Do you plan out your content or do you fly by the seat of your pants and create what you’re in the mood for? Either way, an editorial calendar can help you take your blog to the next level. An editorial calendar is a way to plan your content, be organized, have a plan for the promotion of your content, and is a great way to keep team members on the same page about what’s going on with your content.
Does an editorial calendar zap creativity?
As a blogger, being creative might be one of your strong suits and you may be worried that using a calendar doesn’t allow you to be creative. Actually, it’s probably the opposite! You can be creative while you create the calendar, but also, when you know what’s coming up, you can keep track of your creative ideas so that when the time comes to actually create, you don’t feel forced. You can also use your calendar to make sure that your creativity is balanced: that you’re not doing too many recipes of the same kind or going too long without variety in your posts. Sometimes creativity can be one-tracked, so you’re able to make sure you’re keeping the bigger picture of your blog in mind when you use an editorial calendar.
How do you create an editorial calendar?
You can use a spreadsheet or google doc, but one of the best tools is Trello, and it’s free!! Trello lets you create boards: you’d probably have one board for article production. You would then create a “card” for each article. Within that card, you’ll create checklists for each phase of production, for example, shopping for items, staging the photos, writing the post, editing, etc. Then, within the board, you can create a column for each of those phases of a post so that you can see where each article is, in production.
If you have team members, Trello is especially helpful because you can tag people on cards to let them know you have a question, or a note; you can add people as members to the card so that they know it’s their time for their task, and you can use due dates to keep everyone on track.
An editorial calendar is one of those things that will take time up front to organize and plan, but it saves you time in the end. It also shows that you’re taking your blog seriously and that you’re being intentional about your time and your energy. Having a strategy for your blog may not be something you’ve thought much about but if you’re listening to this podcast, you probably take your blog seriously, or want to, which means that setting up and using an editorial calendar can be a great choice.
Transcription of This Episode
Welcome to Feast Food Blog Talk where we share how to take your food blogging to the next level and inspire you to do more with your blog and business. Are you using an editorial calendar? If you’re not, maybe you should be, and if you’ve resisted, hopefully by the end of today’s episode, you’re excited to give it a try.
On this episode of Feast Food Blog Talk, we are covering why your blog needs an editorial calendar. It may not be exactly what you think it is, and it’s probably easier to set up than you might be envisioning. If you’ve resisted an editorial calendar because you feel like it stifles your creativity, we’re gonna help you see that that organization and strategy can actually help your creativity flourish. And, if you’re interested in setting one up, maybe you’ve got one, but it’s not quite working for you, or you’ve never done one before. We’re gonna help you understand how to set that up using one of our favorite tools, Trello. So, stick around with me, Sarah, your host of Feast Food Blog Talk as we get into why your blog needs an editorial calendar and how you can get that set up to level up your blogging biz.
Regardless of how long you’ve been a blogger, you probably have a way that you create content. Are you someone who flies by the seat of your pants and you just create whatever you’re in the mood for? Are you someone who likes to plan ahead for your content and knows exactly what they’re going to do for each and every post coming up? Maybe you’re somewhere in between. What you did when you started as a blogger might be different than how you approach content creation now, but you probably have some way for how you develop your content ideas, and if you’ve been blogging for any period of time, you’ve probably heard about an editorial calendar. If you haven’t, this is going to be a great episode. And, if you have, hopefully we’re going to shed some light on why you wanna do this and how to do it well.
So, an editorial calendar is essentially a spreadsheet or a document, or you can use a software, and it’s going to give you a timeline or allow you to create a timeline and plan for your content and your content marketing. It’s basically a place where you can see what you have coming up for the blog and helps you organize how your content fits in together. So, for example, without an editorial calendar, you might end up with posts that are really similar being published really close together, and that might not be so great. So, you might also want to plan early enough for the holidays, and without an editorial calendar, you might not realize oh, I already needed to be working on my holiday content. So, your content calendar is going to allow you to see what you have coming up, how these individual pieces fit together, allow you to plan for specific times. And, as food bloggers, holidays and the food that you might have during those holidays or certain times of year can be really important, maybe the parties that are going to be happening, some of those lifestyle posts. So, your editorial calendar helps you plan that out, see the bigger picture, and then also create the plan for your social media content.
Now, if you have different categories or types of posts on your blog, which you probably do, your editorial calendar also helps make sure that you have well-rounded content, so that you’re not doing too many recipes and not enough party posts or posts on how to use the leftovers. Or, roundup posts, maybe you also do some crafts or DIY, so your editorial calendar can help make sure that your content overall is really well-rounded and fits within your categories. Now, if you have a blog where either you have a team of people, maybe you don’t take your photos and someone else does, or you have someone who sets up your post after you give them all the content, or maybe you have someone who runs your site with you, you have a contributor platform. Having an editorial calendar can allow everyone to stay on the same page, and it allows you to work together to create really strong content.
