If you’ve spent any time researching blogging, then you’ve likely come across this advice before:
Your blog needs an editorial calendar.
Unfortunately, a lot of beginner bloggers don’t take that advice to heart. Instead, their strategy relies on an ever-changing budget or a “when I feel like it” approach.
While these methods may work for personal blogs – depending on your goals – you’ll see much more success with a business blog if you manage an editorial calendar. Read on to learn more about using an editorial calendar on your blog and what some of the best tools are.
What is an Editorial Calendar?
An editorial calendar is a schedule that outlines publication themes and dates.
You’ll start by creating a consistent publishing schedule, whether that’s once every Friday or every day of the work week.
Then, your calendar should outline topics or themes for publication. Some of these topics will be timed for the season, such as holiday-related blog posts. Otherwise, you may only have topics planned for a couple weeks out.
Along with topic ideas, your calendar should also detail the assigned writer and editor on the project, the first draft’s due date, the type of content (such as blog post or infographic), and the article’s publication date.
You might add additional notes such as word count, media to be used, and possible marketing options.
While you may choose to outline your publication schedule on a monthly calendar, you can also use other programs like spreadsheets to organize your editorial calendar.
Benefits of an Editorial Calendar
While it may seem that an editorial calendar is just one extra duty to attend to, it can be a lifesaver when it comes to your blog. By organizing your publication schedule, you’ll save the headache of trying to get things together at the last minute.
Here are some other benefits of editorial calendars:
- It’s a tool that allows you to focus your content marketing efforts, which means measuring and modifying the outcomes of your strategy will be easier.
- It helps take the guesswork out of what to write and when.
- It helps you organize topics so your blog content is balanced and helpful rather than focused too heavily on a single subject.
- It allows you to better manage a budget if you choose to hire freelance writers. That way, you always know how much content – and at what price – you’ll need every month.
- It can mean better content because planning ahead gives you more time to work on blog posts than rushing to get something published.
- It allows your content team to work together more effectively since everyone understands what’s going on.
What Are Your Strategy Options?
There’s no one right way to manage your editorial calendar, so you have to experiment until you find what works for you. If you work with an internal team only, a white board outlining upcoming topics may be what you need.
If much of your team works remotely or you hire freelancers, you’ll want to use an online-based tool that everyone has access to, such as a Google spreadsheet.
You might choose to let all writers edit the calendar to add their topic ideas, or you might leave the editing to just your blog manager.
Another strategy to consider is how often you’ll post on your blog. Examples include:
- Every Friday
- Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
- Every day
- On the 1st and 15th of the month
You’ll also want to define how far out to have content planned. In general, it’s a good idea to have a brief idea of content three months out, such as how often you’ll be posting and which writers correspond to each due date.
This will also give you a chance to outline any special content that needs more work, such as infographics, and to begin thinking of ideas for upcoming events or holidays that you can connect your content to. Try to have solid ideas and brief outlines a month out.
Editorial Calendar Tools
Ready to start working with an editorial calendar? Here are just a few editorial calendar tools you can use:
If you’re looking for an online calendar that everyone on your team can edit, consider using Google Calendar.
You’ll be able to outline due dates and publication dates and add notes to each due date to help guide your writers and editors. You can even color code dates for different writers if you want to.
If you’d rather work in a spreadsheet than on a calendar, Google Sheets is a good place to start because, again, everyone on your team will have access to it from anywhere.
Changes will automatically show up, so you don’t have to worry about having outdated copies sitting in people’s inboxes.
Editorial Calendar for WordPress
If you use WordPress to manage your blog, the editorial calendar plugin allows you to manage your publication schedules straight from your WordPress dashboard.
Here, you’ll be able to view all your posts and drag and drop them to help manage your blog.
If you’re ready to move up from free tools to a more robust program, CoSchedule is a good choice.
This tool makes content scheduling simple and even includes social media campaign scheduling. Plans start at $15 per month.
Although Trello isn’t designed as an editorial calendar, this useful tool can help you keep your blog organized. Create “cards” for each assignment, and move cards between custom lists. One list can be for ideas, another for pending pieces, and another for completed blog posts.
Plus, you can use Trello as a submission system between freelancers and the blog editor, and you can even communicate via private comments in the system.
Trello won’t show you a calendar view of your upcoming posts, but it will help you organize your team and content as long as the blog editor has a schedule already outlined.
While it may seem like managing an editorial calendar will take a lot of work, it actually makes managing your entire operation easier and less stressful. What will your editorial strategy look like?
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