06 January 2014

i ♥ my blog: task 1 – create an editorial calendar

I ♥ My Blog Task 1: Create an Editorial Calendar
Today’s "I My Blog" task is to create an editorial calendar for your blog or website.

This task is actually multiple tasks rolled into one... simply because it calls for you to do a bit more than just slap together a calendar! Here’s a bit of what putting together an effective editorial calendar entails:

“what’s the point?”

Before you can even begin to put together a working editorial calendar for your blog, you have to get an idea of what your blog is about. What are you trying to do with your blog? One of the big mistakes new bloggers make is listening to folks who tell them, “You’re so [smart/funny/etc.], you should totally have a blog!”

Don’t get me wrong: blogging is in no way only for a select, "elite" group of writers. However, those who go into it without a clear purpose beyond “someone told me I should do it” are more likely to either burn out or quickly run out of things to say. Unless your blog is a personal diary/journal, you likely have some idea of where you want it to go and what you want it to do. Consider that before starting to generate a calendar, and you’ll be more likely to start putting together a calendar that really helps you to achieve that purpose.

“theme team!

Another big mistake bloggers make is thinking they can only talk about one thing. Once you run out of things to say on that topic, what do you do? Stop writing, or start a new blog about something else, or just suddenly switch from writing a personal fitness blog to a blog about your zany family? What if your focus is poetry and you suddenly find yourself on a fiction kick? What if you start writing about architecture but find yourself wanting to share some awesome recipes?

Rather than limiting yourself, be open to addressing multiple topics. Think of how you can categorize the things you want to talk about. Maybe you want to focus on advice one day, personal updates on another, and leave a third day open to whatever comes to mind. Be open to where your blog can go … just be sure that you are carefully considering what your topics will be and how they work together to answer the “What’s the point?” question of your blog!

“fubsoy!”

“Fubsoy” is a phonetical spelling of the acronym “FBTSOYP,” which stands for “flying by the seat of your pants.” Just as you want to have some specific topics in mind, you also need to remember that the key to maintaining a blog long-term is forgiveness: that is, the ability and willingness to forgive yourself if you need to skip a day, or change topics, etc.

Rather than dictating a rigid schedule, an editorial calendar actually encourages flexibility: if nothing else, consider it your “backup plan.” Yes, the point is to come up with topics to talk about on a day-to-day or week-to-week or month-to-month basis … but let’s say you plan an article on, I don’t know, the color of beets and suddenly find yourself more interested in, oh why not, “why everything tastes like chicken.” Allow the switch. Write about why everything tastes like chicken this week … you now have a great idea for a future article, and can come back to the color of beets somewhere down the line. Or maybe you’re not interested in beets anymore. Fine. Scrap it. As the pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean often noted, an editorial calendar is “more ... guidelines than actual rules.”

Your Turn: Create an editorial calendar for your blog this month, or for the next two months, or the year. Consider the following questions: 
1. What is the point of your blog? What is it for?
2. What/who is the target audience of your blog? Who is it for?
3. What are some topics you may want to cover?
4. How can you break those topics up into specific posting days?
5. What are some ideas for posts you can come up with right now to plug into your calendar?


Share your editorial calendar, or thoughts on the use of an editorial calendar (Is it necessary? Pointless? Why?), in the comments below! Share, and steal, ideas … let’s help each other make 2014 our best writing year yet!

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4 comments:

  1. This year I wanted to do something new with my blog and changed my tagline (Inspiration through Story, Art, and Poetry). The tagline took a lot of thought but it directed me to what I really wanted to share.
    The other aspect I changed was to think of an editorial calendar, whereas before I just told myself, I'll post 2 or 3 times a week, without thought of topic.
    The tagline has subject areas which make it much easier to decide that I'll write three times a week: Monday's art, Wed. poems, and Friday's story/literature."
    Throughout the week I read something that fits well into my editorial calendar so it's already helped me to write drafts ahead of time and when I'm too busy I'll have some posts in my draft box.

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    1. This is awesome, and a great way of getting self-organized! Thanks for sharing, and good luck with your writing this year!

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  2. Khara, this is so helpful. I ran a poll last week re what my readers would like to see happen on the blog, and the consensus seems to be just what you're saying here--that I shouldn't tie myself to one thing, that it's okay to do some memoir and some writing craft posts and photography (and whatever else interests me and seems worth doing). So I'm in the process of a reno! The calendar is a must. Thanks!

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    1. Thank you, Gerry. And what a smart idea, taking it to the streets to get that kind of feedback from your readers. It's something I think is much harder to do than simply making those changes, because it adds the extra pressure of listening to what those readers have said! :) I say that, of course, tongue in cheek ... as we should always be listening to our readers. (And I've also seen amazing things come from listening to the audience ... aka, almost every single challenge hosted on this site!)

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