Friday, April 20, 2012

April Platform Challenge: Day 20

For today's task, I want you to create an editorial calendar for blog (or website). Before you start to panic, read on.


If you don't like spreadsheets, use paper to plot your calendar.

First, here's how I define an editorial calendar: A list of content with dates attached to when the content goes live. For instance, I created an editorial calendar specifically for this April Platform Challenge and "April Platform Challenge: Day 20" was scheduled to go live on April 20 (fingers crossed I can finish this post).

It's really simple. In fact, I keep track of my editorial calendar with a paper notebook, which gives me plenty of space for crossing things out, jotting down ideas, and attaching Post-It notes.

Here are tips for different blogging frequencies:
  • Post once per week. If you post once a week, pick a day of the week for that post to happen each week. Then, write down the date for each post. Beside each date, write down ideas for that post ahead of time. There will be times when the ideas are humming and you get ahead on your schedule, but there may also be times when the ideas are slow. So don't wait, write down ideas as they come.
  • Post more than once per week. Try identifying which days you'll usually post (for some, that may be daily). Then, for each of those days, think of a theme for that day. For instance, my 2012 schedule offers Life Changing Moments on Wednesdays and Poetic Saturdays on, umm, Saturdays.
You can always change plans and move posts to different days, but the editorial calendar is an effective way to set very clear goals with deadlines for accomplishing them. Having that kind of structure will improve your content--even if your blog is personal, fictional, poetic, etc. Believe me, I used to be a skeptic before diving in, and the results on MNINB speak for themselves.

One more benefit of editorial calendars
There are times when I feel less than inspired. There are times when life throws me several elbows as if trying to prevent me from blogging. That's when I am the most thankful for maintaining an editorial calendar, because I don't have to think of a new idea on the spot; it's already there in my editorial calendar.

Plus, as I said earlier, you can always change plans. While I always knew "April Platform Challenge: Day 20" was going to happen today, I originally had a different task assigned to this day. I altered the plan to accommodate the challenge. So I don't want to hear that an editorial calendar limits spontaneity or inspiration; if anything, having an editorial calendar enhances it.

One last thing on today's assignment
Don't stress yourself out that you have to create a complete editorial calendar for the year or even the month. I just want you to take some time out today to think about it, sketch some ideas, and get the ball rolling. I'm 100% confident that you'll be glad you did.

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Need to catch up or re-visit earlier challenge tasks? Here are the most recent:

87 comments:

Anne Kimball said...

Done. In fact, lately (don't know why), I'm pretty far ahead of schedule. Generally, I have the post for the next day ready to go, but lately I've had almost two weeks of posts ready (I post daily).

I only recently learned I can schedule the posts to be published at a specific date and time. Prior to that, I was cutting content out of the scheduled post, and pasting it into a new post. Learning about scheduling the posts was a lifesaver for me!

Joseph Lalonde said...

I don't currently have an editorial calendar in the sense of what you're talking about but I do have a set schedule of days I post. Those are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

I'll have to add content types to it and then it'll be closer to what you described. And that's something that should be easy as I try to focus on Leadership, Relationships, and Faith.

Three topics and three days of the week... Hmmm..

Misky said...

In a sense I use this method already for Misk Cooks because I often write up post in advance and schedule them for release when I know I've a heavy week (or month) ahead of me. I will however start nailing specific thoughts to dates in my diary, giving myself some lag time to think it through. :)

Lauren Miller said...

Wordpress Editorial Calendar is an awesome plugin I've been using for months now. It allows you to view your blog (on the Admin -- Posts panel) as a calendar to add posts, move them around w/ drag and drop. It's a convenient way, at a glance, to manage your content by week or by month.

Erika D. said...

Done (at least for one of my blogs!). For Practicing Writing, here's the schedule I follow:

MONDAY: Markets/Jobs/Opportunities for Writers (only paying gigs, never any submission fees)

TUESDAY: Quotation of the Week for Writers

WEDNESDAY: Web Browser for Writers (links to an array of interesting items)

THURSDAY: Work-in-Progress (usually something about my own work)

FRIDAY: The "Friday Find for Writers" points readers to a free resource I recommend. For instance, today's find is an advice page from author/professor Emily Barton.

