02 January 2013

creating an editorial calendar for your blog

Creating an Editorial Calendar: The What, Why, and How
Welcome to the first post of 2013, and the first post of the January 2013 "I My Blog" Month! With January as the official "Fresh Start" of a new year, this seemed like a perfect opportunity to take one of the most popular posts of 2012 on blogging and share the joy of falling, and staying, in love with your blog or website! *You can see more details and join in on the Facebook Event Page*

One of the biggest questions folks asked me in 2012 was “How do you have the time to do this (blogging, hosting events, etc.)?” The honest answer? I don’t. Honestly, I don’t “have the time” to do half the things folks see me doing online! Blogging, tweeting, challenging, commenting, otherwise filling spaces with words … it could’ve been a nightmare! But here’s another secret: It wasn’t. If you’ve pictured me sitting in front of the computer screen all day and night writing stuff, you’ve got the wrong picture in your head. Instead, picture this: A total of maybe eight to ten hours a week resulting in all the things you see.

That’s a prettier picture, isn’t it?

Time management can be a pain in the buns. But there’s one little tool that could be the key to success when it comes to managing the time you spend making your blog or website what you want it to be: An editorial calendar.

What is an editorial calendar?

Essentially, an editorial calendar is a schedule for your blog. It’s a glorified “to-do list.” It’s a written commitment to what and when you will blog, set in advance, providing you with a plan before you’re stuck having to put that plan in motion. For some an editorial calendar might simply be creating a list of topics you’d like to cover on certain days of the week. For others, a more specific list might be helpful, including topics, post titles, and notes.

Why use an editorial calendar?

There are several gifts an editorial calendar provides:

  1. Structure. Rather than going day-to-day wondering “What comes next?” you have at least a general idea of not only what, but when and how, your will be writing.
  2. Comfort. How many of you have ever had a great idea, only to lose it because it wasn’t written down? An editorial calendar helps keep track of your ideas as far in advance as you remember to put them down, so that when the time comes you’re not left hanging.
  3. Flexibility. Let’s say you’ve written down an idea for next Monday but you find you have something else you want to write when the time comes. You haven’t lost an idea: you’ve multiplied them. An editorial calendar lets you shift days and ideas pretty much at your leisure.
  4. Goals. An editorial calendar helps you set goals and give yourself deadlines, which can also help ensure better quality in your content.
  5. TIME! This is a biggie. An editorial calendar helps you get a sense of where you’re going before you have to get there, giving you more time to do other things (i.e. chatting on Twitter, sending off potential publications, getting lost in an hour of Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook …)!
How do I create my own editorial calendar?

Creating an editorial calendar is easy:
  1. Ponder your purpose. What is the purpose of your blog? Sharing advice, new writing, or tutorials? Whatever your purpose, make sure the things you put on your calendar fit that purpose.
  2. Designate the days. How often will you post? Once a week is a good place to start. Five times a week might be too much, or just enough. Figure out what kind of content you want to produce on the days you designate to posting.
  3. Think about themes. An editorial calendar doesn’t have to have themes. But they might be helpful to give your blog or website a little more structure. If you say Mondays are dedicated to Craft Tips, you won’t surprise your readers with a Monday post about your dog Tilly. 
  4. Inscribe your ideas. You probably have some things in mind right now you’d like to write about on your site. The key is to write them down before you forget them.
  5. Follow a foundation of flexibility. I’m killing myself with the alliteration at this point, but seriously: Be flexible! The goal is regularity, not rigidity.
The Our Lost Jungle 2013 Editorial Calendar

So what does my editorial calendar look like for 2013? Outside of challenge months, it looks a little something like this (get ready for some more alliteration, with my apologies):

  • Mondays: “M├ętier Monday” – Craft tips, prompts, etc. to help writers hone their art and pursue writing as a vocation
  • Wednesdays: “Wednesday Write-Ups” – Providing tips, tools, and more for the writing life
  • Fridays: “Fridays With Friends” – Interviews, resources, opportunities, reviews, etc. from beyond the borders of the Jungle

Your Turn

Your task is simple: If you haven’t already, create your own editorial calendar. What will you write, and when? This doesn’t mean you have to plan full months. If the idea of planning freaks you out, just generate some general topics or themes. If you’re a meticulous planner, you might create an actual calendar for the upcoming month or two that includes weekly themes, daily topics, and notes on what each posting will entail. Remember: plan, but with flexibility. I all but guarantee you’ll be happy you did!

