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This past week, I spent a few hours putting together my editorial calendar for the entire year. Of course this is a rough calendar and it’s very likely that I’ll make changes as I go, but it makes my year so much easier when all of my blog content is already planned out in advance. This only took me a couple of hours to do and once it was done, I posted about it in one of my favorite blogging support groups on Facebook. Immediately, my inbox was flooded with messages from other bloggers wondering how on earth I managed to have an entire year’s worth of content planned out and how I went about putting it all together. A lot of them had been using excel spreadsheets to gather ideas and after looking at some of them, I instantly understood part of why they were having so many issues. Their spreadsheets were a complete mess. They made it so much more complicated than it had to be.
While some bloggers are very successful at putting together their calendars with excel, I’ve always built mine with CoSchedule. It’s a million times easier and faster and honestly, I have no idea why other bloggers would use anything different. Entering a new year can be stressful for bloggers and small business owners so today I’m sharing my methods for planning out your editorial calendar for the entire year!
SET UP COSCHEDULE.
First and foremost, you need to have an editorial calendar of some sort. Otherwise, how would you set up your calendar? I started using CoSchedule* about a year ago and never looked back.
What is CoSchedule?
First off, what is CoSchedule? CoSchedule is an easy way to organize all of your blog’s content and social media promotions all in one place. Pretty straightforward. It’s really THE best editorial calendar I’ve come across and couldn’t imagine using anything else. It’s amazing!
How does CoSchedule Work?
CoSchedule uses a drag and drop format to make it easy for you to set up your calendar and make changes as you go. It integrates with WordPress allowing you to easily make changes to your calendar without having to go into each individual blog post and make the changes manually. If you drag and drop a post from Monday to Thursday, CoSchedule syncs with WordPress and makes all those background changes for you so you don’t have to. No need to go into those posts and update them with the new date and time you have them scheduled for because CoSchedule already did it!
Not only does CoSchedule help you build your editorial calendar, it also helps you to schedule out your social media as well. It connects to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Google+, allowing you to schedule out all of your social media content in a single place. So if you want an app that manages everything, this is a great option!
CoSchedule integrates with WordPress, Evernote, Google Docs, Chrome Extension, Google Analytics and the Headline Analyzer. All of these integrations make it easier to create and schedule out your content from multiple platforms. They also help you to analyze your website traffic with GA link tracking and reports. Some of the many ways that CoSchedule makes content creation easier for bloggers and small business owners.
Why should you use CoSchedule?
The number of reasons why I love CoSchedule* is never-ending. The big thing for me was how easy it is to use. Rather than spending hours trying to set up the perfect spreadsheet in excel, CoSchedule is already set up for you. Not only that, but it allows you to color code all of your content. So for my personal calendar, I color code based on topic so that I’m better able to see how often I post about marriage or how often I post about fitness. I like to keep my calendar well-rounded so this makes it easier to see what topics I’m covering the most and what topics I need more content on. And lastly, I love that I can schedule everything all in one place. While I do use many different schedulers for my content scheduling, CoSchedule makes it easy to do it all in one place. I couldn’t imagine setting up my editorial calendar any other way!
ORGANIZE YOUR IDEAS.
Once you have an editorial calendar in place, you then need to make sure your ideas are organized. I keep all of my blog post ideas in Evernote. I have a list for every blog topic I cover on my blog: beauty and style, health and fitness, marriage and family, our life, and pregnancy and parenting. I’m constantly adding to these lists so that I always have ideas at my fingertips if I ever need them (or for times like this when I’m planning out an entire year’s worth of content). A question I get a lot here is how do I get inspiration for new content? There are three main ways that I gain inspiration for my blog posts:
- Other bloggers. Now when I say I gain inspiration from other bloggers, I am not saying to copy what other bloggers are doing. That’s a big no-no. If someone else is posting “10 ways to become a morning person”, I’m not going to go and do the same exact post. Instead, I might do “my top 5 tricks for creating an awesome morning routine” or something along those lines. Make sense? So don’t copy them, but it’s perfectly okay to gain inspiration! And most times, I’ll link back to the original poster if I find my topic is super close to theirs.
- My top posts. If you don’t have Google Analytics installed, then you need to do that today! Google Analytics provides you with so many important stats that you can use to your advantage. In this case, it can show you what posts are most popular on your blog. From there, you can brainstorm new ideas that closely relate to those posts. That way you know it’s information your readers are loving and wanting!
- Everyday life. My everyday life is the main source of inspiration for my blog posts. For example, I am currently pregnant and expecting our first baby this year. So it’s given me a TON of inspiration for pregnancy and parenting related content. For marriage posts, I gain a lot of inspiration from my own marriage. If there’s an issue we’re having that I know other couples are probably having as well, then (with permission from my husband) I’ll write about it and share how we got through it together as a couple. Everyday life and personal experience is a great way to come up with new blog post ideas.
So once you have a ton of ideas on hand, it’s time to start plugging them into your calendar.
BEGIN WITH HOLIDAY AND SEASONAL CONTENT.
I start with holiday and seasonal content because it tends to be the easiest first step. Plus, it can sometimes be easily overlooked as well. So I take it month by month and plan out all of the content ideas I have for each holiday and season. Christmas tends to be the big one as you have Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s all in a just over a one month period. I tend to have about 3-5 posts dedicated to each major holiday like Valentine’s Day, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. This content starts about a month or so in advance. I’ll then post seasonal content a few months in advance, so for example summertime content will start going up in late April or early May and extend to maybe early August. By then it’ll be autumn content. You want to be a little bit ahead in these things.
Like all my other post lists, I also have lists full of holiday and seasonal content ideas as well, but those tend to come a lot easier to me than my usual content for some reason. The ideas just keep coming. But be sure to not post everything under the sun for every holiday. If you’re a health blogger who never posts about fashion, don’t do a post on holiday party looks. This wont fit your audience. So try to keep your seasonal content in line with your niche.
ADD IN YOUR ‘PERSONAL’ CONTENT.
Some of you may be able to skip this one, but if you’re a lifestyle blogger like me and you love to share your life with your readers, then this is where you enter those posts. Of course random things come up here and there that you’ll want to share with everyone, but for now, we’re planning out the events that you already know are coming up. So go back to your calendar and take it month by month. For my calendar, I have a lot of pregnancy posts between now and May/June. I do a check-in ever five weeks or so along with trimester recaps, the gender reveal, and of course the birth announcement when the baby arrives. Next, I do my monthly goals posts so I can easily plug those into the first day of every month.
GO THROUGH YOUR INSPIRATIONS LIST.
Lastly, you’ll want to go through those lists that I told you to make at the beginning of this post. Start plugging all your ideas into your calendar. Since I have five main topics, I try to cover each one every week that way I’m well-rounded and I’m not constantly posting about the same topics over and over again. Some of my ideas are season or month-specific so I’ll put those where they’re supposed to go, but for the most part, I just start with January and take it month to month. And usually as I go, I’ll come up with more ideas as well. It’s like a giant web of ideas.
If you have some blank spaces at the end of all this, it’s okay! I actually purposely leave some blank spaces here and there to account for any miscellaneous ideas or sponsored posts that come up throughout the year. It’s good to have some wiggle room. This is simply just a rough draft for your year. I guarantee you’ll make a million changes between now and the end of the year. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I hope this post was helpful for you in setting up your own editorial calendar! If you have any other questions regarding my process, feel free to ask me in the comments section below!
How do you set up your editorial calendar for the year?