I'm less systematic about my other blog (My Machberet, but even there, I make sure to post a weekly "Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat" item on Friday mornings.

Editorial calendars/structures REALLY help.

Donna said...

Anne I've tried to use the scheduled post and it didn't work for me...any tips?

F.S. (Sharon) Vander Meer said...

Done! Coming from print a media background having an editorial calendar is a way of life, but I also did this as part of an assignment for a Writer's Digest online workshop, "Blogging 101." Thanks, Robert. This challenge has helped me rethink a reorganize.

Barbara Morrison said...

I did this a few months ago for all my social nets and found it very helpful. I was feeling overwhelmed, but knowing there was a set day/time and content helped me tame the beast.

De said...

I assume that as a poet, a "prompt" calendar of sorts counts. I have already done this.
So...done.
Thanks. de.

Mary Bauer said...

I am done. I have one more post to write for my April schedule. I have some ideas for May.

Jen McPeek said...

This is a good idea, and since I started working on it I've come up with a few ideas I'd like to post on. Good work today!

Elissa Field said...

Thanks for today's challenge. This kind of concrete organization is helping me to gain more momentum with my blogging. I also like the idea of themes for certain days. I notice that is one of the things I like about some of the blogs I follow - having certain structured themes gives the articles a sense of rhythm. I began a theme of Living with Books a month ago, although it does not yet have a rhythm. I also want to start adding a post each week that lists the best reads I found on the web that week, although I haven't decided which day to run it. One limitation I've found with my current Wordpress format is I want the ability to have blogs post to different pages -- so I could have a page for fiction-related posts, or one that just accumulates recommended reading related posts. Maybe I'd need to upgrade to a different kind of site to do that?

Enjoy the challenge today, all!

Beth Stilborn said...

I've been doing this for several months now. In fact, I was getting too "locked in" to my calendar, and am now pulling back a bit to allow for spontaneity! (I started doing monthly themes, and weekly themes, and planning everything down to the last t crossed and the last i dotted. That was a bit much.)

Thanks, Lauren for telling us about that plugin! Wordpress Editorial Calendar sounds great!

Stevie Libra Allen said...

Love this idea! I went through piles of information just yesterday to determine one of my blogs needs to drop to weekly and the other needs to increase to 2 or 3 times weekly.
Now I can schedule them according to theme. Yay!

Kyle Robinson said...

I started this a couple weeks before the challenge and I have it put with my idea notebook that I always take with me when I go places I have ideas all the way up through July and always looking to extend it out.

Pat Walsh said...

I think the best way for me to approach an editorial calendar for my blog, which features several distinct but widely divergent subject areas, is to take each area and assign it a regularly scheduled posting date. Thus my basic outline is as follows:

CURRENT TOPICS:
- the history of space exploration (also the subject of my monthly web video series);
- baseball (also the subject of my recent video documentary, and my current non-fiction book project);
- music;
- encounters with nature, spirituality, and literary criticism and reflection.

TOPICS I'D LIKE TO ADD:
- fiction (inc. samples & info. about my current novel project);
- drama (to support my playwriting & theatrical interests)

POST DATES:
First full week of the month:
1. Space (to coincide with posting of video)
2. Baseball

Second week:
1. Fiction
2. Drama

Third week:
1. Baseball
2. Nature +

Fourth week:
1. Fiction
2. Music

This would allow me to focus more on those topics that are at the heart of my 'big' projects (the ms for my non-fiction book and my novel), while still generating a fair amount of content related to the other aspects of my work.

I have to admit that this schedule really seems a bit ambitious, considering everything else that I do in my life (including writing, research, video production, market research, etc.), but it does at least provide a good structure for me to work with as I try to post more content more often.

Melanie Cole said...

Done! Loved this!

Anne Kimball said...

Donna, I'm on Blogger, which just changed its format (as of today). Used to be, when I was writing a post, at the bottom of the page there was "post options", and if you clicked on that, you could set date and time for publication of the post. With the new format, there's a sidebar next to where you're typing in new post, and one of the tabs is "Post setting". If you click that, you can then click "schedule" and then choose either "auto" or "set date and time". Hth....

