HOW TO CREATE AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR: Editorial calendars act as our guides, they allow teams to easily communicate and they contribute to the productivity of a small business. Without an effective editorial calendar, content creators lack direction, purpose and consistency.
Listen to episode 102 where I talk about the importance of creating an editorial calendar for the content you are producing!
What is an editorial calendar?
An editorial calendar is a visual schedule that helps content creators organize, plan and schedule the content that gets published to their blogs.
Why do you need an editorial calendar?
Without an effective editorial calendar, we lack direction, purpose and consistency. Editorial calendars act as our guides, they allow teams to easily communicate and their ease of use contributes to the productivity of a business.
The Benefits of Having an Effective Editorial Calendar
If you are a content creator or someone who is saturating the online space with amazing content, you need an editorial calendar. Here’s why!
- It allows for easy communication between team members.
- Being planned and scheduled ahead will open up time and mental space for other projects.
- It eliminates stress that comes with last-minute scrambling to get content created and posted.
- Backing your content with strategy and organization ensures you are delivering quality, relevant content to your audience while giving you ample time to pack it with the richness they need and crave.
- Organization increases productivity hugely by eliminating guesswork and answering questions in a single spot (example: my videographer never has to ask me about specifics of a recipe because she can access all of that information at any time).
- Strategy and organization together create a breeding ground for success.
- It puts a wide-angle lens on your content, allowing you to have big-picture view of your business (which helps tremendously when sorting out the smaller details).
YOU are the magic. Your editorial calendar merely organizes your magic. Respect its organization. Honor your editorial calendar as if it is your boss. Put it together using strategy and allow it to guide you to a place where you can deliver relevancy to your audience and grow your business in new ways.
Where I Went Wrong for So Long
Here’s my history with editorial calendars. For the first 8 years of being a food blogger, I did not know how to create an editorial calendar. I did not have a strategy AT ALL and it definitely showed. The content I was producing, the amount of traffic I was getting, the way I was connecting with my audience (or lack of audience) and the overall success of my food blog were suffering.
Seeing That My Current “Strategy” Was Not Effective
Then I was talking to another blogger who mentioned having an editorial calendar and I had no idea what she was talking about. After a bit of self-education, I discovered this whole world of planning and strategy that surrounded content creation. I started with a tool called Trello, which is still what I use today.
I had no idea what I was doing at first, but I knew I wanted to take my business to new places. My business needed an actual strategic plan for the content I was creating because I was putting so much time and energy into that content. I wanted it to be relevant, helpful and also organized.
Planning and Scheduling Opened Up a Whole New World
You know that saying “Just start somewhere”? I had no idea where to start with this, so that’s literally what I did. I just started plopping topic ideas into my newly-created Trello board. Then I figured out how to determine trends. After that I paired those trends with recipes I was passionate about making.
Then I planned ONE WEEK ahead. And after that, I scheduled one week ahead. I saw power and freedom in the simple act of planning and scheduling a week ahead, so I did more! I was scheduled 2 weeks ahead, all with relevant content that was being logged in a tidy, color-coded calendar. And I’ve never looked back.
I Found a Strategy and Never Looked Back!
Having an effective content strategy and an editorial calendar that keeps it all together is the way to go. This is especially true for food bloggers because we have a lot of things to keep track of. When order is not involved, managing content can be really overwhelming.
Are your ears perked? That means you are probably wanting some structure in your business! Here is a great first step: focus on developing an effective content strategy. To get started with this you can grab your free Content Strategy Guide here.
You will have 3 months of relevant content after filling out the Content Strategy Guide (CSG) that will be ready to be added to an organized editorial calendar.
How to Create an Editorial Calendar
I will walk you through a few easy steps to get your editorial calendar up and running.
- Complete the Content Strategy Guide. As I mentioned earlier, this is a vital part of the equation so don’t skip this step. It’s crucial to have the right content ready to add to a calendar first, before anything else.
- Determine which platform you will use to organize your content. My team and I use Trello and this is a popular option for many content creators because it is very easy to learn and navigate. Other options: Google Calendar, Asana and Monday.
- Organize the content. Create 3 categories: Concept (this can be divided in two sub-categories: new content and updated content), In Production and Published.
- Assign publish dates to each topic. Remember to keep topics seasonal and relevant for holidays. Do your best to align topics with the most appropriate publish dates. Example: If I’m adding “Instant Pot Baked Beans” to my editorial calendar in the next three months, I’ll want to publish it before the 4th of July. This is a big day for serving baked beans.
- As you assign publish dates, move the recipes into “In Production.” Once a topic is In Production, assign color labels to visually keep track of where it is at in the process. Use color coding and labels to visually track topics.
- Each week, transfer items from your editorial calendar to your weekly calendar, whether that’s a paper planner or Google calendar. This step might seem redundant, but it is valuable to keep editorial and weekly calendars separate. Your weekly calendar should contain everything you need to accomplish for your business. Your editorial calendar contains only content you are publishing.
- Move each piece of content to the Published category after it has been published. I keep items in this list for a full calendar year before archiving them.
- Be consistent, look at your editorial calendar daily and stick to your schedule. Your editorial calendar is only going to be effective if you keep up with it. You are the magic. It merely organizes your magic. Respect the organization. Honor your editorial calendar as though it is your boss.
Put your editorial calendar together using strategy and allow it to guide you to a place where you can deliver relevancy to your audience and grow your business in new ways.
How often do you need to do update your editorial calendar?
Once you have 3 months of content planned and organized, add one month’s worth of new or updated content every month thereafter. So let’s say you have a 3-month plan established and organized in early June.
Starting in July, maybe the 1st of the month, go back through your CSG and brainstorm and research additional content to add. This time only brainstorm one month’s worth. Then add it to your editorial calendar using the same method we just walked through.
Review Your Calendar Often
Review upcoming content regularly because things will occasionally change and need to be moved around. For example, if another quarantine pops up and people are suddenly without yeast, you may want to add a yeast-free bread into your rotation.
This would require you to shift things around a bit. Shifting is fine when needed, but I recommend only doing it when needed.
Also, it might be a good idea to leave open spaces on your editorial calendar occasionally for things that pop up unexpectedly. Examples: a new type of recipe that’s trending or a new ingredient you’re suddenly passionate about using in a recipe.
Which platform should you use?
Trello is my preferred platform to organize my content, but you do not need to start here. If this is what is holding you back, start with a shared Google spreadsheet that you and your team can all access. Start by adding your topic ideas from your CSG, assign publish dates, note stages of production and color-code as needed.
Please reach out if you have any questions about how to create an editorial calendar. I’m more than happy to help you brainstorm and find ways to grow your amazing business!
Guides That Will Help You Grow Your Business!
In order to launch your business into a new realm of success, complete the guides below in the following order: