Hey, hey Readers!
Word on the street is that Editorial Calendars are just about the only thing that can keep your happy, blog crazy, mind sane. And I tell you what: Those folks are absolutely right! Without a plan of action all of your great bloggy dreams can come crashing down around you and no one wants that to happen. So today I want to talk a little (a little? yeah right, have y'all met me?!) about the importance of your Editorial Calendar and then hand you some of my favorite tools to make it run smoothly.
First, what exactly IS an Editorial Calendar?
Well Friend, I'm glad you asked.
By my own definition, an EC is a place where you can put all the craziness in your head out to view in one place all at the same time. It's how you can plan your blog posts most efficiently and also how to list all the blogging tasks you have. I freely admit that I am a pen and paper girl at heart but there are a few tools I use digitally (more on that in a minute) to help me both speed up and streamline the process. So let's start with:
A List of Necessities:
- Your blog
- A Calendar
Now let's break them down.
★ Your Blog:
This should be pretty self explanatory. Although I suppose I should amend it to be your blog OR website. Not all Bloggers run an actual blog on the Blogger or Wordpress platforms. In fact, some of the greatest bloggers I know are running Wix, Weebly or some other platform host. But I digress.
Now, I have your blog on the list for a few reasons:
- It's where your content goes (duh)
- It's where you will draft and eventually schedule your posts
- It's a million times easier to have your drafts in your blog than on your computer somewhere because you can pull them up in one fell swoop.
I absolutely always put my first draft in Evernote. I make sure I create the permalink and the date I would like it to go live and I just write. When I am finished, whether it is complete or not, I save it, not schedule it so that it doesn't accidentally get published if I am not quite ready. I then make a note of the title in my Wunderlist app. I do this specifically because it allows me to check each post off my ever growing to do list.
I often use EverNote as well for my blog posts. Typically I use it only for templates that I use often or any other type of post that I share often. Round up posts are particularly good to keep templates for because all you have to do is change the title and some of the wording.
I also use OneNote for specific code templates I may need such as my signature or social media sharing. Since I keep all my client files in OneNote it just makes sense to store my own coding there in its own notebook.
By keeping all my templates in EverNote and listing my posts in Wunderlist I am able to use a two part system to check and recheck my work. And by keeping my coding in OneNote (which is where I also keep all my client notes and files) I can streamline what I need, when I need it and only keep open the programs I need for each particular post.
★ Next up, a calendar system of some kind.
As I have already stated, I am a pen and paper girl. In fact, I utilize a four calendar system. I know it sounds like some kind of neurotic extreme over planning but for me it really does work. But if you're not a person who has an addiction obsession love of planners like I do, you can easily utilize a regular planner, a system online like Google Calendar or even just add it all into your current planning system. No matter how you decide to plan out your posts I cannot stress enough how getting them down on paper (literally or digitally) is something every blogger needs to be doing.
Because I am both a blogger and a small business owner, I need to utilize every tip, trick and helpful guide I can get my hands on. The irony here is that I spend hours each evening on Pinterest looking at all the amazing planning tools and I still manage to create my own that works perfectly for me. There's no such thing as one perfect planning system. And that's ok! Just as long as what you do works for you.
How I typically do it is this:
At the end of each month I take a look in my little green notebook and see the different ideas I have for posts. If I happen to have any reviews due, these are also factored in. Typically I like to make a draft of each review with a scheduled date of the latest I have to get it in. Granted sponsored posts and reviews are limited to my personal and lifestyle blog, but the business I do on that blog does overlap and affect how this blog gets run as well. Needless to say the end of each month is super duper busy at my house.
Once I have all my drafts ready for the week (and by "ready" I mean I have the titles in place along with the post date I am shooting for and all the labels + permalink set; with maybe a few lines as they have come to me but that isn't always the case) I am able to move on and plug them into my Wunderlist. From there I head to EverNote to pull out any and all templates I will be using. Then to OneNote where I pluck out any codes I need for each of the posts. All in all it takes me about 2 hours. I know, and I haven't even begun the writing part!
★ From here you may need a little inspiration.
Posts don't write themselves. Ever. No matter how great of an idea you have, if you don't have a place for your writing to go, you don't have a post.
For example: If I want to post here about "My Top Three Blogger Tools" I already have my idea. Now I need to find the inspiration to write out why I have chosen those three. Are they my go to? Why did I chose them over any others like them? Are they digital? Can I use the logos (legally) in my post? Or is it some physical item that I use, like my planner, that needs to be photographed?
My point lovelies is this: Find what inspires you and write. For me, I like to listen to Tchaikovsky while I am writing my posts. I'm listening to Swan Lake as I type these words. Do you write better after a run? Then get everything drafted and set and go run yourself a mile. Come back and knock those posts out. I realize that it is simply not possible for even me to get all your posts scheduled out for a full month. And that's ok too. Do what you can and then plan out some time each week to schedule more!
★ And lastly, TIME:
Oh Time, the enemy, my nemesis. Killer of dreams and demon of all I have to get done. I'll be brutally honest m'dears, you will never have enough time. I'm not even playing with you. It's impossible to get everything done, finished, and polished; ready to go all in one whack. Well, at least I haven't found a way to do it. If any of you happen to be clued in, please, please, please, please share!
So what's a blogger to do? Well, you get done what you can when you can and you say "eff it" to the rest. Not really. Just at that moment. It's all about prioritizing your tasks, using the tools I have listed for you below and making the most out of any given Sunday.
So what are the cool tools? Well, I'm glad you asked. Because I have them all in a neat little list right here.
- A physical calendar (I use a Plum Paper Family Planner)
- Pens, pencils and other accessories (Check out Etsy for some great finds)
- A Timer (Just go with me here)
I honest-to-goodness use each one of these babies and they make my life a whole lot easier in the end. I've already explained the online tools as well as the planner but trust me when I say you are going to need a pencil for your physical planner, to do lists, appointments, notes, etc. And you're gonna want one with a big eraser.
As to the timer, as I said; just go with me here. I use the timer to count down how many minutes I am giving myself for each task. Each individual task has a specific amount of time I allot to it. I have come up with this set time over many months of working on the same projects over and over. If for any reason my timer goes off while I am still working on a project, it helps me understand where I need to focus my attention on managing my time management. More or less it's a learning instrument and oone that created a discipline so I can really hone my skill as a writer, a blogger and a small business owner.
Well now my lovelies, this post has become a novella in itself and I am sure you are ready to run off and go try out all my fancy schmancy tricks of the trade. So off ye be and leave me some comments about your own methods or, if you're trying mine, how the work for you!
Don't forget that I am still offering beta testing for my latest project: The EAE Blog Studio Blog & Business Planner. You can get yours by emailing me that you are interested and I will send it out to you for FREE in exchange for a testimonial.
In the meantime, why not engage with me on Twitter and let's chat about ways you can improve your own editorial and content calendars!
Until next time,