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Develop an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog [Day 12 – 31DBBB]

Posted By Darren Rowse 17th of April 2009 Writing Content 0 Comments

This post is an excerpt from the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook

Yesterday your task in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge was to come up with a list of at least 10 post ideas for your blog. The idea was to spend time before you needed posts coming up with ideas. Doing this can release you later on to just write instead of having to brainstorm ideas every day.

Today’s task is to take the list you created yesterday and to plan your posting schedule (or editorial calendar) for next week.

This is something I attempt to do on a weekly basis for each of my blogs (I usually do it Sunday night or Monday morning).

How to Develop a Weekly Editorial Calendar [or at least how I do it]

1. Calculate how many posts you want to post in the coming week on your blog.

2. Set up a spreadsheet or table in a word document that has a slot for each post and the date and time that the post needs to go live on the blog.

3. Take the list of ideas that you’ve previously brainstormed and begin to slot them into the empty slots in the table. As I do this I often get other ideas that I’d not previously thought of for posts that might make good followup posts to those I’m planning. I slot these into the schedule too.

4. For each post that you slot in write a sentence or two about what the post is about (so you’re able to remember later in the week). I often also take a moment or two at this point to brainstorm some main points for the post. If any examples, illustrations, pictures or related posts that I’ve previously written come to mind I make note of these too.

Let me say at this point that what I come up with after going through this process is not always the way that I roll out posts in reality. My blogging style is a little more fluid than this and I tend to add new posts into the mix, reorder posts and extend single posts into series.

However – going through this exercise is fantastic because it means I’ve got a week’s worth of post ideas at my finger tips. It also means that for each post I’ve got ideas that I can use when writing the post – this gives me a real head start and means that I can usually get right down to business and start writing on the days I need to do the writing of posts.

Another Editorial Calendar idea to Consider

Another way that some bloggers approach editorial calendars is to come up with a weekly rhythm for their blog. They assign a different type of post for each day of the week and stick to that rhythm over the long term.

For example Mondays might be ‘list post’ day, Tuesdays might be ‘link post’ day, Wednesdays might be ‘opinion/rant’ day, Thursdays might be ‘review’ day etc. In this way they know the style of post for each day and then just have to slot in topics that fit each style.

The above two methods are only two suggestions of many and there are many variations on the idea of blog editorial calendars that you might like to explore. Here are a few posts that pick up the idea from archives here at ProBlogger:

How did you find this process? Have you got next week’s Editorial Calendar set up? Share in the comments, or join the discussion over at the forum: Day 12 – Develop an Editorial Calendar

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

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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.
  • Great idea Darren, I take help of mind mapping software first..
    Build a structure of a series post either on any topic.

    I try to mix two three topics when I schedule.
    Since I have a tech blog so I try to consider covering different topics, and depending on the traffic of a particular series. I extend the posts in the series.

    Basic idea is to give my visitors what they are looking for.

  • Bea

    I follow the topic method. I do this mainly because I post 3 times a week (I work full time and this is what my schedule allows). I don’t want to set myself up to be dissapointed if I can’t stick to a strict schedule. I want the blogging experience to be fun, and if I feel like I’m not meeting my post per week goals, blogging becomes more of a burden than I’d like it to be. Plus, I believe in quality over quantity, so if I make my goal just about numbers, I’m compromising my writing quality.

    I know that I’ll get three posts out a week but I’m never sure which days of the week I’ll post. I always have a few draft posts that are ready to be proofread and published, so I’ve been able to have a looser schedule because I have a backlog of posts that ensure I keep up with 3 posts/week.

    So, for this task, I’ve listed out my topics in a column (I used Google docs). Underneath a topic column I’ve written a blog post pertaining to the topic, and after I have 3 rows filled in for one week, I move on to the next row. I have more than 3 topics that I write about, so each week I’ll choose 3 and the next week I will choose 3 different topics. The result is a schedule for 3 posts a week on the topics I want to touch upon over a month period.

    This tip has helped me gain some structure to my posting schedule, but still allowed me the ability to keep the post schedule goal attainable and enjoyable. I won’t be dissapointed if I have to rearrange posts, and I know I have a schedule for 3 posts a week that will keep me going for the month.

    Thanks for the great tip, Darren!

  • I am kinda Type A, so I LOVE this. I never thought of actually putting it in a spreadsheet instead of just keeping a semi-schedule in my head and in unfinished draft posts on my blog. Duh. I guess I just needed someone to point out that you can write this stuff down. ;)

  • Good Post Darren,

    I usually write link post on Sunday, as it is holiday so everyone can check the links I have provided in the post.

    I am also thinking about the Interviews to be posted soon on my blog. For this I am looking for the right day so that the visitors would come and read it.

