You’ve heard of editorial calendars. Everyone talks about them as an important tool for blogging. But it just seems like a lot of work, right? After all, you’re too busy winging it to plan ahead. And what if you don’t feel like writing the post you planned when the time comes? Wouldn’t that make planning a waste of time?

Here’s the thing: Starting with something is always easier than starting from nothing. An editorial calendar gives you a starting point for your posts, an idea to work from. It means you can skip the whole thought process of what to write about and go straight to the actual writing.

Like blogging, editorial calendars get faster and easier to create over time. It may seem like a lot of work at first, but once you get your system down, you’ll be a pro in no time. And you’ll feel extra grateful for your editorial calendar on those days when you just can’t think of anything to write about. Here’s how to create an editorial calendar you’ll actually follow.

How to create an editorial calendar you'll actually follow from elembee.com

Plan ahead

This year, I made a small adjustment to my editorial calendar planning that has made a huge difference: I schedule planning for the middle of the month, instead of the end. This means that I can plan for the following month without the pressure of needing ideas for the very next week. So before you start creating your editorial calendar, decide how often and when you want to plan, and set a recurring task on your to-do list so it actually happens.

Evaluate your posting frequency

Once we set a posting frequency, we tend to forget that it’s not set in stone. When you’re planning your editorial calendar, stop and take a look at the rest of your calendar! Can you feasibly post as often as you have been? Or maybe you’re ready to handle more! Even if you change your schedule up a bit, by planning for it in advance, you can still provide consistency for your readers and prepare them for changes if necessary.

Define your purpose and 3-5 main topics

If you haven’t defined your purpose for blogging, now’s a good time to do so — even if that purpose is just to explore and see what happens. By keeping your purpose in mind as you come up with post ideas and choose which ones you want to include on your calendar, you’ll be able to come up with more ideas that relate to your goals and keep you moving forward. If you can, try to identify 3-5 main topics you want to write about. Even if you’ve already defined your purpose and topics, it’s not a bad idea to revisit them from time to time and make sure your goals are still the same.

Define your purpose by identifying 3-5 main topics you want to write about.Click To Tweet

Brainstorm

Now that you have a purpose and some larger topics to guide you, start brainstorming post ideas! What’s been on your mind lately? What experiences can you share? What do you want to accomplish, and how can a blog post get you one step closer to that? Set a timer and make a game of it — how many ideas can you come up with in 5 minutes? How many posts can you outline in 20? If you’re feeling stuck, you can always check out my guide to blog post ideas.

Set a time and make a game out of brainstorming post ideas to break out of a rut.Click To Tweet

Narrow it down

Once you have a healthy list of ideas, star the ones you’re most excited about. Then color code your ideas by topic so you can choose a good mix of topics for the month. Narrow it down until you have the number of posts you need for the month, but don’t get rid of your extra ideas! They may come in handy next month.

Map it out

Now that you have a list of blog posts ready, it’s time to map it out on your calendar of choice. Personally, I have a Trello board so that I can plan my blogs posts and email newsletters at the same time. I create cards for each blog post, color code them by topic with labels, then use the Calendar Power-Up to arrange them on the calendar. With the color-coded labels, I can easily see if I have a good mix of topics each week or if I’m posting too much about one topic in a week.

Rearrange as needed

Naturally, there will be some days when you’re fired up about a new topic, you want to respond to time-sensitive news, or you just don’t feel like writing about what you’ve planned. An editorial calendar doesn’t have to be set in stone. It’s simply a tool to allow you to focus more creative energy on writing rather than brainstorming when you sit down to blog. When you switch out an idea, just move it to the next month. You can always add it to your list of ideas when you brainstorm during your next planning session. I have a list on my Trello board for future ideas if I just need to get them off the calendar but save them for later.

An editorial calendar doesn't have to be set in stone, but it can help guide you.Click To Tweet

Do you use an editorial calendar? What ideas and tools do you use for creating yours? The great thing about editorial calendars is you can do whatever works best for you. Share your experience in the comments, and maybe it will help someone else!

P.S. The ultimate guide to blog post ideas.