Save Time & Stress – Blog Editorial Calendar Template

Save Time & Stress – Blog Editorial Calendar Template
Jamie Lee Wallace - Thu Mar 18, 2010 @ 02:58AM
Comments: 90

Blogging is hard work. You must consistently create and publish great content. Today's post is about saving yourself time and stress by implementing a simple editorial calendar. Sure, it's going to require a little work up front, but - trust me - you'll thank me once you're up and running.

The Editorial Calendar - what is it?
In case you're not sure, an editorial calendar is a content plan that is laid over a publishing schedule. Magazines, for instance, have monthly editorial calendars that start out as a broad list of key topics and eventually evolve into highly detailed outlines of each issue's content.

How do I create one?
I'm an Excel junkie, so I tend to go old school when setting up an editorial calendar. For collaborative projects, however, I find google docs to be very helpful. The "living" nature of a google doc means you never have to worry about version control. Sweet.

My typical calendar has at least three worksheet tabs:

  1. Calendar - Laid out to reflect all my publication dates, this tab gives me a place to schedule each post.
  2. Pending - This is where I capture all (and I do mean all) the ideas I have for posts.
  3. Published - This is an archive of everything I've published. (Yes, I know this is automatically generated in most blogging platforms, but I do have a reason for duplicating the effort.)

Optional tabs:

  1. Guests - If the blog plan includes ingoing and/or outgoing guest posts, I like to track those works-in-progress separately from my core content.
  2. Open Items - Although it can certainly be a separate document, I like to roll my "punch list" of blog upgrade and maintenance items into my editorial calendar.

Here is an Blog Editorial Calendar Template (Excel) that you can use to get started.

 

Once you've got the framework set up, you're ready to put it to work:

Capture Ideas
Have you ever had a genius idea for a post while standing in the shower, and then - five minutes later as you're toweling off - completely forgotten what it was? Painful. Tragic. Unnecessary. One of the primary rules of blogging: write ALL your post ideas down. Pen and notepad (or smartphone) should accompany you everywhere (or, in the case of a shower situation, at least be close by). Step two - transfer your great ideas to the "Pending" worksheet in your editorial calendar for future inspiration.

Create Your Publishing Plan
Does your content lend itself to monthly themes? Do you have a seasonal sales cycle that will influence the types of topics you cover at various times of the year? Do you need to create specific content for people at different stages in the buying process? The criteria that are important to your business are the criteria you should consider when developing your broad brushstroke publishing plan. You should identify how frequently you'll post, on which days of the week, whether you'll have recurring "columns" or more freeform content. Nothing is written in stone, but it's good to start with some kind of plan.

Schedule Content
Now it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty business of filling in those publishing "slots" with specific topics. You can schedule posts out for a week at a time, or six months - whatever makes you comfortable. It's kind of like a puzzle - your ideas are the pieces and your publishing plan is the picture you're trying to create.

 

So, what's the payoff for all your hard work?

Reduce Writer's Block
It's 9:40AM and your post is supposed to go live at 10. You have no idea what to write. Panic sets in. With the editorial calendar, you may never face this terrifying situation again. Whether you go with the topic that's scheduled, or switch it up and pull something from the pending list, you will always have a list of ready-made topics to choose from.

Identify Opportunities
Laying your blog's content plan out in an organized way helps you to see and create useful patterns. For instance, you might decide to run a series of posts that correspond to some of the questions most frequently asked by prospects and then package them up in an aggregate post that you can include in your most popular posts list. By planning ahead, you can also identify (and have time to execute) opportunities for relevant guest posts, event-based content, and other collaborative efforts.

Track Engagement
There are literally dozens of ways to track different Web and blog stats, but I like to aggregate some key stats into my editorial calendar on the Published tab. If you do it on a regular basis, it only takes a few minutes and will make later analysis much more impactful. For instance, you might track the following for each post: pub date, title, topic, #/comments, #/tweets, #/facebook shares, #/trackbacks.

Optimize Your Strategy
Once you have a baseline strategy and plan, and you've dutifully collected stats on your post performance, you have everything you need to do a bang-up analysis of what's been working and what's been falling short. Look at the trends and the patterns behind those trends. Is engagement driven by topic, day of the week, tone, type of content? These simple stats can provide valuable insights that will inform a stronger, more successful content plan and editorial calendar.

 

With all that said, it's important to remember that real life may cause you to change things up at the last minute. Whether your plans are changed because you've become uninspired by a particular topic, or because you've become wildly inspired to write about another, always give yourself the flexibility to go with your gut. Having a plan can help you be more strategic and reduce the stress you feel when it comes time to churn out brilliant content, but sometimes winging it has merit too.