Now, in a addition to the actual topics, so the blog post that is about lentil soup, your editorial calendar can also help you track what is happening with that lentil soup article. So, for example, if that lentil soup post needs to publish next month, and you know it’s going to take you about three weeks to create it, you know when you need to start working on it, but then you can also be clear on the milestones that you need to hit, such as shopping for ingredients, cooking in staging photos, editing, writing the post, editing it in the back end of your site, creating additional graphics, all of those pieces. Your editorial calendar can help you track that, so sometimes you might just be using your editorial calendar for kinda that big picture of here’s the posts and here’s where they’ll publish, but you can take your editorial calendaring to the next level by thinking about the specific steps that go into each post in helping keep track there.
You can then also include within your editorial calendar when and where you’re going to be promoting these posts, so that you can be sure to cover the different social media platforms and have a consistent presence on the platforms that matter to you, Now, remember, you don’t have to be everywhere, and that can be kinda hard, even with some social media scheduling tools, but through your editorial calendar, you can be sure that after you publish your posting to Facebook, Instagram, and you’re adding that to your Pinterest rotation. And, then you can maybe make sure that four days later, you’re repinning that to certain boards, so your editorial calendar can help you track and make sure that you are really keeping on track not only with the posts, but how you’re ultimately sharing them. That’s kinda some general information about what the editorial calendar is and how it can help you.
But, you might be thinking does an editorial calendar hinder my creativity? That sounds kind of either dull or I don’t really like to plan things out, so you might be thinking that doesn’t really work for me and my ability to be creative, but here’s the thing: this can actually help with your creativity. Now, if you’re thinking planning ahead doesn’t allow me to be creative, keep listening because it can. It definitely can, so keep in mind first of all that your calendar can absolutely change. If you realize I need to be working on that lentil soup recipe, and I’m not motivated; I’m not excited about lentil soup. What your editorial calendar allows you to do is say, “Well, I chose that lentil soup recipe because we’re moving into the fall, and this would be a really great recipe that’s probably going to do well,” so you can replace that with something else. Is it a different type of soup? Is it something else entirely, or maybe you added that lentil soup recipe because that’s the protein you’re focusing on. So, maybe the soup isn’t inspiring to you, but maybe you could create some sort of appetizer or dip.
So, your editorial calendar can help you kinda maintain your focus and still allow you to shift if you want to, but also, if you’re using your editorial calendar to help you stay organized, to help you plan for your business, this is important because you need to have some strategy and organization if you want to have a business that runs well, so you take the time to plan, and in that planning, this is where you can definitely use your creativity, your knowledge around your niche, your followers and what would they be looking for at that time of year to determine the type of content you want to create that you then put on your editorial calendar. So, you’re coming up with these topics like a roundup of fruit Popsicle recipes in the late spring, and like we said that lentil soup recipe to hit early fall, or a holiday party post for early November. You know these are coming, so you can start planning and preparing and keeping track of those ideas, and when the creativity hits that oh, for that holiday post, this would be really great.
When you’re at Target or Home Goods, and you’re like, “Oh, this would look really beautiful for that post I’m going to do next month.” You know the post is coming, so you can pick up that item right then and there instead of being like, “That’s really cute. Oh, I don’t need it,” talk yourself out of it, realize later you want it, and then go back and it’s not there, so the plan doesn’t have to stifle your creativity. It can ultimately help support your creativity, and I don’t know about you, but those where I just sort of fly by the seat of my pants, and I realize I need to be doing a post now, it’s hard to come up with something, right? That creativity can’t always be forced, so if you know that you’ve got a plan, and you’ve given yourself some time and space, you can ultimately still have your creativity. And, guess what, it’s still your calendar. You can change it if you want to.
So, if you’re feeling intrigued about this idea, or maybe you have been using an editorial calendar, but you kind of want to either change it up or step it up. You might be wondering how do I actually create the calendar? So, you can use a spreadsheet; Excel can work. Google Docs is great, especially if you have other people who need to be involved. Maybe, again, it’s that photo editor that you need to kind of keep track off, and they need to see when things are coming to them. But, I love Trello. If you’re not familiar with Trello, you wanna check it out. It took me some time to really fall in love with it. The first time I tried to use it for my own editorial calendar, I kind of gave up, and it wasn’t until I started managing content for another blog that I really realized how awesome it actually is. So, if you’re not familiar with Trello, it’s a free tool; that’s part of what makes it awesome. And, it essentially allows you to create cards for each piece of content, since it’s like a virtual card.
So, when you look at your Trello board, where all of these cards live, you could have a Trello board for your blog content. And, so you might have a column on your board that says “upcoming content.” For each piece of content that you’ll create, you have a card, so you open that up, and it’s the lentil soup recipe. And, you might have written on there the publish date of October 15th. Then, what you can do for these cards, so for each blog post, you can create checklists for what you need to do for each post so that you don’t forget anything. If you tend to skip over steps because you’ve forgotten having meta-data, or maybe you kinda forget to create that pinnacle image sometimes, and then you go back and scramble and do it quickly. You can create these checklists and basically copy them again and again, so that everything becomes standardized. So, what ever your process and your workflow is, you can essentially set Trello up to kind of match that, and it can keep you on track and make sure that you don’t miss any steps. You can assign due dates to your cards, which is really nice, to help keep you on track because then you also get reminders in your email. So, Trello is a really great tool.
