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My husband and I have this phrase we shout at each other all the time…
It means that it’s time to rethink, reevaluate and get unstuck from our current set of beliefs about how something is and should be.
I’m sharing that with you because after several years of blogging “this way” we recently went through a paradigm shift and started doing it “another way”.
That “other way” is with an editorial calendar.
For the first few years, we wrote whenever and whatever we felt like. We had a schedule for publication but whether we wrote two weeks ahead or at 3AM the day of publication, it hardly mattered so long as the content went out.
As for topics, we wrote whatever inspired us at whatever point we sat down to write. I didn’t want my creativity to be hindered by something so corporate as “a schedule.”
But this year we decided to do things differently.
Now, granted “this year” is barely a month old, but I’ve been so shocked by the results of this one small change that I had to share it with you.
At the end, I’m going to let you steal my editorial calendar (minus the content of course!) so you can use it as a guide to develop your own. If you’re serious about using blogging to grow your business, this could be a real boost.
If you’re not convinced and you’re way more into the whole “inspiration” thing, here are a couple of reasons to start being a little more left-brained.
Inspiration Is Fickle
When was the last time you “felt like” writing? Maybe today. Or last week. Or a month ago. You may be on a tear and inspired every day. But one day you’re going to hit a lull.
You’re going to get bored. Or tired. Or crabby.
Maybe there are no cookies left in the house (that always ruins MY day) and you’ve got much more important things to do (“buy cookies”) than blog.
If you only blog and publish when you’re inspired, you can kiss your blogging success goodbye.
Blogging is part of your business. You couldn’t take a hiatus from paying bills, calling clients or working on projects any more than you can take a hiatus from blogging and still expect it to be successful.
Consistency is important. Showing up is important. So you’ve got to be disciplined about blogging.
If You’re On A Schedule But Not Inspired, Writing Is Going To Be Work
Hard, long, unpleasant work. You’ll do it because you have to. Your writing will suffer. Your blog will suffer. Your business will suffer.
I’m not telling you this because I think so. I know so.
My first year of blogging, I didn’t “feel like it” for about 6 months. Guess how far my blog got during that period?
My second and third years of blogging I put myself on a schedule and made myself write, damnit. Sometimes it got boring. Sometimes I was too busy. Then I phoned it in.
Guess how far my blog got during those periods?
This year, I put together an editorial calendar. Now I know at least a full month ahead of time what I plan to write about.
This has helped tremendously because I don’t have to worry about inspiration kicking in or schedules interfering. If I’m inspired to write next week’s topic today, then I will. If I’m busy tomorrow, then I’ll write the day after. I know what I’ll need for the month so I can choose what to write and when, within the parameters I’ve set.
Guesswork Is Your Enemy
You know what it’s like when you sit down in front of your “idea list” and try to find something to write.
You ponder. You muse. You consider. You wonder if this is the right thing or if that other thing would work better.
All that time spent thinking about writing could actually have been spent writing.
Having an editorial calendar takes out the guesswork. You can wonder once and write many, many posts instead of deliberating over each one.
When I pull my idea list out now, I pick a month’s worth of topics and put them on the schedule. Then when it’s time to write I don’t have to think about it one little bit.
And, see point #1: I don’t need to rely on inspiration.
I find that I spend ridiculously less time trying to figure out what to write about. I’ve already planned it out so writing is just a matter of doing it, not expending precious brainpower obsessing about it.
Monotony Is Really Your Enemy
No matter what you write about, you need diversity within your subject. If you blog about cooking and you post a pork recipe for 36 days in a row, people are going to get bored and look for a chicken recipe somewhere else.
Having an editorial calendar will help you plan for a range of topics that will keep your readers interested.
Not too long ago, we had a spate of posts about presentations and a whole slew of interviews in a row. Do you know what happened? Our unsubscribe rate jumped.
If I was on someone’s email list and all I was getting was a series of same-old, I’d unsubscribe, too.
And as I was analyzing this blog and putting the calendar together, I realized there were a ton of topics we have never even touched. Not because we couldn’t. But because we weren’t “inspired” and because we never really noticed how repetitive we could be.
Now we make it a point to diversify and after just a few weeks we’ve seen a really nice jump in traffic and gotten some worthwhile feedback.
Your Blog Is Part Of Your Marketing
Sometimes when we’re down in the weeds of writing, we can lose sight of the big picture: a blog is only part of your marketing. It has a function outside of adding more pages to the internet, and that’s to drive leads and business.
With an editorial calendar you can get a better overview of how it fits into your overall plan, and you can add key pieces like: what’s the point of this post? What do I expect people to get out of it, or do after reading it? How can I maximize its search potential?
The more details you add, the more analysis you can do on the effectiveness of your plan.
I’ve found holes to plug (keywords? what keywords?) and have a much more cohesive plan for what I’m doing.
Start With This Editorial Calendar Right Now
This is not the editorial calendar. It’s just one. I put it together based on what I wanted to be tracking right now. I’m sure I’ll have another paradigm shift and find a better way to do it at some point (if I do, I’ll let you know!)
You may not need it all. You may think of ten more things to add.
But I bet you’ll find yourself a lot less tethered to managing your blog and a lot freer to actually blog, and focus on using it to make money and grow your business.
Update: You can now get the editorial calendar and a bunch more useful resources in the Marketing Game Changer Kit.