Both changes of mind came about after reading the comments on the first thread "5 Things that helped me become a better blogger". It seems that the editorial calendar was and is a bit of a sticky (hah!) point for many. It certainly was for me.
The Editorial Calendar You Cannot IgnoreAt first, when I heard about this editorial calendar, I was admittedly sceptic. I didn't feel like I needed one because my post structure was clear as. Outfit of the Day, Outfit of the Day, Fashion Find, each on set days of the week. An editorial calendar for me was something magazines & newspapers or other big volume publications have. Yes, I was indeed a newbie back then. I think I did almost every newbie blogger clichè thingy. Although, to my defense, I never had autoplay music on my blog.
And this worked fine. Until I actually really got into things like promoting my blog. Getting in line with this growing, evolving and not limiting self thing where I wanted to diversify my topics for an overall better reader value. And collaborations. That's when I realized that I would need to plan ahead, but sometimes also be flexible.
I've tried a number of different systems, like using a hard copy book calendar with lots of space. There are lots of pretty planners in this form out there and many people seem to really like working this way. But did it work for me? Nope. The calendar got a couple entries, then the book was put aside, covered by other things, forgotten, then guilt about not working with it and resistance set in. After that, I tried to use the Google calendar. Yay, I really got far with that one ... not. So I tried keeping a running list in file format. Needless to say, with 4568 different things to do and browser windows open, that one really drowned and tanked fast.
Finally, after much frustration and realizing, that things that I can shove aside and ignore easily won't work for me, I got myself a big wall calendar and colored sticky notes. Actually, I might have found the sticky notes first and upon seeing them I had some kind of illumination. Eureka!
The calendar is now up on my wall in my "office corner". It is impossible for me to ignore, especially with the colored sticky notes adding some extra visual oomph. So I cannot ignore it, and I have to get up to work with it and I get to play with little colored pieces of paper that I can even move around! My son loves it too. As an aside, you could use some "cute sticky notes" instead of the plain ones I am using if that's your cup of tea. Coffee. Smoothie.
At first, I only got two weeks ahead done, but progressively it got easier to add topics and I am now about 6 weeks ahead. I am confident that if I would put aside 30mins to an hour, I could finish the whole year. By having it all in one big visual space, I get a way better overview of how things are flowing, especially because of the color code for certain topic areas and the sticky notes also allow me a sort of hands on flexibility. I think this part was big in making it work for me, together with the big visual.
Pro's of a big wall calendar:
- It's in your face, you cannot ignore it, making it harder for resistance to trip you up
- You can start small by adding sure and set topics like weekly & monthly repeating themes till the end of the year, making it look less daunting to fill the gaps and giving immediate gratification plus ongoing sense of progress when bit by bit the rest fills up
- You have everything, or at least a bigger time frame, in one place, at a glance. Yes you could do that with an online calendar, but depending on the size of the screen, you might not be able to read the details anymore.
- Color coding topics allows me to balance topics, sticky notes allow me to quickly move them around as needed.
Reasons for an Editorial Calendar:
- Planning ahead. You can plan all sorts of things ahead. A series. A year long story arc. Seasonal or major holiday topics. Sponsored or collaboration posts to fit seamlessly into the rest of the articles. Even if you are writing about certain topics on certain days, knowing ahead of time what specifically you are going to do will free up headspace for actually having ideas on how to write the post.
- Brainstorming topics, diversifying content. This one is actually one of the bigger reasons why I dig my editorial calendar. It allows me to brainstorm topic ideas, jot them on a stick note and see where they fit in. If they don't, I just leave the sticky note in the blank white space at the top until I find a space.
- Balancing content. Now that I am actually diversifying my content and not limiting myself to more or less two topics and two ways to do these topics anymore, I can use this tool to balance my topics not only week by week but also over the course of the month.
- Working ahead. Because I brainstorm and plan topics ahead, I can also work ahead of time. The first thing I normally do, as soon as I have a topic, is that I create a draft for said post. And as things go, I can start working on those posts long before they are due. Edit pictures needed, gather materials, plan outfits, start to write when the muse kisses me.
So if you have wanted to create an editorial calendar, but for one reason or the other struggle to get started or keep going, I urge you to give this a try. I found my wall calendar for approx. 5€, but heck you could even just use a big white sheet of paper and write the month name on top then glue the notes below. My sticky notes cost me .99 cents the pack. Not a big investment for something that absolutely changed my blogging for the better.
What you need:
- A big, preferably one sheet full year wall planer. Mine is horizontally aligned as you can see in the picture above. You might want to check local office supply stores. In case you don't have a big enough or free wall space, there are large desk pad calendar options. Here is a monthly format option that already comes with sticky notes.
- Sticky notes in a size & color that fits your calendar and needs. Remember, these sticky notes can be cute, but don't get pink if you hate it. Can't find the right size? Cut 'em up and make 'em fit.
- Alternatively to sticky notes, there are erasable wall calendars where you could use colored markers to write on (like the ones they sell at Ikea in the kids corner)
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