Blog Design Tips #5: Create a Blog Editorial Calendar

 

Are you organised when it comes to blogging? I recently made myself a blog editorial calendar (I realise that makes me sound like a twat, basically, it’s a blog planner) and it has made life much easier. If you’re working full time or juggling blogging with studying or other commitments, sometimes it can feel like a bit of a chore to sit down and write when you’re tired and can’t be bothered. Having a calendar makes it much easier to decide when you want to post, what you want to post about, and when you have time to actually write up posts. Even if you’re not struggling for time, it’s still useful to keep you on track and make sure you don’t forget to post about anything important! My method is probably the simplest – it’s pretty much just a typed-up version of a handwritten calendar – but I’ve found it to be really helpful and, as they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. (Also, this isn’t really a “blog design tips” post, but this seemed like the most relevant category?!).

 

Set Up Your Calendar

There are loads of calendar and organisation apps out there, but I’d suggest keeping things simple and creating your calendar in a good old Excel spreadsheet. Not hi-tech by any means, but it gets the job done without any extra faffing around and you can customise it however you like. I would suggest creating your spreadsheet within Google Docs as it will be easily accessible on your phone, laptop, tablet and even on work/friends/family computers if you need to access it when you’re away from home. Create a new “Blogging” folder within My Drive and then click the big red Create button. Choose the Spreadsheet option.

A blank spreadsheet will open in a new tab; give it a title like “Blog Calendar 2014” and step one is complete! It will save automatically so no need to worry about that sort of thing.

Formatting Your Calendar

Now it’s time to make it look like an actual calendar. You can set it out however you find easiest, but I’d suggest using a new sheet (within the same spreadsheet, click the little plus button at the bottom left of the screen) for each month, then do days along the top and weeks down the side. Add in a little space for notes at the end, and then get to work filling in all the dates.
Just because I can, I like to colour co-ordinate everything. I’ve added some pink just to make it a look a bit nicer, and I’ve also added in grey to blank out the days at the start and end of the month which aren’t needed.

Filling in Your Calendar

Once the basic structure of your calendar is all set up, you can get to work filling it in. Start off with things you have a specific day for, or regular series which you know roughly when you want to publish. For example, I always do my Sunday Summary posts on a Sunday (surprise surprise) and I also do a monthly mixtape post in the last few days of each month. Oh, and to get a new line within the same cell just hold the Alt key and press Enter at the same time!

Then you can add in any other posts that you know you definitely want to include, for example I knew I wanted to do a Valentine’s themed recipe post just before Valentine’s Day so I made sure to add that in. I hadn’t decided on which recipe though, so I left a little note at the end to remind me to come up with something! I also had a few events to attend, so I made sure to add in posts for them a few days after each event. My calendar now looks a little something like this:

As the month goes on you can add things in as and when you think of them. I like to have quite a bit of flexibility so I can blog about whatever I fancy on a particular day, so don’t worry about having every single day accounted for by the 1st of each month! I also find it useful to colour co-ordinate posts by type so I can see at a quick glance how the month is shaping up. I’ve used blue for regular features, purple for beauty, peach for fashion and mint for lifestyle. My finished calendar for February looks like this:

Editing Your Calendar

The beauty of having a super-simple online spreadsheet is that it’s so easy to edit things as the month goes on. For example, I started a new regular series, Etsy Picks, during February and had to find space to slot it in somewhere. Also, I had originally planned doing the Miss Dixiebelle post on Monday 17th, but I didn’t have time to write it so scrapped the post for the 19th and moved Miss Dixiebelle to that day instead. The calendar is great as a guide but don’t be afraid to chop and change as you need to; having it all written down makes it easier to change the order of things without forgetting about them completely.

As I wrote up posts and scheduled them in on Blogger, I went and used the strikethrough option on the calendar to remind myself that the post was done and dusted. There was one post during February that I didn’t have time to write up at all; I highlighted this in red to remind myself it hadn’t been done, and when I was creating my March calendar I was able to instantly spot this and get it scheduled in for March instead.

Using Your Calendar

Although I do still like to write as I go along rather than scheduling weeks in advance, having a blog calendar has been really useful for keeping me organised. I know exactly when things are “due” (e.g. sponsored posts, PR reviews, event write ups etc.), when my regular features are, and when I have spare time to write about whatever I fancy. It’s also great for reminding myself of any upcoming holidays/events etc. that I might want to write a themed post for. Being prepared and setting aside time to plan, take photos for and write up a post about, say, Valentine’s Day, means I’m able to post it before the event itself instead of a few days after when no one really cares anymore.

In addition to my calendar, I also like to use Evernote to keep my blog organised. I’ve got the Evernote app on my phone and have also downloaded the desktop version, so whether I’m at home or out and about, it’s really easy to note down ideas for future posts. I’ve got a folder called “Blogging” in my Evernote account, and any time I see anything relevant to posts I’m planning, it gets noted down there. It’s also good for starting to draft up posts if I’m on a particularly boring train journey or noting down blog related to-do lists, definitely worth downloading if you like taking notes!

Do you use a blog editorial calendar?

Gillian x

Gillian

Freelance social media and digital marketing consultant with a penchant for writing blog posts, drinking sickly sweet cocktails and exploring the cobbled streets of Edinburgh.

10 Comments

  • Catherine says:

    This such a good idea, you clever lady! I should have thought of this before buying a desk planner, although they're pretty much the same idea 🙂

    Catherine, xo //

  • I'm definitely going to be doing this! 🙂 Such a helpful post Gillian! At the moment I have my blogging timetable written on little scraps of paper which I always inevitably lose. Hehe. This will be a big organisational improvement for me!

    Ellis – Ellis Tuesday

  • Faye_Oliviaa says:

    I hadn't heard of this feature before but it would be super helpful for someone like me who works best when i have a plan in mind xx

  • Helen Davis says:

    This post is so well timed! I just decided a few days ago that I need to create a blogging schedule (in my case it's to limit how many posts I produce because I need to be focusing on other things right now). I'll definitely be following this tutorial. Thanks!

    Helen x //Beautiful Curiosities

  • Gemma says:

    This is such a good idea! I'm gonna start doing this xoxo

  • This is such an ingenious idea! I've always written stuff down but then couldn't edit it/add to it when I was out and about. I've just made a calendar and it is perfect! Thanks for the idea =) xx

  • Thank you so much for sharing this post! I've been looking for an editorial calendar but couldn't find one that I liked. I never thought to make one myself in Excel. Thank you! Silly formatting question for you. How do you get your dates (1st, 2nd, 3rd etc) to show up in the upper left hand corner? Mine are showing up in the bottom left hand corner.

    Thanks in advance!

    Crystal

    • gillian says:

      Glad you found this helpful! In the toolbar at the top where you select the font etc, click on the Vertical Align icon (looks like an arrow pointing downwards to a vertical line). Change it to the arrow pointing upwards instead and the text should appear at the top of the cell now!

  • Hullaballoo says:

    Just seen this, what a great idea!

  • A lovely and helpful post! I just created my blog calendar and found your instructions so simple to follow – thank you very much for sharing such a useful idea!
    Angelina |

Comments are closed.