    Your suggestions are great, I got some more ideas during reading this post. Now I have to work on those ideas.

    Thanks for the Post.

  • I am so on this!

    Thankfully I can totally geek out in Excel. Last night I printed out 30 pages of my already-published posts so I can get everything organized.

  • Good idea, I’ve been leaning towards the second idea for awhile now. I haven’t gotten around to making any sort of schedule though. I might save this for when I have more time to create it, and to implement it. Great post, I’m looking forward to the assignment!

  • ria

    This is nice, but I wonder if I’d be able to keep up with it, since there’s so much to do. In my niche, i have to watch shows, post and crop screenshots, post and edit reviews, participate in forums, read other blogs and comment, add screenshots to flickr, keep up with twitter, etc. I’m bound to get derailed.

  • I’m new to your blog and have been blogging since 10/2007 on my mom blog called Call Me Crazy… Life as a mother of sixteen children (http://callmecrazy-momofsixteen.blogspot.com/).

    It had occurred to me that if I write about each child once per month, then I have half the month covered, so I chose the date of their birth as their blog day.

    The empty days I filled in with the natural flow of our life, like family fun on Saturdays and Family Dinner on Sundays. That means I’ll have about 12 posts about each of the children per year, including birthdays, and special events like school concerts or sports. I just have to collect the pictures in a file, then save them until their day arrives and post!

    The hard part is birthdays. Yesterday, #16 turned five and between the events of the day and a multitude of other daily activities, I didn’t get the photo’s uploaded. If I didn’t have to share the laptop with seven teenagers… well, that’s another post!

  • Nice one there Darren. Will keep me busy for a while to come. Should actually check my schedule and plan accordingly.

  • Darren,

    Again, you take what should be an obvious (if somewhat imposing) idea and make it seem like the most natural thing in the world. I’m building my calendar as we speak. I’ve already adopted the practice of advance writing, so this will fit nicely in with my plan.

    Thanks so much.

  • I haven’t mastered spreadsheets, but I have a daily planner that I can carry in my purse to jot down ideas for future blogs. I put next week’s topics onto the calendar, and thought of one for the following week that will tie all those posts together.

    Thanks for all the tips. I feel like I’m finally making progress with developing a useful blog for writers.

  • Thanks! I like the idea of having set days for my categories. Though I do have 7 categories, and I plan to post 4-5 times per week only, so maybe some categories will share a day.
    For example, Monday could be devotions/daily walk
    Tuesday: Homekeeping/homeschool
    Wednesday: Fun ideas
    and so on…

    I am just not sure I will actually tell my readers this…what do you think about that? Is it something you keep in mind or do you announce the schedule?

  • I try to do one main/larger article or list post each week, one smaller article, one photo/shorter post, one Q&A post for my readers, and one inspiring quote post. Sometimes I do a weekend link post as well – all to help encourage and inspire mothers with small children.

    I like the idea of brainstorming the upcoming week – it’s nice to feel that your blog has a rhythm to it.

    Jamie

  • Thanks you so much Darren, this is a wonderful idea.

  • Oy! Sliding into the 31 Days at day 12! I need to catch up! Thanks for the great ideas, Darren!

  • Once I started having an editorial calendar, I started to have many more ideas for posts. Having more structure seemed to spark my creativity.

  • There’s a great planner over here for the people who like the pen & paper approach:

    http://www.productiveflourishing.com/april-2009-planners-available/

  • Another winner, Darren! I am setting up my editorial calendar now. Just have to remember where I save it *SMILE

    Heidi Richards Mooney

  • Thanks for this great idea. Every now and then, I feel like I’m not doing so bad because I already do something good on my blog.
    I have a weekly rhythm that I usually follow.
    I used today, then, to check in with my readers and see if there are posts they like more than others, which would they like to see go, which should I be more consistent with, etc.
    Hope I get some good feedback!
    http://larriecampbell.wordpess.com/

  • I like your precision, routine, and details exposed.

    It seems to me the big factors here are your production rate balanced with your users absorption and consumption rate.

  • I have been crazy busy with work for the past couple of days, couple that with getting taxes done and I have had no time for the last challenge or this one, yet. I hope to catch up this weekend.

  • Yesterday’s challenge helped me win my battle with writer’s block! I have a lot more material than I initially suspected. I am truly enjoying this challenge. Thank you for sharing that site Andrea R.

  • Hi Darren,

    This is something I really identify with. I use the following tools for my editorial calender:

    1. Google spreadsheets(so that we can collaborate on post ideas and lists)
    2. Microsoft Excel

    If you take a lot of ideas from Twitter, make sure your spreadsheet is open and active at all times to bundle up links.

