A Simple Sample Editorial Calendar to Keep Your Blogging on Schedule

Filed in Blogging, Featured, MY BEST POSTS by Matt McGee on July 13, 2011 11 Comments

calendar-smBlogging’s hard. I know that very well. It’s why I recently wrote that series, 5 Ways To Find New Blog Content. But finding content is only part of the challenge of blogging. Another part is scheduling — more specifically, being a consistent blogger. That’s where an editorial calendar comes in.

What’s a Blogging Editorial Calendar?

It’s exactly what it sounds like: a calendar/schedule of blog posts you plan to will write on your small business blog.

You can do it in list format, or on an actual calendar — I don’t care if you use parchment paper, fer cryin’ out loud — just make the calendar already, would ya?

Why Create an Editorial Calendar?

Consistent blogging builds a loyal readership. But blogging consistently is really hard!

When you start blogging, you probably have energy and momentum coming out your wazoo. But later blogging can become a chore; your enthusiasm is down and you get tempted to procrastinate. “Oh, I’ll write that blog post tomorrow; too busy right now.” And then you actually never do write that blog post. And when that happens enough, your blog starts to die a slow death.

Using an editorial calendar:

  • gives you a manageable schedule
  • helps you set realistic publishing goals
  • lets you focus on the big picture and your larger blogging goals
  • compels you to avoid procrastinating

If you have a month’s worth of blog plans in front of you, you’ll be much less likely to skip one – the “domino effect” will be obvious of you do.

A Simple Sample Editorial Calendar

bikeThroughout the blog content series, I used a hypothetical bike store owner as an example — let’s do that again and pretend that you’re the bike store owner.

Four Possible Types of Blog Articles

1. Company events/dates – annual spring bike sale / upcoming fundraiser / etc.

A company blog should never be only about the company — it should be about the readers and the content should focus more on them than on the company. But as long as there’s good balance on that issue, it’s okay to occasionally promote company-related events that are on the horizon. The bike store’s annual spring sale, its participation in a big local charity event and things like that should be added to the blog calendar. Post about these things far enough in advance so readers can take action if they’re so inclined.

2. Industry events/dates – Tour de France / safety classes / regional sports expo

You can assume that readers are interested in biking as a general topic, at least to some degree. Remind them about big events like the Tour de France or the regional sports expo that’s happening on the other side of the state. Add something interesting, obviously, if you can — is there a local rider in the Tour de France? Put it on your calendar and write about that kind of thing. It’ll show your enthusiasm for bikes and biking.

3. Local events/dates – local races / bike club events

Be a friend to local bike enthusiasts. Stay in touch with the bike club(s) in the local area and promote their events whenever it makes sense. Get a copy of their calendar and add the important things to your calendar. Write about them far enough in advance that readers can get involved.

4. Evergreen content – Best Places to Ride / How to Choose the Perfect Bike / etc.

Every blog needs “evergreen content.” These are the anchor articles, the important things that readers can refer to again and again. These articles retain their value for a long time — thus the “evergreen” name. They’re usually “How To” or “Tips” or “Guide”-style articles. Possible titles for our bike store owner might include

  • Top 5 Bike Trails in Portland
  • How to Choose the Perfect Bike for Your Child
  • Why It’s Smart to Ride a Bike to Work
  • … and things like that.

Plan on writing a couple articles like that each month and put them on the calendar.

Fill Out the Editorial Calendar

The above ideas may not completely fill out the editorial calendar — and that’s okay. Other types of blog posts can be added along the way:

Maybe there’s an interesting article in the local paper about a new bike law that the city is considering — boom! That’s a blog post.

And using the blog content ideas I already wrote about should help identify plenty of less-timely ideas that can be added to the calendar on any open spots.

Final Thought

If you want your blog to grow consistently, you have to write consistently. An editorial calendar will help you do that. Create a plan, schedule your blog posts in advance as much as possible and let yourself fall into a nice, consistent rhythm. You’ll appreciate it — and your readers will, too.

(Stock images courtesy Shutterstock, used under license.)

Comments (11)

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  1. Blogging: Keeping it Regular | Change Conversations | July 28, 2011
  1. Nikunj says:

    nice ideas was thinking for getting my blogging into proper management, this will definitely help

  2. Austin Otaku says:

    Excellent article. Creating the editorial calendar is definitely an essential step. Developing the discipline to commit to is something else entirely. LOL.

    I’ve also found that when I just don’t feel like writing anything, using different types of content helps, such as pulling in related YouTube video content, publishing user polls to get user input on a topic, etc. creates good filler and keeps the blog fresh.

  3. Tony Stocco says:

    I’d add interviews to the list of types of blog articles.

    Passion for your topic is key to consistency. Blogging to simply “make money” or “get more traffic” won’t last.

  4. Fleur says:

    Thanks for this useful advice. You’re right about scheduling, if you consider a blog as a key tool for SEO, then you should treat it like work. Scheduling blog content is crucial, and also jotting down ideas to mull over and develop any blog articles around.

  5. Peter Troast says:

    Matt–thank you for this. Very helpful. I’m curious if you’d be willing to share what systems you use for this? Google Spreadsheet? Is there dedicated software for editorial calendar management? (There’s an editorial calendar app in Podio that we’re just sticking a toe into, but too soon to assess.) And have you figured out a good system for separating ideas–essentially a parking lot for possible posts–from committed ones that formally go on the calendar?

  6. Matt McGee says:

    Thx for all the comments, everyone. Peter – I’m actually very low-tech in this area. I keep a small notepad on my desk, a text file on my computer with planned posts/ideas, and then I also have a list of stuff I’m working on saved in “drafts” in my WordPress admin.

    If I were blogging here as part of a formal business effort, I’d be much more organized about it. I think. :-)

  7. Peter Troast says:

    Or maybe those of us spending too much time grasping for systems should whip out the notebooks…. Thanks, Matt.

  8. Cody Baird says:

    Hey Matt,

    Just Launched a blog. Using word press. I read a lot of blogs daily, participate some, but I’ve mostly been an observer until now. I know the titles are going to be super important for attracting readers from twitter etc., and also for getting someone to actually dig deeper into your blog from the home page. Do you ever find your self wanting to re name posts after you pushed it live? I’ve done it a couple of times an that creates a 404 issue. Any suggestions on best practices for dealing with changes to your posts and/or updating content after the are live? I’m guessing that changes can happen often especially on evergreen posts.

  9. Lucas says:

    Cody,

    You can certainly rename the post without renaming the actual url to prevent the 404. However, if you really want to change both and you are on WordPress, just use a redirection plugin to point from the old url to the new url. Make sure you’ve got it set to use 301 (or permanent) redirects. That way you’ll preserve most of the “link juice” that your posts have generated.

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