What works (and what doesn't) for you when it comes to wrangling your blog content?

 

About the Author: Jamie is a freelance consultant and copywriter who partners with small businesses, start-ups, and creative professionals to define and market their brands. Her specialties include brand development, social media strategy, and content marketing. Enjoy more of her posts, or drop her an email.

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Comments: 90

Comments

1. Mark W Schaefer  |  my website   |   Thu Mar 18, 2010 @ 04:06PM

Simply fantastic list of tips! I really leanred something here today!

2. Jamie Wallace   |   Mon Mar 22, 2010 @ 06:14AM

Thanks, Mark.
So pleased to be able to return the favor, seeing as I've learned LOADS on {grow}.
:)

3. John Bottom  |  my website   |   Wed Mar 24, 2010 @ 03:42AM

Agreed. I even downloaded your Excel spreadsheet - thanks!

4. Billy Mitchell  |  my website   |   Wed Mar 24, 2010 @ 07:46AM

Jamie, These are brilliant and very actionable guidelines and although I'm not a natural born planner, I think this is such a straightforward and common sense approach it will help me be more creative and productive with my blogging efforts.

Just when I think I know it all, I read tips like these and realize how much i have to learn. And that happens several times a day.

Thanks for sharing!

5. Jamie Wallace  |  my website   |   Fri Mar 26, 2010 @ 08:12AM

@Billy - Thanks! Though I love to wax poetic on many marketing topics, sometimes my project manager side comes out and gets totally tactical. Glad to know you found the ideas and tips helpful. Here's to loads of creative productivity with your blog. :)

6. zach  |  my website   |   Wed Jun 23, 2010 @ 10:32PM

Thanks for the spreadsheet.
I rather make autoblog :)

7. Jamie  |  my website   |   Thu Jul 08, 2010 @ 10:12AM

Your thoughts on this are a great help. Spot on! Thanks for the spreadsheet too.

8. Jamie Wallace   |   Fri Jul 09, 2010 @ 05:41AM

@Jamie - Hi! Always happy to meet another Jamie. ;) Glad you liked the post. Hope the spreadsheet works for you.

9. Harrison Barnes  |  my website   |   Wed Aug 11, 2010 @ 12:49PM

This was really helpful! Thanks!!

10. Joanna  |  my website   |   Thu Aug 12, 2010 @ 03:28AM

Jamie you are a legend! I have always used a to-do list and worked my way through. Anything not completed at the end of the day is then transferred onto tomorrows’ list and I start again. The problem is, you then forget what you have done last week and end up looking through scribbles on pieces of paper. Your spreadsheet idea is brilliant (why didn’t I think of it?) and simple. Thank you, not only have you saved my brain, but saved a few trees too!

11. Jamie Wallace   |   Thu Aug 12, 2010 @ 05:24AM

@Harrison - Good to hear! I hope it helps. :)

@Joanna - I don't know if I'm a "legend" ... just your typical, Type-A, uber-organizer. ;) So glad I was able to help. I'm all about brains and trees.

12. Joanna  |  my website   |   Fri Aug 13, 2010 @ 06:18AM

Now there's a thought, brain tree, must be a new type of mind map

13. Johnn  |  my website   |   Tue Aug 17, 2010 @ 06:53AM

Hi, you posted this, and am wondering if you could go into a bit more detail:

"Published - This is an archive of everything I've published. (Yes, I know this is automatically generated in most blogging platforms, but I do have a reason for duplicating the effort.)"

Could you reveal your reason(s)?

Thanks!

14. Jamie Lee Wallace  |  my website   |   Tue Aug 17, 2010 @ 03:52PM

@Johnn - In some cases, for those of us who are seriously nerdy about stats, the "Published" sheet can be used to manually aggregate stats from multiple platforms. For instance, your blogging platform may display basic stats like date published, number of comments, etc; but you may also want to track things like #/retweets, Facebook likes, or page views (from google analytics). It's not the most elegant solution, but for smaller businesses, it's more feasible than some expensive automated solution ... and for bigger businesses, it's a nice intern task. ;)

Hope that helps clarify. Thanks for the question!

15. Editor In The Making   |   Wed Sep 22, 2010 @ 08:26PM

Great article. Very precise, clear, and organized. I learned a lot, so thank you very much for writing this and the Editorial Calendar template.

