writing-cave

I know I’ve been blogging since, like, before some of you were born (I’m kidding! Unless you count Diaryland circa 2001, in which case that might actually be true), but I rarely write about, well, blogging. After receiving some requests for a post about my blog calendar, I wrote this up for you guys. I keep a calendar of writing and consulting project deadlines, but the blog editorial calendar is a separate thing that I’m so happy I finally bit the bullet and put into practice. It’s been a major game-changer!

Just as a disclaimer, this is what’s worked for me, but one of the things that is so awesome about blogging is that pretty much anyone who wants to have a blog can! There are so many ways of doing things and not just one correct way, so while listening to others’ ideas is a great jumping-off point, it’s important that you tune in to what feels right and authentic to you and honor that.

Okay, so let’s jump right in. This post is a little wordier than my usual, so thanks for stopping by and reading.

Storytime

Once upon a time I used to blog six, sometimes seven days a week. I would just sit down write stuff and not think about what I was going to write the day before or the day after that. Sound crazy? It was! Granted, I was still in school and doing freelance writing but not working as an RD yet. Even when I was a new RD, though, I still kept up that level of output. My first clinical job was 7:30-1:30, Monday to Friday, and I didn’t really know what else to do with myself after my shift.

7th-grade-school-photo

School Portrait Of The Mad Scientist As A Young Lady

In retrospect, it was a useful way of channeling anxiety (grad school, dietetic internship, job hunt, first jobs) and finding my voice as I navigated major life changes, but eventually I got to a point where I needed to streamline and get organized. What was cool was that it was good reasons and exciting projects that were taking up more of my energy. Also, while I’d been happily tinkering away in the blog lab all those years, I’d managed to actually build something that was already starting to function as a way of connecting with people and as a portfolio of sorts. But holy crap! It felt like realizing I’d left the house without mascara.

I have a secret history as a literary magazine editor and have always loved spreadsheets and have a weird affinity for numbers, but it hadn’t occurred to me to actually make an editorial calendar for my own blog—probably because to the Impostor Syndrome side of my brain, it reeked of (gasp) taking myself seriously!

 

Getting Started

I started with simply writing posts in batches and scheduling them to post through the week. That definitely helped me navigate newly busy weeks. And then in March of 2015 while nursing a nasty heartbreak, I threw all my energy into work to unfold myself from the ugly-cry origami. I made a calendar and a business plan and got serious about tracking stuff in accounting software. Maybe I was going to die alone with hypoallergenic cats, but I figured I could at least have a fulfilling career and enough money to pay someone to turn me in bed when I got old.

There are lots of ways to track deadlines and schedules, but I went with Excel because it was familiar and easy to work with. I shuffle between several work environments, and I learned quickly that using a cloud service like like Google Drive or Apple’s iCloud was preferable to carting around hard copies and USB drives and emailing myself new versions. So much to keep track of! I love that I can edit my calendar from practically anywhere—even on my phone if I get an idea when I’m on the go and want to add it. The 2015 calendar makes me giggle now, but we all have to start somewhere!

screen-shot-2015-calendar

Here are the columns I use now:

  • Month
  • Date
  • Topic
  • Post Status (scheduled/draft)
  • URL
  • Notes

What I Love About Having a Blog Calendar

-It saves time and energy and helps me plan ahead. This is great for planning seasonal content and topics that are relevant to current events. It also helps me get a sense of where to put “evergreen” posts and where guest posts can fit in when I want to take a few days off.

-It’s helped me establish a rhythm and spot areas where I can make changes. In 2016, I decided to drop my Sunday posts so I could devote more energy to having quality recipes for Mondays. I also do What I Ate Wednesday link-up posts and Thinking Out Loud posts on Thursdays, so that adds some structure as well. Fridays I generally post a recipe or something I want to close the week out with (a project I want to highlight, commentary on a current event, etc), but Tuesdays and Fridays are generally my “wild card” days. I no longer post on weekends, and I’m really happy with that.

-It allows me to write and schedule in batches. I tend to test several recipes and take photos in one day, but I don’t necessarily want to post them at the same time. For example, I was testing Thanksgiving recipes and drafting posts as far back as September!

-It makes it easier to go back and look something up to avoid repeats or reference something from an earlier post.

-It guides my social media posting so I don’t waste time scrolling through Facebook or Instagram when I just want to share a link to a blog post. To keep my workload predictable, I stick to a schedule of two posts per day, knowing that if I want to post more, I can. In 2016 I finally started using a social media scheduler (HootSuite), and it’s been a game-changer! Spending less time actively on my social media streams has increased productivity and cut down on FOMO 110%. Comparing my anxiety levels, comparitis, and negative self-talk between pre- and post-HootSuite is astounding. I highly recommend scheduling your social media if that’s something you struggle with.

-More time for life stuff, like going to yoga, drinking coffee with friends, attempting to date, and cuddling with my dog.

Eli-the-intern

What’s New For 2017

-For 2017 I added a social media sharing column to help me track how and when I share various items. I never thought this would be a thing, but it is. The future—how strange.

-With some bigger projects and more private clients, I may focus more on quality rather than quantity and see where it makes sense to cut back my blog posts a little. Luckily, I have my calendar to help me figure that out!

-I love HootSuite, but I’m curious to try out some other social media scheduling services this year. I know there are lots of great options out there that are better suited to different platforms, and I’m looking forward to exploring.

-I may add a column to track information related to things like affiliate links included in different posts to help me track whether to update those as time goes on. We shall see.

-I bought an InnerGuide Planner ir?t=jcrd 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01H5P9L9S - How A Blog Calendar Changed My Work Life where I can write down yearly, monthly, and weekly goals along with my to-do list and appointment times. I’m obsessed—it’s like having a life coach!

Do you use calendars to track projects? What are your favorite ways to track deadlines? What are some of your favorite social media schedulers?

Cheers to an exciting, productive new year!

Jess-Cording-birthday

 

This has been another installment of the Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.

Thinking Out Loud2 - How A Blog Calendar Changed My Work Life

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***This post may contain affiliate links. I only share products and services I love and would recommend anyway. 

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