I’m gonna tell it to you straight…if you want to make money from your blog, you need an editorial calendar.
I know, you probably thought I was going to tell you that you need a million pageviews a year or thousands of email subscribers or an irresistible offer.
Nope. What you really need is a strategy. You need to plan out your content in advance. Each and every blog post or YouTube video should get you closer to your business goals.
If you’re like me, you’ve tried using an editorial calendar in the past. Oh, have I tried. In fact, I’ve tried google sheets, Excel spreadsheets, an Airtable database, CoSchedule, and sticking post-it notes on my closet door (see below). But I haven’t been able to stick with any of them.
How to find an editorial calendar you’ll actually use
There are a few reasons why I never stick to an editorial calendar system:
- The system is overly complicated. Many editorial calendars are designed for big businesses, where multiple authors and editors all contribute to one blog. These calendars are much too robust for a solopreneur, so they feel really overwhelming.
- The system doesn’t fit into your workflow. I like to work on paper, especially with big picture planning, so why was I using digital planners for my editorial calendar? Think about how you like to work, and make sure your editorial calendar fits with it.
After all my failed attempts to use an editorial calendar, I created my own. You can grab a free copy of it here:
How to use an editorial calendar to reach your goals
When I ask other bloggers what their number one goal is for their blog, most of them say “make money.” Perfect, let’s break down how you can use your editorial calendar to do that.
First, let me give you a quick overview of how you can make money from your blog.
- Host ads on your site.
- Write sponsored posts.
- Promote affiliate products.
- Sell your own products.
- Do freelance work, and use your blog as a portfolio or as a way to draw in new clients.
In order to create an effective editorial calendar, you first need to know how you plan to monetize.
If you want to make money from ads, your blog posts need to be optimized for search terms that you can rank for. If you don’t know what that means, then you probably don’t want to start with ads.
Here’s an example: This blog post about the best yoga mats for beginners has been designed to earn revenue through Google AdSense and affiliate links.
For example, I used this tutorial to help me set-up my tripwire sales page, and what do you know? I used Meera’s affiliate links to buy the products I needed!
If you’re a freelancer, your blog posts should educate your potential customers and show off your expertise. Amanda is a web designer. She uses this blog post to educate her reader and highlight her skills and knowledge in the web design field.
An editorial calendar is the tool you use to plan out your blog posts before you write them. This way, you can be sure that each post has a purpose and that each post is helping you reach your bigger goal.
Want a simple editorial calendar template you can start using today? Grab mine here:
The purpose of a blog post
Creating an editorial calendar doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. My five failed editorial calendar systems have made me realize that the only thing you need to consider is that each blog post serves you and your audience.
Here are ways that a blog post serve you:
- Get readers to join your email list
- Make affiliate sales
- Sell your own product
- Establish your expertise
Here are ways that a blog post can serve your audience:
- Teach them
- Inspire them
- Entertain them
As you plan your editorial calendar, make sure that each blog post serves you in one way and serves your audience in one way.
Examples of great editorial strategy
Let’s look at a few examples.
Teach the reader + grow your email list: In this post, Cath shows her readers how to prep a month’s worth of freezer meals before baby arrives. The post also includes a fantastic content upgrade: the grocery shopping list for all the freezer meal ingredients.
Entertain the reader + sell your own product: In this post, Liz will make you laugh so hard that you cry, even if you don’t live in an RV. She also uses the post to promote her ebook of humorous RV stories.
Inspire people + establish your expertise: Erika’s post is a call to action for any online business owner who is tired of over-hyped sales tactics and snake oil selling. This post establishes Erika as the go-to gal for classy customer service. In the future, if I need guidance on my customer service strategies, Erika will be top of mind.
Other considerations for your editorial calendar
If you’re planning blog posts that serve your audience and help you reach your goals, then you’re 9/10ths of the way there.
The last thing to consider: balance.
To keep your readers coming back (and to keep yourself sane), you need a little variety.
I like to spice things up in my editorial calendar by writing a variety of posts in a variety of categories.
Here’s an overview of the type of posts you could write: (You can click on each item to see an example of that type of post.)
As for blog categories, each category is one main topic that relates to your overall niche. My niche is time management and planning. My categories include: blogging tips, time management, planner reviews, and tutorials.
Writing a variety of posts in a few different categories will help you draw in a wider audience, and keep your current audience engaged.
Ready to work on your editorial calendar? Download my free template here:
Do you use an editorial calendar? If so, which one? Please share in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!