    Just saw Dee Wilcox’s calendar.. Will have to try Google Calendar now.

    Again a very informative post.

    Best.

    Shantanu.
    http://www.threetipsaday.com
    @threetips(twitter)

  • I found the process to be very useful in that it helps to layout the blog posting schedule so that it will be easier to manage instead of trying to automatically come up with post ideas on the fly, writing them and then posting them. Bloggers who have busy schedules outside of their blogging life can find an editorial calendar to be very helpful in maintaining their blog.

    I have tried to use a spreadsheet but found that creating folders for each week worked better for me. I create a folder for “Monday” for example and then create documents that are post ideas for that day. Some I use and others I may decide to skip or move to another day. In these documents, I write the post title or at least a few ideas for the post title, which may be changed before publishing and then I go on to write topics that I want to cover within that blog post.

    I also try to include URLs that are resources of information or places that I may want to link to when proving a point or providing an additional resource for my readers. I do this with each post idea and some make it to the publishing stage while others are left in draft mode or deleted.

  • Yes, I do have next week’s calendar set up.

  • I write 11 posts about consumer issues each week. There is so much to write about and so much news coming out all the time, especially with Twitter, it seems making a schedule doesn’t allow flexibility.

    What do others think who are dealing with lots of fast-moving potential topics?

    Rita at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide at http://boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com

  • Wow these step by step pointers are the way to go. I applaud your sharing with us your knowledge in blogging. This is truly amazing stuff. I can definitely use these lessons with my web 2.0 strategy.

    Thanks a million!
    Jackie
    http://creditrepairproject.com-seemore.info/

  • Hey Darren,

    I just recently started doing a weekly editorial calendar AND scheduling all posts on Sunday and it has made my life so much easier. I have 3 small kids and trying to brainstorm & write posts every day was so time consuming and stressful. Now, I have guest bloggers, daily themes and spend a few hours each Sunday writing & scheduling.

    Thanks so much for another great lesson!!
    Heather

  • These steps are brilliant!

    Not only in writing your blog. They are also useful to me in planning my other projects.

    Thank you, Darren,
    Claus,
    http://www.clausdjensen.com

  • I second (or third or fourth) that this is a great idea. I create editorial calendars in and out, mostly when I’m having trouble sticking to a schedule. I saw someone ask about writing ahead and scheduling publications. I typically do this…I find I get my posts get picked up by the search engines more quickly if I post at a regular time of day, so I schedule that to happen before I even get out of bed in the morning. It also relieves you from having to remember to publish “on schedule” and keeps things consistent for your readers…I publish Monday, Wednesday, and an occasional humorous post on Friday, unless, of course, something pops up that demands an immediate publication.

    Laura
    http://bridging-the-gap.com

  • Amy

    This is a great idea! I had already been doing content scheduling on some of my days, but then not keeping to the schedule. I will commit more to that. Loved the spreadsheet idea.

  • Amy

    is there a way to get the signature to also show up on comments like we have for the forum posts?

  • Darren, I am sure you use this technique because your posts are always well laid out and always on time. I have never seen you skip.

    BTW cool Alexa 4444 probloggers got :)

  • I already do this for my Literary Lunch blog. I have an entire month’s of ideas written out. Of course, since it’s author biographies I don’ t really have to worry much about titles.

  • Great post!

    I have a yearly, monthly & weekly editorial calendar. I leave a little “wiggle room”, but I primarily stick to the following format:

    Monday – Contests/Giveaways
    Tuesdays – Life Update/Something about my family
    Wednesdays – Monthly Focus Post
    Thursdays- Reviews
    Fridays – An “expert” feature and an “In Case You Missed It” roundup of odds & ends

    I have a very full (in a good way!) life, so it helps me to have a plan…

  • I’ve been doing an editorial calendar of sorts. I’m really trying ot set aside a writing day so I can I sit down and draft several posts in one shot. Since most of my posts are “how to” posts I’ve been scheduling the revised versions of my prewritten posts to conside with a few of weekly blog carnivals like Works for Me Wednesday or Thrifty Green Thrusday when applicable.

    A more formal process would probably save me a few headaches. Thanks.

  • I’ve mentioned before that much of the material from my blog comes from interviews. So I do sketch out my posts for the coming week or two to make sure I stay on top of scheduling interviews. I’ve been use pen and paper but I like the idea of a spreadsheet – it would allow you to add in content notes and also links either to existing blog posts or external links and as you say, images etc.

    I have found that when I have planned out my posts, I am much more efficient writing – I don’t waste as much time panicking about what to write and it certainly makes me feel less pressured.

  • Darren,
    thanks for the last couple of challenges. Though I am new to this, the process works great.

