Planning Your Content & Editorial Calendar | “So You Wanna Start a Blog?” Series

October 8, 2015·

In case you missed the previous posts in this “Blog” series, you can check them out here:

Today’s post is all about the MEAT of your blog: the content! Because, you know, without your content, there’s not really much of a blog.

For some people, this is either the easiest thing or the most difficult thing. For me, it’s probably the easiest… Just being honest. There are things about blogging that are definitely challenging for me… coming up with ideas for content is not one of them. In fact, I sort of have the opposite problem. Haha! I have TOO many things I want to write about. So, inevitably, I forget about an idea or I let too much time go by and end up not writing about something I wanted to write about or I get overwhelmed.

I realize this part you don’t really care about. Haha! Just sharing my personal experiences. 🙂 

The first rule of thumb when it comes to creating content for your blog:

Find a system that works for YOU. Not for the other bloggers out there… I’m talking about for YOU. Feel free to try out different systems. Give yourself some grace and if you decide you don’t like the way something is going, you can always change it.

So, before you even hit “publish” on that first blog post, there are a few things I recommend doing:

Decide the focus for your blog.

I touched on this in the first post I wrote in this series, but I want to hit this point again. You need to take some time to figure out what your blog is going to be about.

Is it a beauty blog? Fashion blog? Lifestyle blog? Business blog? Personal finance? Design / decor? DIY / crafting? What is your NICHE?

Now, look… there are no hard and fast rules with this… as I believe blogging should be an extension of ourselves and an outlet for creativity. So, if you don’t feel like you fall into one particular category, then fine.

For me, I actually spent the majority of the first five to six years of my blogging life trying to force myself into a niche. First, I was a comedy blog. Then I was a marketing blog. Then I was a blog about blogging. Then I was a social media blog. And none of it felt like ME. It felt forced. All of it felt forced. Until, one day, I had this epiphany and I decided to stop forcing it and start writing about what made me happy. I wanted to write about what gave me joy. 


And all of a sudden my readership doubled. Then tripled. And then all of a sudden I started getting opportunities to monetize. I felt like I was really doing something I LOVED.

I realized that in my own life, I’m not someone who fits into one particular category. So, for me, why should my blog fit into one particular category? I wanted my blog to represent and feel like ME.

So, from that day forward, THAT was the focus of my blog. My own personal brand and everything that falls under that umbrella.

Does that make sense?

Some of you may do better fitting into a niche like beauty or fashion or travel or food. And that is AWESOME. I’m actually a bit envious of people that can do that… that just wasn’t ME. And that’s okay!

So, figure out what lights your FIRE. Then write about that.

And here’s the test as to whether or not your blog focus lights your fire. Can you come up with 100… yes, ONE HUNDRED, blog post ideas?

Do you have to sit down and spout off 100 blog post ideas in one sitting? Certainly not. But, if you’re having trouble coming up with 10, 20, 50, etc. blog post ideas. that may tell you something.

Blogging is a commitment and it takes WORK. On this blog alone, I’ve published over 1,500 blog posts (and that’s not even including all the old, SUPER EMBARRASSING ones I’ve taken down… haha!!) And at any given time, I have another 100 ideas for posts waiting in the wings.

Because this blog is an extension of me and something I genuinely enjoy sitting down to work on, it’s easy for me to come up with content.

Now, look, I am fully aware that you can still have a GREAT blog even if you don’t have 100 fresh ideas off the top of your head. Especially if you’re focusing maybe on photography or personal style – things that don’t necessarily lend themselves to a bullet point on a list.

I’m simply trying to get you to strategically and creatively THINK in advance and have content ideas brainstormed so you have time to flesh them out down the road.

Next, record those ideas.

For me, I have a “notes” section of my phone where I write down all the blog post ideas that I have. I can always pull my phone out and write down an idea right away as it pops in my head. It doesn’t even have to be a full on idea… maybe just the seedling of an idea. Again, I can expound on the idea at a later date and time… the important part is to get the idea down on paper (or on phone) and not let the idea slip away from you.

Maybe your phone notes section isn’t the best place for you… maybe you do better writing it down in a notebook of some sort. Maybe a vision board is actually more your style.

Whatever it is, find a system that works for you for keeping a record of all of your content ideas.

Remember, content ideas can fall into different categories, too…

Maybe it’s a styled shoot. Maybe it’s a styled post. Maybe it’s an outfit. Maybe it’s a specific blog post topic. Maybe it’s a blog post series. Maybe it’s a collaboration idea or partnership. Maybe you want to explore podcasting or Periscoping or doing YouTube videos.

Content can fall into lots of different categories… so let your ideas fall into those categories, too.

Need some inspiration for generating ideas? This is a REALLY old post of mine… like, six years old, that has some ideas on generating ideas. Some of the methods may be outdated… but hey, do what you can: Idea Generation When You’re Idea-less.

Get to planning.

I, personally, use a hard copy planner to plan out my editorial calendar. Some people like using Google calendars or a wall calendar. There are even apps that can help you plan it out…

For me, I’m old school and I’m visual and like to write it down. So, that’s what works best for me.

I will sit down and look at the month ahead (I honestly try to plan my editorial calendar out about 30-60 days in advance). Then, I visit my “blog post ideas” notes and start planning and spacing out my posts.

I look at anything that might be time sensitive FIRST… do I have any time-sensitive collaborations with companies or brands that need to be scheduled or have assigned dates. I make sure to get those covered.

Next, I look at any ideas, etc. that might be seasonally time sensitive… maybe it’s a “gift ideas” post or series for the holidays… maybe it’s some recipes for Thanksgiving… maybe it’s a Valentine’s Day inspired outfit. Whatever it is, I schedule those NEXT.

Then I look at ongoing series and fit those in… This blogging series, for example, got scheduled and I planned out the posts for it so I would know each week what to focus on. My money series, etc. Essential oil recipes and postsfitness friday… those things all get scheduled in advance.

Last, I fill in the gaps. I look at open dates on my editorial calendar and fill them in with other blog post ideas that don’t necessarily fall into one of the above categories.

I also leave room for grace. Sometimes, something happens and I can’t get a previously scheduled post done in time. Or maybe we get rained out of a photo shoot. Or maybe I wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t get photos done for something… or maybe… LIFE. Sometimes life happens. And that’s okay! Just make it the exception and not the rule. It’s important to leave room for grace. 

And remember… be consistent. If blogging five days a week is too much for you, start by planning out 2-3 days a week. Just BE CONSISTENT and find a schedule that works!!

Then, get to writing.

You’ve decided on your focus. You’ve generated your ideas. Now start writing.

I, personally, recommend having AT LEAST ten of your posts done and written before you officially “launch” your blog. They don’t all have to be published, but have them ready to go.

You’ll quickly learn things as you start writing that you don’t necessarily want to learn after you’ve launched.

So, there you have it. The basics of planning your content and editorial calendar.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with any of these? Anything that YOU like to do? Anything you’d add?