John Morris Benson said...

I spent too many years driven by my 9-5 to set a calendar for things I just enjoy in retirement. I did intend to keep the daily challenge on my blog because I wanted so to do. However (I am seldom without a however.), my publisher has requested several things of me and that is far more important to me at this time.
Robert (MNINB) is right, however, in keeping a scheduling calendar in pencil. Unless one is involved in a production line with deadlines, it is OK to be somewhat random as long the writer or anyone else does not get hurt, fired, slandered, or embarrassed because of a missed, self imposed deadline.
Whoops! I could have made a post in the time it took to make this comment.

J. B. Everett said...

This, along with the SEO topic has really helped me define my content, so I don't feel like I'm winging it quite so much.

Gerry said...

Great idea, since I'm trying to get back to posting on a regular basis! It would help to brainstorm ideas in advance. I only post weekly now, but several of you have given me ideas about how I might expand.

I went back yesterday and added a call to action at the end of that post, so that's done.

Also, when I Googled "Gerry Wilson Writer" yesterday, I came up FIRST and with several other references! That's so different from when we started, so the challenge has really worked for me.

Thanks again, Robert!

Here's the blog. Again. (Sorry if I'm bugging you all!)
http://bit.ly/HTLROV

And the link to a newly published story: http://bit.ly/IRcH3I

Louise Behiel said...

what a great idea. I'm going to try it.

MaryPf said...

Yeah for #20! This will get me back on track. My blog calendar that I started in January worked until Mom passed away mid Feb. Since then, nothing (except trips back and forth to homesite, etc., etc.)

Since my blog is about aging and the sandwich generation, I’d like to write (thoughtfully, not hysterically) about losing one’s parents BUT my writing is (supposed to be) humorous. Can I sneak in a serious topic without losing my voice? Opinions from all solicited.

Rhonda Parrish said...

Done :)

I have an editorial calendar plugin I use for my blog (which is a self-hosted WordPress blog) and I combine that with a notbook full of blog post ideas for when I'm lacking spontaneous inspiration ;)

~ Rhonda Parrish

Rhonda Parrish said...

@Mary I'm no expert but I think you can definitely sneak in a serious post or two without losing your voice. You are human after all, not a machine. As long as your "out of character" posts are few and far between, I would think it might even be a draw, not a disadvantage.


~ Rhonda Parrish

Sarah Negovetich said...

This has been on my to-do list for sometime, but I never managed to get it down on paper before. Thanks for the gentle kick in the pants.

Veronica Roth said...

Oh Dear, all together too regimented for me I'm afraid. I tend to make it up as I go along. I know this may not be the best way but it’s my way of creating.

Muddy said...

Hooray! Done! I've been working on this for some time getting ready for May. I feel comforted by having a plan in place, and I know I can always change it if something new comes along.

Gerry said...

Done. Six weeks' worth of possible blog topics. I expected this to be hard, since I'm rusty, but it wasn't. Now it would be great to get a couple written ahead . . .

Thanks again, Robert. Happy weekend, all.

Linda Hatton said...

I've fallen behind the last couple of days, so I'm spending this morning trying to catch up!

GoingVeggie said...

Excellent idea and done! I am never at a loss for ideas; it's fitting them all in that paralyzes me. My focus is the audio podcast interviews I create and wrapping words around it. It' tough to keep the dreaded Paralyzing Perfection Pixie duct-taped to the wall. Often, I feel there is so much to do, it's best to do nothing. I'm working through that myth. To this end, I'm starting something I've been meanjng to for months: Wordless Wednesdays! Yes, sans words, it's a food-related picture (send me one!) that needs no written explanation. I will also be more diligent with my Meatless Mondays.

Kelly Williamson said...

Done, and right up my alley. I am a list person by nature, and if I see it in writing, I am more likely to get it done. Trying out a weekly schedule for now, then I'll build up if need be. Thanks for yet another great idea!

Skipperhammond@gmail.com said...

Today's was already done. I'm a total nerd, always making schedules, calendars, todo systems. It's the doing that stumps me. Like, I have to figure out how to insert links in Wordpress posts so I can complete yesterday's challenge.

Ivy said...

This is something I've been wanting to do! Now is a better time than ever! Thanks!!

Jane Ann McLachlan said...

Yeah, I really need to get more organized about this. The calendar is a good idea.

I've found that this challenge is eating up all my writing time this month. Mostly, I admit, because I'm not tech. savvy and every one takes me 5 X as long as Robert predicts. I think I'll put all my networking on it - so I'm not trying to do everything every day.

Mary - I think some serious blogs about losing your mom, from someone who usually writes humour, would be deeply moving. You should do it.

Susan P said...

Done. Very helpful!

Claire Hennessy said...

Great advice. Think I will follow it and start an editorial calendar. This A-Z challenge I am on has taught me how disorganised I am!

Brooke Ryter said...

I never thought of an editorial calendar!! Some thinking I will do.

Thanks Robert!

Romelle Broas said...

Schedules are always a good idea. I have my posting schedule for my critique group. So now I have a posting schedule for my blog, thanks to you. I just need to have a bunch of blogging ideas planned ahead of time to make it work for me...starting May. April, I will be generating ideas for my blog so I'm not too stressed. The important thing about this challenge is knowing what you can handle. :o)

Nicole said...

Hey Nicole here. Done. I plan everything I do everyday down to the details, so blogging and writing always fits in.
Until tomorrow.

Gail Kushner said...

Done. My commitment to myself has been to blog a minimum of twice each month. However, I actually post 4 or 5 times each month. I worry that I will overwhelm my readers.

Now, I think I'll commit to a full blog post each Thursday and I'll post a "Quote from a Psychic" on Tuesdays.

Diana said...

Ugh, this is hard. I am not a planner, but more a seat-of-my-pants kinda gal. I have the ability to do an editorial calendar that will be part of my life more once the Poem-a-day challenge is past. For one thing, I don't know what the topic is until that day. But this is now on my radar and I will start trying to plot in advance and make myself some "tasks" for May.

hcfbutton said...

I'm going to tackle this tomorrow after my exam. I'm really looking forward to it though!

imunuri said...

Done... started anyway :)

JRWoodward said...

I have done the last three challenges, in the sense that I have written the material that needs to be used. However, my website/blog is offline right now. I transferred it from WordPress.com to a local hosting service b/c a real web pro is going to redesign it to make it look more professional. When it is back up Monday or Tuesday, I'll put everything in. Sorry I haven't been posting daily, but we've been through a bit of family crisis, which is resolved now (probably).

JRWoodward said...

I have done the last three challenges, in the sense that I have written the material that needs to be used. However, my website/blog is offline right now. I transferred it from WordPress.com to a local hosting service b/c a real web pro is going to redesign it to make it look more professional. When it is back up Monday or Tuesday, I'll put everything in. Sorry I haven't been posting daily, but we've been through a bit of family crisis, which is resolved now (probably).

bolton carley said...

So excited about this one! Not sure I have it exactly right yet as I'm putting my shorts on my blogger account instead of wordpress, but you inspired me to think of a short post type for days in between my once a week longer blog. And I think they're going to be fun if they catch on - Bolton's Briefs - pictures of my rules to life like Gibbs on NCIS. lol. Already posted to Twitter and everywhere else!

Definitely fits what I want people to associate with me!

Thanks!

Lara Britt said...

Done...last weekend. This was my first week of trying out the blog's schedule. My only tweak is to add a 6th day: Weekend Wrap-up. I'm thinking some readers might just wait for the weekend to catch up on this kind of readings, while others will pop in during the week. Thanks, Lauren, for the tip. I'll check into that WP plugin!

Julia Tomiak said...

Ahh! My "Type A" personality loves this! I post on Fridays and usually publish an "improving vocabulary" for the first Friday of each month. These posts do well, so in the fall, when I have more time (ie kid #4 goes to kindergarten), I'll add those as a regular Tuesday post.
I currently jot down ideas in a notebook - now I'll just add a little more structure to them (ie, dates).

Kirra said...

Done! I like having a chart instead of just ideas floating in my head and notebook.

Susan Craig said...

I am now listing blog ideas for each week in the pocket calendar I use to keep track of writing hours and word counts. My blog feels much more solid, just from having a few ideas on paper. Thank you!
Editorial Calendar sounds so intimidating, but it is really helpful.

Susan Craig said...

I am now listing blog ideas for each week in the pocket calendar I use to keep track of writing hours and word counts. My blog feels much more solid, just from having a few ideas on paper. Thank you!
Editorial Calendar sounds so intimidating, but it is really helpful.

Amy Freeman said...

I just started my blog a few weeks ago not really knowing what I was doing. It was just a "fly by the seat of my pants" idea! This info has been so useful in helping figure out what, how, when, who and so on and so forth. :0)
Thank you for the great ideas!!

Elizabeth Saunders said...

Done! I was on the verge of splitting my blog into two, one for history and one for books. But with today's challenge, I realized I have so many book events in May (authors, a trip), that my main-history blog would get neglected. So for now I'm going to stick with just one.

Saturdays at a minimum and the other days if I can.
Monday: books
Wednesday: writing or photos Saturday: history or genealogy.

Susan, I'm going to use your idea and track my novel writing on the same calendar. First thing's first!

Laura Diane said...

Day 20 DONE!
When I first starting thinking about the blog I wanted to have 20 posts ready to go so I had "wiggle" room. Well, that didn't happen, but I do blog twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday) and I have a rough outline of ideas.

This challenge helped me dig in and solidify some of the ideas so now I at least have t-7 set topics.

Thanks!

Lauri Meyers said...

I incorporated blog posts, critique group schedules, reminder to tweet my post the next day, research publishers time, and oh yes actual writing. Then I took a step back and reconfirmed my available slices of time for the actions. Now I need to plan out future topics, but I'm calling this a successful day.

Khara House said...

Done. I've actually been trying to make myself do this for a while--I already knew I wanted to start having more focused posts (advice, opportunities, updates, sharing work, etc.) but I've never taken the time to actually plan it out. So now I have a Monday-Friday schedule:

Monday: Craft tips/advice for writers
Tuesday: Opportunities for writers (submissions, readings, contests, etc.)
Wednesday: Personal updates
Thursday: Resources/quotes for writers, from writers
Friday: Works-in-progress (sharing new writing, poems, etc.)

I'm actually trying to tentatively plan out the rest of the year--only because I've had these ideas in my head for a while but when it comes to the day, I tend to forget the ideas I had before. I figure if I plan out a fuller schedule, I have all the ideas there, and if I have a different idea I can swap it out or if I don't have the time to write I at least have content for another day.

So thanks for the prompt, Robert! Definitely helping me out a lot :)

Jo Ann J. A. Jordan said...

Done... this was such a good idea. Thank you.

Misky said...

Okay, finally completed. I wrote up a post yesterday, scheduled it for release on Saturday morning so it was appropriate to weekend breakfast, and then added your call-to-action hook from Day 19 at the end. Here's the post. I've Cracked It: How to Poach an Egg.

Kirk said...

Done. I hope this provides some impetus to draft blog posts ahead of schedule. I usually only manage a post at the very last minute

The working life, plus other challenges in addition to this one all have me stretched very thin. Consequently, the blog often suffers.

I have aimed for one post per week and have managed to hold course except for one or two misses. But this process feels so chaotic and stressful.

Perhaps the next step for me is to figure out how to work ahead of schedule, so that these drafts can be made live with little or no effort.

Blyth McManus said...

Done!

Joy Weese Moll said...

I did this while I was waiting for an oil change -- using calendar on my smart phone but a pad of paper and pencil to make the list. Worked great and I think it will help me post every day for the next 28 -- that's how many lines were on the paper.

Anne Marie said...

Done for this weekend. Have big plans in my head for all I will do this summer but planning on doing that over Memorial Day weekend when I will have more time.

Marian O'Brien Paul said...

Have created an editorial calendar for a month. I will probably change the topics once I get doing it.

Donna said...

Done...thanks again for the encouragement you send our way. It is very helpful.

Stephanie Puckett said...

Done!

AC Leming said...

Jotted down some ideas, possibly in the same notebook which ate 19 April's blog post. So, partial cross off. It's a work in progress. ;). Just like my life.

hcfbutton said...

okay, i've finally done my plan. I had a different one in january, but then took on too much. Now I'm going to aim for 1 post per week for each blog. And if I can, do more, as inspired. Thanks for the challenge, even if I did it later than the last 2.

Diane said...

Done. I have one planned based on my two blogs needs as I have somehow got myself into two blogs. Between the 2, I post 3 times a month. It does help to have a schedule.

Jennifer said...

I've given this a good start. I tend to write about what I find the day I need to write my post. The few times I have done series I have loved it. Perhaps I can plan more series using my editorial calendar. Thanks.

Madeline Sharples said...

Better late than never. I've given this a start. I blog several times a week so I've decided to vary the types of blog piece regularly: personal, writing tips, poetry, guest post or book review

Lynn said...

Done. I had done this before and it was really helpful, so it was nice to be reminded again.

Kendra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kendra Merritt said...

Done, it's nice having it all planned out.

Brandi Amara Skyy said...

done! i'm a little out of order, but still working on all of them. i really really enjoyed this challenge. it forced me to think ahead.

Lynn Daue said...

I've tried to do this in the past, and I always get sucked back into blogging about whatever the heck I feel like whenever the heck I feel like. Somehow, I don't think that's going to work anymore ...

CERN Wife said...

Done. I just jotted down the next 5 weeks of blog posts. I usually post on Sundays, but maybe I'll try writing more and posting twice a week in the future. Each of my posts has photos that I take, so I like to think of subjects that have a visual impact as well as a verbal one.

Janann Giles said...

Done - but I have to admit I'm behind schedule right now with my posts. Why? Because I've spent so much time catching up on my daily tasts for this April challenge.

Michelle said...

I had been putting this one off, feeling like it was going to be a daunting task, but like most things that feel so big, once I dove in...it wasn't bad at all. And now I have a whole month's worth of blog ideas. I also made sure to indicate on which day I should reset the goal to create the next month's calendar. Yay...done, done, done. :)

Rebecca Barray said...

Done. ;)

I now have a rough outline of the days and topics for posts for the next week.

Kerry said...

Done! I put the sprdsht together in Excel last November. I've used it sporadically since. Just last week I decided on 2 blog posts a week (Monday & Friday) and aim to stick to themes for each day. I like your idea, Robert, to keep notes of ideas for posts, not necessarily complete them. When I get 2 weekly postings under my belt, I'll think of increasing them. Thanks for this push.

Denise Stanley said...

Done. I post once a week. Every month, I have 4 themes. Fun Facts, book Thoughts, Author spotlight, and Spreading The News. On months with 5 weeks, I ad lib a post for the 5th week.

Rena J. Traxel said...

This is such a great idea! I decided to host a poetry challenge this month and having a idea of what I was going to post each day was a life saver! Something I want to continue doing.

Paul Ellis said...

This posting is not entirely unlike cramping my muse and putting my creativity in a box. The Value of Planning: Good, Bad or Indifferent | It was a Dark & Stormy Night ... http://bit.ly/IEshFV

Kasie Whitener said...

Done. I did this on the 20th but I wasn't pleased with it. I've got a new plan now. It's in action!

Monica Miller said...

Done.

For the literature blog, I've set up ideas to cover posting twice a week for the next four weeks.

For the Presence blog, I've set up themes (I'm not committing to them yet, but I'm planning to try it out next week anyway), for three postings per week. That might be Monday, Wednesday, Friday. In my notebook, I've written this little theme schedule:

Monday - Prayer
Wednesday - Scripture with response (devotion, teaching, or prayer response)
Friday - Lesson from life

The lesson from life theme is a new idea for me to try. Previously, the blog has been mostly prayers, thoughts, scriptures, devotions. Since the lesson from life theme is new for me, under the list I made another category, "Ideas for Friday," which I will hopefully fill in with a few ideas during the week leading up to it. I'm wanting it to be based on an event from which I learned such and such, where I would even share (eeeeek!) some narration/description of the event.

My heart rate is slightly elevated right now at the thought...

Pennie De Witt said...

Done! Thank you!