How to create an editorial calendar in 5 steps

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When it comes to creating better blog content you can’t rely on spur of the moment inspiration or a bolt of lightning from the gods above that’s going to guide you to the best content you’ve ever created, that’s why we want to show you how to create an editorial calendar. 

 

In order to create content that your audience will really enjoy you need to give it the proper time and consideration it deserves.

 

Having an editorial calendar will allow you to have an overview of your entire blog content for a defined period of time.

 

Let Your Brain Take-Over

 

That way you can be thinking about it in the background, you’ be surprised at how your subconscious will help with the creativity after all 95% of our brain activity is beyond our conscious awareness. 

 

I won’t go on too much about the benefits of having an editorial calendar as I’ve already done so in this article here but I really can’t overemphasise the importance of having one in place, however, basic it may be.

 

In the interest of getting you up and running and showing you how to create an editorial calendar, there are as I see it five steps to putting an effective plan in place.

 

How to create an Editorial Calendar

 

You are going to have to take a little time to think about a few essential considerations when it comes to planning out your calendar, but I did promise I’d show you how to create an editorial calendar in five simple steps so trust me when I say there is nothing too taxing below.

How much time do you have?

 

The first is truly think about how often you are going to blog. This is something I have spoken about before on many occasions.

 

We as bloggers tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to produce content even when we know we are being slightly unrealistic about our blogging schedule.

 

While regular fresh content is a great way of ranking in the SERP’s bloggers can sometimes put too much pressure on themselves to produce content on a daily or weekly basis and is this pressure and lack of time that can result in mediocre content being published.

 

Another great way of getting ranked in the search engines is to produce quality, insightful, unique, shareable content.

 

Producing content like this does take some time. It’s not something we can simply sit down and bash out in an hour, it takes planning preparation and plenty of iterations.

average content results

 

But the results are very much worth the effort. So think about what do you want your content to be?

 

I’m not saying that every blog post has to be three or four thousand words long, maybe one out of every four or five blog posts could be that big.

 

What I’m trying to get you to understand is that the old adage of quality over quantity still stands today in a world where over 2.75 million blog posts are being produced every day.

 

Triple Down

 

What I recommend you do is figure out on average how long you spend at the moment writing a blog post.

 

Then I want you to go ahead and triple that time. With three times the time you will hopefully come triple the quality and triple the audience.

 

Once we tripled our time we then need to objectively look at what time we have available and what can we realistically hope to produce during that time. Can we really still stick to our old posting schedule if it is going to take us three times longer to create this?

 

This tripling down technique has helped us be far more realistic about our time and what we can expect to create during that time.  

 

It has also taken the pressure off, I no longer feel like I am on a hamster wheel with my blog.

 

And without wishing to blow my own horn the quality of the content I began to produce got significantly better.

 

Having the time to truly think about the content, the context and the takeaways has allowed me to craft blog posts that not only deliver the intended message but that look better, get read more and convert better on my CTA’s.

 

Once I figure out how many blog post I can realistically hope to create over the period of time I’m planning for, I can then start to think about the content itself.

 

Planning Content Themes

 

Most people think sitting down to plan blog content for the next 3, 6 or even 12 months is a long drawn out process, it’s not.

 

hamster wheelIf you have been honest with yourself about the time you have available to create blog content then you may only need to come up with six ideas for articles.

 

Those six ideas are your next three months worth of blog posts assuming you publish once every two weeks.

 

Planning your blog content isn’t daunting,  yet many seem to put it off because it does take a little bit of time and thought.

 

The best way I find to plan our content in advance is to give my content theme and this is something we have also heard from guests on our podcast.

 

“Stick with a Content Strategy for 90 days to see if it’s working, people fail when they stop too soon as they see no immediate traction.”

 

Sandra Guynes – Episode 17

 

When you give your content a theme it makes it easier to plan out a journey for your reader, but not only that it gives you the freedom to look at a topic on a number of different angles and perhaps in a more in-depth manner than you may have done previously.

 

If you take the #30MinuteBlogger series, for example, all of that content was planned out months in advance with themes in mind and different types of content for different weeks.

 

If you go back to our 30-day blogging challenge where we undertook back in April to publish a blog post a day around a certain topic you will see that by giving a theme it allowed me to meet that challenge and produce an article a day.

 

Give Them What They Like

 

Think about the theme of your content over the defining period. What is it your audience want to know more about?

 

What types of content on your blog have generated the most traffic? Can you expand on these and go into a more depth on the topic?

 

Perhaps you’ve started with a beginners look on a topic, can you now move onto an intermediate or advanced level on that topic and take your reader on that journey from novice to pro?

 

Once you have a theme in mind coming up with the articles themselves shouldn’t be too difficult, however, if you’re struggling for inspiration we’ll be showing you how to find blog post ideas before the week is out.

