For the first time in the four years I’ve been writing my blog, I missed my self-imposed deadline, which is why you’re receiving this on Thursday. I publish Cynthia’s Communique each Wednesday and Sunday. (Did you know that?) No clatter arose when my blog didn’t cross people’s emails or RSS feeds, but I was annoyed with myself.
I know why it happened. I wasn’t living my editorial calendar. Yes, even for my simple blog, I have an editorial calendar. Blogs don’t magically publish; they require time and effort. My calendar is a simple Word document in which I’ve listed all of the Wednesdays and Sundays for the year. I then note holidays and national days that might merit a blog.
For example, I typically post something for National Author’s Day. A post about what I’m thankful for is always good at Thanksgiving. I also include conferences and webinars as they are great fodder and knowing when one is upcoming allows me to fill in gaps.
Creating an editorial calendar has several benefits, including:
- Accountability: I may be the only one writing my blog, but I’m still accountable to my readers. In my full-time job, an editorial calendar is a reminder to everyone when content is due.
- Planning: I noted above how an editorial calendar allows me to plan throughout the year. It helps keep me focused.
- Accomplishment: I find having a content calendar gives me a sense of accomplishment. It feels good to see the progress I’ve made and also to see that I have topics planned so I don’t need to panic.
- Measurement: Finally, I can review my metrics after a blog publishes and determine which content is most popular so that I publish more in that subject area. It’s also been rewarding to see the blog grow.
How do you create a content calendar? Everybody has their own style so choose what is best for you.
- Word document: For my blog, I noted a simple Word document works.
- Excel spreadsheet: At work, we use a spreadsheet and post it to a shared directory. Not only are we tracking content, but also content platforms. We have to ensure content is published consistently across multiple platforms and the editorial calendar helps us see if we missed anything.
- WordPress plug-in: In researching this blog I discovered something cool that WordPress offers, namely an editorial calendar plug-in. It allows me to see all my posts and when they will publish. I can also easily change the dates I plan to post by dragging and dropping the posts within a calendar, which is easier than using the posting feature.
This weekend I’ll spend time with my editorial calendar, plotting upcoming posts, researching the topics and writing the first drafts. My commitment remains to post each Wednesday and Sunday. My editorial calendar will help me — if only I would use it.