Why you need an editorial calendar

Several weeks ago, I saw a post in Chronic Illness Bloggers Facebook group from our fearless founder Julie Ryan asking for handmade gift ideas for an upcoming Valentine’s Day post. Mind you, her request was weeks before Christmas or New Year’s. I remember thinking, “Wow, how in the heck is she so far ahead? I’m doing well to push out this week’s post this week!”

Well, here’s her secret: She has an editorial calendar (and a lot of self-discipline to be months ahead on her posts). An editorial calendar is just that – it’s a calendar that maps out future editorial content. I vaguely have one of those floating around in my head, but I’ve never really taken the time to write it down except for scribbling in a few due dates on my wall calendar. However, New Year’s a great time to finally create one!

Here are a few reasons why an editorial calendar is so useful:

  • We’re living with chronic illness, and that means life can be pretty unpredictable. We never know when we might be too sick to push out a blog post or finish writing that CIB review that’s due, so planning (and writing) ahead of time helps us avoid lapses in our publishing schedule and missing deadlines.
  • It helps us plan for special events, holidays, product launches, etc. This year, I got behind and didn’t publish my “15 tips to survive the holidays with chronic illness” post until mid-December. To be the most helpful for readers, it really should have been published a month earlier when people were just beginning their holiday preparations. If I had had an editorial calendar to help me push the post out on time, it would have had a much longer shelf life (i.e. there would have been more days and opportunities for it to drive traffic to my site) and benefited more people. That was a missed opportunity. My bad.
  • It saves us from writer’s block. How many times have you sat down in front of the computer to bang out a blog post and nothing comes to mind? An editorial calendar of post ideas saves you from that agony.
  • It helps us to look at the big picture. I try to offer several types of content on my blog (news, reviews, research, personal reflection, etc.). An editorial calendar would help to ensure that I’m balancing content among the various categories.
  • Working ahead = better content. How many times have you rushed through writing a blog post, hit the publish button and then reread your work later and realized it was a mess of typos, incomprehensible sentences, etc.? Planning your posts and writing in advance allows you to write your post and come back to it at another time to see it with fresh eyes. I know from experience that usually helps me to improve my posts because I will see a better way to make a point, or I’ll find edits that need to be made before I publish.

For even more reasons for why an editorial calendar is helpful, check out NewsCred’s “6 reasons why you need a content marketing editorial calendar.”

Since I’m pretty clueless about everything an editorial calendar entails, I’ve decided to defer to a few blogging experts on how to set one up:

Buffer: The complete guide to choosing a content calendar – tools, templates, tips and more

They don’t call it “the complete guide” for nothing. If you only click on one link in this post, this is the probably the best one all around. It shows examples of editorial calendars from big names like Time and Forbes magazines and presents a list of helpful tools, including editorial calendar plugins. Who knew there was such a thing! (Probably Julie!) 

BlogHer: Why you need an editorial calendar and how to make one

Entrepreneur: How to create an editorial calendar for your blog

CoSchedule: Free editorial calendar templates

Content Marketing Forum: The ultimate list of content marketing editorial calendar templates

Convince & Convert: 10 reasons your editorial calendar sucks (and how to make it the best)

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