 

Now that we know how often we are going to publish and what the theme is, the next step is really the articles themselves.

 

Templates

 

Once we have a list of articles that we want to create we can begin to fill out our editorial calendar.

 

how to create an editorial calendar copyThere are any number of calendar templates available online for you to download like this one from HubSpot.

 

Editorial calendar templates are fantastic and full of valuable information, however, they also take some time to fill out and get used to.

 

The danger here is that we spent too much time trying to figuring out how to use the template properly and not enough time filling it out.

 

Google Calendar

 

Consider the alternative, rather than going for an all singing all dancing editorial calendar straight out the gate, what I suggest you do is keep it simple with a Google calendar.

 

Once you have your Google calendar open simply select the days you wish to publish, so for instance if we’ve decided we are going to publish every second Wednesday for the next three months, we can then go ahead and start to fill in the article ideas for every second Wednesday for the next three months.

 

Once we have this done in essence we now already have an editorial calendar we can open up and at a glance, see which blog posts need to be created and by when.

 

We could stop here and to be honest, if you got this far it will most certainly help you with your blogging efforts.

 

But there is more that we can do to help ourselves.

 

What a Legend

 

I like to create a legend for my calendar.

 

Within Google calendar, you can colour code your appointments. So now that we have our blog titles in our calendar we can colour code them and I like tea break mine down into four sections.

 

The most pressing blog post to be published will always be colour-coded red if it’s not completed with less than a week to go before it is due. I don’t think I need to explain why I’m sure you get the idea.

 

In terms of the other articles, I tend to colour them so that I can see at a glance at what stage they are at and how much I have left to do. 

 

Editorial colour codingBlue means I haven’t started.

 

Yellow means I’m finished writing and it needs editing and or imagery.

 

Green obviously means it’s good to go.

 

Having a colour-coded system like this isn’t 100% necessary, But what I have found is that Sunday is if I have the time I like to move between writing, research, editing, imagery and so on.

 

So by having a colour-coded system, I can keep track of where I am with different articles.

 

More Flexibility

 

Now I appreciate that many of you will take the one at a time approach and will not be jumping in between articles.

 

But I do find that having options available to me when it comes to blogging time keeps me fresh and focused and I don’t feel as if I am being forced to do a task unless it’s time sensitive.

 

The final piece of my editorial calendar is the promotional copy.

 

Capture The Inspiration

 

In the interest of being honest and transparent this is not something I do every time and for every article, even though I know I should.

 

But what I find can happen is that when I’m creating an article or editing an article or even creating an image or an infographic, I would get a little spark of inspiration as to how I might promote this piece of content and what I might say about this piece of content on social media.

 

So what I will do here is I will go into my editorial calendar open up the article and in the notes section I will write out the tweet, Facebook update, Instagram caption or whatever else has sprung to mind.

 

I won’t lie, in theory, this should be done for every article I produce. I should have a library of social media updates ready to go for each article, but as you can see I said “in theory” which means it doesn’t always happen that way.

 

Regardless of whether or not you choose to pen all of your social media updates in advance, I do recommend having a section or process for capturing these ideas.

 

Capture ideas when they strikeBecause if my experience has taught me anything, its that I can’t rely on my own memory.

 

As I said at the outset having even the most basic of editorial calendars in play will help you plan your time far better and plan your content.

 

I honestly believe that the creation of good content comes through the planning of good content.

 

I don’t believe that you can just sit down pluck an idea from thin air and creates a captivating, interesting and engaging article.

 

More Like Seven

 

Ok so they weren’t exactly five steps, they were more ways to approach it and there were more like seven then five.

 

There are plenty of article out there that will give you a step by step, play by play on how to make an editorial calendar, but I find the problems arise when bloggers go to fill them in, not make them.

 

The Long Finger

 

So many tasks get put on the long finger or go into the “not necessary right now” category and having an editorial calendar could very well fall under that heading.

 

But trust me when I say once you get one up running you’ll wonder how you ever operated without it.

 

The points I’ve made above are not written in stone, every editorial calendar is different, as is every blogger, but what is no negotiable is the fact that now you know how to create an editorial calendar and you have to take action.

 

It’s about finding what works for you, I can show you how to create an editorial calendar but really the details are all down to your time and preference.

At the moment this is what’s working for me, nothing too complicated, nothing too fancy, just something that I can look at and at a glance know exactly what I should be doing and when I should be doing it.

 

So whether you choose to implement all of the advice above or just some, find what works for you.

 

Most importantly of all, start the process of putting together your editorial calendar now!

 

Still not sure how to create an editorial calendar?

If you need help putting one together I’d be more than happy to help, just leave a comment below and I’ll give you a helping hand.

 

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About the author, Phil

I am passionate about great content and some what of a perfectionist, but remember, you can't edit a blank page!