June 1, 2010

Five Reasons Why Your Blog Needs an Editorial Calendar


Editorial calendars have been around far longer than the Internet. Newspapers and magazines have always set them to plan out future issues. Topics chosen were determined based on the time of year and their appeal to advertisers. So if I were the editor for, say, Entertainment Weekly, I might plan a series of interviews and articles based on “American Idol” to be published in January when the season begins and in May when the final contestant is chosen. These are peak advertising times for the program. They should easily attract ads from the Fox network as well as ads from record labels promoting new CDs from the artists discovered on the show over the years. Your blog deserves an editorial calendar as well. Here’s why:

  1. You Won’t Run Out of Ideas. Planning your posts weeks or months in advance means you’ll never be under pressure to come up with a topic to write about. Removing the pressure of what to write will make your blogging experience much more enjoyable and will guarantee a considerably longer run.
  2. You Won’t Miss Events or Holidays. It’s a no-brainer that a website that sells merchandise should plan its blog posts to target the holiday season. But if you blog the way I do my Christmas shopping, you’ll have waited far too long to promote your products. As a general rule, the holiday season used to start the day after Thanksgiving. But watch the malls and magazines and you’ll see them gear up for their most important season the day after Halloween. It may seem somewhat aggressive, but you need to think the same way in terms of your blog posts: If you don’t get there first, you may as well be last.
  3. You Won’t Forget the Small Stuff. Your readers will return to your blog if your posts are interesting and the topics are specific. A general elevator-speech type of post will lose readers if you don’t tell them anything new. If you have a blog about vacation planning, you may write mostly about exciting destinations, hotel rates, the best restaurants, etc. But make sure your blog also includes small but useful items like how to perfectly pack a suitcase or how to say “Where’s the bathroom?” in a dozen different languages.
  4. Your Readership Will Increase. Blogging by the seat of your pants won’t impress your readers. But a evenly paced blog featuring timely posts will keep your readers coming back for more. If your site is “monetized,” meaning it contains ads, you should expect to see a steady increase in revenue over time.
  5. You Can Take a Vacation. Without an editorial calendar in place, you’ll need to blog from the Bahamas and post from Puerto Rico. You don’t want to do that! The last thing on your mind while taking a break from work is the stress of realizing you need to add a fresh blog entry. Scheduling and writing your posts in advance removes the problem and lets you get back to resting your overworked brain. You can also schedule guest bloggers throughout the year to add a new spin on familiar topics. Your readers will appreciate it.

So there you have it: five reasons why you absolutely must have an editorial calendar in place to make your blog successful. And because I follow my own calendar, I can tell you that next Tuesday’s post will contain tips on how to create your own editorial calendar using several different resources.