Blog Like You Mean It

There’s really only one way to blog like you mean it, and that’s to post content on a regular basis.

Most of us come to our new blogs with enthusiasm bubbling from our pores. I was going to say orifices, but that would be gross. Oh sure, 90-95% of bloggers abandon their blogs, but we’re certainly not joining that slacker-fest. And we sure as heck won’t ever be one of those loafers whose blog posts begin with, “Sorry I haven’t posted in the last 87 years but . . . ”

Despite our shiny intentions, the reality is that writing blog posts on a routine basis is a lot tougher than it looks. Even though I love to write, there are days when I don’t like it one bit. On those days I feel like there’s an empty cartoon bubble above my head. I stare out the window, waiting for inspiration to rain from the sky. I trim my fingernails. I play with the cat. I wonder if Johnny Depp has gotten that letter I sent him. I eat a Snickers bar. Okay, two Snicker’s bars, but who’s counting?

The good news is that there’s an easy way for people like us to avoid all that “I-have-no-flippin-clue-what-to-post-about” angst. The bad news is that it takes some up-front planning.

So what’s the secret? How can we all blog like we mean it?

May I have a drum roll please?

The secret to blogging like you mean it is . . . . . creating an editorial calendar!

Well, that was quite the letdown, wasn’t it?

Sorry, but there’s just no way to make creating an editorial calendar sound sexy. In case you don’t know what an editorial calendar is, it’s a written schedule of what you plan to write about over an upcoming time period. Traditional publishers have been planning their content this way forever, and many smart bloggers have adopted the practice.

Why would a blogger use an editorial calendar? Well, I can think of several good reasons:

  • It eliminates the stress of having to think up a new posting idea every time you sit down to write and puts at least a few words into that cartoon bubble over your head. This in turn cuts back on the number of Snicker’s bars consumed, thus eliminating the expense of buying new fat pants.
  • Having pre-planned posts lessens the likelihood you’ll use your blog for public rants about your boss, greatly reducing the risk of unemployment and homelessness.
  • Plotting out posts in advance gives your blog’s content a sense of focus and direction, which gives the impression, however false it may be, that you boarded the Clue Train the last time it rolled through town.

The term “editorial calendar” sounds stiff and boring, but yours doesn’t need to be like that. It can just be a scribbly, brainstormy sort of thing. All you’re doing is making up a plan of what you want to write about for the next week, month, or however far out you decide to take it. I don’t even assign actual dates to my posts because I know there will be times when I want to swap things around or go in an entirely different direction. I love my editorial calendar, but I’m not married to it.

If you decide to create an editorial calendar for your blog, here are some tips:

  • Be clear on your topic, your brand, and your target audience before making up your calendar.
  • Think about how many times a week you plan to post.
  • Ask yourself if you need to deliver your content in any particular order.
  • Consider seasonal or special events that might influence the content or frequency of your posts.
  • Determine if you want posts to be unrelated, series-based (several posts covering the same subject), or a combination of the two.

Still have questions about editorial calendars? Post your questions in the “Comments” section or check out this post on Problogger.

Leave a Comment. Do you use an editorial calendar? If so, do you stick to your posting plan or make changes as you go along?

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9 Responses to Blog Like You Mean It

  1. Mars Dorian March 26, 2010 at 7:36 pm #

    I use my own style of editorial calendar. I have 5 – 7 basic themes a week, and choosing at least 5. Topics that are based on weekdays, kind of like : Brand Thursday, Epic Monday, wild Wednesday etc.
    Not only to I follow this structure, I also post a little widget on my left sidebar to show it to my audience.
    It's useful as heck !

  2. virginbloggernotes March 26, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    Mars, I also want to create a theme-for-a-day type structure and will show examples of that later next week on here. I love how you're making it work on your site and will use your blog/link in the post when I talk about the concept. Love your site, by the way, and here's to the Creative Crusade :)

  3. jessicacrooks April 1, 2010 at 1:12 am #

    Great blog and useful information throughout. I will definitely create an editorial calendar for my blogs.

  4. virginbloggernotes April 1, 2010 at 1:54 am #

    Thanks for stopping by, Jessica. My editorial calendar is definitely a work in progress :)

  5. Comic Mummy June 16, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    Ooh, love this idea. Thanks so much, I'm going to start this for sure, I think it's also a good way to make sure your content is balanced (that you're not accidentally putting four 'photo only' posts in the one week, for instance).

    LOVE your blog, just added you to my google reader (which have only just discovered and has already changed my life.) :)

    • Jean June 16, 2010 at 7:30 pm #

      Google Reader rocks. We won’t talk about how many blogs I’m subscribed to. Yikes :) I go through and unsubscribe to some sometimes and then I add even more than before.

      Having an editorial calendar has kept my hair from totally flying off. I tend to want to work on 76.2 things at once so it keeps me from being revealed as the scatterbrain that I truly am.

  6. virginbloggernotes June 17, 2010 at 12:32 am #

    Ack, my comment just disappeared :) Now let's see if I remember what I said . . . .

    I know for sure I said Google Reader rocks and that I'm subscribed to way too many blogs. Someone needs to start a 12-step program for people like me . . .

    Thanks for stopping by and hope you'll feel at home here. Your blog rocks, by the way :)

  7. Ian June 17, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    Thanks – you now have given me a heads up on how to plan my blog a bit better. I keep having ideas about possible posts but end up writing what comes to me when I sit at the pc – all a bit too random. Can't write much more, got to plan my editorial calendar!! – great post.

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  1. Take Control of Your Content Writing - April 5, 2010

    […] bloggers, the idea of writing frequent blog posts has as much appeal as a stinky sock. Even with an editorial calendar as a guide, creating fresh content on a near-daily basis can feel overwhelming and scary, […]

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