Throughout these Blog Exercises you will be building your own editorial calendar, a schedule for content. Consider these as blog planners and self-deadlines.
There are many calendar types, traditional and electronic. I recommend starting simple by printing out a 12-18 month calendar, one month per page, right from a free template in your word processing program. Or find a template that is more like a spreadsheet with dates. I’ve included some resources below.
With your printed calendar months, buy some sticky notes that fit within the dates. Consider selecting a range of colors.
This calendar will take a beating as you learn how to use it, so start cheap and easy rather than investing in a calendar system that doesn’t work for you. Later in this series I’ll discuss the systems that work best for me, but all of my projects start off with plain paper printed calendars from my word processor.
The first editorial calendar exercise is to go through the list of holidays in your region or country, national, secular, or religious. Note them across the entire calendar. If it is a national day off, mark the whole day with a colored pencil.
As you go through the major holidays, think of topics you could blog about related to those holidays. Use your imagination. It may take some work, but write down each idea on a sticky post and stick it to that holiday date or an appropriate number of days (or months) in advance ideal for publishing a post about that holiday.
Here are some ideas to help you get started thinking holidays.
- For a crafts blog, three months before Christmas is a good time to start promoting gift projects for the holidays.
- For a family/parent blog, Labor Day in the United States is about when school starts, so consider articles on preparing for school to begin and the last minute summer holiday ideas a few weeks to a month before.
- For an educational blog, pick a holiday like Presidents Day, Independence Day, or Memorial Day and consider articles explaining some historical aspect of the date.
- For an astronomy blog, consider day-off or long weekend holidays for some night viewing. Teach people where they should be looking in the night sky and what they should expect to see as they plan their outdoor and travel adventures that weekend.
- For pet and animal bloggers, Independence Day and other holidays that feature fireworks and noisemakers is a good time to start a campaign reminding people to take care of their pets and protect them, as well as to find them if they run off terrified of the activity.
- For sewing and craft bloggers, remember major sales in craft stores are often associated with holidays, so time articles on favorite tools and must-have items before such sales to help readers get the most out of their coupons and discounts.
- For a fashion blogger, holidays are a perfect time to get dressed up or change outfit styles. Share your tips in advance of the holidays on what to wear – or not wear.
There are many ideas, stereotypical and unusual, out there related to your subject matter that are associated with holidays.
I’ll be expanding on more calendar-based activities in future blog exercises, but start here. If you think of more ideas, put them on the sticky notes and add them to the calendar or add them to the margins for future scheduling.
Here are some free calendar resources to help you create your own editorial calendar. TimeandDate.com is one of my favorites.
- Advanced Calendar Creator from TimeandDate.com
- Birthday and anniversary calendar (any year) – Templates – Office.com
- Calendar (any year, vertical) – Templates – Office.com
- Lesson plan calendar – Templates – Office.com
- Monthly and weekly planning calendar – Templates – Office.com
- Printable Calendar Templates