An editorial calendar is a smart blogger’s ultimate productivity tool.
Unfortunately, plenty of bloggers would rather spend time and energy actually writing content than building a calendar.
Why plan how and when to work when you can simply start writing right now, right?
As a result, those bloggers miss out on the amazing benefits of keeping a blogging schedule.
Before we go any further, let’s talk about those benefits.
Bonus: If you already have an idea of how blog editorial calendars work, get started with this free calendar template.
The Benefits of an Editorial Calendar for Bloggers
Here are the advantages you’ll gain by building and following an editorial calendar:
1. Make the most out of your limited time
An editorial calendar is, at its core, a time management tool.
Without it, your productivity relies solely on your mood to write, which comes and goes by the hour.
Building an editorial calendar changes this by letting you see the big picture.
It can give you a measurable, crystal-clear view of your content strategy. This will let you know whether or not you’re working hard enough.
2. Leverage the sense of urgency to boost productivity
You can use a blogging calendar to set deadlines for individual tasks.
Deadlines allow you to utilize the sense of urgency to get your productivity going.
This will definitely help you accomplish your short-term and long-term goals consistently.
3. Stay motivated in the long run
Want to know how I managed to keep up with the blogging lifestyle for over ten years?
Simple — I always find ways to refresh my motivation.
An editorial calendar can give you a sense of satisfaction as you check off your tasks one by one. This works even better if you integrate some sort of “reward system” into your everyday workflow.
4. It massively improves content quality
With a complete editorial calendar, you should have a more organized workload.
That means it’s easier to stay focused on one task at a time. This, in turn, will help you produce higher quality content while eliminating the stress associated with multi-tasking.
Editorial calendars also make sure you pay attention to details like keywords, target readers, and offers.
All these are important factors to remember if you want to create top-notch blog posts that deliver results.
5. Make time for other blogging-related tasks
If you didn’t already know, blogging involves so much more than just writing content.
You also need to handle your content promotions, social media interactions, website maintenance, and so on.
An editorial calendar has room for these additional blogging activities.
It’s all about finding the right time for everything, which you’ll learn to do by the end of this post.
6. Manage a content writing team
For blogs with multiple content writers, an editorial calendar makes sure everyone is on the same page.
It can help you assign, manage, and track each writer’s tasks. If they’re collaborating on the same blog post, it can also help writers know who to ask questions.
In some cases, content teams use an editorial calendar to share useful resources like quotes, images, and reference articles.
What’s the Difference between an Editorial Calendar and a Blogging Schedule?
Creating a daily blogging schedule is one of the best productivity tips I ever talked about in this blog.
If you’re a regular Master Blogging reader, you should already know what I’m talking about.
Anyway, it’s important to draw the distinction between a blogging schedule and an editorial calendar.
After all, it’s easy to confuse the two since they have a lot of similarities, such as:
- They are both time management tools.
- They can help improve your productivity.
- Both can be used to instill a sense of urgency to help you be consistent.
- You can use both to plan your content strategy.
What makes an editorial calendar different from a blogging schedule?
First of all, a schedule focuses on the hours in a day.
An editorial calendar, on the other hand, puts more emphasis on the days in a month.
To give you an idea, here’s what a daily blogging schedule looks like:
…and here is what an editorial calendar looks like:
Sure, a blogging schedule handles time management differently from an editorial calendar. But that doesn’t mean you should only pick one.
In fact, I suggest you use both.
As you can see, a blogging schedule is a perfect complement to an editorial calendar.
While an editorial calendar helps you plan your blogging goals over the following weeks, a schedule ensures proper execution.
It makes sure you have enough time to do everything you have planned for the day.
At the same time, it will help you control the time you spend on non-essential activities. You can do this by allotting time for breaks and other daily activities that may pop at any moment.
Now that you understand the difference between a blogging schedule and an editorial calendar, it’s time for the next step.
How to Build an Editorial Calendar
Ready to build your editorial calendar?
Before you begin, take note that there are three types of calendars you can use for blogging:
Using a printed, hardcopy calendar is the traditional way of planning content. Just buy any printed calendar or planner, put it on your desk, and write down your tasks on specific days.
The simplest way to create software-based editorial calendars is to use spreadsheet software like MS Word and Google Sheets. These calendars cost nothing and are accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
Editorial calendar via apps
Lastly, there are several time and task management tools you can use to build your editorial calendar. Some of these platforms allow you to combine the functionalities of an editorial calendar and weekly blogging schedule.
I will mention a few editorial calendar tools in a minute, along with some of their pros and cons.
For now, here are a few tips when manually creating an editorial calendar using a spreadsheet app.
Using Google Sheets
When you hear the word “spreadsheets,” chances are you immediately thought of two apps:
Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets.
For the sake of this guide, let’s go with Google Sheets since it’s free to use.
1. Using the pre-made calendar template
The fastest way to build an editorial calendar with Google Sheets is to use the pre-made calendar template.
Just fire up the tool and select the calendar template from the template gallery.
After choosing a template, it’s game on with Google Sheets.
The first sheet will show you an overview of the current year.
2. Adding entries to your editorial calendar
To add entries to your calendar, switch to a specific sheet using the tabs below.
Find the specific month where you want to add new content to your calendar.
Once you’re in the right month, just click on the date you want and type away.
There’s no need to worry about saving your calendar. Google Sheets automatically saves your spreadsheet on the cloud as you work.
3. Creating an editorial calendar from scratch
Using the pre-made calendar template is a nice way to save time.
However, it makes it difficult to add and track more details regarding your blogging tasks.
If you pay attention to details like keywords and references, it’s better to use the traditional spreadsheet format.
All you need to do is create a new file and use the blank template.
From there, you can start labeling columns using the details you want to track.
Some examples are the post’s title, date, author, and keywords.
One thing I like about spreadsheet apps is the option to personalize the look of each cell.
I personally use different colors for each column to help find specific information later on.
If you want, you can also adjust the font, text size, and formatting of cells.
4. Quickly adding dates to your calendar
Happy with the appearance of your spreadsheet?
It’s time to fill up the “dates” column.
After all, an editorial calendar isn’t a calendar if it doesn’t allow you to plan ahead using dates.
To quickly add dates to your spreadsheet, fill at least two cells with dates manually.
With the cell or cells selected, click on the tiny blue box at the lower-right corner and drag it down.
Google Sheets will automatically extrapolate the sequence using the date format you’ve entered.
If you need to add more dates to your column, just repeat the steps and drag further down your spreadsheet.
That’s it — you can now start planning your blog content through this editorial calendar.
Why Use Google Sheets?
There are three main reasons why Google Sheets is the first tool I mentioned for your calendar:
- Flexibility — Google Sheets give you complete control over the appearance and functions of your editorial calendar. You can color-code your cells, insert images, add links, personalize fonts — even add forms and checkboxes.
- Easy sharing — Creating your editorial calendar via Google Sheets enables you to easily share it with other people. As long as the other person has a Google account, they will be able to access or edit your editorial calendar.
- Cross-compatible with Excel documents — Already paying for a Microsoft 365 subscription? Don’t worry, you can open your Microsoft Excel spreadsheets using Google Sheets and vice versa.
- Free — Despite being packed with useful features, Google Sheets is 100% free to use. This makes it an excellent choice for new bloggers and price-conscious marketers.
Top 4 Editorial Calendar Tools
Want more out of your editorial calendar?
You can do more with less effort using the right tools.
Without further ado, here are some of the best editorial calendar tools I can recommend bloggers:
As always, I want to start off a list with a tool I personally use.
Trello is a free, list-making application designed specifically for task management.
It lets you turn your tasks into individual “cards,” which you can organize inside lists and boards.
Take note that there are different ways to use Trello.
I prefer to use the desktop app, which you can download from your operating system’s official app store.
Trello has loads of features that will help you stay on top of your blogging tasks.
- Customizable cards — For individual tasks or “cards,” you can add details, checklists, attachments, and cover images. You can also use labels to make certain tasks easier to find or set their priorities.
- Add due dates — You can easily set deadlines for your blogging tasks by adding due dates. Trello can also alert you whenever a card’s deadline is about to expire.
- Use the “Calendar” power-up — Trello has various power-ups that can personalize your task management experience. The “Calendar” power-up, for example, will enable the calendar view for your board — making it extra easy to track deadlines.
- Integrate with other apps — There’s also a power-up that connects Trello with Automate.io. This allows you to automate tasks with third-party services like Salesforce, Gmail, Dropbox, Slack, and even ActiveCampaign.
I urge you to try all Trello’s features to make your editorial calendar as detailed as possible.
For example, my editorial calendar in Trello is basically a board with five lists: “Notes,” “Topics,” “Doing,” “Done,” and “On-Hold.”
I also use due dates and due dates so I can easily browse my lists for the tasks I need to manage.
2. The Built-In Calendar App for Windows and Mac
Both Windows and macOS devices come with a pre-installed “Calendar” app you can use to plan your blog content.
