If I could go back in time to when I started this here blog, I would tell myself how to create an editorial calendar. Because honestly, it’s fundamentally changed the way I work.

How to Create an Editorial Calendar

Original photo by Alex Jones 

Y’all know I love planners, I’m just so surprised it took me so long to love planning for the blog. I always felt like this space should be a space of spontaneous creation, which was probably more an excuse for not taking it seriously. So when 2018 began, I knew I had to quit all those silly bad habits that I had built up over the years and really kick this into high gear.

(Pssst. Click here for some good blogging habits.)

This isn’t to say that your blog can’t be a space of spontaneous creation. You don’t have to have an editorial calendar. But if you want more consistent page views and to build a platform that’s held up by pillar content and evergreen posts, then you kind of have to have one.

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At the end of the day, it comes down to what kind of blog or online content creation space you want to have. I knew when I started doing YouTube in addition to this blog that I was going to have to create some kind of schedule not only to keep me sane, but also to help me generate ideas.

Here’s how I did it.

How to Create an Editorial Calendar

001: Set your categories.

On the back end of your blog you have some categories. These are the main topics that all your post content falls under. If you’re thinking of your blog as your brand, these categories should convey that brand. And you should probably have anywhere from three to seven, depending on how large the scope of your blog is. (But if you have way more categories, know you aren’t alone. Most people wind up having like 90 on the backend because they’ve been using the categories the way you’re supposed to use tags.)

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Forgive me if this is a little too inside baseball and you never wanted to see how the sausage is made, but here’s what I’m working with on this blog. I have four categories: work, life, balance, and books. The work category is all the posts on writing and blogging. The life category is about everyday life stuff or things I’m doing to enhance my life. The balance category is full of stuff on planning and time management and productivity and just generally getting my life straight. And the books category is where all my “reading lately” posts go, as well as the various posts I do on books for a specific topic.

002: Brainstorm title ideas for each topic.

So, every three months, I brainstorm ideas for posts. I take a sheet of paper and fold it into quarters. Then, I write a category title at the top of each square. Then, I just brainstorm like a fool and write the name of potential post titles. I don’t worry about the keywords or SEO capabilities of the posts at this stage. Here I’m just trying to get ideas down.

I do this same thing for YouTube videos too. My goal is to have a working list of potential blog posts and YouTube videos going at all times so I never run out of content ideas. And while there is a lot of overlap when it comes to the content, I try to make them slightly different to accommodate the platform. Things I can tell go on the blog. Things that must be shown go on YouTube.

003: Decide when and how often you’ll post, then schedule.

This is probably the most important part of the editorial calendar if you ask me. And it’s the part that’s actually the calendar. You have to determine when you’re going to post, and that’s pretty much the only time you post unless it’s a special occasion. (For example, I’m posting YouTube videos every single day in October rather than just on Wednesdays and Saturdays.) Figure out how often you’re willing to post, and stick to it.

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Then, you take the list of potential titles and you put them on the calendar. It’s important to spread out your categories so you don’t have a lot of similar posts going up back to back to back. Since I post on my blog on Mondays and Thursdays, I look at a list of all the Mondays and Thursdays of a month, and then start spreading out posts from there. If there’s a holiday or a special season that I want to post about, I make sure that I put that on the calendar first, and then arrange all the other post titles around it.

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004: Write up them posts, y’all.

This is the stage where the actual work of blogging gets done. But it’s made so much easier by doing the first three steps. Since I now have a list of posts with due dates, I start cranking them out and scheduling them on my blog. But before I do any of that, I do some keyword research. Admittedly, I’m not the best at this, and it’s not something that I care about as much as I should. But I’ll do a Pinterest search for a specific topic, and see what keywords pop up. I also use the Chrome extension Keywords Everywhere, and see what it suggests when I do a Google search for my potential post titles.

Having this list of titles to work from makes it a lot easier to know what I need to post. When you know what you need to do, it’s a lot easier to blog than it is when you think you need to write a post, but have no idea what you want to write. This takes away that guesswork. Also, it makes it easier to work ahead. So you can get the posts written and all the photos edited and the social media scheduled days or even weeks in advance.

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Do you know the joy of having posts scheduled and ready? You gotta get yourself an editorial calendar. Click To Tweet

005: Use this plan for social media too.

It’s worth noting that this method works for social media too. If you have a Facebook page or group that you’re trying to grow, this is a great way to create a posting schedule. Just remember that instead of writing posts, you’re writing interactive prompts to get folks engaged — so take advantage of polls and gifs and such. Same thing with Instagram. An editorial calendar (and a good planning software like Planoly) is a great way to vary your content and keep it on-brand.

And while I know that editorial calendars are nothing new, using one has been so incendiary for me. Like, it’s changed the way I blog and it’s exploded my Pinterest traffic. It’s crazy what it can do. So, if you’re looking to take your blog/YouTube/social media to the next level and stop treating all those things like a hobby and more like a job, this is the best way to do that.

Do You Use an Editorial Calendar?

Are you a Type A blogger like me? Do you love getting your posts written and scheduled early? Have you ever used an editorial calendar?

Also, on a side note: I’m planning to do a video about my next editorial calendar planning session where I brainstorm potential topics for blog posts and videos. So, if you’d like to see that, make sure you subscribe to my channel!

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