Creating an editorial calendar can increase views, improve quality and make life easier.
What Are the Blog Goals?
I set a goal to increase my blog views 10% in 30 days which forced me to examine the stats, something I have not done.
When posts are consistent views steadily increase; the more posts, the more they increase.
To reach my goal I must post something at least three times a week. That means creating a subject, writing 700-2,000 quality words, proofreading, writing a lead, creating a catchy title, making a photo title, finding examples or other supporting material, structuring it effectively and fact checking; all in one or two days. Not an easy task.
Looking critically at FranklyWrite, I consider my best work to be posts written over a number of days or weeks. My off-the-cuff stuff is good only sometimes.
If want to take this blog to the next level, I need an editorial calendar.
Using iCal as an Editorial Calendar
iCal is the resident calendar program for Apple’s IOS across all devices. Mine was messed-up because of the introduction of iCloud and having many devices sharing it across wi-fi—all set as calendar masters. Since I don’t use it for appointments anymore, I simply cleared it and made my large screen computer the only master.
Analyzing past posts, I found some trends; inspirational posts, funny stories about writing, quotes by writers, writing tips, re-blogs, longer articles about writing and life and writing prompts.
Each week day has a theme. The “themes” are placed on the calendar in red as all-day events that repeat on that day of the week. The time is marked as free.
The article for each day is in blue and does not repeat. This allows them to be moved around at will.
Writing in advance and scheduling the articles to post automatically, I felt I could maintain this schedule. I did all the writing and scheduling of the posts for the first week and it worked like clockwork!
No matter what I was doing, I posted every day at 3 pm EST.
It was clear this calendar was a lot of work. I also discovered the short tips took as long to write as the long ones and I did not have a writing prompt day! I had to make some changes.
Most of August was planned, changing it was easy; drag and drop and double-click to change the title. Same with the articles; drag and drop.
This is my new Calendar for August.
You can see where I moved the “days” around and changed them. I separated Writing Tips and Long Articles by putting Writers on Writing between them because the memes are easier to create ahead of time—I can do 25 or more in a weekend. I decided to do one long article (700 − 2,000 words) per week. This could be on anything to do with writing; marketing, craft, software, blogging.
The Benefits of an Editorial Calendar
1. Makes Blogging Easier
The writing, photo production, promotion are all easier because similar tasks can be grouped. Information can be gathered and sorted while doing other things or at a leisurely pace. Take this post for example, because I knew I would be writing this, I was able to grab the screen shots of the iCal as I was working on the editorial calendar. I did not have to go back and re-create them. I am able to refer to them in this text because I know what they are.
2. Improves Blog Quality
The writing can be carefully thought-out and edited or vetted by other bloggers or experts in the area. It gives you the time to do your best, but with the push of a dead line. The photos and graphics can be planned instead of thrown together at the last minute.
Have you ever written a post and a day or two later thought, “If only I’d included this or that!” Scheduling the posts ahead allows you to include those great ideas.
Consistency is the key to blogging success. This is a fact. Preparing posts ahead makes this practical. You can write and create when you work best; on the weekends, at 3 am, a little each day; and post at your peak times.
No scrambling at midnight for a photo of a ruined ballroom only to find you can’t use the perfect one because the photographer disabled all downloads. You either post nothing or cobble something together on Picmonkey that looks like this.
4. Stops the Going-tos and Generates Bigger Payoffs.
Planning allows for time-sensitive ideas with bigger payoffs. I am very creative, but my best ideas are not always my first ones. Approaching an idea from several angles improves them a thousandfold. Those great ideas floating in the ether of your brain will get deadlines and become blog posts.
Look at September, notice on September 25, ‘Shark Tank live Tweet’ is in a different color. This is because it is a social media event. I long planned to write an article about how Shark Tank can help writers sell their work. Making the calendar and placing this on it, it dawned on me the new season of Shark Tank starts in September. Wouldn’t it be great to post the article at that time and live tweet during the premiere of Shark Tank? Yes, it would! I would have missed this opportunity if I had not created an editorial calendar.
Live tweeting popular TV shows relevant to your blog can double or triple your views.
I am currently working on the Shark Tank article.
5. Make the Most of Time-sensitive Material
Holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, special days like Pi Day, are big on social media. The calendar can help you capitalize on these by looking ahead at tie-ins relevant to your subject matter and planing accordingly.
Time sensitive material such as “The Writers Survival Guide to the Holidays,” and meme quotes from famous writers’ posted on their birthdays or live tweets, become possible and make your blog look professional by being relevant and not a few days behind.
It makes your readers look good because it enables them to be in the know. They will think of your blog as a place to go for current information and be more likely to return or want to subscribe.
6. Better Supporting Material
Writing about the craft of writing or canning tomatoes can be tricky. Some readers will have a different point of view and can be very passionate about it. Having more research time can be helpful if you need to engage in reasoned discussion with detractors to your opinion or method.
Your research may reveal new ways to promote your blog.
7. Be Incredibly Helpful to Your Readers
Some of your readers will be complete novices looking to your blog for help. Don’t let them down. Writing ahead allows for the collection of good examples of your points.
It allows you to take extra care explaining what may be second nature to you. For example, I plan to write about the difference between active and passive voice in October. Knowing that, I can collect examples from my current reading and give myself time to remember great examples from my past reading.
I can write several explanations of active and passive voice and get a consensus on which works best.
I hate proofreading. I read, re-read, read again and still the first comment will be,
“You spelled ‘it’ wrong in sentence 23.”
I want to ban that person from reading anything I write for the rest of their natural life and beyond. I know they are only trying to help, but it is still incredibly annoying and the source of much bad blood between writer and reader.
The hardest thing to do is proof something you finished writing two seconds ago. I see what I thought I wrote and not what is on the page. A few days distance does a lot for proofreading. It allows the post to be read with fresh eyes—like your readers see it.
9. Effective Use of Guest Bloggers
Wouldn’t it be nice to have another blogger do some of the work? By having a plan you can give a guest blogger guidance. Other bloggers are more likely to write a guest post if you can give them a due date, publishing date and time, and some idea of subject and structure for a post.
For example, if I ask a blogger to write a long post, I can look at my editorial calendar and give them a Thursday due date a week prior to the publication date. I can say,
“It needs to be between 700 and 2,000 words with 1,000 words being the sweet spot. It should have a lead and a point for a “read more” break. Section headings are good, but not necessary. Pull quotes are also good, but not necessary. ”
10. Insight into the Job of Magazine Editors
If you write features or even short stories, keeping an editorial calendar gives insight into the concerns of magazine editors. This leads to better communication and hopefully more published print articles.
Should I Post the Calendar on My Blog?
I don’t post my editorial calendar on my blog because I am still working on it. It is possible I will post it at some point. I don’t know if it helps to post it, but I could be wrong. It is up to you.
It’s Your Editorial Calendar
Your editorial calendar should reflect your goals. This is my editorial calendar. Yours may look different. I am a professional writer creating a writing platform. This calendar makes sense for me at this time. Yours may be one post a week based on the day’s headlines or The Daily Post. No matter what your blog is about, brainstorming ideas ahead of time and collecting appropriate photos can only make it stronger. At any rate, it can’t hurt.
You can always push back planned posts for something you are burning to write. The cream is those ideas will be there when you have nothing you are burning to write.