Do You Have an Editorial Calendar?

Three different freelance colleagues mentioned using editorial calendars to me within the past week. And it made me wonder -- is this a new trend among freelance writers and bloggers or are many of you already using this tool?

I don't have an editorial calendar per se, but I do a fair amount of post planning. I use editorial calendars for special circumstances (like my upcoming virtual blog tour all through March). And I have a generic calendar that lets me know which blogs to post on each day. But I don't assign specific content or even content types to my blog plans the majority of the time. I have a master list of post ideas and some in draft form on different sites. I write whatever I'm "feeling" that day and publish it.

Do you use an editorial calendar for your freelance writing work, marketing (like guest posts), or regular blogging? How do you use it? Share your tips or favorite resources in the comments below.

On a side note, if you like to schedule your posts ahead of time in WordPress, you might want to check out their editorial calendar plugin that lets you view scheduled posts in calendar form (and drag-and-drop to edit your posting schedule easily).

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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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18 thoughts on “Do You Have an Editorial Calendar?”

  1. Okay, so I just played with the editorial calendar plugin for WordPress, and it’s pretty cool. You can scroll back through the history of your blog and look at your posts in calendar form, seeing your frequency, post times, etc. The only thing that would make it better is to have the author listed since this is a multiple-author blog, but pretty nifty nonetheless. Now, it wouldn’t make up for an overall editorial calendar when you run multiple blogs, but it works well on a single blog setup.

    Out of curiosity does anyone know of a similar tool you can use to schedule across multiple sites and with multiple authors (maybe having different sites or authors displayed in different colors for easy browsing)? Or is that asking a wee bit too much? Maybe that’s something to talk to the developer about as we try to finalize plans on what kind of software we want to create.

    • I take that back. You can apparently set it to show the author tool — very nice for multi-author blogs. 🙂 Now if I could only find something similar that would keep track of multiple blogs in one place.

      • I started using that plugin a few months ago, Jenn, because I wanted an easy way for all those who post on the blog to see what was coming up. Of course, for it to work, you have to assign a date to your draft posts, otherwise they default to the date on which you wrote them. I’m finding it very useful, though. Before I did that, I simply kept a spreadsheet with columns for each blog I wrote for, and a list of ideas in each column. Then I highlighted them when they were finished.

        • I just set up a Word calendar (basic table so I could limit to Mon-Thurs which suits my needs best), and it’s surprisingly helpful so far in getting this blog tour info straightened out. May have to add my own blogs to it tomorrow and see if it makes a hectic blogging month any easier to manage. 🙂

          I did notice that about drafts. I wish there was a way to hide anything not specifically scheduled or published, but since they auto-assign the date / time, that doesn’t seem to be possible. 🙁 I’m loving that I can see when contributors are posting though — makes it easier to keep track of everyone and see what time posts go up compared to when traffic spikes, etc.

  2. Absolutely I use an editorial calendar to plan my blogs. If I didn’t, all I would ever write about are the art forms that most interest me personally. Since my sites are intended to be educational as well as commercial, I really need my calendars to keep me on track, to be sure that I cover education, business, artist profiles, and how-to’s without skipping the stuff I’m not as personally connected to. It is also a great help to be able to easily see what I covered last year and to bring some of the old resources up to date without having to reinvent the wheel. An organized artist…who’da thunk it? 🙂

    I also keep a calendar to remind me when contests and articles are due. I hate the fact that holiday stuff needs to be made in the heat of the summer, but there you have it!

      • I like to do most of my planning by hand rather than on the computer, so I guess a simple planner would get the job done. The only downside in comparison w/ the plugin is that I can’t automatically index several previous years’ past posts, whereas it’s pretty much immediate this way. So word doc or planner, I’d still be out of luck in keeping a reference of past patterns and trends. And I’m not really sure it’s necessary in my case. But I suppose I can try something during the blog tour and if it works out well maybe I’ll incorporate it into my blogs in general.

  3. I have clients for whom I maintain editorial calendars, but for my own output? I just have a running list of topics I might want to address, and handle the over-the-transom questions to Dr. Freelance as they come in. I know random-bloggers are one of your pet peeves…alas, I’m guilty of that. (But do I get points for taking the first step to recovery, “acceptance”?)

