Don't resist it – you need an editorial calendar for your blog. Here are 10 tools to help you create one.
What is an editorial calendar? It's a content plan or schedule for your future blog posts.
Why You Need An Editorial Calendar
Just like with any business, planning ahead is key.
- If you own a restaurant, you are not going to decide on the daily special five minutes before the dinner hour.
- If you are a teacher, you are not going to walk into your classroom and decide what you will teach that day.
- And if you have a store – you will plan your inventory before you have a sale.
It's all about having a plan.
In the blogging world, it's known as a content strategy.
As a blogger, your product is the information that you provide.
An editorial calendar will help you:
- stay organized
- publish consistently
- plan for current events in your niche
- manage your time
- and basically maximize your productivity.
Now, I am as guilty as the next person about writing a post at the last minute. Life happens, right?
But when you plan ahead, there is a lot less pressure.
In fact, I have taken a log of blogging courses and ALL of them preach about the benefits of using an editorial calendar for your blog.
What is the Best Way to Create an Editorial Calendar?
There are infinite tools that you can use to create an editorial calendar for your blog.
The important thing is that you find a method that works with the way you think and that you will stick to.
I will explore 12 of them here with you.
A Plain Old Paper Calendar or Planner
The most obvious method is to use a plain old paper calendar.
We have all got at least one of these lying around. You know – the free promotional ones that you get in the mail at year end?
You can easily transform one of these into your editorial calendar.
In the past, I have torn these apart, hole punched each month, and put them in a 3 ring binder. Then I have but my research and notes for each month in the binder as well – to keep it all together.
FREE Resource: Use this Blog Structure Blueprint to organize your blog and brainstorm blog post ideas.
If you want something a little prettier and more motivating consider using one of these beautiful planners from Erin Condren:
- Deluxe Monthly Planner
- Desk Calendar
Google Calendar (or Apple Calendar, or Outlook)
Another tool to use to create an editorial calendar is Google Calendar (it's free!) or Apple Calendar, or Outlook – or whatever electronic calendar you happen to already use.
With most of these services you can create multiple calendars under one account.
So, simply create a NEW calendar for your blog.
Don't add your content schedule to your existing personal or work calendar because that just gets really messy. Isolate your content plan on an entirely new calendar.
Trello or Asana
If you want added functionality beyond a plain calendar, then take a look at Trello or Asana
Even at the free level, both of these apps are pretty powerful.
You can configure these apps in so many different ways.
In a nutshell you can use these apps to create lists. Within each list you can create cards. Each card can have multiple steps and assets attached to it.
Both of these apps have a calendar view.
Here is a one sample configuration:
- create a list for each month
- create a card for each post that you plan to post in a particular month and assign it a due date so that it shows up on the calendar view
- create an extra undated list for brainstorming future ideas
- drag and drop these brainstorm posts when you are ready to assign them
Here is another way to set up your Trello or Asana board:
- create a list for each category that you blog about
- create a card for each post within the related category list
- assign each card a due date so that it will show up on the calendar view
- create a brainstorm list with undated posts
- drag these to the appropriate list and assign a due date once you are ready to work on them
CoSchedule is a hybrid app and WordPress plugin that you can use to manage your editorial calendar and schedule your social media shares.
Many bloggers swear by this app to keep them organized. It is especially great for teams that collaborate on content.
I have used this app on again/off again in the past and I do like it.
But as a solo blogger, I find that it's just a little more than what I need – however, if I stay away too long I miss the functionality and keep going back.
If you are on the prowl for an editorial calendar plugin – for sure check CoSchedule out.
Evernote or OneNote
If you are person that likes to use notebooks to stay organized – Evernote or Microsoft OneNote might be the editorial calendar solution that you are looking for.
However, Evernote (and as far as I know – OneNote as well) does not have a calendar view, so you would need to get creative and build your own structure.
In Evernote, you could create a Table of Contents type note as an index. Or create a notebook stack for each year that contains a notebook for each month and a note for each post within the monthly notebooks.
Workflowy is a unique app that you can use to create outlines.
Each item in your outline can expand with one click to reveal subitems under the topic.
It's really a lot of fun to use – they even have an example you can test out on their homepage, so give it shot.
Alternatively, if you like the outline format you could use a spreadsheet program like Google Sheets or Apple's Numbers or Excel.
Any To Do List App
You probably already use some kind of “to do list” type app to keep your life sane.
Did you know that many of these apps would be a good choice for an editorial calendar?
For example, I use the Things app for my to do list.
In this app I can
- create projects,
- add to do items,
- link to my research
- link to folders in Google Drive, Dropbox, or Evernote notes
- add notes etc
- and add due dates
Some other To Do List options that you can also use for an editorial calendar are:
- OmniFocus, and
Your WordPress Dashboard
You can also create an editorial calendar for your blog right in your WordPress dashboard.
Create a draft post for each post you plan to write.
Sort all of your posts by the “Draft” post type to see a list of what you plan to work on.
If you really want to assign each one a date – you could schedule the posts for the dates on which you plan to have them done. If you do this, make sure that you actually complete the post before the due date because it will publish on the scheduled date.
Related: How to Start a Blog Using WordPress
A Dry Erase Wall Calendar
Another option is to use a dry erase wall calendar.
Hang it in your home office so you can see at your schedule at a glance.
The advantage is that you can easily change your publishing schedule around.
If you are more tactile and like to manipulate data with your hands, you can use a set of index cards as an editorial calendar.
Create a card for each post that you plan to write and create tabs for each month or week.
You can color code these or add notes and shuffle them around to your hearts content.
An Editorial Calendar Can Take Many Forms
As you can see, an editorial calendar can take on many forms – there are no rules.
It can be a high tech, digital, electronic thing that you use online.
Or an it can take on an old fashioned, DIY, pen and paper format.
The key is that you should use it consistently as a tool to help you create new ideas to blog about and execute these ideas.
What Do You Use for Your Blog?
I would love to hear some of your ideas!
What does your content calendar look like? Does it keep you on track?
Tell me about it in the comments below.