How to Set Up A Comprehensive Editorial Calendar
In my almost six years as a blogger, I've downloaded countless editorial calendars, tried more than a dozen blog post planners, and researched tons of online apps and platforms to help me organize my blog posts. Here's the problem with every single one of them: They weren't comprehensive enough for me.
What I mean by that is, I didn't want to use something that ONLY allowed me to plan my blog posts, because every blogger knows there is so much more to it than a blog post. We also have to plan social media posts, newsletter content, recurring features on our blogs, and so on.
I took a class from Blog Clarity in 2014 called "Content Brew", and while the class as a whole didn't do much for me (only because the actual creation of content ideas wasn't my struggle), the biggest and best takeaway was the editorial calendar spreadsheet template provided in class materials. (By the way, that's an affiliate link for the class, in case you want to check it out.)
I've since done some major alterations to the spreadsheet to make it work for my needs, so today I'm going to show you How to Set Up a Comprehensive Editorial Calendar.
The spreadsheet template I received as part of the Content Brew course served as the backbone for what I have now. This is what it looks like straight out of the box:
I know, I know... It doesn't look life-changing right? Give me a minute.
After playing around with it for a while, this is what I created for my other blog, Sweet Tea & Saving Grace:
Ok...now we're getting somewhere.
I want to point out all the tabs at the bottom that I added, too. I had one for my blog categories, post ideas, linky parties I used to link up to, newsletter planning, etc.
But it only got better from here.
When I said I wanted a comprehensive editorial calendar, I meant it. And when I launched Sweet Tea, LLC in December, I didn't want to create a second editorial calendar, so I did a massive edit of my current spreadsheet to include everything I needed, and removed all the things I didn't.
This is what it looks like today:
It's cleaner and simplified but SO powerful y'all!
Let me give you the tour:
Both of my blogs are represented on the main calendar sheet. On the far left, I have the day & date and highlighted the weekends.
The next 3 columns are for Sweet Tea & Saving Grace - Category, Post Title, & Shortlink.
Next to those are 3 more columns for Sweet Tea, LLC - Category, Post Title, & Shortlink.
HOW I USE IT:
I schedule blog posts on Sweet Tea & Saving Grace every Tuesday & Thursday, and on Sweet Tea, LLC every Monday & Wednesday.
I have a set of categories for each blog that I try to rotate through regularly, and added these as a drop-down menu in the "Categories" column for each blog.
To create your own drop-down menu in a Google Sheet, follow these steps:
1. Highlight the first cell where you want the drop-down menu to go.
2. Click Data, then select Validation.
3. Change the Criteria to List of Items.
4. Add each of your categories to the text box, separating each one by a comma.
5. Make sure you check the box to display in-cell button.
Now you'll see your list in the cell with a little carrot for the drop-down. You can just select from the list going forward.
Copy & paste this cell to other cells where you want this same drop-down menu to appear.
As you can see from my own drop-down menu, I not only include blog post categories, but I also include things like Newsletter, Periscope and YouTube.
And for Sweet Tea, LLC, I include Webinar in my list.
Comprehensive, anyone? I'm not done.
I drop blog post titles into the Post Title column, and when the post has been written, edited, and scheduled, I add the shortlink. This tells me at a glance which posts still need work and which are ready to go.
I also make sure to add my weekly newsletters and any planned Periscopes, YouTube videos, or webinars to my calendar and add topics or titles, and links to the videos.
The next tab is my Social Planner. When I finish writing my blog posts, this is where I create social sharing content for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
I add the post date & title, an image URL in most cases, and then I create 3 tweets, 3 Facebook posts, and one LinkedIn message.
I can grab these and drop them in my Buffer schedule very easily.
Next up, post ideas. This is where I drop any ideas I have for upcoming blog posts and add ideas for content upgrades, accompanying Periscope broadcasts or YouTube videos, etc.
You might notice I've added my categories here, too. It helps for planning. If I need to add a marketing post to Sweet Tea, LLC, I can see what my marketing ideas are and just start writing!
Once it's scheduled, I mark it off the list and move on to the next one.
I send two weekly newsletters - one for each of my blogs - as well as a monthly newsletter for Sweet Tea & Saving Grace. That's a lot of content so I created a separate tab to help me curate content & ideas and schedule it for specific newsletters.
I have the dates for each newsletter and any links or content I want to include.
I host 2 Facebook groups and co-host a third, and try to have planned daily prompts in each group. (Notice I said "try". I'm not super consistent...but I try.)
You might notice by now that I'm addicted to the drop-down menus. They just make my life so much easier.
I map out the main prompt for each day and any notes for things I might want to share.
I've created a bunch of different PDFs, and I usually upload them to my WP media library to share them easily. But as I'm sure you know, the WP media library doesn't make it easy to find things quickly. So one tab in my spreadsheet is specifically for keeping up with all those PDFs and other important links.
Links to course materials, content upgrades, and even links to newsletter templates I've designed make it easy for me to find what I need when I need it without digging through a big media library or even searching through my computer's documents.
I occasionally add or remove tabs for short-term projects, blog features, course attendees, etc. I treat my editorial calendar as the master list for everything involving my business.
- Find a system that works for you, whether it's digital, paper, or a combination of both.
- Treat your editorial calendar as the master planner for everything you do, rather than creating multiple to-do lists all over the place.
- If you use Google Drive, take advantage of the offline syncing. When you log in to your Google Drive, in the left sidebar at the bottom of the list, you'll see a button to Get Drive for PC. You can then access everything on your Drive while offline, like when I was flying last week. You can also drag and drop files on your PC into Drive and it will sync with the online Drive files the next time you are online.
- Plan your social media content at the same time you create your blog posts, then use an app like Buffer to schedule these shares.
- Keep a running list of blog post topic ideas so you're never feeling unprepared when writer's block hits.
Now you tell me:
How do you keep up with all of your blog & business related content?
For more information about Content Brew, click here. *affiliate link*