Develop a writing routine

How to Build a Flexible Editorial Calendar in 3 Steps

Kris Windley

Kris is a writer, editor, illustrator, teacher, mother of two amazing young ladies - and enthusiastic cat-belly snuggler. A certified teacher, long-time blogger and experienced brand consultant, she writes about Writing, Business and Blogging...and sometimes about Changing the World.
KrisWindley2020

Kris Windley

Kris is a writer, editor, illustrator, teacher, mother of two amazing young ladies - and enthusiastic cat-belly snuggler. A certified teacher, long-time blogger and experienced brand consultant, she writes about Writing, Business and Blogging...and sometimes about Changing the World.

Your Editorial Calendar doesn’t need to feel like a set of creativity-handcuffs.

It should feel like a comforting & inspiring guideline. One that allows you to be more creative. Not stifled & uninspired.

I’m an idea machine. I’ve always been a “creative person,” whatever that means, & I operated under the assumption for a long time that being creative meant that ideas should simply come to me – without any forethought or planning.

Spontaneously! And covered in fairy dust…

But like my youngest daughter realized with all kinds of sadness at the age of 6 (that’s a story for another day), fairies don’t actually exist. And if they do? They aren’t carrying inspiration to me on gossamer wings.

It’s up to me to make sure that my ideas are ready when I need them to be & when my Reader (that’s you!) wants to hear about them.

Because sometimes I come up with an AMAZING idea about copywriting for your website in September, but we’re busy talking about blogging, so it won’t fit right now. I don’t want to lose that amazing idea, but I want to make sure that it makes sense in the greater conversation we’re having too.

I always say that blogging is a conversation.

If that’s the case, I’d rather not change the subject so much that you can’t remember what we’re talking about, but I’d also rather not tell you all kinds of boring stories about my new coffee maker, if you’re not into that.

So I have an editorial calendar to keep me on track with our ongoing-chats. And I am so thankful for it. I built it about a year ago, & it is hanging on my wall behind my desk still – to keep me on topic.

But it’s also flexible.

Because I can’t handle commitment! I need to know that I can share an important thing with you if something changes in my business – or in your lives – without destroying hours & hours of planning.

So we don’t do the hours & hours of planning, & we make the calendar easy to change around!

Win – Win!

Here’s my simple 3 step process to flexible editorial planning:

1. Get to know your Year.

Look at what the year will look like, so that you can plan ahead with the real world in mind. Grab a calendar (or draw one if you’re into that) & start jotting down some important dates.

  • Does your Industry have any trends or shifts, based on the seasons?
  • Does your Reader have important events or timelines that she will want to be talking about at different times throughout the year?
  • What’s happening in your business during the year? Do you have launches or events planned ahead?
  • Your own life. Yup. Your life matters too, kitten. Take a damn vacation.

2 . Decide on some Series ideas.

These are the big rocks you want to place into your jar first, so that they’re sure to fit where you want them (I wrote about Series & Segments a few weeks ago). I usually reserve 4-6 posts in a row for an in-depth Series.

  • A blog Series covers a topic that is really important to you & your Reader. It’s like the long, late-night conversations you have with a close friend: lots of important stuff gets covered & you connect in a big way.
  • These Series should cover topics that will help your Reader overcome resistance, warm up for a product launch or see your unique value & expertise.
  • I think of them as pre-requisites too – like the basic sewing class you need to take before you start a fancy textile design class. The information I give you in my different Blog Series is information you need before we work together on big stuff.
  • It’s about education & empowering your Reader to make changes in her life for the better.

3. And finally? Drop in some Segments.

These stand-alone posts are the pebbles you can pour into your calendar, around the big rocks. They’ll fill in holes & give your Reader a break between the bigger & deeper conversations.

  • A Segment is a fun post that doesn’t need to have all of the background & forethought of a Series. It’s like the quick (but oh-so important) coffee-dates you have with your friends: light & fun & just as important as the meaning-of-life talks.
  • These Segments should cover topics that are related to your relationship with your readers & the problem of theirs you solve (yes you solve a problem – even if you “just” create cute things…stop saying, “just” about your art though, by the way. That’s not cool).
  • I think of them as electives. Your readers have a significant interest in this other thing & it relates nicely to your message & the reason they come to you, but it’s not as much about your expertise & teaching.
  • It’s about fun! Because fun is a reason.

Pretty clever, huh?

The best part of this kind of planning is that it is all about building that conversation in a genuine way – like you would with a friend – and still making sure that you are offering effective & helpful information to your Reader when she will most need it.

You're building a relationship with your Reader. You want to be a helpful friend but you want to be fun too! Click To Tweet

And you can change things around if you need to – or if your inspiration fairy arrives with THE BEST POST EVER while you sleep, or if something happens in your life, your Reader’s life or your industry that needs addressing.

Those Segments can be moved around outside the times you’ve blocked off for important Series, based on what you feel works best at the time, & your Series can be built out & planned in more detail, closer to the actual publishing date, to keep them relevant.

