Last Updated on July 29, 2020 by Keri
Managing your blog content can be challenging at times! But with the right organizational tools, you can make your life a whole lot easier! An editorial calendar will help you plan out your content and develop a strategy behind the content you are creating for your readers.
While I do still plan each post on the computer, I prefer to plan what is getting posted and when in my Bullet Journal! If you don’t use a Bullet Journal, that it okay! This strategy is for anyone who likes to plan on paper, and any plain notebook will do the job! If you are curious to learn more about Bullet Journaling, check out the first post in my series, How To Start A Bullet Journal: The Basics!
The main reason I recommend you keep this in a notebook is simple. You never know when inspiration for a post is going to hit you. While you may not always be able to take your computer with you everywhere, it is pretty easy to bring a notebook with you!
Writing things down on paper also increases your memory, and will help you be more mindful of what you are writing down!
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission if you decide to buy a product, but it does not affect the price for you! All links provided are products that I personally use and recommend! If you would like to know more, please visit my Disclaimer.
Why you should start an editorial calendar!
If you are someone who is trying to make money with your blog, you should definitely be mindful of the benefits of an editorial calendar!
- They help you develop a strategy behind your posts.
- The organization will help you maintain a consistent posting schedule!
While there is no right or wrong way to create an editorial calendar, the benefits the same, as long as you remain consistent with your calendar!
I know you are eager to start writing! I get it! However, having a solid strategic plan in place will help you take steps towards your big goal much faster!
Let’s get something out of the way right now! You do not need to have a Bullet Journal or use a Bullet Journal to use these techniques! Literally, any blank notebook will do!
But, there are some other supplies that you will need to replicate my process. All of these supplies can be picked up on Amazon or even your Dollar Store for a good price!
If you are looking for a budget-friendly option from Amazon, I highly recommend the Minimalism Art | Classic Notebook Journal.
You can get the pages with ruled lines, dot grid, grid or blank pages. There are 192 pages (96 sheets) that are 100 gsm. They come in a nice variety of colors, and the price is great!
Of course, you should use any pen you have laying around your house! But if you are a bit of a stationary snob like me, you may want to use some of your favorite pens!
Here is a list of my favorite pens!
I use highlighters a lot on my editorial calendar, and I suggest you try to get a few different colors. Each color is designated to a different category. To keep everything organized, I highlight the name of the blog post with the color to distinguish what category that post will belong to. We will get into why this is so important further down the post!
My go-to highlighters are the Zebra Mildliners. You can get them in a pack of 10 or 15 different colors, which should be enough to cover your different categories! The reason I personally love them so much is the fact they don’t bleed through the paper in my notebook. Literally every other highlighter I have used bleeds and ruins the page on the other side. For this reason, I don’t mind spending a little extra money on them!
A great alternative to highlighters would be some kind of marker, like the Crayola Super Tips!
Post It Notes
The final supply you might want to use on your editorial calendar is post-it notes!
These can be bought almost anywhere (even our grocery store has them!), but if you are placing an order through Amazon for the other supplies, you may wish to add these as well.
I don’t ever really worry about color, but I do tend to lean towards the 3-inch by 3-inch pads. I will cut each post-it down to a smaller strip so that I get 6 strips off of one sheet.
Brainstorming Content Ideas
Now we are on to the really fun part! Creating all your different layouts, and planning your content!
Typically, I use 3 different layouts to brainstorm my post ideas and 1 layout to plan the content. First, I am going to show you the 3 brainstorming layouts. From there, I am going to share my strategy for developing my content calendar using the 3 brainstorming pages.
1. Blog Posts Broken Down by Categories
For this first layout, you are going to need a few pages, depending on how many blog categories you have.
Simply write out the name of each category at the top of a page as your header.
Next, you need to assign a highlight color to that category. Personally, I include this right below my header. This step will be important when it comes time to plan out your editorial calendar in the final step. Try to keep these colors as different as possible so that you can easily distinguish them apart from each other. (ie. don’t use three shades of blue.)
Below that, you are going to list out the different blog posts you can write under that category. I like to put little check boxes beside each idea so that I can check them off as I publish them on my blog.
You will do this for each category you have on your blog! If the category is a little bit smaller, you may wish to include two categories on one page!
2. Seasonal Content
For the second layout, we are going to create a list of seasonal content broken down by month.
This layout has helped me tremendously when creating my editorial calendar, and I highly suggest you include it in yours! Even though it may seem obvious as you are writing these things down that they should be included in your calendar, you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget them!
You also need to be mindful about planning this content out ahead of time. If you write out about Mothers Day a week before, it will not gain traction until the day has come and gone. Even though you will be able to repurpose that content next year, you still missed the opportunity this year. By having your major holidays and events mapped out like this, you can be mindful of planning out your content ahead of time.
This layout is very simple to set up. Simply write down the month, and list out some popular topics for the month. I have included some examples below.
- Money and Budgeting
- Starting a Blog or Business
- Valentines Day
(*Notice I didn’t include New Years on this list? That is because New Years has already come and gone. This should have been a priority in December.)
- Valentines Day
- Spring Cleaning
Continue through each month listing out what content would be popular for the month.
Please be mindful of only writing content that pertains to your blog niche. If you don’t have any creative ways to include the topic with your niche, don’t worry about writing for it! You will just confuse your audience!
3. Viral Post Potential
The final brainstorming layout is a list of content that has the opportunity to go viral.
*Disclaimer: There is no guarantee that any of these posts will go viral. This is just a way for you to brainstorm some different ideas. You never know what will gain some traction on your blog! It never hurts to try!
