Earlier this week, I shared “9 Ways to Generate Content Ideas.” The problem is, once you get started generating ideas, it may be hard to stop.
So, what do you do with all of the new ideas?
You create an editorial calendar! This calendar will allow you to organize and prioritize your posts so that your blog starts to gain some continuity.
Rather than random thoughts shared here and there, each post can build on the one before, or introduce one that’s to come after.
Start first with deciding how frequently you’re going to post on your blog. When you’re first starting out, the idea of writing something even just once a week can feel overwhelming. But if you can commit to that as a minimum, you’ll be getting a good start.
Some people are all gung ho to get started and commit to posting more frequently than that, thinking “more is better, right?” Right? Well… Maybe…
You have to gauge your audience and determine what their reading habits are. Post too frequently and you may see an upsurge in people unsubscribing from your blog, because they can’t keep up with the new content.
For my own blog, I’ve found that 2 posts a week are ideal. For others, some find that 3 posts a week work. The idea here though is, don’t create more work for yourself. If posting 4 times a week has no greater effect than posting twice a week, why go through the extra effort?
The key here to remember is that consistency is more important than frequency.
So in creating your editorial calendar, decide which days of the week you’re going to post and be committed to seeing that happen. (Not only is this good for your readers, but it’s good for the search engines.)
And if something isn’t working, don’t hesitate to change it! For example, I’ve been posting this year on Monday and Wednesday. However, given the syndication schedule of my blog on other sites, I’m finding that that’s too close together.
So, starting this week, I’m posting on Monday and Thursday instead. Hopefully, that additional space between posts will help my readers so that they don’t feel bombarded with new content from me, while still allowing me to deliver the quality and value they’ve come to expect from me.
You may decide to set aside one afternoon a week to write both posts, or a day to write out the month’s posts. Whatever works best for you and your schedule.
Having a calendar though will help you to stay on track and deliver on your commitment to your readers, whatever that might be.
So, once you’ve settled on your posting frequency and you’ve generated some content ideas, here’s what I recommend doing.
Create a Google calendar that’s specifically for your writing activities.
Getting your blog post ideas into your schedule so that time is reserved in your day is important! I may not need that time (because I wrote the post in advance), in which case it’s “found time” I can use on something else. However, if I haven’t written the post yet, it ensures I can still meet the expectations of my readers by blocking out time for me to get the job done.
It also allows me to map out other writing commitments (guest posts, articles, speaking announcements, newsletter mailings, etc.) in relation to my current writing schedule so that I can anticipate what needs to be written and when. That way, I don’t become over-committed in my writing schedule.
In addition to showing my writing activities right inside of my daily calendar:
- I can access it from anywhere
- I can share it with anyone
- I can reschedule the content ideas I have (rearranging the dates of the posts) to create more cohesive themes on my blog
- I can create detailed notes in the description so that when it comes time to sit down and write the post, I remember what my great idea was all about!
- I can attach images and other items to the calendar entry so that everything I need is in one place
- I can create and assign tasks as needed
If you’re interested in how to set up a separate calendar in Google for your editorial calendar, I recommend watching this video tutorial.
Once your calendar is created, start laying out your posting schedule. I reserve the two hours prior to when a post is due to be published just to make sure it’s written and ready to go. If it’s not, the time is reserved in my calendar for me to do that.
For each of the content ideas I’ve generated, I make an entry in the calendar.
I start first with any series I’m writing. For example, on this blog, I have a monthly Featured Author post that’s midweek the third week of the month. So, those get entered into the calendar first.
Notice how I start the entry. “Aleweb:” reminds me which site I’m writing for. “Featured Author interview” reminds me that it’s part of a series. The remainder is the subject/title of the post idea.
If I have guest posts coming, I still start with “Aleweb:” but that’s followed by the guest’s name in the second section, and then the post title or subject at the end.
However, if I’m writing for someone else or writing my newsletter, I change that first part so that I can clearly identify where the content is being published.
You can come up with your own ideas of how to keep things straight, but this is what works for me.
As I come up with new ideas, events I want to respond to, or with announcements that need making, I can shift future content ideas around so that none of my ideas are lost, and my writing time is much more efficient. When I sit down to write, I don’t have to come up with an idea. I just have to snag an idea I’d come up with earlier, and write about it!
The neat thing is, the same thing works when you’re writing a book or developing a product. If your “content ideas” are actually sections of your outline, you can map out your writing schedule so that you can commit to having the project done by a specific time. It’s just that instead of posting on your blog, you’re writing your book or creating your product and (hopefully) sending the drafted content off to your editor.
So, what are some of your favorite ways of handling your editorial calendar?
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