Why You Need an Editorial Calendar Plus a Free Download
Goals, goals, goals. I feel like I’m always making them. Some I forget about the next day, others stay top of mind and bug the crap out of me until I finally do something about them. Blogging is one of those… it’s one of my favorite things to do to plan out stories, brainstorm new ideas and bring to life here in this space. One thing I always get stuck on though, is carving out the time to actually create, shoot and finalize my ideas. It just doesn’t make sense (time wise for me) to stop what I’m doing, set up a shoot (one), go through all of that, go back to my computer, edit the pics from one shoot, draft the post, etc… However, what does make sense is setting aside a half or full day and shooting/writing 5-10 ideas. Batching people. If you aren’t doing it you’re wasting your time.
So you’re like, ok great… that all sounds good but how in the world do I come up with 10 ideas to shoot and fit into one day. That’s where an editorial calendar comes in. You know because you took an hour and planned out your next 2 months of content. Since it was all in front of you, you planned one shopping trip to grab your props and materials, you pre-made any items you might need for your projects, and you made a shot list as well as a timeline for how that little shoot was gonna go. Not to mention when you get in your “zone” you can probably come up with more ideas than will ever fit in your content calendar.
While everyone may plan their days/months/years differently, I wanted to give you a peek into my ideal way of planning with an editorial calendar. This summer has been crazy between partnering and shooting for brands, creating for wedding clients, and taking on a few new opportunities, so I haven’t been the best at it. But, that is why I am here, trying to get back on track just like some of you might be trying to do is well now that summer is coming to a close. I’m hoping that outlining the process AND making cute printables will motivate us all as we head into fall and the holiday season!
First things first, how do I use this thing?
I think the biggest advantage about creating an editorial calendar is that you can see ahead to holidays and events you want to create for. For example, if you want to create gift guides for christmas, and you’re going to link to products online, you will want to give people a few weeks to use your post + shipping time… So posting your gift guides in the beginning of November might sound nuts but it’s giving your audience time to realistically use them. Same goes for all holidays, sales, etc. So the first thing I do when looking at the months ahead is enter any of these big dates and work backwards to decide when a new story might go live that is on that topic.
Fill in any weekly or monthly series you might have on your site or sponsored posts you have scheduled. These are obviously go’s, so make sure they are on there first so you aren’t trying to move other posts around.
Start to look at how your weeks/month is coming together. Now how can you add in posts that are in line with what you are already posting, filling in a gap, and providing value to your audience? For example, you have an entertaining post going up on Wednesday where you designed a tabletop. It shows all of the elements and details that went into it. Monday would be a great time to share your inspiration boards and process for creating that shoot, and Friday would be the perfect time for sharing a cocktail you created for the shoot. I definitely don’t think that things ALWAYS have to be this cohesive (uh, mine almost never are!), but if you are struggling with ways to brainstorm new content, this can be the easiest way!
So, how do I use an editorial calendar for social media?
I’ll be honest, I tried this and FAILED big time. I was in a creative rut and thought that if I planned out some posts it would get me moving and back on track. Mostly I just looked at it and gave myself more anxiety over the fact that my ideas would just take way too long slash I was not inspired to even start! Maybe some of you can do this, I've heard of plenty of people that can plan and create social content for their entire month, in just a few days. What HAS worked for me is to look at (ONLY) the week ahead. It’s more manageable and realistic for me in terms of planning out visual content. I do the same as in step no. 2. I fill any sponsored posts or posts that I want to go up to promote something on the blog. From there I look at what I am doing the rest of the week and how I can share from those experiences. This second step helps me get inspired for the types of photos I want to take. For example, if I know we are going to Palm Springs for the weekend, I start mini collections of images in instagram or pinterest that I love and are inspiration for how I want to share my weekend. This might sound like I am overthinking small things, but it honestly let’s me focus on who I am there with and being present. I stop freaking out that I have to take a picture of my weekend, and am already inspired for how I might capture our happy hour, a day at the pool, or even the interior of a cool airbnb. By no means do I mean take those images and copy them… for me it’s more of a way to remember to capture the little details all around you while you are doing fun things outside of your usual day.
Once you have filled in those "for sure" posts, see how you can (again) fill in the gaps. Sometimes I realize I have a lot of flowers or wine (haha) in my future, so I make sure that I am planning to give my audience a little variety. Maybe I will fill in those gaps with some envelopes I am working on, a wedding suite we just shipped out to a client, or a flat lay of inspiration I am collecting for a new project. You can spend an hour capturing what you are working on and save them for later, or just have the plan in the back of your mind that, when you get to that point in your day, you know what you want to share. That way you aren't scrambling to take a photo of something that in the end, looks rushed anyways.
I also use Planoly to hold images in queue because some days are just too out of control to stop and style a photo. Especially for my paper/stationery photos, I love to try and shoot a few of these in one day. You have the props out, you have the right light, and most of the time we are trying to get them out in the mail! Once you have your plan in place for the week (or month if you're lucky!), I highly recommend editing and saving them in an app like Planoly to post later. Not only does it help your feed look cohesive, but I feel like I end up spending more time focusing on meaningful or entertaining captions that are better than what I write when I'm rushed to get that pic posted.
How to download!
You can download a plain editorial calendar here: