I bet you’re getting a lot of “Make 2015 Your Best Year Ever!” kinds of emails lately, hey?
Everyone seems to have the magic solution to help you rock the New Year.
Well, not gonna lie, I’m jumping right on that bandwagon, my friend.
Today I’m sharing how you can create an awesome editorial calendar for 2015 (or any other year for that matter).
Yes, I’m going to help you map out your entire year’s-worth of content as quickly as possible.
I get it. It seems complicated and overwhelming trying to create an editorial calendar for the whole year.
It’s definitely a daunting thought. But that’s really all it is – a daunting thought. Because, in reality, it’s actually quite simple to create an editorial calendar full of topics that’ll knock your readers’ socks off.
And in this blog post I’ll show you how.
Why so many bloggers don’t create an editorial calendar
The name itself – editorial calendar – sounds pretty fancy, right?
And usually this is one big reason why bloggers don’t create an editorial calendar – it seems overwhelmingly complicated.
So it just never gets done.
But then you end up flying by the seat of your pants trying to come up with ideas for new posts week-after-week.
This can be stressful and might lead to you blogging very little – or not at all – because you don’t have a plan on what to write about.
When you don’t have a plan, your chances of success plummet.
So you want to boost your chances of success by creating a blogging plan – an editorial calendar.
What you want to remember is that it doesn’t have to be fancy. A simple editorial calendar is better than no editorial calendar.
All you’re doing is taking topics you want to write about and deciding when you’ll write about ’em.
And that’s what I want to help you with – creating a simple editorial calendar in as little time as possible.
The secret to picking winning blog topics
If you want a popular blog, you need to write about topics your audience cares about.
This means talking with them – either sending out a survey to your email list, or chatting with readers over the phone or coffee.
You can also learn more about your audience and discover potential blog post ideas by doing some research. You can…
- Dive into popular blogs – Use a tool like Social Crawlytics to figure out what’s popular on other blogs like yours. What problems do they talk about? What desires are they trying to fulfill?
- Check out forums – Explore sites like Quora, Reddit and Digg to uncover what questions and topics come up again, and again. What kind of help are people asking for?
- Dig into Amazon book reviews – Study both the positive and negative book reviews for popular books in your niche. What solutions are people excited about? What problems have the books not solved that people are ranting about?
- Study the comments sections – Examine the comments people are making on the most popular posts on other blogs in your niche. What questions are they asking? What problems do they still have that they want solved?
You want to do this research and talk to your audience so you know what their hopes, needs, fears and frustrations are.
Once you know these things, you can start to tease out potential blog post topics.
Just scan your research, pick a problem that you can help people solve, and plop that idea into your editorial calendar.
But how do you know what topics will be the best ones to pick? There are 3 main reasons a topic would be a good choice…
- It comes up a lot – If you see the same problem or desire come up a ton, it’s a good bet that that’s something your audience really cares about.
- You know about it – Obviously you want to make sure that you know enough about the topic – or you’re willing to do your research on it – to be able to actually help your audience.
- You want to write about it – This is a key piece that many people overlook. You don’t want to write about something just because your audience wants to read about it. You want to make sure that you’re picking topics that you’re excited to write about. If there’s no passion there, it’ll show in your post.
How to create an exceptional editorial calendar in record time
Keep it simple smarty-pants.
You don’t have to have some crazy fancy editorial calendar.
A simple excel spreadsheet works wonders. It’s what I use and it’s served me well.
To make it as easy as possible for you, I’ve created a template you can use. Just fill in the blanks using the ideas you’ve come up with – that fit those 3 criteria I mentioned – and you’re golden.
If you don’t have Excel, or you’d rather do it by hand, you can download a PDF version of the spreadsheet here.
Not sure how to fill in the blanks?
Take a peek at this example editorial calendar – with topics from 5 different niches – to give you some clarity (click on the picture below to make it bigger).
The key piece you need to calm your nerves
You can change your mind, you know.
This isn’t like a contract.
Over the next few months, you can move ideas around, scrap ’em altogether, or add new topics.
Your editorial calendar is allowed to change.
You simply want to get some ideas down – ones you think you’ll probably write about. That way you’re not overwhelmed trying to come up with topics on the fly.
This’ll help you feel less stressed without feeling like you absolutely have to write about that idea you wrote down if it doesn’t feel right at the time.
I do this sometimes.
I have an idea for a topic I want to write about, then I change my mind and move it to another week. Usually it’s because a different topic feels more relevant and useful for that particular week.
Or, after thinking about it some more, I realize that topic just doesn’t float my boat, so I scrap it.
Or life happens and it dawns on me that sharing an experience I had could be super helpful for my audience. So I ditch what I had planned – maybe moving it until a later date – and I run with that new idea instead.
The point is to have a rough plan in place so you aren’t constantly stressed out over trying to come up with a topic that’ll resonate with your readers.
Ready to create your 2015 editorial calendar?
One of my mentors, Matthew Kimberley, likes to say, “Overwhelm is not a result of having too much to do, it’s a result of not knowing what to do next.”
And that’s what happens when you try to blog your way along without an editorial calendar.
It’s not that you don’t have any ideas – you usually actually have too many ideas – you just don’t know which one to pick, or you don’t know if your audience will like it.
So by spending a few hours researching and creating an editorial calendar, blogging in 2015 should feel less overwhelming.
If you don’t start with a plan – i.e., an editorial calendar – you’ll be constantly trying to figure out what to blog about. And then you’ll probably end up not blogging as much as you’d like because the whole process just seems like a stress-ball of craziness.
If creating your blog calendar for the whole year seems too daunting, just break your year into 30-90 day segments. Figure out what you’ll write about for the first 30-90 days. Then, towards the end of that cycle, figure out what you’ll write about for the next 30-90 days.
A few hours of prep can make for a much more productive and happy 2015 blogging experience.
Have at ‘er. Show your ideal readers that you’re the best person to help them by blogging consistently in 2015 (and beyond).
Lots of love,
P.S. Know someone who needs help creating their editorial calendar? Send ’em this post! (no obligation, of course).