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31DBBBBlog CommunityBlog Tips

#SITS31DBBB: What Did a Calendar Ever Do For You?

By Jun 15, 2011 July 3rd, 2014 69 Comments

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Throughout the past few weeks you’ve been asked to analyze the blogosphere around you to come up with many post ideas via brainstorming, cloud mapping and just plain thinking about what you want out of your blog and where you want it to go!

You are well equipped to come up with a plethora of topics to suit your desired audience, but what are you going to DO with all these ideas?

Develop an Editorial Calendar!

Grabbing up all your ideas by the armful and throwing them down into a spreadsheet may sound messy and unproductive, but I can assure you it isn’t! An editorial calendar can benefit you and your blog multiple ways:

Calendar*
Photo Credit: Dafne Cholet
  • Never again be stuck thinking, “What am I going to blog next?
  • Helps you organize your blogging time.
  • Gives structure and consistency to your blog.
  • Allows you to identify trends or lulls in your blog content.
  • Helps you plan out interlinking opportunities ahead of time!
  • I’m sure there are many more reasons, but I’m way too excited to get to the next part of this post! (That and Fran likes it when I keep the word count under 1200…)

An editorial calendar should help give you a rough idea of what you’re going to do next. You still have freedom to move posts around, ditch posts or write new posts completely out of the order of your schedule! Don’t feel tied to it, be empowered by it!

Setting Up an Editorial Calendar

First, you need to decide how frequently you want to publish. Three times a week? Every day? You’ll need to know which “slots to fill” in your calendar!

One option for setting up an editorial calendar is to put your topics in a spreadsheet (Google Docs is free and easy to use). You can add fields to assign the topic a date to publish and a description of the post.

Personally, this doesn’t work for me so if you want to read more about how to do that you should buy Darren’s ebook (or look on page 36 if you already own it!) It’s a fabulous method, really, it’s just that I’m an analyst and spend many of my waking hours with my nose buried in a spreadsheet so I like to look for ways to avoid them!

Make Your Blog Do the Dirty Work!

I like to keep my editorial calendar right inside my blog. This way I can also work on upcoming posts as the mood strikes and can see what’s going to happen directly from my blog’s dashboard. It’s really simple to do both in WordPress and Blogger.

1. Make each topic into its own post draft.

This way I can give it an easily recognizable title I’ll later change and start outlining the post to come back to later.

I do this as the inspiration for new topics strike, not necessarily from a brainstorming session. If I have a lot of ideas to input at once, I use the QuickPress on my WordPress Dashboard.

2. Schedule the post as a draft.

When it’s time to pull from my pool of topics to schedule what I’m going to write about this week, I open up the post and schedule it as a draft for a future date and time.

I’ll show you how to do it in Blogger and WordPress because it’s all that exists all people use all I know. If you have a different blogging system, hit up the forums or the #SITS31DBBB hashtag on Twitter for some help!

On Blogger, under your post and Labels, there’s a Post Options link. Click on it and you’ll see “Post date and time”, as below.

On WordPress, in the sidebar you should see a Publish widget. Click on the Edit link after Publish immediately:

For both, just change the date to the one you want to publish the post and save the draft! Make not to hit Publish before the post is ready to go live, even if you’re scheduling it for the future!

3. View your schedule.

Go to Posts (WP) or Edit Posts (Blogger) on your dashboard and you’ll see a list of every entry. At the top of the page you’ll be able to sort it by Drafts (Ideas for or Unfinished posts) and Scheduled (Completed posts).

If you assign a future date to the draft, it will appear above all the “idea pool” drafts which you may have entered without a date.

I Thought You Said Calendar, Not LIST

Okay, you’re right. What I’ve described so far is only a calendar in the sense that it has dates on it. It’s not what I think of when I hear the word calendar either.

How about a Google Calendar?

One option is to use a Google Calendar to help keep track of your upcoming topic schedule in a more viewable format.

When you’re logged in and on the Google Calendar page, look for the “Add” link under “My Calendars” on the left-hand side and add one for your Editorial Calendar. Then you can add and arrange post topics as you see fit. You could even share your calendar and embed it on your site if you want to give your readers a look at what’s coming up!

This is also a really good route to go if you have a blog with multiple authors. You can color code each “event” (aka Post) by either category or author to keep better track of what’s going on.

Want to take a look at something like this in action? Check out the 31DBBB Schedule Calendar for SITS!

Isn’t There a Plugin for This?

