What is an editorial calendar?
Simply put, it’s a schedule detailing when and what you will post on your blog over a determined amount of time. Ideally, you should fill your editorial calendar at least one month in advance. Some bloggers like to schedule three months, six months or even one whole year in advance. I like to fill up my calendar two months at a time so that I’m still free to reschedule or add in content that is topically relevant or time sensitive. Planning too far ahead can mean your content is a little less flexible and you risk your ideas appearing outdated by the time you post them. That being said, set up a time range that works for you and your blog. If you only post once or twice a month, maybe a yearly editorial calendar is right for you.
Why is it important?
An editorial calendar gives you an overview of your content schedule at a glance. One look at your calendar and you’ll know exactly what’s coming up that week and what needs extra preparation. But perhaps the best benefit of an editorial calendar is that it blocks procrastination and writer’s block. Because isn’t the hardest thing about blog posting coming up with something to write?
With an editorial calendar, not only do you know exactly what to write on any given day, but you can also create keyword lists, short summaries and inspired links to get your mind jogging on posting day.
What should an editorial calendar look like?
Just as it is up to you to decide how frequently it should be filled, how your editorial calendar is formatted is entirely dependent on you and your blog. You can create it in excel and simply have a column for dates and topic title listing out what you’ll write and when. It can honestly be as simple or in depth as you’d like.
So, how will this be worth the payoff for all your hard work?
Reduce Writer’s Block
It’s 9:40AM and your post is supposed to go live at 10. You have no idea what to write. Panic sets in. With the editorial calendar, you may never face this terrifying situation again. Whether you go with the topic that’s scheduled, or switch it up and pull something from the pending list, you will always have a list of ready-made topics to choose from.
Laying your blog’s content plan out in an organized way helps you to see and create useful patterns. By planning ahead, you can also identify (and have time to execute) opportunities for relevant guest posts, event-based content, and other collaborative efforts.
There are literally dozens of ways to track different Web and blog stats, but I like to aggregate some key stats into my editorial calendar on the Published tab. If you do it on a regular basis, it only takes a few minutes and will make later analysis much more impactful. For instance, you might track the following for each post: pub date, title, topic, #/comments, #/tweets, #/facebook shares, #/trackbacks.
Optimize Your Strategy
Once you have a baseline strategy and plan, and you’ve collected stats on your post performance, you have everything you need to do a bang-up analysis of what’s been working and what’s been falling short. Look at the trends and the patterns behind those trends. Is engagement driven by topic, day of the week, tone, type of content? These simple stats can provide valuable insights that will inform a stronger, more successful content plan and editorial calendar.
What tools do you find more effective when creating your editorial calendar? Do you find a calendar to help the process of keeping up with your blog?