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Editorial Calendars and Professional Blogging

Editorial-CalenderThis post on Editorial Calendars And Professional Blogging was submitted by Gerard McGarry. Gerard is a web designer from Northern Ireland and runs a popular music blog called Unreality Music.

Professional publications use editorial calendars to plan features and stories for future editions. Steve Rubel talked about this a while back and I know a few people who thought it was a great idea for running a more professional blog.

Why? Because it forces you to think about what you’re posting in advance and to try to structure your writing. You might consider writing a series of related posts and running one every Tuesday. Or possibly having a theme for certain days. I know a couple of bloggers who have “Friday Links Round Ups” or “Ask The Author” days where a dialog is started between the blogger and readers and plays out in the comments of a post.

Who Would Benefit From An Editorial Calendar?

Bloggers, because the calendar would introduce an element of consistency into their blogging, and would encourage them to think about the bigger picture. You don’t have to be locked into the calendar – if a topical news item breaks, then you have a duty to cover it if it’s important to your readers.

Readers would also benefit, because posts would appear more regularly, and by using themes they know what type of content to expect on any given day.

Some Ideas For Blogging Themes

There are tons of techniques that you could tie to particular days in your blogging calendar. Here are a few:

  • Link round-ups – put together a list of the best posts you’ve read within the week (always good for Fridays)
  • Interviews with other bloggers in your niche
  • Reviews of products/services/websites in your niche
  • Tutorials or how-to articles – pick a day where you’ll share your expertise with your readers
  • Ask Me – create a post where you answer open questions from your readers in the comments section.
  • Blog Carnivals – host a blog carnival on a regular basis.

I’m sure there are other ideas you can use (share them in the comments if so). I have some ideas that are specific to the sites I run that I’ll be experimenting with soon.

You don’t have to have a plan for every day of the week either. There’s nothing wrong with spontaneity in blogging. But sometimes it’ll help you if you have to think ahead – you’ll see themes and relationships between your posts that will give your blog more flow. Forward planning rocks.

Editorial Calendar Resources

You can create a basic editorial calendar in a number of ways – tables in a word processor, or a spreadsheet. Steve Rubel used a Google calendar for his, on the basis that prospective advertisers could see what was upcoming and purchase ad space.

If you’d like an editorial calendar template, Andy Wibbels has a spreadsheet version available for download which is worth a look.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. John Bennett says:

    I’ve tried to do this on my site. Sticking with it is probably the hardest part, but it does lend itself to helping you post more consistantly and hopefully ahead of schedule. Great Post.

  2. Dan Cole says:

    It’s a great idea. I do this same thing with college classes and the long term work they give, but I never though of doing it with my blog. This would really help me stay ahead on my posting and make the topics less random.

  3. Laura says:

    Great post! Since I am blogging for three blogs currently (and one of them professionally), I need to look into this. The only potential drawback I see is that there is no way to predict what else is happening on the blogosphere — and there are often things that I want to react to.

  4. My wife’s done this for a while now for her rubber-stamping blog… I envy her organization. Looks like I’ll be downloading that spreadsheet!

  5. Brian Auer says:

    That’s funny, I just finished creating a weekly schedule for myself. Each day of the week represents a specific type of post (guide on Monday, poll on Wednesday, quick-tip on Thursday, etc.), and I also listed out other activities to be done on each day of the week (forums on Monday, social networks on Tuesday, photo editing on Thursday, article writing on Saturday, etc.). Then I also have a list of daily tasks that need to be done (feed reading, commenting, bookmarking, keeping up with my Flickr and Zooomr contacts’ photos, etc.). I’m actually going to write an article about my schedule very soon (to be posted on Monday according to my schedule).

  6. Rob Witham says:

    Interesting idea – and one that I think could be quite useful. My topic involves annually recurring dates and themes. The editorial calendar would allow me to plan ahead for those dates and events.

    Of course, this all has me thinking now. How about a nice Web 2.0 app? That could be a real killer app for editorial planning. Sort of a merging of Google Calendar and RustyBudget?

  7. BeingParents says:

    It reminds us of our duties, then it must be considered.

  8. Yax says:

    I use the good old pen & paper editorial calendar! I write all my ideas and brainstorms down in my scheduler. I then write drafts for most of the post and save them on WordPress.

    My blog-stress level went down a huge notch when I started planning things in advance in this fashion, my readership increased and I get a lot more comments too.

  9. Marko Novak says:

    I really like your suggestions about for blogging themes. I’m using some of them already.

  10. Zach Everson says:

    Great suggestion! I use editorial calendars often in my work as a freelance writer and editor, but could use one for my blog too.

  11. I did this very recently on my site with a series on business educational resources (books, magazines, ect), and how to organize them all for optimal reading and information rentention. http://www.betterforbusiness.com/2007/07/23/entrepreneurial-education-information-overload-part-1/

  12. HyipBlog says:

    I am newbie in blogging. Give more knowledge about blog by reading this article.

  13. Brad V. says:

    Hey that’s a really good idea! I’ve been looking for a way to really organize my postings and plan ahead a little more. I still feel like I’m “all over the board” when it comes to the topics I write about on a daily basis. I’ll probably download the template and give it a shot!

    Thanks again!

  14. Jay Wilson says:

    I actually came to realize the value of editorial calendars a few months ago when I dedicated Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to certain themes/topics. It’s been a great tool to keep me focused and encourages me to write.

  15. Phil Newton says:

    I’ve used schedules in the past and they’re quite handy, but it’s important not to try and pack too much in. I use a simple paper grid to organise my schedule, and it works best when I only aim for two or three articles a week. It also helps when I draft the article several days or even weeks before it’s due to be posted, so that I can refine it.

  16. raj says:

    I do up an editorial calendar for any big project I’m working on. editorial calendars are easier to follow for print projects, harder to stick to online. (That’s because you’re not publishing editions with lots of articles, only one article at a time.)

    My own print mag in the 90s had a calendar with 3 years of weekly articles scheduled. But online, I barely get through 1 yr properly.

    So, don’t fret if you’re shuffling publication dates around. Unless you’re expecting advertising for thematic weeks, it’s not a big deal. And changing trends might force your hand anyway.

    Use the calendar for feature articles (tutorials, bait, etc.), not for short summaries about a topic.

  17. raj says:

    that should be “3 years of monthly editions”, not “3 years of weekly articles”

  18. Steve says:

    Great tip for pre-production research. Knowing what you’re going to need to find out about to meet your blog post quota that particular day is a great mindset to publishing quality posts, and not get caught up in drudgery of “what am I going to write about today?”
    I’ve noticed at my own blog that weekend traffic drops dramatically. So your idea will spark me to add “weekend to-do list” posts. Thanks!

  19. Troy Rutter says:

    Thank you for the resources – Im conflicted between using Excel, Google Docs or Google calendar now. Argh!

  20. vamsi says:

    Great story..
    I will never quit blogging..

  21. @ Laura – You’re right about not know what’s going to happen in the blogosphere, but the beauty of having an editorial calendar, like Darren said, is that it can be a fluid document. If something breaks and you’ve already scheduled a post you can either push that post back or give your readers a two-for-one deal that day and post them both. Make one a featured post on your front page if you feel it deserves more attention.