It takes a TON of work to constantly be able to churn out interesting new posts for your blog every single week. When I first started off blogging, I had a hard time coming up with topics to write about. I would procrastinate and feel completely uninspired the night before a blog post was due to be published.
I came up with whatever I saw fit or whatever I felt like writing that day. No rhyme or reason to it, just simply a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda blogger. It wasn’t consistent or cohesive with my “brand” and it wasn’t always my best work. I used to hit publish just to have something out there which sucks.
That was before I discovered what in the world an editorial calendar was. I used to say “hmm… that sounds like some fancy thing that editors at big magazines use.”
Or so I thought. Sometimes I still procrastinate… not gonna lie. But the difference is that I know exactly what I’m going to be writing about regardless of what’s going on in my life. It took me a long time — months even — before I really was able to nail editorial calendars and use them effectively for my writing.
What is an editorial calendar?
An editorial calendar is a list of topics that you plan on writing about on your blog. You can use an agenda or notebook, a printable, or an online template to create your calendar.
They’re an excellent way to map out + schedule the content for your blog. They help you set deadlines and have a clear focus on what you want the content on your blog to be centered around. Editorial calendars also help you make sure that the blog posts you’re writing are tying into your mission statement and resonating with your target audience.
They help you see the big picture. They keep you organized.
My favorite thing about editorial calendars is that there is no limit for how much content you can plan ahead of time. Plus you can plan out not only your blog posts but also your email newsletters and your social media strategies.
I’m huge on pre-planning. I don’t plan out every little detail for my blog all the time but I try to prepare the most that I can. And guess what? I have my blog posts planned out in my editorial calendar for the rest of 2018!
Yep, for the rest of the YEAR. Might sound crazy, but it’s actually been a life-saver especially now that I’ve moved halfway across the world and my daily life + schedule isn’t exactly how it used to be back in the States.
Things are much different around here and it’s taken a lot of readjusting for me. I’m so thankful that I already had tons of content pre-planned. If not, I’d be scrambling to put out posts just to keep up with my blogging schedule. I’ve realized that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Before moving, I did a ton of research about editorial calendars and found a strategy to be able to sit down and plan a year’s worth of content. And that’s what I’m going to show you how to do today so that you can take back a little bit more of your time to focus on other money-making blog + biz tasks. So grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive into a little content creation!
1. Identify your blog goals for the year.
First thing’s first. You cannot plan out a year’s worth of content without any real goals in mind.
Are there certain things you want to accomplish? How often do you plan to post each week? You have to decide if you’re going to be publishing a new post once a week or 2-3 a week. Whatever is most comfortable for you. Think about whether or not there are certain topics you want to cover as well. From there, you should more or less know how many ideas you need to come up with for your editorial calendar.
I post once a week, so I came up with 50+ ideas for my calendar.
2. Analyze your metrics + ask your audience
This is my favorite way of deciding what subjects I should tackle in my editorial calendar — go straight to the source, duh! You definitely need to take a look at your metrics and see what’s working and what isn’t.
Which posts are the most popular? What are your readers commenting? Are there common things they are expressing to you? Analyze your blog’s traffic and check what your audience is reading on your blog. From there you can come up with ideas to expand on or create a series around your most popular posts. You could also check your Analytics on Pinterest and see what your followers are most interested in.
Give the people what they want!
Analyzing is a great way to see what is the recurring theme of what your audience is looking for BUT don’t be afraid to just ask. Ask them what it is they want to see from you.
You’d be surprised how helpful this actually is and how willing people are to fill out quick surveys. It will give you clarity and will give you the insight you need to move forward with your blog’s content. It will give you that little nudge in the right direction that you need.
My fav way to do this is to create a survey on Typeform and send it out in my email newsletter. I know that not all of your audience might be on your email list, so you could also use polls on insta stories which are super fun too.
Still unsure of what your readers want? I used to have this problem when I first started out and my audience was tiny and not always responsive to surveys. Look at other popular blogs in your niche and see what topics are most successful. Go on Google and see what people are searching for the most.
This should give you a little inspiration. As you come up with more content and slowly build your audience, you will start to create a clear path of what you should be blogging about.
Now let’s kick things into gear and start generating ideas, babe! You should have an idea of what topics you should be covering once you’ve done the research on your blog.
For example, if you’re a beauty blogger maybe you’ve noticed your readers want to know more about the best foundations for dry skin. From that, you can create posts about the top foundations out there, skin care routines for dry skin, product reviews, and tutorials specific to that topic.
If you’re a travel blogger, you might see that your readers are looking for how to find cheap travels. From there, you can create posts about the top cheap websites for hotels and airfare, you can create an “X Things To Do in _______ on a Budget,” or write about other money-saving tips specific to people interested in traveling.
It all depends on the type of blogger you are and who your audience is. Identify their interests and identify what their problems are. Then set out there to create posts that solve their problems.
You might even help them solve a problem they didn’t even know they had. When I think of blog post ideas, I first think of general topics first. For example, a subject could be Pinterest and then I brainstorm 5-10 different posts that I could relate to Pinterest.
Did you know you could actually use Pinterest’s Smart Feed to help you find what topics people are looking for in your niche? It shows you keywords and related searches to help inspire you.
My favorite way to list each post idea is by creating a title for it. So I sit down over the course of a few days and try to create titles for 50+ blog post ideas and then add them to my editorial calendar along with tentative posting dates and resources for each post. While I’m brainstorming ideas, I have CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer open in another tab and I’m coming up with several strong titles for the possible post (it’s AMAZING!)
The format of your calendar all depends on how detailed you want to get with your editorial calendar. Some people just list scheduled publish dates and blog post ideas.
Others want to be extremely details and list dates, topics, titles, tags, resources, and whether or not the post was published or edited. Think about your needs and how you prefer to plan things in advance. Are you a stickler for details? Depending on that, you can decide on the style of calendar that is right for you.
While you’re filling out your editorial calendar, don’t be afraid to leave some empty spaces. Throughout the year, opportunities will come up for you. You might land a collaboration with another blogger or a sponsored post with a big brand. Or maybe someone might contact you for a guest post. You just never know!
4. Start writing!
Now you’re ready to start writing your first posts and start ticking things off your calendar! woohoo!!
You’re ready for the year ahead and now you have tons of ideas for your blog so you’re never stuck uninspired and wondering what to write at the very last minute. I don’t know what I’d do without my editorial calendar. It keeps me organized and helps me create high-quality, actionable content for my audience all year long.
So tell me, do you like keeping your blog organized with calendars and checklists? Do you like to pre-plan your content? Let me know in the comments!