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10 Steps to Setting Up Your First Editorial Calendar

When you started your blog, you probably felt inspired and had no trouble thinking up ideas for new and interesting content. But once you've been posting for awhile, it can be harder to keep generating new ideas and updating your website regularly. So, how do you keep up with the demand for new, high-quality content without going totally crazy in the process? The solution is an editorial calendar.

An editorial calendar provides a framework that makes it easy to brainstorm, plan, and publish new content. Though building an entire working calendar from scratch may seem like a daunting task, we've boiled everything down to ten easy steps that you can follow. Let's get started!

1. Determine How Often You'd Like to Post

The first step in building your editorial calendar is to plan out approximately how often you'd like to publish new content. Although you may be used to putting up content the moment it's ready, you'll reap many benefits from planning and scheduling your content ahead of time and publishing posts at a more regular cadence.

When deciding on your posting frequency, remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Although you definitely want to push yourself and make sure that everything is updated regularly, quality content takes time to build. If you're not sure where to start, consider aiming for one post a week and adjusting from there. Some sites have even found success with as little as one post a month or one post every six weeks!

2. Determine Your Content Categories

Now that you know how often you'll be posting new content, it's time to start thinking about what type of content you'd like to create. One helpful method for organizing your content and generating new ideas is to slot everything into predetermined content categories. The core categories you choose will be specifically related to your site, but consider adding in broad reaching categories like lists, reviews or gift guides.

To get more ideas, look back through old posts and see if any common content themes emerge, or study traffic patterns in your site analytics to see what's sticking with your audience. You should also look at reporting in Associates Central to see what pages have driven the most traffic and conversions for your site in the past.

3. Select a Tool for Calendar Planning

There are many editorial calendar building tools available for you to use, both free or at some cost to you. Below are a few of the suggested free tools to check out:

- CoSchedule
- Trello
- Hubspot
- Convince & Convert

When evaluating what tool to use, consider what level of detail you'll want to include in your calendar - such as post title, post descriptions, target SEO keywords, tracking of important dates, and so forth. Get familiar with the options out there, and choose one that's best for you.

4. Make Sure All the Important Days Are Covered

Make sure to add in holidays, shopping events, and other special events to your calendar that you'd like to build content around. If you aren't sure which to prioritize, check your site analytics to study what days and times are most popular with your audience. You can also check out our list of 2019's big shopping moments for more ideas!

5. Plan Around SEO and Product Promotion

Your website lives and dies by the traffic it gets through Google and other search engines. Trying to reverse engineer SEO onto a page that already exists is possible, but it's much easier to think strategically about SEO in advance when building a post so that you don't have to worry about it later. Start your keyword research at this phase and then build posts around your findings and goals. Track these keywords with your editorial calendar and make sure to include them when building your posts. Not sure where to get started when it comes to SEO research? Check out our guide, 10 Ways to Improve Your SEO.

6. Brainstorm and Fill Out Your Calendar

One of the biggest benefits of using an editorial calendar is that it's a powerful tool for brainstorming new content ideas. After you've determined the frequency of your posts, what types of posts to make, and what major events to plan for, all you have to do is think up great niche content that fits the requirements that you've predetermined.

First, write down all of the content ideas you can think of into a big list. Start by thinking about your reader, popular past posts, and your targeted SEO keywords and work backwards from there. You think think about titles or topics at this time, but don't get too caught up in the details (you can get to that later). Once you've finished your brainstorm, go through all your ideas and condense them into the format you've decided on for your calendar. If you're feeling stuck on this stage, be sure to check out our guide about what makes good content and how to brainstorm for it.

7. Streamline Your Content-Building Process

Most of the hard work has already been done with your planning, so all that's left now is to actually write the posts! Even though the content of your posts will be creative and fresh, you can still take an assembly-line approach to building it out by plugging in the info you've already put together and adding your voice and creativity to it (for example, title, description, keywords).

8. Build Out Content Ahead of Time

Just because a post is set to go live at a certain time doesn't mean you can't start working on it before then! In fact, a strong editorial calendar will make it easier for you to start building and scheduling your content far in advance. What's the advantage to this? Well, scheduling ahead will give you time to build better, more creative content, and to plan for big shopping moments. In addition, scheduling ahead will give you time to interact with your audience in the moment when content is posted, instead of scrambling for your next post.

9. Create a Content Lifecycle

Your editorial calendar is all about making it easier for you to plan and build content. But it can also help you get the most out of every piece of content you create by developing a content lifecycle. This is relevant to both your new and existing content - for example, you could cross-link new content into old content to drive more traffic, or posting older content to social channels when it's seasonally relevant. However you do it, the big picture view that your editorial calendar offers will definitely provide you with some valuable insights.

Creating content is hard work, so make sure that you're using every piece you create to the maximum effect, and when you're building content try to choose at least some topics that will stay fresh long after they're posted.

10. Refine Your Process

Your editorial calendar should make it easy to view long-term trends and themes in your work, and having a posting schedule to refer back to gives you an easy-to-access record of everything you've done. Always keep checking in on your analytics and apply your learnings to your general strategies in designing your editorial calendar. Also, don't be afraid to change up the fields on your editorial calendar as you figure out what works for you – the whole idea here is to make your life easier!
Of course, doing any kind of work on the internet requires some degree of flexibility and spontaneity. But, when done right, an editorial calendar can be a highly valuable tool for planning effective, quality content that will delight and engage users and ultimately lead to higher earnings for you.
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