  • I’ve been meaning to write an editorial calendar for a while. This helped. Thanks.

  • I do this on a pretty informal basis. I normally post longer travel articles on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and participate in a “Photo Friday” blog carnival (usually one, or a few photos, with a bit of text).

    I often open files in Word as I decide what to do in the coming weeks and maybe put a title on it with a few notes or a few links, so I have something to start with as I sit down to actually write the article.

    I’ve really concentrated on trying to get at least a post ahead and schedule them for upload on my regular days. That’s made me plan a little more and taken the day-to-day pressure of coming up with entire articles on the day I want to post them.

  • First I was considering a sheet with Google docs, then Google calendar came to my mind, as I used it in the past.

    After reading Dee Wilcox comment I decided for the last one.
    Good work, Dee.
    Nice post, Darren!

    Keep going, everyone!

  • I do this regularly.
    I write for 4 blogs so organization and forethought is a must. I use a calendar for the month and write a rough outline for the month and then each week I flesh it out with the topics for my recurring themes-one blog has Tuesday Tips and Walt Disney World Wednesdays another has Monday Motivation. I also work in 2 giveaways and 2 product reviews a week on one of my blogs.

  • Darren, on a certain level I agree with Rita’s comment earlier. While I have a master plan of sorts – rather, a master editorial calendar – I live in the world of radio/media. Things change moment-to-moment. So although I follow a writing/recording/shooting schedule and publish features on the same days every week, I cannot be so rigid that I don’t have room to flow where the current takes me with respect to topics.

    That said, here is my Blog Harbor editorial calendar.

    Monday – Eye on Monday (photo essay or video)
    Tuesday – Post
    Wednesday – Optional Post
    Thursday – The Farmland Almanac with Harrison Beillor (audio satire)
    Friday – Gabriel Theatre on the Air (every other week, audio satire)

    Friday is also the day I record at the radio station. And the weekend is when I shoot a video.

    Eye on Monday and The Farmland Almanac are the only features that absolutely, positively, always run on the same days. One is day-specific and the other (Farmland) coincides with the radio station it runs on here in Minneapolis.

  • Thanks again Darren for the great info. I have so many “I should have thought of that” moments when I read your posts. So simple, so effective!

    I would like to offer a suggestion to your readers that takes these last two challenges one step further. After finishing the brainstorming exercise, go ahead and write at least 5 or 6 of those posts if not more if you can.

    I do this and from a creative standpoint it works really well for me. Whatever the topic is, it is fresh in my mind after finishing the first post. I may have had to do some research and that is also fresh in my mind. I may have come across other information while researching that pertains to one of the other posts that I want to write. It is much easier to keep on writing about the same topic. The creativity flows much easier. If I jumped from topic to topic every day, it would definitely slow me down.

    From an SEO perspective, it also save me hours of time. Because all of those future posts I just wrote are on topic, I will want to link them to each other. I can go through older posts and decide which of those I want to link to/from as well. When I set up my calendar, I make notes beside each future post of exactly which pages to link to/from so that when it is time to publish most of my SEO is done already.

    This really ends up being a great time saver as well as making writing easier.

  • Is anyone out there kind enough to share an already created editorial spreadsheet? I know, I know, I’m a bum. . . It’s not that I’m lazy, its just that between restarting my blog, writing for Punchline Magazine, and working on my freelancing, I don’t have time to create one. (also it is because I am lazy.)

    Feel free to use my email or twitter to reach me (you don’t have to follow me.)

    chaseblogger@hotmail.com
    twitter.com/chaseblogger

  • This assignment helped get a jump on planning posts for my two week vacation – how nice! http://budurl.com/qszs

  • Cahse – Cathy at Desperately Seeking WordPress made a google doc template, I blogged about it in my post and here is the link to Cathy – http://budurl.com/xakl

  • Thank you again for another terrific exercise. It reminds me of what one of my favorite teachers used to say: Prepare for everything; creativity lives there…
    I like outlook calender for the annoying but quite effective reminders. Google calendar, I will go look at as I dont recall much about it.
    I am pleased that I have finally pushed through some of my time/mind restraints and wrote 2 blogs for 2 of my sites. I still have the list post to complete and I am pleased.
    This course is priceless!

  • I write about five posts a week for two of my blogs. Lately, I have been attempting to write them in a couple of days and schedule them for the week.

    Although I do have a loose idea for the editorial calendar for one of the blogs–I don’t yet stick to it since breaking news and similar time sensitive topics tend to move me off target.

    I like the idea of a listing for the editorial calendar and will see if I can get that to work for me.

  • Something is broken Darren, I’ve received 10 identical emails so far about this topic.