There are 4 general questions I ask myself to brainstorm potentially viral content. I recommend you use two pages for this layout so that you can include two of these questions on each page by splitting the page in half.
The questions are;
- Posts that discuss a trendy topic. It seems like every other week there is a new trending topic. Brainstorm ways you can write about these trends on your blog! (Remember, if it doesn’t fit your niche, then don’t write about it! Make sure it pertains to your niche at all times! Otherwise, you will just confuse your audience!)
- Posts that include simple tutorials. If you can provide great content that helps someone solve a problem, they are going to share it with their friends who might share it with their friends. This is how content goes viral!
- Posts that are very unique. Again, make sure you are providing a ton of value. But if you can write something very unique that people have never seen before, they are more likely to share it with their friends.
- Posts that give something for free. Most of the time, people are not looking to purchase something. They appreciate the free content you are providing them that they would have to purchase elsewhere. This builds trust between you and your readers!
My layout is not filled out, but will give you an idea of how you can set this up!
So now that you know the four questions, brainstorm some content you think of when asking yourself these four questions!
Planning Your Editorial Calendar
Now that you have had a chance to brainstorm your blog post ideas, it is time to plan out when you are going to write your content.
In this section, I am going to share a few ideas behind my strategy. I encourage you to read through this section carefully and use my strategies as a foundation. Then build up your own strategy based on what will work best for your audience!
Step 1: Creating Your Monthly Calendar Layouts
In order to plan out your content, you need to know what your calendar month looks like. For this, I suggest creating a simple monthly overview layout.
You can create the look of a traditional calendar using a ruler, and fill in the boxes with your planned content! This is a great approach if you like the visual aid of a traditional calendar! However, these layouts can be time-consuming, and you may not have that much time to spend measuring out spaces.
If time is not on your side, I highly suggest you try out the minimalist calendar style that the creator of the Bullet Journal method, Ryder Carroll uses! (This is also my go-to monthly layout!) Simply write out the days of the month vertically along the edge of your page.
You will also need to know what day of the week a calendar day fall on, and there are two techniques you can choose between. The first is to simply write the first letter of the day beside your calendar day. (Example: Monday, March 1st would be written as 1M). Alternatively, you may wish to draw a mini calendar somewhere on the page that you can refer to. The latter is my personal preferred technique.
Step 2: Determining Your Posting Schedule
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you when to post as every blog has a unique posting schedule. I suggest you post when your blog sees the most traffic!
You will also need to determine the frequency at which you post content. You should be posting at least once a week, but you can post as many times as you would like!
I just recently switched to posting once a week instead of twice a week, so I will now be publishing my content on Thursdays!
Using a highlight color different than any of your categories, highlight the days of the week you plan to post so that you can see it at a quick glance!
Step 3: Planning Your Content
The final step is to plan your content. There is no right or wrong way to do this! You will develop your own routine over time. But to get you started, let me share how I do this!
- Once I have determined my posting schedule, I will go to my Seasonal Content calendar and note any events, popular topics or holidays I should be writing for. From here, I will either go to my categories pages, and see if I have any of that seasonal content brainstormed, or I will just start brainstorming something.
- Next, I go to my Viral posts layout and take a quick look to see if there is something from these lists that I want to include. I always try to be mindful of what the popular topics for the month are before including these posts in my editorial calendar.
- Finally, I will go to my category layouts, and start picking some posts that stand out to me!
I have a couple of tips I suggest you keep in mind as you are pulling this content from your brainstorming pages.
- Again, be mindful of popular topics or seasonal content for the month. As an example, I would personally never write about fitness in July, because that is when everyone is on holidays. Don’t just write a post to write a post!
- Be mindful of what category each post falls under. I try to make sure I am writing one post under each category per month to break up the content.
Step 4: Writing Your Content Down On Your Calendar
With a 3×3 post-it note sheet, I will use a pair of scissors to cut the sheet into 6 smaller strips. Remember to cut the sheets so that each strip has a sticky part.
Using my post-it strips, I will write down each blog post I plan to write for the month. I will then place these post-it strips on my calendar beside the day I think I want to publish the content. I never write it in my journal until I have finalized my plan. You will want to make sure you are balancing out your content, and writing the seasonal or trendy posts in time to actually gain traction.
Once I like how the calendar looks, I will remove the post-it strip, and write the blog post topic under the corresponding day.
Finally, using the highlighter you assigned to each category, highlight your post with the corresponding color. This final visual will help you ensure you are balancing out your categories.
How far ahead should I be planning my editorial calendar?
This is entirely up to you, and how far ahead you like to plan your content! If you want to create an outline for three months, six months or a year, I suggest you use the post-it note strips to create a basic outline. Don’t finalize anything until you are ready to write, as you never know what can change in a month!
How much time does this process take?
The only real time-consuming thing in this process is brainstorming your content. The layouts are so simple that they can be set up in less than five minutes!
While it does take time to brainstorm so much content, it will save you a ton of time when determining your content plan for the month! This process takes me less than 15 minutes since implementing this strategy!
Is this process easy to maintain?
My number one tip when creating your brainstorming layouts is to leave lot’s of room to add more ideas in the future. You don’t need to fill every space on the layout right away. This will ensure these layouts will last a while before you have to go back to the drawing board!
I hope this tutorial has inspired you to create your editorial calendar in a notebook! What other blogging layouts do you include in your notebook or Bullet Journal? Be sure to leave a comment below!
Until next time!