If you’re on WordPress self-hosted, there’s a nifty plugin called Editorial Calendar. It works on the same premise I gave above, but allows you to view your posts and arrange your drafts in a calendar format.

This Sounds Way Too Formal!

If this sounds too stuffy and formal for you, it doesn’t mean the entire concept of an editorial calendar won’t benefit you. You could take a more laid back approach to keeping a blogging schedule:

  • Develop a weekly series for your blog. For example, every Friday I post my favorite photographs from the week using a specific theme. Come Friday, I know what needs to be published!
  • Participate in a weekly blog hop. There are probably hundreds of these out there and it can also serve to help you meet new bloggers and promote your own blog! Mama Kat has her famous weekly Writer’s Workshop with tons of ideas. If you’re a photography nut like me, you can check out my Be Inspired page which lists dozens of photography bloghops by day. A few of these and you can easily plan out your whole week!
  • Schedule by your writing style. You know what types of posts work for you and your blog. Use an informal editorial calendar as a way to vary these types of posts. For example, if list posts, link posts and rants work fabulously for you, you might want to try to publish a rant on Tuesday, followed by a list post on Thursday and a link post on Friday.

Your Homework

You thought I got so wrapped up in keeping my word count down that I’d forget your homework, didn’t you? Not so lucky! Shelley’s going to have the official task over in the forums, but here’s what I want you to take away from all my babble:

  1. Generate 10 post ideas if you haven’t already. Put them somewhere. Wherever is easiest for you. It can be in an email draft, notepad, spreadsheet or saved as a drafts in your blog per topic!
  2. Think about you and what type of person you are. Are you wildly impulsive? Are you super organized and planned out?
  3. Think about how you can implement an editorial calendar in a way that will work best for you and your blog. It can be as involved or simple as you’d like!
  4. Take action on that plan! Tell us how or if you’re going to use an editorial calendar! If you have a process that works well for you, share it!

(In case you were wondering the final count, 1347. Boo.)

69 Comments

  • […] Set a blogging schedule to ensure that you’re keeping fresh posts coming. Whether you blog once a week or once a day, you should set that expectation for your readers from the get-go. […]

  • My desk is cluttered with notes. I also use drafts to plan but this Editorial Calender is just what I have been looking for. Thanks!

  • […] task is to start planning ahead by developing an editorial calendar for your blog. Setting a schedule will help maintain consistency in the timing of your posts, as […]

  • […] task is to start planning ahead by developing an editorial calendar for your blog. Setting a schedule will help maintain consistency in the timing of your posts, as […]

  • Susan Silver says:

    Currently in the middle of playing catch up! I feel so silly I have an editorial calendar but haven’t even though of scheduling post ideas on it! How silly is that I just use it to see posts I’ve already written. I’m trying to get into the habit on the weekends to write several to use when I need to pull something out of a hat. I also found a great plugin called “Post Ideas”.

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/post-ideas/

    Makes it easy to keep track of gems in your wordpress admin section. Could be useful in conjuction with a calendar.

  • Brandy says:

    Awesome ideas! With three little ones running around, I am usually scrambling and not very organized.

  • I’d like to use an editorial calendar, but I’d need an office with a huge calendar taking up one wall. I know excuses excuses .) This would help me out tremendously.

  • Michelle says:

    This is such a great idea! It really helps me to have my ideas organized into a visual format, and it helps me get more done too, when I can see it in front of me like that instead of everything just sort of floating around in my head πŸ™‚

  • I am a super organized gal so the calendar is great for me to dump my post ideas into a schedule. I didn’t even know about scheduling the drafts! I am so excited to get that started now! Thanks for the tips! πŸ™‚

  • Crystal & Co says:

    I installed the calendar plug-in. Thanks for the suggestion! (I’ve only been on WP since March. I am amazed at the plugin capabilities.)

    Lynda, I noticed you are in the Fort Worth area. I am in Hurst. Small world. πŸ™‚

  • Melanie says:

    Great tips! I always have ideas for posts but then forget them. This will help me stay on track!

  • Melissa says:

    I write drafts as inspiration – and use the editorial calendar in wordpress. I also use livewriter to keep my drafts on my PC

    I like to start things when I think of them – Inspired by Noell here http://www.paperclipping.com/why-you-might-not-want-to-let-your-ideas-simmer/

    I often had many more posts than days! But I’ll either use them eventually or just delete them if I don’t want to write on that anymore.

