If you’ve made a writing goal to post more on your blog, Medium, or other writing platforms, creating an editorial calendar can help you achieve that goal.
Essentially, the editorial calendar is where you plan, schedule, and maintain your content. By using the calendar to plan out your next writing week, month, or year, you’ll never run out of things to write about. It will help you stay consistent, organized, and excited about writing. With your writing scheduled out for the future, you’ll know where you need to be and what you need to be writing to stay on top of your goals.
If you are ready to tackle your writing goals, here’s how you can create an editorial calendar for your writing content.
This is the hardest part, in my opinion. You want to list out everything you can write. The more you start listing out topics, the more you’ll develop. Start with listing out titles of articles you might want to write. If you have specific things you want to talk about within each article, write them down in bullets next to the title (never rely on your brain to “remember it when the time comes”).
You can also list out articles, webpages, or searches you’ve read that would have good talking points or things you can reference. Finally, list out keywords you can write about (this post came from the keyword “editorial calendar” which blossomed into several different post ideas).
Use this universal list as a collection rather than a formal, set in stone backlog. You don’t have to do any writing at this point, just keep collecting ideas. Continue to add to this list the more you come up with ideas.
Get a planner
I’ve never really liked searching for a planner because I’m always worried they won’t fit all my criteria. Usually I create one with a bullet journal, but in this case, I was more focused on the content piece rather than having the perfect planner.
Well, I found one that fit most of my criteria. This doesn’t have to be yours, but I liked the setup of the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley. This is by no means a sponsorship, but I liked the large monthly spread and the detailed weekly spread which highlights two sections: my day and to-do. My biggest complaint is the lack of notes sections or extra pages, but that’s a minor detail to others.
I’ll explain how I use it in a minute, but know that if you are searching for a calendar of your own, make sure it is big enough to fit a lot of content, ideas, and scribbles.
Set up your month
Here is where you start applying your backlog. Start figuring out title ideas and order you want to write and post the articles. Once you have an idea, take a small sticky note, write out the content, and stick it on the day you want it posted.
When your month is finished, you should have a sticky on each day you plan to have a post published. I use this space for posts I am publishing on my page, rather than posts I have submitted to other publications. More on that later.
Now that you have your month of stickies, continue into the next month or start writing. It is up to you how far in advance you work out your content. I have a pretty solid first five months planned with a few flexible notes.
When you finish writing a post, it’s time to remind yourself that it’s written and scheduled. This is particularly important if you’ve written a post that is going to be published a few weeks down the road. You might forget about it by then. After you write it and schedule the post, transfer your sticky to a notes page in your planner dedicated to your ideas. Then, to make sure you know it’s scheduled, write it more permanently on your monthly page.
Set up your week
After I schedule a post and complete the monthly tasks, I flip to the weekly spread. On the day the article is scheduled to post, I write down the full title in the day notes. When that day comes and I open my planner, I can remember which post is coming out so I can react accordingly on social media.
With the remaining lines, I can take notes or list out other things I’ve done that day. I’ll mark where I’ve shared the article, other articles I’ve written that day, articles I’ve written/sent/published on different publications, and list out any future post ideas I might have.
The to-do section of future days helps me remember to share the content again. Sometimes I’ll wait a few days and remind my followers about previous content or I’ll take snippets of my work and use it as a separate post to get people engaged.
Track goals and progress
As I work on things, I need to make sure I’m staying on task. My goal this year is to stay at least a week ahead of schedule with my writing. I’m still writing daily and submitting often, but I want to make sure if life happens, I have a buffer.
I also keep track of daily goals and project progress. If I’m working on a bigger piece, I can write part of it and make notes that certain things still need to be completed. This helps me stay focused on the things I need to get done to have success.
Reassess your progress
The key to creating an editorial calendar is checking back to see how you’re doing. If you don’t reassess how the editorial calendar is helping your writing, you could keep doing the same thing over and over without seeing results. Every 4–6 weeks, look back and see which posts are doing well, which ones you could write better, or which ones you can expand on. Use this to study your success, build content, and move forward with better value served.
Using my past successes with posts about bullet journaling for writing helped me come up with the idea for this publication. I saw people needing journal planning and inspiration to achieve their writing goals and thus By the Notebooks was born. I hope it continues to provide value so everyone can achieve their writing goals now and in the future.
An editorial calendar is a great way to set yourself up for success. Having a short future of writing planned out will help you stay creative and keep writing.
Update 2020: I’ve been using an editorial calendar to launch a Patreon and continue delivering awesome content to my readers. You can help support this writing and my novels by joining me and my community. Right now I’m releasing my first novel, Soul Forgotten, for free so you can read along. Become a patron for some fun benefits like podcasts, videos, and other free books.