You run a blog, and it is great. While it used to be a simple hobby, usually seen more as a personal journal on the web than anything of practical use, there are endless opportunities that come along with today’s blogging system.
All of this includes a great deal of exposure, even if you are just starting out. Changes in search engines have brought the smallest of blogs onto everyone’s radar.
Most of your concern is going to be divided between content and marketing. These two factors will dictate whether or not you are being followed by a large-enough number to make it a business. If you are a freelancer of any description, it could also be what makes all the difference between getting and not getting that dream project. It is your livelihood at stake.
But it isn’t the only concern. Organization and discipline are two must’s of running a blog; otherwise you see unprofessional jumps and gaps in both quantity and quality of content that can ruin your chances of developing a dedicated following. That is the death of any mainstream blog, no matter the niche.
The trick is knowing what else should remain a priority. One of those elements to put on your to-do list is the creation of an editorial calendar.
What Is an Editorial Calendar?
As a blogger, there is a good chance that you have heard of this before and that you are asking the most common question: Isn’t an editorial calendar only used by advertisers who place ads on your blog?
This is a common misconception that trips many people up. Although an editorial calendar is the method of organization found to be very useful for advertisers looking to customize content running alongside posts, there is a greater implication for both the writer who maintains
the site and the readers who read it.
Essentially, an editorial calendar is a schedule that shows when you will be running certain posts, when and what topic they will cover. Not only does it make it easier to keep up with a series, space out content to work over time and give you a way to tell what is coming up, but it forces you to use discipline in the running of the blog. It might also keep you on track, if you have trouble establishing a content flow.
The Pros and Cons
Besides those listed above, there are other pros of using an editorial calendar. A lot of it has to do with finding the motivation to get work done while establishing a set schedule that requires a certain number of hours per day.
For example, say you want to run a series and have that series feature one article every other day for two weeks.
You would be able to write them ahead of time, knowing what you had planned, and then schedule them for publication on those days. This would cover two weeks worth of content, with writing only a couple of days a week to handle the work flow.
As for your readers, they can have the benefit of knowing what is to come. More and more blogs have been putting notes about “coming soon” articles on the bottom of current posts, especially if they are part of the same topic. It is much easier to remain relevant to the same content and give your readers consistency using this method, which in turn is a positive for them.
There are some cons to this process, however. The biggest one will always have to do with creativity and flexibility vs. the strict following of any schedule. Some writers find deadlines restrictive, and they end up compromising quality in order to keep to it.
You should never be tempted to follow so closely to an editorial calendar that you end up producing something less than great for your blog. It will give a serious blow to your credibility while lessening the impact of your website and putting the rest of your content into question – especially with future clients or other blogs looking for guest posts.
Creating Your Own Editorial Calendar
I have seen a lot of advice on this front, and all of it is good. But the truth is, you don’t have to have any specific process to making your own post schedule. All it really takes is some thought and asking yourself a couple of questions:
- What categories do I want for my blog? Try not to have too many to start out with and clean up if you have a lot already. You can add more as you go along, but the more general they are, the better.
- What kind of posts do I want to write? The themes will be another big part of the schedule, such as top 10 lists, tutorials and guides, reviews, posts on specific elements within your niche, etc.
- What kind of tags should I use? Developing a specific tag system will help you in the long run.
- When and what should I publish? You should decide now on what days you want posts to appear and what they should be about. For example, have top 10 lists once a week, a guide once a week, a short post twice a week and a review once a week. Then choose what days for each.
Creating your own editorial calendar is fairly simple to do. All you have to really know is what you want and make something to fit to those needs. There isn’t a right or wrong way, only what works and doesn’t work for you and your blog.
Sonia Tracy is the content editor for PsPrint and editor of PsPrint Design Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company specializing in brochure printing. You can follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint.