Writing editorial content is awesome but the content does not always come naturally. It also is not something that should just be done on the fly. For some people, that might work but for most websites, blogs and print publications an editorial calendar is what keeps things running. Those genius post ideas that you think of at 1am are just a bonus.
Before 2015, I did not have an editorial calendar. I had a monthly post organizer I printed out every month and constantly made changes to. There was no structure and there certainly wasn't an organized approach to my writing. Since creating an editorial calendar, I've been able to guide my content to where I wanted it to be. Some months are accomplished better than others but for the most part, I've been able to get on a schedule that I can stick to.
I'd love to sit here and tell you that creating an editorial calendar is super easy and a five minute task. However, like everything else in blogging it takes a lot of thought, creativity and probably an afternoon to get started. Once you have a system in place, it comes easier and takes less time. First things first, think about your blog and what you regularly write about. Think about what's happening currently and what you'd like to happen in the future. Break your content out into several topics. Try not to create more than 6 topics though. You want this to be helpful, not overwhelming. For example, my topics separate into Lifestyle/Pop Culture, Travel, Food & Entertainment, Health & Wellness and Business & Blogging.
After you've figured out how your blog works and what content you want to be written, mark any special holidays or events. So the holiday season would be a big one, back to school, Valentine's Day, start of spring, summer and fall, etc. Anything that will be popular with people in general that you can work into your content is a must. I don't have kids but I can work some easy weeknight meals or dinners for the single girl into back to school season. Families need easy weeknight meals like anyone else and learning to cook solo during or after college is a big step. A huge tip here would be to make sure the content is coming naturally to you. If you have to force content into any of these topics, you're probably not going to enjoy writing about it or you'll struggle. The content has to be a natural fit and not just a way to fill in the blanks.
Once you've gotten all the important dates and your topics out of the way comes the fun part. Plug in the spaces! What do you want to write in January? How about June? Work on the content ideas as they come to you. I like to work six months at a time so my creativity doesn't burn out. Once you've created your calendar, you're set to start scheduling posts. Place them on the days you think they'd be a great fit and get writing!
Getting prepared in advance will also help you establish which projects need extra time to prepare for and which can wait till later. Long leads should be pitched anywhere from three to six months in advance as crazy as that sounds. Because you've built out the base content for your site, you'll be able to plan accordingly and get more organize with your approach whether that's just writing or the entire process from the brainstorm to the pitching.
I hope this has given you a few helpful hints in planning your editorial content. It can be a bit intimidating at first, especially when you think about how long a year is and how fast it goes by, but it can be done and it has been done by many. If you love writing and you want your content to thrive, find a way to streamline it and make it easier for you to stay on schedule. Having content ideas in advance is also really helpful in the case of writer's block. There is no negative to having an editorial calendar, only positives.