16. Jamie Lee Wallace  |  my website   |   Fri Sep 24, 2010 @ 03:07AM

@Editor in the Making - You're so very welcome & I hope it serves you well! Good luck on your journey to being an Editor! :)

17. Sarah Bradley  |  my website   |   Fri Mar 25, 2011 @ 06:15AM

Fantastic article - helped me ENORMOUSLY! Thank you so much :o)

18. Shannon  |  my website   |   Sun Mar 27, 2011 @ 10:15PM

I want to kiss your hand! This calendar has helped me so much. It makes me want to write, so I can fill up the spaces. It was easy to customize, too. I have two blogs (business and personal) and I can split my time between them now. Appreciate it.

19. Anon   |   Wed Mar 30, 2011 @ 12:45AM

Had to laugh at your intern comment! I'm an intern myself and knocking up a content publishing calendar for our social media and found this article extremely useful. I hope my managers and colleagues will appreciate it too :-)

20. Bill C  |  my website   |   Thu Mar 31, 2011 @ 04:42PM

Great tips on content for blogs. The editorial calendar will certainly help overcome "blog anemia".

21. Jamie Lee Wallace  |  my website   |   Thu Mar 31, 2011 @ 08:42PM

Thanks for all the nice comments! I'm just thrilled that this document is helping others get a grip on their blog planning. Hooray! So sweet of you to share your success. TKS!

22. Ashley  |  my website   |   Mon May 30, 2011 @ 09:26PM

Thanks so very much for this. I am not an organized person at all and find it difficult to be organized with an editorial calendar, and most tips just talk about making one or coming up with ideas, etc., but never actually "how to make an editorial calendar". So I certainly appreciate this!

23. Celeste  |  my website   |   Tue Jun 21, 2011 @ 10:00AM

Ask Google and you shall receive! I was sitting down about to come up with a Google Doc for a content schedule and here it is. Thanks so much!!!!

24. Valerie Merriweather  |  my website   |   Wed Jun 29, 2011 @ 01:17PM

Great article Jamie and thanks for the wonderful template! I loved the way you broke things down into logical steps; this is the first time the editorial calender concept "clicked" for me. I agree it takes work to get things going but overall your explanation and helpful tool makes blogging a lot easier now!!

25. emma   |   Fri Jul 15, 2011 @ 09:05AM

wow. thank the lord after 2 hours of shovelling thru editorial calendar templates that did not fit what i needed.. i found this post. thank you :)

26. Katie   |   Wed Sep 07, 2011 @ 02:21PM

Suddenly tasked with managing a company blog and never did it before...this is exactly what I needed to get started, thanks!!

27. Jamie Lee Wallace  |  my website   |   Fri Sep 09, 2011 @ 10:43AM

Katie - So glad you found it useful. Please feel free to reach out to me via www.suddenlymarketing.com if you have any questions. :)

28. Daniel Richard  |  my website   |   Tue Sep 27, 2011 @ 03:22AM

Jamie, this a great post. I have been looking to implement an editiorial calendar for a blog that I am running for a while. I have come across many blogs during my research but this has given me the most information so far. Do you prefer an excel spreadsheet rather than a plugin or online version?

29. Sriram Reddy  |  my website   |   Wed Oct 05, 2011 @ 01:22AM

Nice post. I think a level of determination and consistency is need to sign up for something like this.

30. vico  |  my website   |   Sun Oct 23, 2011 @ 12:29AM

Very nice, thanks for sharing.

31. Candy  |  my website   |   Mon Nov 07, 2011 @ 12:13PM

Thank you for sharing this. This is a great post. I'm implementing the calendar now so that by the time 2012 rolls around, it will be second nature.

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Thanks for Sharing!!

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34. Meghan G  |  my website   |   Thu Feb 09, 2012 @ 12:11PM

Thank you so much Jamie for this post! I had been posting haphazardly and really wanted to hunker down and put together an editorial calendar. Your post and examples have made it so much less intimidating! I think this will help me tremendously with productivity and ensuring that content is consistent from week to week. Thanks again!

35. Jamie Lee Wallace  |  my website   |   Thu Feb 09, 2012 @ 03:15PM

Meghan G - so glad you found this helpful. :) TKS for the kind comment.

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37. Dana   |  my website   |   Wed May 23, 2012 @ 08:46PM

Thanks for the template. This is going to save me a lot of time.

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Thanks for the framework and for the article itself. Great work.

39. ken  |  my website   |   Fri Sep 21, 2012 @ 03:48PM

Thanks for the post and the shared file. I'm gong to use it for my blogging planning. I have a suggestion though. What if you upload that that right in your Google Drive and just make it available to all with a direct link to it? It'll make spreading the word about your post faster. Plus it'll be more user friendly for your blog readers. :)

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