And, so I mention as you’ve got a card for each of your posts, but then you can ultimately also have them in columns, and I like to look at these columns as like moving your posts along in the process to completion. So, your first column might be just ideas. Your second column might be ideas that are committed on your editorial calendar, then your first column could be maybe planning or what you might call your shopping phase if you tend to need a lot of things for that post. Then, there might be the content creation stage, so within the card itself, you have a checklist that probably has steps or items to check off for each of those main columns. So, during the shopping phase, when the card is in that column, maybe it’s a food recipe card and it says “get all ingredients.” That’s what you’re shopping for.
If this is a holiday post, maybe you need to add a specific task to get a certain color bowl for those images, so you can have very specific tasks on there to help you remember what it is you’re going to do. So, as you check off those tasks, you’re basically able to move that card along in the process. So, again, those columns could be cooking and photos, writing, setup, and those checklists, then on the card, correspond to what is happening in that part of the process.
I mentioned that you can assign these card due dates. I love that about Trello because, again, I get an email that says something is coming up due soon, which is really nice. And, if you are sharing this Trello board with other people, you can assign different people to the card. You can tag people on it, so you can tag and say, “Hey, photo editor, these are ready, and here’s the instructions that you need,” so you’re not having to send emails back and forth, and instructions aren’t getting lost, and you think didn’t I tell you that?
Maybe you missed the email, so it keeps all of the information in one place, which is nice for you, but if you’re working with a team of people or other people are involved like a virtual assistant, Trello is a great way to communicate with other people, and those due dates can help keep you on track, but you can also use your due dates with a power up feature that Trello has where you can basically add a calendar, and it allows you not only to see the cards, but you can basically click a button, and it shifts, and you see it as a monthly calendar, so you can see where these posts are in the process if you assign those what I call internal due dates. Like, I need to have my photos done by this Wednesday. I need to have the editing of the content done by this Friday, or you could simply assign a due date as the publish date, so you’ll have to figure out what works for you. And, you can also have different boards.
So, I’m a content manager for a blog, and we have one Trello board for the content, so like I said, it’s at each article. It moves along. That’s basically our editorial calendar, but then I have another Trello board that I have created to help see and create our Facebook strategy, so this may not work for you, but I have a card for each and every Facebook post that we run. We do one a day, and I basically have assigned the due dates, so that I can see when this particular blog post is going to be put up on Facebook. It helps me see when did I post that last. I then go back, and I add the link to the Trello card, so that if I wanna see how that particular Facebook post performed, I can see that. I can start to click through those and see patterns in the types of content that I’m adding in. Does a quick sentence work? If I add more content or a quote, does that seem to get any more click-throughs?
So, you can have these different boards for different parts of your business, so you could kinda separate those pieces of your editorial calendar if you would like to. And, again, Trello has a lot of different functionality, and it will allow you to set things up in a way that makes most sense to you.
So, taking your blog seriously with an editorial calendar can help take your blog and business to the next level. Even if this is more of a hobby, it can just help to keep you organized and avoid some of that maybe stress or franticness when you realize I was supposed to be editing, or oh no, I’m behind, so even if you’re not quite sure if this is a business for you, the editorial calendar certainly has a place.
And, I will say figuring out your editorial calendar whether you use Trello or a spreadsheet or something else entirely, it’s one of those things that will take time upfront to organize and plan, and sometimes that’s a barrier, right? Because, you’re like, “I have to sit down and do this. I need to take a couple hours to really sort through all this, maybe more.” But, the reality is it’s going to save you time in the end, and if you want this to be your business, or if this is your business, it’s a way to take it seriously, to be intentional about your time and your energy. And, ultimately, it can help you create a strategy, and even if you have a strategy for your content, if it’s all sort of mentally in your head, that’s easy to get jumbled.
So, creating your editorial calendar can really help you just again be more intentional and focused and strategic about the content that you’re putting out, so don’t be afraid to try out an editorial calendar. Remember that it can take time to set up. You might not love the way you set it up at first, so try it out. You can always make a change, and especially if you are working with other people in the parts of the process of your blogging: virtual assistants, photographers, editors, social media interns, whatever it might be. An editorial calendar can really help to keep everyone on the same page, so whatever you’re doing, we can usually all tighten up our editorial calendar game and give these ideas a try and see what happens to your blog.
Before you go and run to start your own editorial calendar or start revising what you’ve already been doing, don’t forget to check out the post that we have on the blog. We’ve got the link here. For more reason why an editorial calendar is a good idea for you and your blog and a few other ways and tips about how you might want to utilize that, remember that this can feel like a big task, but it will ultimately be worth it. It can take some time to get into the groove, so don’t stress if it doesn’t feel like it fits you right away. Stick with it; tweak it, but an editorial calendar can help keep you organized, help you be more strategic, and make the most of your blogging whether it’s for a hobby or to make some extra money. And, before you go, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, so you can be the first ones to hear about all of our new podcasts and more!