  • Moni says:

    I’m usually the one writing in an idea book, but I have a ton of ideas I wrote down and Incorporating this in a calendar is a great idea. I tried it once before and forgot about it, I’ll give it another shot…

  • Per your suggestion on WordPress scheduling…a tip. Be sure to mark as either PRIVATE or save as DRAFT if you’re not ready to publish. Any subscribers will receive an email with your post as soon as you schedule, so if you’ve forgotten to recheck before you post, you’ll be in trouble. Can you tell I’ve learned this through experience??? other than that, it’s a great feature.

    • This is a great tip! I did include it above, but it really cannot be said enough! I’ve made this mistake a few times and I try to be careful not to!

  • Wow. I keep a running bank of idea drafts, but that’s about it. i’m sure that my summer blogging would flow much more smoothly if I put even a few of these concepts into practice. Thanks!

    • It really does help, though the concept of an editorial calendar SOUNDS like a lot of work! πŸ™‚ If you find the system that works best for you, it can really cut down on your blogging time!

  • ~ Mona says:

    Great ideas! So weird… lately I’ve been putting a green checkmark on my monthly calendar reminding myself that I have a post idea.
    Because I have zero memory, I also have a running list of topics (some with small description) of things I want to write about.

    ~ Mona

  • I have blank monthly calendars printed out with the hopes of creating an ed cal. Right now, all my thoughts are sitting in a spiral notebook but my goal is to get it organized.

  • Liberty says:

    I just whipped up a cute little paper calendar to brainstorm and plan out ideas and put into my most recent post. A calendar has so saved my sanity and time! Not sure why I didn’t think of it sooner.

  • Amber Cullum says:

    First of all, you crack me up. Someone needs to keep a count on my words…..well, sometimes.
    I have started being more consistent in this area and it has helped decrease my time on the computer, feel prepared/less stressed, and has helped me to begin enjoying blogging again. I was beginning to feel stressed that I didn’t have anything. It became too much like work, not fun.

  • Carmen says:

    YES! I already had one plugged in to my website – now to just use it..and i am ALMOST caught up with 31dbb tasks!

  • Trish says:

    Great ideas! I sort of do this already – I post a playlist every Friday, try to answer the prompt tuesday posts on tuesday and the indie ink challenge wed. But to have an editorial calendar and drafts would be great! Thanks for this.

    • Yeah, sounds like you already have a great plan! The draft pool of potential blog posts was one of the most valuable things I took away from doing 31DBBB last year!

  • Alia says:

    Wow! These are Amazing tips!
    Thanks for being such a dear and sharing them with us!
    πŸ™‚
    God Bless!
    Alia

  • I have already been using the save draft, it is great. I give it a working title and type a few lines with my idea and then I can come back to them later.

    I also like the idea of color coding them into my google calender and that also syncs with my phones calender.

    Thanks!!

  • Life As Wife says:

    I think planning ahead is what I struggle with most while blogging.

  • I’ve just really started utilizing my editorial calendar on WP and it’s really helped a lot. I love that particular plugin.

  • Great tips! Think it’s so important to find the way the scheduling and calendaring works for you as well as the content that connects with your readers. Sometimes the misses can teach us what’s next as we move forward… Thank you!

  • Michelle says:

    Great scheduling tips. I set up an editorial calendar on my blog last year during the first #31DBBB challenge. I use that, keep a word document of my post ideas on my laptop, and use a good old fashioned pen and notebook (my personal fave).

    Thanks Lynda!

    Peace. πŸ˜‰

  • Bibi says:

    I am pen and paper kind of girl. I have pads of paper all over my house, in my car and in my purse so when I get an idea for a post I write it down.

    Once a week usually Sunday I sit down and plan and organize my posts according to my themes using WP calendar that I absolutely love. I’ve been using it for 4 months now and it is one of the best tools I have.

  • Sonia Barton says:

    Great post. Thank you for showing me a pic of the post options – I’ve looked for it in the past but couldn’t find it.

    I tried an excel calendar Last summer I did 31DBBB challenge but it didn’t work for me. I think I’ll give your idea a try.

  • Micha says:

    I use a mix of Google Calendar and having series and blog hop posts. I have to use some sort of editorial calendar since I have two blogs. That’s the only way I can have any consistency.

  • Marie Noelle says:

    I was always working with an editorial calendar made in Excel! All my ideas for coming posts are on Evernote so whenever I feel like it, I can work on them (I’m not always writing from home).

    On Wednesdays, I always write a book or ebook review, on Fridays, I link to other blogs and on Saturdays, I poll my readers!

