“He who fails to plan, plans to fail”
You’re serious about blogging but sometimes find that you have run out juice and ideas of what to blog about, and many a time you find that you’re simply pulling just about any topic out of your blogging hat, hence coming up with filler posts that you’re not happy with. Or you end up not blogging at all.
The key to a good blog is consistency. Consistent quality content. To achieve that, you need to do some simple planning. I admit that in the past, blogging consistency was not my strong point. There were times when I was so lacking in inspiration and ideas, I thought of shutting the blog down. It changed when I started using an editorial calendar. It kept me organised, and took away those blogger’s block blues.
What is an editorial calendar?
Well, it’s basically a calendar where you plan out your posts throughout the month. When you have a spare hour or so, take out your calendar and plan out what you want to write about for the month. All you have to decide at that point is the subject you want to write about. It could be a product review, tutorials, tips and tricks, etc.
Once you plan out your blog topics, organise them in your editorial calendar on when you want to publish them.
Why use an editorial calendar?
Once you write your blog topics down in the calendar, you get a macro view of what will be published in the coming weeks. Then you can start writing the posts, scheduling them as needed. You wouldn’t have to worry about running out of things to blog about because as time goes by, you’ll be struck with inspiration of what you want to blog about, and then you can put it into the calendar. Feel free to shift topics around different dates as you see fit.
What can I use for an editorial calendar?
Now, what would I recommend to use as an editorial calendar? It’s up to you if you want to use your diary or personal organizer for this. I would prefer to use something apart from my personal and work life. If you have a Google Account, I suggest Google Docs, or if you have an iPhone and/or iPad, Springpad (my current favourite app :))
Do a Google search on calendar templates that you can customize on Google Docs. There are plenty out there. What I like about Google Docs is that you can make changes on the cloud, which means you can view your up-to-date calendar on any computer, smart phone, etc.
You can also make your own editorial calendar on your favorite word processor or spreadsheet. You can also do a Google search on “editorial calendar templates“, and you’ll find that a whole lot of bloggers use editorial calendars too.
For self-hosted WordPress users, I highly recommend the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin. It integrates flawlessly with your posts, which means all your drafts, scheduled posts, published posts will be displayed in a month-view calendar. You can make changes to the posts directly from the calendar too. It’s probably not as comprehensive as other editorial calendars out there (or one that you make your own) since you cannot add notes to it, but i think it’s a sufficient start. The Calendar page has become my WordPress dashboard as it’s my go-to page when I want to see an overview of my posts in a monthly view.
Write those blogging ideas down, even if you don’t know what to do with them yet
A suggestion with the editorial calendar is to also have a document close to the calendar for blogging ideas. I have mine on a Google Docs document marked, surprise surprise, “Blogging Ideas”. With the blog topic written in the editorial calendar, I write notes relating to that topic. Very rough notes, in lists. Since they’re saved on the cloud, I can write them on the train or bus when the ideas come flooding (and you know there will be times when you’re completely inspired with so much ideas, and times when you’re just bone dry) and when I have an access to the computer, I’ll just tidy them into proper paragraphs. It saves a lot of time and more importantly, you don’t lose those ideas.
It’s up to you if you want to share your editorial calendar with your readers. At the moment, I haven’t done so but some editors do (they place it on their sidebar or a separate page). It gives your readers a heads up on your upcoming posts. Something for them to look forward to.
Having an editorial calendar makes blog posts organization a whole lot easier, and it keeps us consistent in producing quality articles. It’s an essential tool in any serious blogger’s box. Do give it a go. It will decrease days of writers’ block and hair-tearing frustration when you stare at the computer thinking of what to write.
You might find yourself wondering how you got by without one for so long! 🙂