The best part is, you probably already know how to use it.
Calendar for macOS, for example, lets you add tasks directly to specific dates.
You can also add details like alerts, travel time, notes, and attachments.
Another advantage of using your OS’s default calendar app is native notifications.
That means you will automatically get event alerts on your computer without any setup.
The downside is, default calendar apps don’t offer much in terms of features. Still, you can probably synchronize your calendar app with
3. Google Calendar
Google Calendar works just as well as your default calendar app.
It does, however, have a number of significant advantages over default apps.
Google Calendar Features
Don’t be fooled by Google Calendar’s minimal interface — it has a handful of neat tricks under its sleeve:
- Sync with more mobile devices — Google Calendar syncs with billions of smartphones that come pre-installed with the Google app ecosystem. If you use an Android device, you will get mobile alerts from Google Calendar without any setup.
- Google Keep integration — As a Google service, Google Calendar integrates seamlessly with Google Keep. It is Google’s in-house note-taking application that can be accessed from a desktop web browser or Android smartphone.
- Google Tasks integration — Just like Google Keep, Tasks is a productivity app that works well with Google Calendar. This allows you to add and manage your daily blogging tasks in bulk while planning your calendar in one place.
- Collaborate with other Google users — With Google Calendar, you can invite any guest to an event as long as they have a Google account. You may also publish your tasks or events to make them shareable via an HTML code or direct URL.
CoSchedule is an all-in-one work management software designed to help you do your digital marketing tasks on time.
I mentioned it last in this list because it doesn’t have a free version.
However, the amount you spend on a CoSchedule plan is nothing compared to the benefits you’ll get.
As the name suggests, CoSchedule’s design revolves around the use of calendars.
To create an editorial calendar, both the “Blog Calendar” and “Marketing Calendar” plans can be used.
On your blog calendar, you can manage both your blog and social media content. That means you don’t have to invest in a separate social media marketing platform once you grab CoSchedule.
Truth be told, covering all of CoSchedule’s features warrants another full-length blog post.
That said, allow me to share a quick rundown of the features I think you should know about:
- Integrate CoSchedule with your blogging platform — You can integrate CoSchedule with your blogging platform, such as WordPress, to unlock some amazing features. For example, posts will automatically appear on your calendar, Word documents can be automatically converted to WordPress drafts, etc.
- ReQueue — The ReQueue feature works by automatically scheduling and sending social messages. Just add your best content to the ReQueue list once and your followers will never run out of content suggestions.
- Custom attachments — When adding tasks to your CoSchedule calendar, you can also specify custom attachments. One example is the Google attachment, which lets you add documents from Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides to your task.
- Smart rescheduling — CoSchedule allows you to change the dates for your tasks using the drag-and-drop interface. The rest of the tasks on your calendar will also have their dates adjusted to fit your new schedule.
- Social analytics — To make sure your strategies are working, CoSchedule has social analytics baked into the software. You can monitor performance data like growth and impressions for your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on.
Editorial Calendar Best Practices
At this point, you should have enough info to build your very own editorial calendar.
The only thing you should worry about now is making the most out of it.
Remember, having an editorial calendar will not transform your productivity overnight.
You need to seriously commit to it. Whatever you put on your calendar must be done — all obstacles be damned.
As I always say, make every day a great day.
To make that happen, I need you to adopt a few simple habits:
1. Use the 80-20 Rule
When preparing your blogging schedule and calendar, it’s important to have time for promotion activities.
In fact, I’d rather have more promotion stuff than content creation in my schedule.
I follow the 80-20 rule — 80 percent content promotion, 20 percent content creation.
Remember, I already spend tons of hours producing content for my blog. I might as well spend days promoting and leveraging each post to drive traffic.
Whenever I’m not writing, I’m already planning and executing content promotion strategies like:
- Sharing posts on social media
- Writing emails with links to content
- Broadcasting posts via Telegram
- Linking to my content on Quora
Long story short, you’ll make the most out of your content if you implement the 80-20 rule effectively.
2. Know how fast you write
With an editorial calendar, it’s imperative that you do your utmost to stay on schedule.
And to make your content timeline realistic, you must be aware of how fast you write.
The good news is, you should already have an idea after writing two or so posts.
I, myself, average around 500 words per hour, which is why my blogging schedule looks like this:
3. Learn how to write faster
I would say writing 500 words per hour is a comfortable speed for long-term blogging.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m not forcing you to be fast just so you can have a 7-hour schedule like me.
