If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of an editorial calendar. Editorial calendars are incredibly valuable for several reasons. They:
- Organize the blogging process.
- Keep you on a schedule.
- Keep you focused on topics you wish to cover.
- Help you plan out weeks (and even months) in advance – which is particularly important for building up to events (open houses, Parade of Homes) and types of projects you wish to attract (basement remodels in the winter, outdoor living spaces in time to enjoy in the summer, roofing and other exterior projects before El Niño hits this winter).
- Reduce procrastination and writer’s block because you already have a plan.
The problem I constantly ran into, however, was that many sample editorial calendars I found online were created for large corporations or organizations that have many writers. These seemed far too complicated for me to use (and probably you, too), and as a result, I didn’t use them.
When you only have one (you) or sometimes two people (your freelance content marketer – me) responsible for all of your blog content, you don’t need a complex calendar/spreadsheet. What you do need is an editorial calendar.
That’s why I created a simple editorial calendar and why I’m sharing it with you.
How to Create a Simple Editorial Calendar for Your Blog
Step 1: Get a Calendar
The first step is simply to get a calendar – one that is large enough to write on and brainstorm with. Some people are really effective with digital calendars, so they start a blogging calendar in Outlook or Google Calendar. Others prefer the pencil-to-paper method. No matter the method, you must pick something that you’ll actually stick to and use.
You can download my simple editoral calendar for your blog at the bottom of this article.
Step 2: What Will You Write About?
This is an important step, especially for home builders, remodelers and specialty contractors, because there are so many directions you can take, but you don’t want your topics to be scattered. Your blog needs focus in order to be successful; people need to know what to expect from you.
[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]#Blogging Tip: Give blog content focus. People need to know what to expect from you.[/tweetthis]
For me, I specialize in content marketing for contractors, specifically online marketing: blogging, success stories, email marketing, website content and social media. Those are the blog topics I want to focus on.
To figure out what your blog will be known for, you need to evaluate your ideal target audience. What content can you share that is valuable to them?
It is crucial to spend the needed time on this step because over time, your blog will help people self-qualify. This simply means that when a prospect is researching via the Internet, they will use your website content (including your blog) to determine if your services match what they are looking for. If they believe so, they will contact you. If not, they will continue with their search.
What you write about is an integral part of this process.
Step 3: Identify Content Categories and Tags
Once you’ve identified what your blog will be known for, develop your short list of categories and tags you’ll use. Keep the category list fairly short (5-6). This will be instrumental in helping you plan out your editorial calendar – because you’ll want to stick to these categories and rotate your content around them.
If you are a builder/remodeler, a sample category list may look like this:
- New Construction
- Project Spotlights
I keep my categories front-and-center at all times, which is why you’ll see a space for them on my editorial calendar. That way, when I think of an idea, I can see if it fits one of my categories or not. If it doesn’t, this almost always means I will not write about it because the content shared on my blog needs to stay focused on my pre-determined categories
Your tags are meant to describe specific details of your blog article. For example, a blog article about interior paint selection dos and don’ts may be categorized under “Design,” but you can tag the article with “interior” and “paint.” Think of tags as the next layer of organization.
This article will help you understand the difference between categories and tags, if you are unsure.
Step 4: Brainstorm Ideas
Now that you’ve developed a focus for your blog by identifying the categories and what you are going to write about, now it’s time to brainstorm ideas – with your calendar in hand. Look at your calendar and see what types of topics you should be writing about now, and which ones are appropriate in the next 1-2 months to generate inquiries.
- If you are an exterior contractor located in southern California or the Southwest region of the United States, now is a great time to talk about El Niño and what homeowners/property managers should be doing to prepare for a wetter-than-normal winter. Perhaps this could be a series of articles?
- Are you a design/build remodeling firm that constantly needs to explain how long a remodeling project really takes because customers don’t understand the process from start to finish?
- Perhaps you are a home builder whose ideal customer is the 50+ community. In this scenario, think about what questions they ask you about your process or pricing. Where do they choose to invest their money into their home (fixtures and finishes, or energy efficiency)? Are they native to the region, or are they deciding to move and retire to the area?
Use those situations as fodder for your blog. If you need more ideas to blog about, refer to this article.
As you are brainstorming ideas, note any photos, links or other items you want to include in the post. Making note of these items during this step only makes the process less stressful and more efficient when you sit down to write the article.
Step 5: Schedule Your Posts
Now that you are more organized with your thoughts and plan, here’s the easy part. Go back to your calendar and write down what articles you are going to post and when. This step not only will help you keep on schedule, but it also will help you write you blog posts more efficiently because you’ve already determined what you are going to write about.
Now that you know the process, why not take the first step? Download my Simple Editorial Calendar below.