It still comes as a genuine surprise to people how organised I am with my blog, particularly those who have known me since before I started writing and therefore are fully aware of just how unorganised I used to be. I talk a lot about being organised in blogging, as I find it really helps me to keep on top of things, so I thought I'd share the one thing I couldn't be without when it comes to writing content - my editorial calendar. My calendar has taken numerous forms over the years, starting as a simple list in an old notebook before eventually moving on to become a spreadsheet and Google Calendar combination. I've figured out what system works best for me, and there's definitely not a one size fits all solution, but my editorial calendar works wonders when it comes to planning and producing posts for my blog and my social channels too.
Figure Out What Works For YouThe first step in creating an efficient editorial calendar is sitting down and figuring out how you work best. Do you prefer handwritten lists over a digital calendar? Would a bullet journal style system be more beneficial than a spreadsheet? Don't be afraid to mix and match, I certainly do, but there's no point in trying to work in a way that is detrimental to your productivity. At the moment I have a bit of a hybrid system, in which I use my Google Calendar to roughly schedule the days I want to post and what I want to post about, alongside my YouTube videos, college commitments, appointments and events, then I have a spreadsheet which contains a rundown of my posts, the categories and what needs to be done for each piece of content. I also keep daily to-do lists in my diary which I update every evening to figure out the best way to allocate my time. I have been considering a bullet journal type spread, but I find that having a calendar that I can sync across all my devices for easy access fits in with my lifestyle and typical routines a bit better.
Consider Your Commitment
It can be tempting to spend hours creating a fancy spreadsheet with all the bells and whistles, but can you really commit to investing these hours on a regular basis? The system you choose needs to suit the time you have available to spend on your content planning, so I'd carefully consider this when you start working on your calendar. In another respect, you have to think about your blogging schedule. There's no point in creating a calendar of daily content for your blog when in reality you only post once or twice a week! I used to try and force myself to post every single day without fail, but it just doesn't work for me. Instead, I use my Google calendar as a tool to figure out what I can post and when. This is particularly handy when I have to balance my course commitments and social life too, as I can easily see what else is happening in my life at a glance. If I have a lot of deadlines in one week, I'll post less, but if I have a relatively empty schedule I'll maybe try to squeeze a couple more posts in to make the most of it.
Think About Categories
Colour coding is life. I'm all about assigning pretty shades to different schedules and categories, so it's something I incorporate into my editorial calendar in a big way. My Google calendar hosts 7 different mini calendars, each with its own dedicated hue, and my spreadsheet is colour coded based on the post category too. I find this really helps in keeping my content fresh, as I can quickly see what topics I've been talking about more often, and can substitute something a bit different to mix things up a bit.
Leave Space To Brainstorm
The main thing my editorial calendar helps me with is planning new posts. Obviously, it's primary purpose is to plan when they are published, but it also helps me to come up with the ideas in the first place! By having a clear overview of what I'm writing about, and when I'm writing about it, I can spot gaps to fill and figure out what would work there. This is where my Google calendar comes in particularly useful, as I can see what occasions and seasons are coming up that may influence my content. I try to be as flexible as possible with my content and often have a bank of post ideas ready to slot into empty spaces as and when they're needed.
Be Ready To Adapt
Once you've settled into a routine, it's important to remember that it doesn't have to be set in stone. Change can be good, and it might help you look at your organisation with a fresh set of eyes! If something isn't working for me, I'll take a look at how I can alter it to work better, or just remove it from my calendar altogether. Even simple things like shifting a couple of posts around or publishing on new days can help everything fall into place, or sometimes I might need to scrap my system altogether and go for something more complex. For example, at Christmas time I tend to add a new page to my spreadsheet to help me deal with gift guides or social media content, as I try to increase the rate at which I share new posts in the run-up to the big day, so having a more in-depth organisational system helps me keep up with the added pressure.
Overall, though, it's just about what works for you. Some people are born organisational-geniuses, whereas some, like me, have to work hard to stay on top of things. If you have any tips or tricks for organising your blog (or life) then be sure to leave them in the comments, as I know that I'd love to hear them and I imagine many others would too!