3 Ways to Build Flexibility Into Your Blog’s Editorial Calendar

This isn't the post I planned to publish today. This month's blog editorial plan just began, and already I'm off-track. As mentioned over the weekend, I've been dealing with the aftermath of a minor plumbing disaster. And my husband and I have had contractors in and out of our house for the better part of two days.

Sometimes things come up and we have to adjust our plans and schedules. It happens. The post I'd originally planned for today was a long one, and I didn't have enough quiet time to get through it. I needed to come up with something shorter that I could work into a tighter schedule.

Fortunately, I make it a point to build flexibility into my editorial calendar. And you should too. Why?

  • Emergencies, big and small, can happen at any time.
  • Some posts might take longer to write than you expected (or maybe you've had to wait longer than expected to hear back from an interview source).
  • A topic you've planned to cover might suddenly seem inappropriate or insensitive because of other events occurring around the same time.
  • Sometimes you simply won't feel like covering a planned topic. And that's OK.

When any of these things happen, it's a good idea to have a backup plan. Do you?

How to Make Your Editorial Calendar More Flexible

Here are three ways you can add a bit of flexibility into your content plan:

1. Have a list of "extras" ready to go.

These are topics you'd like to blog about, but they didn't make the cut for your monthly content calendar. For example, this topic is one I've been wanting to cover. But there were other topics I wanted to touch on even more. So it was added to my list of extra ideas -- things I could substitute if necessary, or cover on days when I normally don't post. It seemed like a fitting post for today.

This month I had 18 extra ideas on my list which is more than usual. I'd recommend having at least three or four ideas, and preferably ones you can cover quickly if you're swapping posts because you're short on time. I treat reader questions as extras too, so they can be swapped in for previously-scheduled posts.

Remember, these don't have to be limited to blog post ideas. You might include short resources, podcast ideas, infographic ideas, or any other content types you can share with your blog's readers.

2. Pre-write drafts of evergreen posts.

If you find yourself with some extra time one day, consider writing a few extra evergreen blog posts. These don't have to be complex. For example, you might answer beginners' questions that tend to come in year-round or write a short follow-up to an older popular post on your blog.

These posts can be saved as drafts. Then, if you find yourself in a bind and unable to stick to your content plan one month, pull one out and schedule it to go live that day instead. You don't need many of these. Even having one ready to go can feel like a lifesaver when your plans go awry.

3. Don't over-schedule.

In my case, I schedule an idea for every day I plan to publish a post. Then I put together my list of extra options in case I want to swap something out. But you can maintain a flexible editorial calendar by taking a lighter approach too.

Instead, consider cutting back on how much you schedule. For example, rather than coming up with specific post ideas for every day, come up with a weekly theme and go from there. Or if you normally post three times per week, you might only schedule two ideas each week, leaving the third day open to more timely issues, personal anecdotes, or any topic that appeals to you that day.

Is your blog editorial calendar too rigid? Do you build flexibility into your content plan? Tell us about your content planning system in the comments.

Don't have a blog editorial calendar yet? Consider downloading my free easy editorial calendar template for bloggers. It's loosely based on the one I use for my own content plans.

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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2 thoughts on “3 Ways to Build Flexibility Into Your Blog’s Editorial Calendar”

  1. I do exactly this! I have my editorial calendar and then I have a list of extra titles that I come up with that don’t fit into the schedule anywhere. I’m constantly swapping ideas out, though, when I come up with even better ideas so my blog at the end of each month looks nothing like the editorial calendar I had to start with.

    I like the idea of having a theme each week and might try this out and I definitely want to start pre-writing drafts just to save some time on busy days. Thanks for the tips!

    • In the end, a blog content calendar is a guide. Blogging itself can be rather fluid due to its immediacy and bloggers’ ability to adapt to and react to news, industry discussions that come up, etc. And hey, it never hurts to have more good ideas than we need, right? The ones we don’t get to can always be bumped to another month. 🙂

      If you try either weekly themes or pre-writing extra posts, I hope you’ll stop by and let us all know how it worked out for you. 🙂


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