"Use an editorial calendar!" How many times have I read that phrase in an article about better blogging?
Too many times, to be perfectly honest.
An editorial calendar is, essentially, a schedule for your blog. It can be complicated (a detailed spreadsheet or calendar of posts, needed pictures, and other steps) or it can be simple (a list of blog topics, potentially arranged on a calendar).
If you're running a big business or a marketing company, editorial calendars make sense: with two-tiered editing processes, you need to have materials written far in advance to ensure they are posted on time. The practice of editorial calendars has traveled down to blogs: it has long been suggested that all bloggers use an editorial calendar of some kind to help plan their posts and keep content posted regularly.
However, for a vast majority of personal bloggers, editorial calendars just aren't realistic.
The reason for this is really two-fold. Firstly, editorial calendars remove the spontaneity from blogging, so if you're blogging purely for hobby or enjoyment, you're going to remove a part of the fun from the process. Second, editorial calendars can often start to feel oppressive, even for the most seasoned of entrepreneurs and those who use their blogs as a source of income. I don't know for certain that those who use editorial calendars are more likely to experience burn out, but whenever I've tried to strictly plan a month of blogging, I've found myself resenting it.
That being said, having a plan for your blog--either week-to-week or month-to-month--can be helpful in staying organized and always have something to post. If you're like me (and super busy with a job, a newborn, or an active social life), if I don't have content planned, my blog can be silent for days.
There are lots of ways to keep content on your blog. An editorial calendar is just one method. Here's what I'm doing to keep content posted--but avoiding an editorial calendar:
1. I write posts a week in advance at most.
I try to schedule all my posts for the week on Sunday, which means I spend the week before writing and editing them. I don't like to write posts more than a week in advance because 1) I end up really confused about what time period I need to write about and 2) I think it removes my voice from my blog too much.
2. I keep a constant list of topics.
I keep this list in my Happy Planner, where I write my daily journal and plan blogs for the week. This is just the easiest way for me to store ideas for future posts. Instead of trying to plan for a month or two months at a time, I plan for the week ahead (and potentially for major holidays).
3. I don't do weekly features.
Weekly features are great--I used to love Things I Love Thursday and the like. However, after a few weeks, I find it's easy to use them as a crutch: I don't plan content because I know I'll have a pre-set post for Thursday or Friday. Also, weekly features tend to get a little boring after a while. A few times a year is fine, but who wants to read a list of things you love every single week?
4. If I decide I don't like a topic, I don't write about it.
Last week, I intended to have this post written and posted on Friday. But I couldn't figure out an angle: what did I want to write about when it came to editorial calendars? I don't use one and I generally don't think they work for individual blogs. Because I couldn't decide what I wanted to post about, I waited--I didn't just churn out a post to have one. If you can't think of anything to write, writing fluff isn't the way to go. It doesn't benefit anyone.
Some bloggers thrive on using editorial calendars. It entirely depends on how you write and how you run your blog. Do you use an editorial calendar? How do you keep content organized?