a theme and assigning categories, I had a full blog calendar scheduled through September (with 2 posts a week) in about 30 minutes.
Honestly, I was shocked at how quickly it all came together.
I always say that a system is only as good as it’s user, so the final step is to actually use it! To facilitate that, I wrote up some best practices for our team so we were all on the same page with Asana, and then we all went to work on the content.
Batch writing has been a life-saver for me. You know how sometimes you just get in the zone and you feel like you could write and write and write but the second you’re interrupted it all runs out of your head? Yeah, me too.
So batching is my new BFF. I close all other tabs, shut down my phone, close my office door, or escape to a cozy coffee shop, and write. I write and write and sometimes I get two blog posts done in one sitting. Sometimes I get two plus an outline for a third! It feels like magic, but it’s really just diligence (which is never as cool as magic, btw).
I do the same practice for actually publishing the blogs to our WordPress site. Batch ‘em. Grab a snack, turn everything else off, and copy/paste/format until I can’t any longer.
Batching minimizes the amount of distraction that’s placed on our increasingly connected lives. It not only protects us from the distractions of others, but also from our self-inflicted distractions.
Get Into Action
It doesn’t matter how you build your editorial calendar, it just matters that you do it. You can use your Google Calendar, an Asana project, CoSchedule, a Trello board, or even a chalkboard wall in your office!
Building an editorial calendar will absolutely change the way you think about your blog and have an impact that is felt for months to come.
Do you already keep an editorial calendar? Share your tips and best practices in the comments below so we can all learn from each other!