    I didn’t know i could use a wordpress pluggin for my calendar, that’s great, I’ll probably check it out tonight when i’ll be home!

    • I love hearing how everyone keeps and takes notes! Evernote is a great tip! Thanks!

    • Sonia Barton says:

      I’ve heard of Evernote and have it bookmarked to research it more. but haven’t had time. How time consuming is it?

      • Marie Noelle says:

        It isn’t, really! You can use it to take quick notes (like Notepad), you can use it to save some contents you found online to read it later… and it’s so easy to use! I opened my account to “try” it and I felt in love, easy, fast, and I can access it from any computer with an internet access!

  • Christine says:

    Awesome! Editorial calendar is on my list of to do’s this summer. I currently just keep a running list in Word, but I’d like to get more organized with my ideas. Thanks you for these tips.

    • It’s pretty darn nifty, Christine! You can create drafts and rearrange them straight from the calendar view, too!

    • Oops! Meant that first reply to go to the person above! Sorry for being confusing! πŸ™‚

      I’m glad this helped out some! Putting together an editorial calendar can be a huge time and sanity saver!

  • OMG, I’m downloading that editorial calendar WP plugin NOW! It looks just like Outlook, which I love. Fabulous!

  • Penelope says:

    I started to only blog on Mon & Thurs. It has really freed up my mind. Because I only post twice a week, I focus my writing on my niche.

    I love the editorial calendar plugin and can visually see dates such as Fathers Day so I can post on timely topics.

    For example, I began writing a post on our journey to get our foster care license. It turned into 4 posts that I could schedule out on the calendar.

    I highly recommend using a calendar & a schedule. Great information!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I sorta do the draft thing in Blogger now. I need a better system though. I haven’t used Google calendar but that might work for me. I do have a notebook I keep at my desk as well for handwritten notes and one in my purse for on the go notes/ideas.

    • If you find a process that works well for you, please be sure to let us know!

      I do almost all my first draft blogging on pen and paper. It just feels RIGHT to physically WRITE.

  • Eva Gallant says:

    Wow…a lot of info there! Some of it is especially helpful!

    good Morning, SITStahs, it’s Thursday! Check out my blog for last minute Father’s Day Gift ideas!

  • Wow! Fantastic, inspirational, informational, helpful article. So practical!!!

  • Thanks. I didn’t know the scheduled posts go to the top of the list. That can be handy but also scary if I don’t get to it in time and it gets posted as my rough notes.

    Scheduling posts is part of my plan for launching a new product on my blog so this is good timing.

    • Oh yes! If it’s a rough draft, always schedule the post and Save as Draft! I don’t hit the publish button until the post is ready and polished (I’ll go back and double check it even after that though>)

  • What a great post, Lynda! (even if it was over 1200 words!) I use the draft posts on my self-hosted WP blog. My process is basically this:

    Get ideas/brainstorming down in Notes on the iPhone
    Email notes to myself
    Take said notes and create drafts in WP
    Write/Edit/Review drafts before scheduling

    I created a blogging schedule for myself in my iPhone’s calendar, complete with alarms that sound off reminding me to blog! I blog Tuesday nights, Wednesday mornings, Thursday nights and Sunday mornings. I even have a calender reminder set up for 9:15 p.m. on Wednesdays reminding me to get on Twitter for Comment Hour! Honestly, if I don’t have it set as a calendar reminder in the iPhone, I might never get anything done.

  • What a great post, Lynda! (even if it was over 1200 words!) I use the draft posts on my self-hosted WP blog. My process is basically this:

    Get ideas/brainstorming down in Notes on the iPhone
    Email notes to myself
    Take said notes and create drafts in WP
    Write/Edit/Review drafts before scheduling

    I created a blogging schedule for myself in my iPhone’s calendar, complete with alarms that sound off reminding me to blog! I blog Tuesday nights, Wednesday mornings, Thursday nights and Sunday mornings. I even have a calender reminder set up for 9:15 p.m. on Wednesdays reminding me to get on Twitter for Comment Hour! Honestly, if I don’t have it set as a calendar reminder in the iPhone, I might never get anything done.

  • Modern Gypsy says:

    Great ideas! I use the post drafts to plan/jot down ideas. No spreadsheets for me! Knowing how I function, I’ll probably spend more time trying to complicate the spreadsheet than actually letting it be a calendar for post ideas! πŸ˜‰

    I tried the regular features thingie, but it fizzled out after a while. Now I’m thinking of a timed feature – say – macro photography for a couple of months?