An editorial calendar helps you plan your content creation. It tells you (and anyone you work with) what kind of content you will create and when it will be published.
Basic steps for creating an editorial calendar
If you have never planned out your content, here are some things to consider:
- List the places you want to publish content. This might be posts on your blog, videos on YouTube, email blasts or regular newsletters to your list, updates to social media, etc.
- Decide how often you will publish in each place.
- Choose the main topics you will cover in each.
- Set up a basic weekly schedule outlining what gets published, on which platform(s) and on what days and times.
- Block out time on your schedule to create the content.
- As it’s created, publish it or schedule it to be published.
- Keep a notebook or app handy to jot down notes with ideas.
How I put together the Useletter (a case study)
I have been sending out the Useletter every Saturday since June 2013. Since it is my main piece of content, I thought I would use it as an example of how I create content.
Many people have asked me how I find and organize the tips I share.
Can’t see the video? Watch it here.
Here’s my basic process:
- Consume LOTS of content. My sources include podcasts, blog posts, YouTube videos, newsletters, ebooks, books, social media or whatever else I can find. I funnel most of it into Feedly.
- Organize the content as I consume. I try to organize all incoming info into categories in Feedly, but…that system works a lot better in my head. As I’m reading, I save anything Useletter-worthy in Evernote (referral link). I have tags in Evernote corresponding to the basic topics I share in the Useletter and tag things as I go.
- Write the Useletter. When I’m ready to write the Useletter, I use my editorial calendar to see which topics I’m due to cover. I write up the tips in Mad Mimi (referral link). (If you’re looking for an email service provider, Mad Mimi is easy & dreamy.) Many people have asked me how I keep track of the tips I share in the Useletter. Here’s a basic explanation of my process, along with a video tutorial.
The Useletter editorial calendar
Here is a closer look at the calendar I use to plan out the tips I share in the Useletter.
I keep my editorial calendar for the Useletter in Google Drive. (If the video looks blurry, make sure you have “HD” selected in the bottom right corner of the video.)
Can’t see the video? Watch it here.
To create a calendar like mine, go to Google Drive, click “New” and “Google Sheets” to start. Edit your spreadsheet and make it pretty by dragging and dropping column & row dividers, adding color to cells, changing fonts and text sizes, etc. Here’s a breakdown of the columns and rows I use:
Section 1: Calendar & Issue No.
My first set of columns is a calendar with months and days. I also have a column that lets me keep track of the issue number (ex. Useletter Issue No. 31).
I use the calendar mostly for reference, but it’s also nice to be able to see things at a glance.
For example, when I have written and scheduled The Useletter to go out on a particular day, I change the color of that box on the calendar.
Not only can I see at quick glance that an issue is scheduled, it also gives me a quick overview of the day I send The Useletter out. (This was especially helpful in the beginning when I was testing different days I was sending each issue out.)
Section 2: Topics or Categories
Across the top of the next set of columns, I indicate the general topics or categories of the tips I share. I do this to make sure I share a balanced variety of tips.
I cover 8 basic topics and split those in half so I share 4 different tips each week.
Section 3: Notes
The notes column is for anything I want to remind myself of. For example, “I used a checkmark in the subject line this week.” This is handy for testing what works and what doesn’t.
Sometimes I also use this space for notes that aren’t necessarily tip-related, but upcoming sales or “Behind the scenes” notes.
Section 4: Shortlink
The last column is a shortlink to the web version of each individual issue. This is handy to have so I can easily grab a URL to reference in a particular issue.
I manually enter the shortlink every week after subscribing to The Useletter myself. When it arrives in my inbox, I open it, check to make sure it looks good and then click the “Web Version” button and copy the link URL. I go back to my editorial calendar and paste it in to the last column.
Section 5: Adding tips
To flesh things out, if I have an idea for a tip, I type in the main idea of the tip in a cell under the appropriate category. If I have additional notes to add to that tip, I can click on that cell, go to Insert –> Note which gives a lot more space to write additional info regarding that tip. Cells with notes are indicated with a small triangle in the top right corner.
Putting it all together
Want to see the finished product? Subscribe to the Useletter and see for yourself!