It’s been a month since I’ve started using an editorial calendar on Whimsical.nu to help me stay organized and motivated with blogging. It’s been four weeks, enough time for Firefox to know that I want my editorial calendar whenever I type “cal” into the address field. Enough time to get into the swing of things.
And we are definitely swinging.
I wouldn’t call it the best thing since sliced bread, but it’s quite close. Anyone who’s known me for a while online can probably tell: I’ve never blogged this regularly before. Using the editorial calendar for a month has helped me develop a (public-) writing habit, which I’ve not done for many years now. It may not be creative writing, but just having the habit back again is a good enough start.
I’ve stuck to my weekly plan: each weekday, at 10am, a post goes up on a certain category.
- Mondays are for personal, life-related entries;
- Tuesdays are for geeky and tech stuff;
- Wednesdays are for posts on writing;
- Thursdays are for books;
- and Fridays are for gaming-related articles.
How soon a post is ready for scheduling really depends. I’ve had posts ready almost a week before, but I’ve also written a post right the same morning it was supposed to go up (call it an epiphany: I suddenly thought of a better topic to post about than the one I had scheduled).
For the calendar itself, I use the Editorial Calendar WordPress plugin. I’ve modified it slightly to change the colors of the table cells, to give me a visual cue of which days are for which categories (shown below).
I move posts around in the calendar by dragging them between weeks, but always never by too much. I keep post ideas as blank posts in the calendar, and keep them in the next week’s category-day for later perusal. It’s fairly quick to type in a topic for a title, add a couple notes in bullet and plain text (that’s how this entry started!), and return to it at a later date.
The photo above is a good example of what two weeks forward in the calendar looks like, for me. I have fairly set posts planned for the Geek, Writer, and Gamer categories in the October 4-8 week, and most of the other post ideas have been moved to the next weeks for those categories. I still have not decided on which post ideas to develop for the Girl and Reader categories here, so I have a couple of choices still up for those days.
The good things
The visual prompt of the WordPress plugin is certainly helping me focus on blogging. With a glance, I can see problem points: oh no, I still don’t have a post for the next Writer category! (which is an all-too-often occurrence here, sigh). I can see a quick overview of what topics I’ve already thought of, and pick one to write in when I have time and the inspiration to write about it.
Scheduling posts, instead of quickly posting them after they’re written, is also putting me in a less stressed-out frame of mind. (I hear planning can do that for you.) They also go out at 10am every day, which is a plus (although, well, my 10am is not the whole world’s 10am!).
Things to work on
As with any system, I still need to work out a couple of things. The most significant one would probably be a way to balance light and heavy posts easily. With the way I’ve set things up, there’s no easy way for me to quickly gauge a post’s “weight”. Always writing heavy, content-rich posts can be rather tiring, and honestly it should also be fairly monotonous to readers. Fun, lighter posts would definitely be a good way to break things up a little.
But I suppose that’s also one thing I need to work on: the art of making short, light posts. They sometimes seem to be the most challenging to write! After all, a content-rich post is usually something I feel relatively strongly about, enabling me to talk about it at some length (the usual challenge is: what to not-say in a post!). Lighter posts make me sometimes feel that I’m being a cop-out, or boring. A photo as a post? How interesting is that? A list of links? But how do I choose good links?
I would also like to eventually be able to post on weekends, although currently I don’t think I can handle such a rigorous blogging schedule. Just this weekend was spent writing/finishing a couple of posts–set for the whole week, and a few more days onward. An additional 2 posts/week would be a bit on the heavy side.
A new habit that’s here to stay
I’m pretty pleased that I’ve been able to integrate blogging, and the editorial calendar, into my life: this is something that’s definitely here to stay. I may tweak a couple more things about it as I work with the process: it’s a living process, something that needs to evolve: and it’s flexible enough to evolve with me.
Is this style of blogging for everyone? Probably not. More personal blogs will likely not need this kind of setup. One-man blogs might not need such a system, as well. But the organization and focus an editorial calendar provides–any editorial calendar system, whichever tool you use–certainly has its perks, and is worth a month’s look-see.
To end, here are a couple useful blog posts and resources regarding using editorial calendars for blogging–not details may be applicable but I’ve picked up ideas here and there from these:
- Pattern Your Audience: How Editorial Calendars Can Increase Your Readership
- How to Make an SEO-friendly Editorial Calendar for Your Blog
- Develop an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog
- Make Blogging Easier with an Editorial Calendar
- Save Time and Stress – Blog Editorial Calendar Template
- Why You Need an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog