You’ve probably heard it over and over again:
If you want your blog to be successful, you need to consistently put out content.
You hear it because it's true. Without a consistent flow of content, your blog is, unfortunately, primed to shrivel up and die.
Note that consistency isn’t always the same as frequency. You could consistently publish content once per week. That’s not a high frequency, but it is a consistent output that your readers will become accustomed to.
If you want to achieve this consistency, it’s not really a good idea to adopt a “fly by the seat of your pants” strategy. It’s much better to have a plan for your content. This plan is called your editorial calendar (or content calendar).
And in this post, I’m going to tell you exactly what an editorial calendar is, why it’s important, and the best ways to implement one with WordPress.
What is an Editorial Calendar?
An editorial calendar guides your whole writing process. It takes you from the initial idea, to your first draft, to your editing process, and finally to publication. With such a calendar, you’ll always be on top of where each idea is in the process. It ensures everything gets properly edited and pushed out on time.
It also forces you to think ahead. Instead of wondering, “what should I write about this week?”, all you need to do is peek at your calendar and you know exactly what the plan is.
Editorial calendars come in a few different shapes and sizes. Here are a few popular options:
- Kanban Boards - this is my absolute favorite method. And it’s what Daan uses with me here at WPLift. It’s a board containing different “cards” which are moved between columns as their status changes. Ok, that might sound confusing, but I’ll show you a real life example in the next section.
- Real Calendars - some people like to use a real calendar interface to organize everything. It’s nice for giving a high-level view, but I think it can be more difficult to see the exact status of a post.
- Spreadsheets - blechhhh! I’m not a fan of spreadsheets for editorial calendars, but I know plenty of companies and blogs who use them effectively.
Editorial Calendars Simplify Your Blogging Strategy
I’ve touched a few of these points already, but editorial calendars make your blogging life easier in a multitude of ways.
- One Place for All Your Post Ideas - editorial calendars force you to come up with a list of post ideas and keep them all organized in one place for easy access.
- Easier Organization - if you see that a lot of your topic ideas connect, you can plan them to publish around the same time so each post can reference the others.
- More Consistent Publishing - a calendar ensures you maintain consistency in your publishing. You’ll naturally find yourself writing content in advance so that it’s ready for its scheduled day.
- Better Promotion Strategy - if you have you content planned out, you can also plan social media posts and outreach emails in advance. This leads to better, more organized post promotion.
- Improved Writer Team Management - if you’re a solo blogger, this won’t apply. But if you use a team of writers for your blog, an editorial calendar is absolutely essential for managing them.
The Best Tools to Implement an Editorial Calendar
Trello - Kanban Boards Made Deliciously Easy
Trello is one of the most popular tools for implementing Kanban boards. As I mentioned, it’s also what Daan uses here at WPLift.
With Trello, you create a basic structure with columns. For example, here’s the skeleton of the Trello page Daan and I use:
As you can see, the columns essentially define statuses. Then, for each post Daan or I create a “card. We can place that card in any of the columns to indicate its status. We can also comment, set due dates, and attach files to the card.
To give you an idea - here’s what the card for this post looks like:
As soon as I finish this post, I’ll comment to Daan and move it over to the next column.
Once you get the hang of it, it makes organization incredibly easy. You can set up the columns however you want - for example, many sites will add a “Promoting” column to indicate posts which need to be promoted.
CoSchedule - Calendar and Content Promotion in One
CoSchedule is a popular service/plugin which creates a fully functioning content calendar inside your WordPress dashboard. I haven’t personally used CoSchedule, but I know that a lot of industry professionals swear by it.
Like Trello, the interface is drag and drop. But instead of using a Kanban board, CoSchedule uses a real calendar:
You can easily assign tasks, deadlines, and add comments. It’s got everything you need for an editorial calendar.
But here’s where it gets really cool (and beats out Trello):
You can integrate all your social campaigns with your content calendar. For example, you can automatically send out a prewritten tweet whenever you publish a new post. You can also create a whole sharing plan that will share your content multiple times on a preset schedule.
CoSchedule is powerful not only for organizing your content, but also for promoting it.
Kanban for WordPress - All the Benefits of Kanban Inside Your Dashboard
Kanban for WordPress integrates the same type of Kanban as Trello. The advantage of Kanban for WordPress is that this board is available inside your WordPress dashboard, which confers some further benefits.
For example, you can automatically assign tasks to WordPress user accounts. So, an author could write their post inside WordPress, and then assign that post to the editor for approval.
As a pure Kanban board, Trello is still more powerful. But I think the fact that Kanban for WordPress works within your WordPress dashboard makes it another great option.
Google Sheets - Easily Share With Collaborators
I told you - spreadsheet editorial calendars aren’t for me. But if you do decide to go with a spreadsheet, you should definitely make it Google Sheets. All the Google Docs formats make sharing and collaboration easy. They’re much superior to Microsoft Office.
If you’re unsure how to create an editorial calendar with a spreadsheet, Curata has put together a great list of some examples.
Editorial Calendar Plugin
This is another plugin that I personally haven't used. But, I know Oli used it successfully on WPLift a few years ago, and I see it come up a lot.
From looking around the interface, it seems like a much less feature-rich version of CoSchedule. It's also free, though, which is not the case with CoSchedule.
So, if you're looking for a free, calendar-based option, give this one a look.
If I had to pick one, I would recommend you go with one of the Kanban boards. There’s a reason programmers and marketers love Kanban - they just flat our work.
But even if you don’t like Kanban, it’s still essential to implement an editorial calendar for your blog. It will make you more organized and, to be frank, it’s the difference between a hobby site and a successful website.
What does your editorial calendar look like? Let me know in the comments!