Here on IFB, we write a lot about your ‘editorial calendar‘ and ‘keeping your content fresh.' What does an editorial calendar actually look like, and how exactly does one keep coming up with new and fresh ideas to blog about? I'm going to give you a peek into my editorial calendar, which doubles as my content idea bank. I've also made it a downloadable PDF for you to make it your own!
The Editorial Calendar
Before we dive in, let's go over the perks of keeping an editorial calendar. Besides helping you stay organized, it's the closest thing you have to “set it and forget it.” The last thing you want to do after a busy day or week is to sit down and stress out over getting a blog post up because you haven't in awhile. By maintaining an editorial calendar, you can plan out your posts well in advance. By seeing all of your posts in one place, it also allows you to visualize “big picture things”: themes, series of posts, and making sure you have a diverse variety of the things you're writing about. For brands, an editorial calendar is a clear indicator of a blogger's professionalism. They know they're working with a blogger who's on top of what's to come on his/her blog. Brands and bloggers can work together to synchronize sponsored posts or campaigns with the rest of that brand's marketing campaigns. Make sense?
The Idea Bank
The inspiration for your next blog post or three can strike you at any given time. If you're like me, then you've scribbled those ideas down EVERYWHERE: on napkins, at the top of your to-do list, in your Notes or Evernote app, sent yourself emails, or all of the above. What better place to put all of these ideas than right next to your editorial calendar? You can keep one running list of all your ideas or categorize them in themes or post series idea. Then when you're ready, you can plug them into dates on your editorial calendar. Simple as that!
I use a very simple, unscientific Google Doc spreadsheet as my calendar/bank. It's practical, easy-to-use and accessible from my smartphone and tablet as quickly as it is on my laptop. If I need to share pieces of it with contributors or brands, I can just send a link to the doc via email.
You'll see the entire month of August laid out on the left, along with space to note holidays and special events, like when you're out of town. On the right are several sample categories to organize your blog ideas. Rename, add or delete these dates and categories to suit your blog! My actual spreadsheet has categories like: Books I've Read, Inspirational People (to interview), etc. Anything with a deadline (i.e. sponsored posts) are added in the calendar, then I drag ideas from the other columns into it as well. If I'm working on a post, I mark it yellow. Once it's completed, I mark it green.
I try to update this doc at least once a week, adding new ideas, getting rid of stale ones I don't feel like writing about anymore, and planning out my next blog posts as far as I can. Even if life gets busy and I don't update it for awhile, this is a place I can always come back to and wrap my head around a consistent stream of content for my blog.
This is just one of many ways you can organize yourself. By no means do you have to take this word for word! If you don't currently have an organization system or calendar, maybe this can be a start for you. For those who already have a good system down, maybe there's a new piece from here that you can incorporate in what you're already doing. Whatever the case, keeping a calendar and idea bank will always set you up for taking your blog to the next level.