How to use iCal to make an editorial calendar

As a ‘creative type’, a blog seems like an ideal outlet to unleash your inner musings. You know that it will give your site a regular boost of fresh content too, which will help you in search engine rankings.

Unfortunately, reality hits. That steady stream of ideas you anticipated fails to flow. You spend 5 minutes pondering what you could write about, and then get sucked back into Facebook. Damn.

Suddenly, several months have flown by and your blog reminds you of that secret clearing in the woods, that someone probably last visited around 2002. This is the point many give up on their blogging attempts, when really all they need is a little bit of (gasp) structure.

Structure???

Hear me out. If you don’t employ some kind of strategy when it comes to running a blog, you will probably not post on it so much. Then there are no regular updates, so your blog brings little new traffic. This means that few people will be able to read your amazing article on toads, because they are simply unaware of its existence.

All we need in life is a little kick up the arse. This is where the editorial calendar comes in.

When you think of an editorial calendar, you most likely think of a magazine. Here’s the Wikipedia definition:

Editorial calendars are used to define and control the process of creating content, from idea through writing and publication.

In essence, the simplest editorial calendars allow you to see what content needs to be created, what has been created, and when it’s all due to be published.

A popular way to create this type of calendar is using a spreadsheet format – however, spreadsheets bore the hell out of me and so I’m sharing another way of creating one using iCal. This of course is a bit biased towards Mac users (we cannot help being awesome heh heh), but you could easily use another calendar program such as Outlook or Google Calendars.

So why use iCal for your editorial calendar?

    • You can add different calendars that are colour-coded (typically, you might have a ‘Work’ and a ‘Personal’ one). Here, because I have a ton of websites on the go, I have set up a separate calendar for each one. The different colours show me when content is due to be published for a particular website. If you only have one website to look after, you could set up a colour-coded calendar for each type of content – for example; Red = Blog Posts, Yellow = Email Newsletters, Blue = Press Releases.
    • My idea in using iCal is that it automatically syncs with my tablet and phone, so I can see whats going on wherever I am. More than this is the benefit of being able to quickly add in titles/subjects for future blog posts when I have Sudden Random Idea Influxes. These do not usually occur by the computer. They occur in silly places, like in the middle of a wood. So I needed something easily updatable across platforms.

 

  • It’s easy to keep track of regular content such as blog posts by setting one up as an event to occur on a regular basis. Set up the event with a generic name (such as, ooh, Blog Post), and get it to repeat every two weeks. When you have that magical idea for a post, you can simply choose the most appropriate event, and change the title from ‘Blog Post’ to whatever working title you have chosen. Press Enter and click ‘Only This Event’ to schedule your blog post for only that date, because if you change all the future ones to that title too you will just be writing about your magical idea forever. Then it won’t seem so magical anymore.

 

Once this is all set up, you can easily see what content is going to be published on what date. When you choose to produce the content could be added as another calendar, or you could pencil it in on a ‘looser’ basis to coincide with your creative periods. The main thing is that you can write it before it’s due. I tend to reserve Wednesdays for writing a couple of blog posts for one website, depending on what’s coming up on the calendar.

Planning can be your reliable friend in the ebb and flow of your creative life. And, if anyone sees your calendar on the screen from a distance, it can make you look very busy and interesting.