Feel free to share your own editorial calendar (or links to your calendar on your own site), and thoughts on the usefulness of editorial calendars (or lack thereof), in the comments below!

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22 comments:

  1. Good Morning and a relaxing new year to you!

    I do keep an editorial calendar and when I am good about it, I feel less burdened. In fact, I am heading to Staples today to pick up 2013. I discovered that much as I would love to keep an online calendar, I am a paper person.

    I use the datebook, which is a slimmed down version of a full-size datebook, as a calendar and to record submissions and acceptances/rejections [I do have an online record of those].

    If I stop using the calendar, it's a symptom and I do feel more burdened than when I do keep up with it. I'm glad you started with this.

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  2. Great tips, Khara! I was actually going to work on an editorial calendar during tot Naptime in a little while. Your article will help immensely! Thanks for taking the time to make things easier for the rest of us. ;)

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  3. Excellent suggestions. I've struggled with my blog and editorial calendar. I think I finally have something that is workable. I hope, I hope.

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  4. Thanks for this post, Khara. All good suggestions.

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  5. Good idea - I'll try to pick some days and commit to it. I've ROW80 check in's Sundays and Wednesdays, one Flash Fiction a week (Tuesday would work) and another 'whatever' post - Friday's.

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  6. Terrific post. I've been using MNINB's idea to just use listed dates on a piece of paper, but I think I could use the structure of an actual calendar right now.

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  7. Thank you all for your comments. It's interesting to see what tools everyone uses to keep track of their work/blog/etc. I think the key is finding the system(s) and tools that work for you and running with them!

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  8. thanks for doing this, khara! after reading this, i continue to think i need to integrate all my blogs into one, but can't get it to work in my head. guess i have more to learn! i'll keep reading your jan. posts and maybe the mystery will be solved. :)

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    1. Bolton, one thing you might consider (and where an Editorial Calendar could be particularly helpful) would be dedicating different days to your different blogs; i.e. Monday and Wednesday to one, Tuesday and Thursday to another, etc. I'm sure you've thought of that already, but I thought I'd throw it out there :)

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    2. I'm totally in Bollton's shoes too. I have 2 blogs but they feel like opposites and I don't know how to merge them. Still pondering how to merge the 2 professions Ilove.

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    3. Best of luck to you, Heather, as you work to find that merging point! It can be tough ... but I'm sure you'll find it!!

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  9. Khara, thanks for this. Editorial calendar was my biggest weakness in 2012 (with my blog, that is -- we won't go into housekeeping), as I resist posting if I don't have something to say. My 'power content' for my blog is when I have something insightful to share about the fiction writing process -- but I like to break those articles up with something lighter. In 2012, I found that readers enjoy to-read lists, so have started featuring one each season (well, summer, fall, winter-spring). I also started a column (Living With Books) featuring photos, and just added a Friday Links column. My problem before is that nothing went on a regular schedule. Well, the schedule is that there are few posts when I'm teaching, then a slew of posts during holidays. Fabulous. ;)

    In 2013, I hope to schedule Fri Links in advance, so it runs every Friday, even when I get busy. If I can plan LWBooks in advance, I'd like to run one every month. In between, I'd aim to run one writing topic per week, or run a list or round-up in the weeks I don't have an article to run.

    I featured your challenge in a post today, kicking off the challenge I have to face this month: finishing things this week, starting a lit mag next week, and working on improvements in week 3. I plugged your challenge in this post, and will blog about it again later in the month. http://elissafield.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/january-challenge-finish-begin-improve-plan/

    Good luck, all, and thanks for this great challenge, Khara!

