If you’re creating a portable career to help support your overseas living, you probably have a website as well. Maybe you’re a life coach, a freelance writer or a photographer, and your website is a big part of your marketing strategy. Perhaps you’re a blogger, and your website is the foundation on which your business rests.
If your website is static — if it doesn’t change very often — you can skip this article.
But if your site is a blog or includes a blog or regular new articles of some kind, you need an editorial calendar.
What is an Editorial Calendar?
“Editorial,” as used here, doesn’t mean an opinion. It means:
“of or pertaining to the literary and artistic activities or contents of a publication, broadcasting organization, or the like, as distinguished from its business activities, advertisements, etc.: an editorial employee; an editorial decision, not an advertising one.” [Dictionary.com]
So an Editorial Calendar is simply the calendar that shows articles and posts you’ve published or plan to publish in the future. It’s like a Daytimer for your website’s content.
What Do You Use an Editorial Calendar For?
Planning your schedule
Whether you’re publishing daily, once a week, or anything in between, you need someplace to check off the days when you plan to publish. When you publish on a regular schedule, your traffic will grow faster because readers know when to expect something new.
Here at Future Expats, Tuesdays and Fridays are when new articles go live.
Keeping track of what you’ve published
When you’re just starting your website-based business it’s pretty easy to keep track of what you’ve published. But the longer you go on, the harder it gets.
“Gee, I know I wrote about that before, but when was it? Where’s the post on XYZ?”
Or if, like me with this site, you write about different groups of topics — mine are Portable Careers, Prepping the Move and, more recently, Panama — how do you make sure you’re keeping it balanced?
Those are two examples of where an Editorial Calendar comes in very handy.
You use it to plan upcoming content, and you use it to track what you’ve already published.
Monetization and more
You can use your Editorial Calendar for other things as well. I use mine to keep track of how often I’m using this website to promote something that earns income for the site. That includes affiliate links, advertising and the like.
Why do I want to track the monetization? Because I want to make sure I’m giving you lots of great information more often than I’m offering something for sale.
Where to Find an Editorial Calendar
If your website runs on WordPress, there’s a sweet Editorial Calendar plugin you can use. It’s a free download.
It lets you schedule posts, and rearrange the schedule with its drag-and-drop interface. You can also edit directly from the calendar interface.
Once you outgrow that, your best bet is to create an Excel spreadsheet that tracks what you want to track.
I’ve created a calendar-style worksheet that includes the following information:
- Date of publication
- Article Title
- General topic category
- A link to the article once it’s been published
- Whether it’s monetized in any way
I’ve also added color coding so I can see at a glance which of my three main areas it falls into.
ProBlogger Darren Rowse devotes a section of his book, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog [aff] to Editorial Calendars. (This is an excellent book for beginning bloggers in oh, so many ways!)
Another business owner tracks the number of hits that article received, as well as linkbacks and comments during the first week. Others track social media activity around the post or article.
Depending on your business and your site, you might want to track other items. Possibilities include:
- Request for proposal
- E-mail signups
Every publisher — and if you have a website you qualify — has some unique items they need to track. An Editorial Calendar is the place to start.
If you’re curious, you can see a sample of my editorial calendar here.