But if you’re struggling to keep up with daily writing, you should take the necessary steps to improve your speed.
My first advice is to stock up knowledge on boosting your blogging and marketing efficiency.
There are several books I can recommend for this. But if you want the ultimate guide to writing brilliant content fast, you should check out The Content Rulebook.
Here are some of the great stuff you’ll find inside:
- Guidelines to create engaging content fast
- Keep the words coming using The P.E.N. Writing Flow
- Build outlines that save time using the R.U.E. method
- Simple, repeatable workplace habits to boost productivity
4. Prepare detailed outlines with word counts
Creating complete outlines will not only help you write faster.
It will also improve the overall quality of your blog posts.
To create detailed outlines, here are a few things you should remember:
- Start with keyword research — Doing keyword research will help you identify the topics and questions you should cover in your post. Of course, it’ll make sure you’re writing content that your target audience actually wants to read.
- Check out similar articles — Spying on competing blogs allows you to create the absolute best content in your space. You can borrow ideas like keywords, subtopics, sections, CTAs, internal links, and more.
- Include word counts — Specifying a target word count will allow you to pre-determine the publishing date of your post. Use this information to set deadlines on your editorial calendar.
5. Consolidate your list of blog topic ideas
Planning your editorial calendar means you should have a list of content ideas in hand.
It doesn’t matter if you’re using Google Sheets or some other editorial calendar tool.
It should be possible to attach your list of blog topic ideas, making it easily accessible at any time.
On Google Sheets, you can do it by adding another sheet and compiling all your ideas there.
While you’re at it, try to include additional details there like word count and some reference articles.
Remember, you don’t have to add more columns to your spreadsheet just for the sake of having more.
The title, word count, and reference article columns should be enough.
Forcing yourself to come up with additional columns will only overcomplicate things.
That defeats the purpose of having an editorial calendar in the first place, which is to simplify and organize tasks.
6. Learn how to automate
Want even more ways to save time in your daily blogging activities?
Here’s something you probably haven’t heard of before: automate.
Certain apps like Trello and CoSchedule already have built-in automation features you can use. But if you decided to go old-school with a spreadsheet tool, you can use a standalone automation platform like IFTTT.
IFTTT is a free tool that allows you to chain together tasks from two different apps.
All you need to do is create “recipes” by identifying the apps you want in your workflow.
One app will be responsible for the trigger, while the other will execute the follow-up action.
If this, then that.
Here are some IFTTT recipes to get you started.
7. Reward yourself if you finish early
I’m a believer of positive reinforcement.
Whenever I finish a task early, I treat myself with a night watching Netflix — my favorite beverage in hand (non-alcoholic).
This gives me something to look forward to whenever I look at my editorial calendar.
You can do the same and promise rewards to yourself as a motivation source.
Of course, the reward doesn’t have to be the same as mine. It can be anything you positively love doing — from playing videogames or reading books.
8. Get an accountability partner
An accountability partner is someone you tell about your goals.
You and your partner may coach each other whenever you can. But an accountability partner’s main responsibility is to make sure the other party lives up to their commitments.
Accountability partnership works because you’re not only disappointing yourself whenever you fail to hit your deadlines.
You’re also disappointing your accountability partner — and you’ll be well aware of it.
This adds that much-needed pressure to do well and stick to your plans.
To find an accountability partner, follow the simple steps below:
- Step 1 — Look for anyone in your circles. Ideally, it should be someone who is knowledgeable in blogging or digital marketing.
- Step 2 — Choose a method of communication. It can be Skype, Facebook Messenger, email, or even phone calls.
- Step 3 — Arrange a weekly meeting. During that day, both accountability partners will report about their week and share future objectives.
9. Be sure to use reminders
Finally, you should use reminders to make sure you never forget your due dates.
If you’re using Google Sheets, the easiest way to set reminders is to manually create them with another tool.
You can use any app on your phone or computer to do this. I prefer using mobile reminders since they can reach me whenever and wherever I go.
Of course, that’s only a suggestion.
There are several other, easy ways to set reminders for your blogging tasks.
It’s entirely up to you to decide which method to use. What’s important is, you’re being duly reminded whenever a deadline is drawing near.
Ready to build your editorial calendar?
Don’t forget to download my editorial calendar template for 2020 to 2022. The link is posted in the intro — go check it out!
If you have any questions or suggestions, don’t forget to leave a comment below.
Also, share this post with other bloggers whom you think really need an editorial calendar. Your shares and comments really help me out.