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    1. Thank you, Elissa! One thing I love about an editorial calendar is that knowing what I plan to write in advance means I could feasibly write posts in advance, when I know I have time, and pre-schedule them; in fact, that is often what I do to free up the rest of my days and weeks for other things!

      Thank you so much for the feature; I'll swing by and check it out soon!

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  10. I think my blog will be the latest recipient of my new "less is more" philosophy. When I first started the mobyjoe cafe, I was so darned excited to be writing, I wanted to post every single day. I had no calendar and operated by the seat of my pants. Now that I'm actually getting somewhere with publishing, I need the to really think about where my time and energy should go. Creating an editorial calendar will force me to think about what I really want mobyjoe cafe to be, which is hard, because I really love all the parts of the playground.

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  11. Couldn't agree with you more, Khara! Putting a calendar in place for my blog has made the difference from feeling overwhelmed to feeling my stride. And - I'll admit it - I resort to alliteration with my calendar, as well! For me, I have Mirth Monday, TALU Tuesday, Wordless Wednesday, I-Think-I-Need-Therapy Thursday, Farm Friday, Chicken-Scratch-Saturday, and Inspiration Sunday. What can I say, it works for me. Moreover, it seems to work for my readers, as they know what to expect and when. Because I write about a lot of different topics, the calendar keeps it from seeming like it lacks focus.
    Thanks for the great post, I'm looking forward to more!

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  12. Khara, back during the MNINB platform challenge, I created an editorial calendar, and I stuck with it pretty well until Jane Ann's memoir challenge in the fall. I loved that challenge and wrote almost every day for 25 days! After it, though, I felt burned out, and I've been posting only sporadically since then. Thank you for this reminder! I need to re-visit my editorial calendar, which was working okay, and see if I can't pull some ideas out of the ether. Or the hat. I'll be back to see what else you have in store to get me going again. Thanks!

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  13. Jeannine, we'll be talking about the potential benefits of a "less is more" policy later this month, actually! I agree, it's sometimes hard to think about where a blog is going when you've had so much fun bringing it to where it is. Hopefully somewhere in there's a middle ground.

    Anne, what is it about alliteration? It just works! I love your comment about the EC serving as a gift to the reader as it lets them know "what to expect and when." It's nice to know that an EC isn't only beneficial to the writer, but also to the reader!

    Gerry, that's such a big risk of some of the pendulum points of blogging--either writing so infrequently that you feel you're not doing enough or writing so much that you start to feel that burn out! Again, I like to think there's a nice middle ground in there somewhere. I haven't *quite* found it yet, but I think I'm inching toward it!

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  14. Khara, I'm late, but so happy to be here. I love your idea for this series and can't wait to share your posts and read more.
    I love having an editorial calendar- but I'm a type A kinda gal. I follow the MNINB plan and jot down ideas for Wednesdays (Wonderful Words Wednesdays- vocab) and Fridays for one quarter of the year. I agree with all of your points and will add that having to write for deadlines is good training for writers. Hopefully, we'll all have deadlines to editors someday, right? :) Keep up the good work!

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    1. Thank you, Julia, and great point about using our editorial calendars as practice for working to a deadline!

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  15. These are great tips ans Khara, kudos on the alliteration ;) I love it and really though on this post...it is so easy to read and very to the point...your font color and size changes...header ans subheadings...everything is very organized and practical. Great post indeed..easy on the eyes. :)

    The calendar is an excellent idea...I think I function under one that consists of prompts that I respond to on a regular basis, monthly challenges that show up in certain points of the year and then I'll throw in an extra random writing either unprompted of from the list of prompts that Margo Roby offers each week. I post everyday usually. I could write it all down...but mentally it's all there. :)

    Love your tips and pointers, Khara...lots to glean!

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    1. Thank you, Hannah! And, hey, as long as it's all there, that's all you need, right?! :)

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Thank you so much for your comments! Please feel free to share your thoughts here; I look forward to engaging in conversation with you!

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