Do you want to learn more about building great Series or you struggle to come up with great Segment ideas & topics? Stay tuned, because I’m creating something delicious just for you!

And in the meantime? Continue to Blog Your Voice with confidence. Your readers are waiting.

xo

Kris

You mad? Excited? Have a perspective to share? Please do!

14 Comments

  1. 2016 Blogging Resolutions? You're gonna need this. on January 13, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    […] to talk Series & Segments. If you haven’t heard what I think of them yet, go check out this post for more on the components I use when I’m building my blogging plan. Write in your […]

  2. Najah on October 15, 2015 at 12:32 am

    Whoa, Kris! This was the excuse I needed to plan my life around my blog. My neglected paper craft supplies might even get involved!

    • KrisWithaK on October 15, 2015 at 1:23 am

      Perfect, Najah!
      I am a major fan of using paper craft supplies whenever possible 😉
      xo
      K

  3. Aradia Goseling on October 13, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    I love that you put this post together! Since discovering you & your awesomeness on Creative Live with April I am in literary love with your style & down-to-earth accessibility!

    I’ve been dying to put together an Editorial Calendar because I have so many great ideas, but they’re all scattered like spaghetti on the floor! I do appreciate the ease of updating a digital format, but it’s not necessarily pretty. And pretty matters too!

    I just took the time, while reading this post, to pen down some important dates & seasonal changes. I feel like this is the start of something really solid for planning and like I could build around this confidently! <3 Now to bring it into creative form!

    • KrisWithaK on October 13, 2015 at 11:43 pm

      I love that you got something down on paper right away, Aradia!

      I look forward to seeing what you write about 🙂

      xo
      K

  4. Sage Grayson on September 20, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    I’d be lost without my editorial calendar. I’ve been using a huge wall calendar and my planner to keep track of upcoming posts. Sometimes I try to use a digital format, but I always come back to putting pen to paper. It’s got to be quick and easy, you know? 🙂

    • KrisWithaK on September 21, 2015 at 8:36 am

      Absolutely, Sage!

      If I didn’t plan on paper, I wouldn’t get anything done. Some people really love electronic planners & find they work amazingly well for them – but that’s just not me. I said to a client of mine last week that Evernote is the place where ideas go to die for me 😉 because I can pop them in there & then promptly forget all about em.

      Paper & pen just feels like you’re working through something too, right? The scratching pen & flipping pages. Pen & Paper nerds unite!

      xo
      K

  5. Tricia on September 18, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Yoga /sweat pants!!

    I need to get my butt in gear & do my blog calendar for the next 6 months. I fight committment too, so I do mine 6 months at a time. =D

    • KrisWithaK on September 21, 2015 at 8:39 am

      6 months is a manageable amount of commitment for me too, Trish.

      I like to have an idea of what I’d like to accomplish over the course of the year, so that I can prepare, but it is so nice to be able to rearrange things when a huge opportunity (like Creative Live! EEEEK!) comes along, or when you just need to make a pivot in order to be happy.

      Here’s my motto: “Decide on your goal, plan ahead thoroughly, & then be ready to change every single thing – except for the goal itself”

      See you next week!

      xo
      K

  6. Renia Carsillo on September 17, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Kris, I would love a tutorial on how you put the calendar in your pics together. It’s super cute and I love the visual!

    Can’t wait to see what the rest of this year holds in the bootcamp.

    • KrisWithaK on September 17, 2015 at 11:41 pm

      Oh yes! I did a post about that calendar once upon a time, Renia. Let me find the link for you 🙂 Here it is!

      I need that visual side of things to keep me doing what I’m supposed to, otherwise I can hide from my plans, & that’s not good.

      xo
      K

  7. Amanda Creek on September 16, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    P.S. Sweatpants!!!!!

  8. Amanda Creek on September 16, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    #1. I totally am into drawing again (thanks to you and Doodle With Me), so now I think drawing my calendar needs to be a thing.
    #2. I will doodle a vacation on said calendar.
    #3. I’ve always wondered…how do you transition in and out of a series? Should there even be a transition, for example if I am blogging about one topic and the next topic I want to do a series on seems completely unrelated.
    #4. Long late night convos- AH! now I totally have another new way to frame this blogging thing in my head. This definitely makes me feel like I can do it.
    #5. Totally need “Fun is a reason” t-shirt!

    Okay…lol 🙂 I enjoyed your post and gleaned a lot of wonderfulness, as always! Thanks for writing this one.

    • KrisWithaK on September 16, 2015 at 10:28 pm

      1 – YAY! I love the drawing that you are doing, Amanda. Don’t you dare stop again.
      2 – Yes you WILL! Me too.
      3 – That’s coming up in the Bootcamp. Hold on to your hat 😉
      4 – All of the metaphors! It’s always a conversation.
      5 – DIY opportunity. Let’s do it.

      xo
      K

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