It’s happened to all of us at one point or another. You’re struck by an idea for a really great blog topic, but you forget to write it down. By the time you’re ready to write, you can’t for the life of you remember that idea. You’re sitting at your computer trying desperately to recall that lost idea with nothing but a blank screen and a looming deadline.
You need to get organized so that you never forget another potential blog topic. The best way to do this is to create an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is basically a way for you to track what you want to post, when you want to post it, who is writing it, where finished blog posts are in the editing process and so much more. An editorial calendar combines the traditional function of a calendar, with dates and the ability to plan long-term, and a bulletin board, where you can make notes as ideas occur to you.
Using a list program such as Trello is an excellent way to create your editorial calendar. Read on for some tips on how to do it.
Setting Up Your Calendar
First you’ll need to get a Trello account; it’s free, and it takes about 30 seconds to set up. Go to the Welcome Board to get a feel for what a board is. The Welcome Board includes tips on basics, such as how to see what’s behind a card or making a checklist, as well as suggestions for advanced users, like inviting other people to use Trello with you so that you can collaborate on your editorial calendar.
Now it’s time to create your calendar. Hit the “+” button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and click on “New Board.” Give your board a name, decide if you want it to be a private or shared board and hit “Create.”
You’re ready to go.
Creating Your Lists
The key to a good editorial calendar is organizing it in a way that will both help you remember your ideas and keep track of what stage they’re at in development. Use these headings to create five lists:
- In Writing
- To Edit
- Ready to Post
Your lists might be different – for example, if your blog is very image-centric, you might also have an “In Design” phase. In addition, if you use guest authors in addition to your own writing team, you might maintain separate lists for these groups.
Next it’s time to add your cards, or the topics that you want to cover. For example, 12 Keys Rehab, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Florida, uses Trello to keep track of their blog’s content. One of their executives passed on an idea for a post on famous people who have successfully completed rehab, and it has been working its way through the stages of the process. It is currently being edited.
When they first thought of this topic, they created a card saying something like “famous people in rehab,” listing it under Idea. After assigning the post to the writer, they dragged it to the In Writing list, and when it is sent back by the writer, onto the To Edit list.
12 Keys’ content manager will read the post and perhaps assign it back to the writer, dragging the card back to In Writing; maybe she didn’t include enough celebrities or cite all of her sources. When they’ve decided the post is satisfactory, they will move it to In Design to get graphics built for the post, and then to Ready to Post. Finally, when all the pieces are in place, they will drag the post to Promotion when it has been published and they are ready to promote it on social media and other outlets.
Enhancing Your Editorial Calendar
Of course, that’s just the most basic way that you can use Trello to make an editorial calendar. By using these other Trello tools, you can become even more organized and efficient:
Labels: You can label your cards with one of six colors. 12 Keys Rehab has several different categories of blog posts (including educational, infographics, videos, and news). You could assign each one a color to make sure you’re balancing your content between your categories.
Collaboration: Trello allows you to invite other people to work on your calendar. This is a terrific tool when you have more than one person who manages a blog or when you employ a guest blogger, who can get a feel for your process. You can even assign posts to writers or drafts to editors through this function.
Attachments: You can attach URLs, images or files to your cards for future reference. Say you come across an image you love and would like to use in a future post but don’t have any use for now. Attach it to a card and let it sit until you’re ready to come back to it.
Comments: Offer feedback on posts, ideas for sources, the text of a social-media post or a note for what art to include with a blog post.
Due dates: Note when the post will go live, or include the due date for certain posts. You can turn on the calendar view by following these directions on Trello’s blog; this is a great way to filter your cards by due dates.
Checklists: Though you are keeping track of your blog topics via the editorial calendar, you may want to create separate checklists for different stages of the promotion, such as a list of social-media sites where you want to promote your post once it’s been published.
Archives: Like a messy desk, a cluttered editorial calendar is not helpful, so you’ll want to archive your cards when you are finished. This puts them out of sight but also allows you to go back and refer to them in the future if you need to revisit a topic or post.
By following these tips, you’ll streamline your approach to blogging and make sure you not only meet your deadlines but also do the important follow-up tasks that so often fall through the cracks, like promotion. Best of all, you’ll never forget another great blog idea again.
Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer who covers social media, marketing, and design. When she’s not writing, you might find her practicing her French, cooking, or attempting to teach herself Objective-C. Check out more of her work on her blog, Design Roast.