Editorial Calendar

There are many benefits to using an editorial calendar. I'm going to share with you why I like using an editorial calendar and how to use it.

Why?

Editorial calendars are important in many ways. The reason I love editorial calendars is they help me to plan posts in advance. Here are a couple more reasons why I like having an editorial calendar:
Consistency – one of the biggest benefits of having an editorial calendar is always having something to write about. The key to getting traffic and keeping traffic coming is having a consistent flow of posts for people to read. If there aren’t post for people to read they stop coming back and eventually, unless you’re amazing, they stop coming back altogether.
Streamlining – editorial calendars can help narrow down what to write about. Weeding out the bad ideas and not having last minute posts to write, the posts that are written will be higher quality and more thought out. This is important because keeping your niche narrow helps you to be a thought leader in a small space. It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond.
Planning – editorial calendars help you to plan your next post and even your next month’s worth of posts. Having a plan helps to keep you from not having a post to write for the next day. This also helps you to plan out your posts as far in advance as you want to.

How?

When building an editorial calendar start by answering a few questions:
Where will you post?
    Will this editorial calendar be for posting – blog posts? Instagrams? Tweets? Facebook posts? Once you know where you will be posting.
The next thing to ask is – When will you post?
Will you be posting once a week? Every few days? Once a day? Decide what your schedule will be. You’ll want this schedule to be manageable and not to overload yourself. You can start out small and slowly increase the amount you post based on how hard or easy it is to keep up your current schedule.
Who are you posting for? Who is your audience? Who do you want to teach?
What are you posting?
Now it’s time to decide what you will post. What will you post for the audience you want? What will be informative and get people to come to your blog? (Or wherever you are posting.)
Why are you posting?
Why are you posting the thing you planned? Is it to genuinely share the information? Is it just for likes because it’s a cute picture? What’s the point? Does this post align with the overall message you are sending out for yourself?
Wherever you post online you want the same message to come across. This is why it’s important to know why you blog.
How will you make this happen?
How will you make the time to write the post you are planning? You need to put that on your calendar, time to blog. Block out time in your schedule to blog, this needs to be a priority.
Once you’ve answered some of these questions and some of these questions you need to be asking yourself all the time when planning out the editorial calendar. It’s time to brainstorm. I like to keep a running list of posts in Evernote. Once you have some post ideas you can sort them into a feature, column, series or individual posts. Once you have them sorted you can plug them into your editorial calendar. There are all sorts of ways to do this. You can plug in a month’s worth of posts or longer. It’s all up to you and how much you think you can handle. I like to have at least a month’s worth of ideas and if I can expand on those ideas in the post draft, that can be helpful.
The editorial calendar is not the end all, be all. If you want to switch things around anytime, feel free. I know sometimes people can feel restricted when editorial calendars come up. But it’s your calendar, you are in control. And nobody else knows what’s on it other than you. And even if you normally write a specific column on Tuesdays and there is something you really want to publish, just explain it to your readers. Lots of them are very understanding and if it’s a high-quality post they will love you even more because of its content.
When first starting your blog, you want to create what’s called Pillar Content (or Evergreen Content). This type of content is content you can link back to in future posts. For example, this post is pillar content. When I mention editorial calendars in future posts, I can link back to this post. I even linked to pillar content in this post when I linked up brainstorming above.
What?
What kind of editorial calendar should you use? There are all different kinds that are available, typically they are divided into two big categories – paper or digital. Let’s talk about paper first.
Paper Editorial Calendars
You could get a big calendar from a store like Paper Source and use post-its on it with your blog post ideas that way you can move them around the calendar. You could do a small version of that in a regular calendar like an Erin Condren or InkWell Press Planner. Regina from By Regina has a great editorial calendar that’s available for purchase on Amazon and Sarah Morgan from XO Sarah has a paper calendar on Amazon as well. I haven’t used them, but they have great reviews.
Digital Editorial Calendars
On the digital side, there is google calendar or iCal, where you could plug in your blog post ideas and any notes you have on each blog post. There are plugins that you can use if you are operating your blog with WordPress. My favorite plugin is Edit Flow. I really like how you can change the status to whatever you want it to say, I have statuses that say Idea, Evernote, In Progress, Draft, Pending Review, Edit, and Schedule. I’ll be writing a post in the future about how I use EditFlow as my editorial calendar and my whole process. Another plugin that I used before I started using EditFlow was Editorial Calendar, it was a super simple calendar plugin, you could easily move posts around and it had a column on the side for posts that weren’t on the calendar yet, but you had the idea for. There are also paid plugins that are available like Coschedule. I haven’t used Coschedule, but I know it’s very popular with bloggers because you can set it to schedule more than just blog posts.
Social Media Editorial Calendars
Since editorial calendars can be used for anything from tweets to Instagram posts to blog posts, you will need other “calendars” if you’re not going to use an all in one source like Coschedule. I think it’s a lot easier to schedule out social media posts with a digital calendar than paper because you’ll just have to repeat your tweet all over. I really enjoy the idea of having a few categories in social media as well. For example, asking your audience something once or twice a day on Twitter is a good idea. If you are a food blogger, having a recipe Instagram post once a week is good. I don’t mean just talk about your posts and link up the recipe, but have an actual recipe on Instagram. It could be a three or four ingredient recipe with super quick steps. It lets your audience see that you’re not just about those 10 ingredients or more recipes. Digital editorial “calendars” for social media platforms-  for tweets, there is Buffer, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and more. Instagram there is Buffer me Planoly. For Facebook, you can schedule out posts in Facebook natively or use a program like Buffer and Hootsuite. For Pinterest, there is Tailwind and Board Booster.
 I like to use a combo of digital and paper, but I primarily use EditFlow as my blog post editorial calendar. I haven’t fully fleshed out my social media editorial calendar, but when I do use products for prepping social media I use Tweetdeck for Twitter and  Planoly for Instagram. I like to use Evernote to keep lists of my blog post ideas before I plug them into my editorial calendar. I use Evernote for research on my blog posts as well. I enjoy using Evernote because it’s searchable, I have it on my computer and iPhone and it’s available on the internet as well.
Does this make you want to start using an editorial calendar? Do you use an editorial calendar? If you do I’d love to hear about it!!
I know this post was a little confusing with editorial calendars for social as well. Let me know if this was helpful or if I should write another post going into more detail on editorial calendars for blog posts only or social media only.

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