    • lol I don’t mind randomness in topics as long as they’re at least vaguely relevant to the niche of the blog. My pet peeve is more when someone doesn’t post for a long time between articles — I tend to lose track of the site and feel out of touch when I finally do see the next discussion going on. So, no points needed. 🙂

  4. The only editorial calendar I use is the WP editorial calendar plug in you mentioned. Aside from that, I have an excel file that houses all my ideas from which I pick and choose when planning the month’s posts.

    I will say how important it is to have a pool of ideas that you can pick and choose from when you can’t think up a topic.

    • I have to say, this is one of the best plugins I’ve come across in a while. I’m not sure how I missed it through today.

      Agreed completely about having a pool of ideas to pick from. I just use a simple plaintext file where I list each blog and list a bunch of post ideas under every one of them. When there’s nothing specific I feel like talking about, I can pull out the list and cover something on there. Saves me a lot of time when I otherwise might just put off the posting until I felt inspired by something again.

  5. I’ve been using an editorial calendar for not only my blogs, but for my freelance career. I freelance as a journalist and copywriter, so it helps me stay sane! I also use a topic worksheet that helps me keep track of topics and variations of that topic. I’ve been able to take one topic and pitch 10 different angles or more to just as many magazines or newspapers.

    • Personally I don’t pitch publications, but I like the idea of a topic worksheet. Even in blogging sometimes we want to cover things from different angles or use a secondary piece elsewhere (article marketing or guest posts for example). Nice idea. 🙂

  6. Jennifer,

    Thank you for telling us about the editorial calendar plugin. I’m going to install it on my blog. Right now I just use a simple calendar in Word where I schedule my posts; in the same document I also keep a list of topics and ideas for future posts. At the end of the month, I cut the calendar for that month and paste it to an archive document so I keep a complete calendar for each year. I often post about holidays and events such as the upcoming Read an E-Book Week, so I use last year’s calendar to transfer those dates to the next year. I’m looking forward to trying the plugin.

    • I think the one problem I’m going to have with a Word calendar is that I run a lot of blogs, and that means a lot of posts listed there. I’d love a one-sheet option for this in an at-a-glance format, but I think I may be beyond that. 🙁 Might have to break out some poster boards. lol

      Love the idea of cutting and pasting from the working month to an archive. 🙂

  7. Hi Jennifer:

    I write my editorial calendar out for the year at the end of the previous year. It’s funny, I just had this conversation with a client and wrote a blog post on editorial calendars a couple of weeks ago.

    An editorial calendar works for me because I write client copy four days of the week and my own content one day a week. So, each Friday, I sit down, pull out my editorial calendar and write all of my own content (blog posts, articles, email blasts, e-news content, ebooks, autoresponders, teleseminar scripts, etc.) for the following week.

    While blog posts or article ideas may come up throughout the year, it is much easier to fit these into the calendar or adjust the existing editorial calendar than it is to scramble on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to figure out what to cover. Obviously, the editorial calendar needs to be in alignment with your marketing plan. I always think of my editorial calendar as the steps to implementing my marketing plan for the year.


  8. I do keep an editorial calender.. more like a big huge planner.. actually four different planners. The main reason because like you I have way too many blogs ( my last count was 40 but it could be near 50 now ) I have to make sure that I give each blog a good amount of postings per month so I plan way way ahead of time and my planners help that. I have a calender for my non profit company as well.. and my freelance work as well as my family stuff.. Being a full time freelancer , mom and webmaster would be hard without my four big huge planners.. I got my planners here.. THEY are amazing for freelancers!

  9. Good God, no! For my blog, I wing it. I don’t like the static nature of the editorial calendar (for my blog only), and I’m more inclined to stay current with issues if I don’t plan too far in advance.

    Instead of an ed calendar for my work, I use a marketing plan and virtual sticky notes to track everything. Then at the end of each month, I paste the sticky content in my client tracking form. That’s as administrative as I get (or want to get).


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