Ever wish you could skip that part of blogging where you’re staring at the screen and struggling to figure out what to write?
(Don’t worry – this isn’t going to be one of those “how to generate ideas for blog posts” blog posts. If you want brainstorming tips, you can find ’em in this free download.)
THIS post is about a single blogging tool that’s every bit as important as your keyboard, your screen, and the right hemisphere of your brain:
Your editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar will change the way you think about blogging – and you can set one up in about 10 minutes.
In just a second, we’ll show you how we created our editorial calendar, and a little peek at what it looks like – but first, there’s one big thing to address.
It might sound like something that’s only for Very Serious Professional Blogger Types.
(You know – people who seem like they post about a thousand times a week without breaking a sweat?)
In reality, though, whipping together a quick-and-dirty editorial calendar will make your marketing feel a lot less stressful no matter who you are.
Maybe you only blog once a week, or once every two weeks, or three.
Doesn’t matter – you still know that feeling of sitting down to write and not being able to think of anything!
An editorial calendar is just a way of keeping track of your best ideas as they come, and planning when to use them.
That way, when it’s time to actually sit down and crank out a blog post, you already have a topic lined up – no more blank page panic.
Honestly, though, the best way to see how much of a difference this can make is for us to actually show you.
(So we’re just gonna go ahead and do that.)
We keep saying this is simple, so this is gonna be simple.
1. Get a calendar
Your calendar should have room to write on it, but it doesn’t have to be fancy.
Ours, for example, is just a spreadsheet template we downloaded from this site and uploaded to Google Drive, so we can share it with other people and access it from anywhere.
It looks like this:
Like a trash bag poncho, it might not be pretty – but it’s functional!
Be encouraged by our editorial calendar’s ugliness.
Even for a company that makes its blog a big priority, keeping ideas organized doesn’t have to be some elaborate affair!
That in mind, what’s next?
2. Choose when you want to post
Stick to a schedule that works for you, and for the types of content you like to share.
Some marketers, for example, write super short blog posts multiple times per week. Others post only a few times per month, because they focus on longer, more in-depth stuff!
(Here are some examples of both of those, along with other popular types of blog posts.)
As you can see in that picture above, we usually post once a week – planning it for the same day just makes it easier to maintain a consistent schedule!
3. Plug in your topics
Plot out what you want to write about and when – and keep in mind that none of this is set in stone!
Choosing a topic so far in advance can make anyone feel like a commitment-phobe, but that’s one of the best-kept secrets about planning ahead like this – you don’t have to actually stick to the plan.
Instead, think of the things you plot out on your editorial calendar like fallback ideas. If you think of something else you’d rather write between now and then, you can replace what you have!
Take a closer look at our own editorial calendar, and you’ll see an example:
The post you’re reading right now?
We’d planned on writing it a week earlier – but before we could, Facebook announced a big algorithm change that we wanted to cover, so we wrote an explainer about that instead and pushed this one back.
Your calendar is also a handy place for keeping notes you can use in the future.
Here’s one that we saved for the post you’re reading now:
(And we totally did that, too! Here’s that link again, just in case.)
Brainstorming your blog post topics shouldn’t take long – and even if you get stuck, you can always just plan to refresh some older ones!
We promised this was simple, didn’t we?
An editorial calendar doesn’t have to be as elaborate as it sounds – and it’ll make establishing and maintaining a consistent blogging routine a LOT less stressful in the long run.
Will you always stick to it?
Probably not! (We sure as heck don’t.)
But when you have some idea of what’s coming, it’s easier to be prepared for it – and that means no more of that staring-at-a-blank-screen-in-a-cold-sweat feeling.
Do YOU use an editorial calendar?
How far in advance do you plan what you want to blog about?
Do you use a setup like ours? A paper planner? Sticky notes?
You’ve seen how we manage our own – share how you manager yours in the comments below!