How to Use Google Calendar to Create an Editorial Calendar

how to create an editorial calendar

An editorial calendar will help you to create and publish content more consistently.

Editorial calendars are a great way to plan your content ahead of time. Although it takes a fair amount of time to plan out your content in advance, knowing where you’re going helps reduce the writer’s block that often comes as a result of having no clue what to write about.

Editorial calendars can also help ensure that you have a good amount of variety on your blog and often result in publishing blog posts more consistently.

This post will show you how I use Google calendar to plan out blog posts, but you can apply the same principles to plan out your Facebook Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media posts.

why use google calendar as an editorial calendarWhy I Use Google Calendar as My Editorial Calendar of Choice

I’ve tried a lot of different tools for my editorial calendar, and after a lot of experimentation, I landed on Google calendars for the following reasons:

  • I can access the calendar from any computer that has an Internet connection
  • I can access the calendar from my phone.
  • I can easily share the calendar with team members.
  • I can merge, show, or hide different calendars at any time.
  • I can have multiple calendars for different purposes inside of one account
  • I can color code each entry on the calendar
  • I can put a ton of information in the description area
  • I can attach images and other items to the each entry
  • I can easily move any blog post to a different date if something comes up that alters my schedule
  • I can incorporate tasks into my calendar
  • Google calendars are free!

step by step guide to creating an editorial calendarA Step-by-Step Guide to Using Google Calendar as Your Editorial Calendar

If I’ve convinced you that Google calendars are a great way to set up an editorial calendar, follow the steps below, and you’ll have an editorial calendar in place in no time.

#1:  Create a separate Google calendar for your editorial calendar.

The first thing you need to do is to create a Google calendar.  Too keep things neat and tidy, I like having multiple calendars, for various reasons. For example, I have a separate Google calendar for my blog, Professional Content Creation.  If you have more than one blog, or if you write content for other people, you’ll likely want multiple calendars, one for each site.

Whether you have one calendar or many is totally up to you, but you’ll want at least one editorial calendar, in addition to your personal calendar.

#2:  Determine your posting frequency.

There are a lot of different opinions on how frequently you should post on your blog. The bottom line is that you need to figure out what will work for you, specifically what you can do consistently.  This may be 1 blog post a week, 3 per week, or a daily post.

Though not required, you may also want to post certain types of content different days of the week. For example, a written blog post on Monday, a video on Wednesday, and a podcast on Fridays. Deciding this ahead of time will keep you on track when you actually plug the information into your calendar.

Brainstorm a list of blog post ideas.

It’s much easier to add information to an editorial calendar if you first brainstorm a list of blog post ideas.

#3:  Brainstorm a list of blog post ideas.

There’s nothing worse than sitting down at your computer, opening your calendar, and having your mind blank out. For this reason, it’s best to do some brainstorming and come up with a good solid list of blog post ideas, before you ever open your calendar.

Choose one or two of the following ways to come up with ideas:

  • Select 5 – 10 blog categories, and make a list of 5-10 ideas for blog posts under each category.
  • Make a list of questions that your clients or customers ask
  • Open a Word document and set a timer for 30 minutes. Write any idea that comes to your mind, as fast as you can. Don’t worry about whether or not they are good ideas; you can later delete any that aren’t any good.
  • If you’ve set up Google Alerts for your niche, you can skim through the alerts to find ideas.
  • If you’ve jotted down ideas as they’ve come to you on your phone or in a notebook, pull out those lists to see if there are any blog post ideas that you’d like to add to your calendar.

The number of ideas that you come up with at a time is up to you.  Some people plan a year’s worth of content at a time, others only a month. For me, quarterly is a happy medium.

I generally try to come up with about 40 – 50 blog post ideas at a time, which is plenty of titles to be able to post 3 times per week for the next quarter.

#4:  Plug in your information from your blog post idea list to Google Calendar.

Now that you have your list of your blog posts created, know your posting frequency, and have a list of blog post ideas, you’re ready to start plugging information into your calendar.

  • Start with broad categories. For instance, if you plan to publish a podcast episode once a week, make that a recurring item on your calendar.
  • Go from broad to specific. For instance, using the podcast example, replace the generic, “podcast” calendar entry with, “Podcast Interview: Joe Schmoe” or whatever title you’re giving to the specific post.
  • Keep in mind that these are ideas, not the final post, so don’t get hung up on  the specific title. For instance, you may write, “Google Calendar as an Editorial Calendar” just to remind yourself of what the post is supposed to be about.

 #5: Take full advantage of the description box.

One of the things I love best about using a Google calendar as an editorial calendar is that I can put everything I need for the blog posts into the calendar entry. Here are some of the things that I put in the description box:

  • A basic idea of what I want the post to be about. I use the description box to capture any general thoughts I have about the post so that when I look at it perhaps weeks later, I’ll remember what I want to include. Sometimes the title alone is not enough to jar my memory.
  • Links to resources – these may be articles that have facts I want to use in the post, or posts (even of my own) that I want to be sure to link to within the blog post.
  • Phone numbers, email addresses, or other types of contact information. This is super helpful for things such as interviews, that involve other people.
  • An outline of the post.

The image below shows part of what I put in the description box for this post:

Use the description area of the calendar to keep track of ideas and resources that you want to include in your posts.

 #6: Use the attachment option to upload images and other items right to the calendar.

In same way the description box helps me keep track of ideas, the attachment option in Google calendar helps me to keep track of things that I want to add to the blog post such as photos.



#7: Add tasks to your calendar.

A task list is a great way to break into smaller chunks any blog posts that require multiple steps.

Tasks list are especially helpful if you need to do any prep work before writing the post or if you are dependent on anyone else in any way.

For example, if you’re planning on interviewing someone for your post, you’ll need to make arrangements for the interview ahead of time. In that case, you’d likely want to put the post idea on your calendar, and a task to arrange for the interview on your calendar at least one month earlier than the scheduled post.

You can also use tasks to assign various duties to other team members.

#8: Block out time to write.

Organizing everything on your editorial calendar does no good if you don’t actually sit down and write. Regardless of whether you block out time to write on your editorial calendar, your personal calendar, or your business calendar, schedule time to write. Treat your time to write the same way you’d treat any other important business appointment and only reschedule it when absolutely necessary.

Have you ever used an editorial calendar? Share your tips for planning your content.

  • Kurt Bubna

    Very well done, Rebecca! Great info! Thank you!

  • http://www.professionalcontentcreation.com/ Rebecca Livermore

    Thanks so much, Kurt. I’m glad you found it helpful.

  • http://www.simplicityadmins.com/ Sarah Santacroce

    Great post, Rebecca ! Just two days ago I posted about “How To Plan Your Blog Content” ;-) Great minds think alike ;-) I mentioned that I use WP Editorial Calendar, but I like how you use Google Calendar to collaborate with a team. I might just give it a try too !

  • http://www.professionalcontentcreation.com/ Rebecca Livermore

    Thanks, Sarah! I’ve also used the WP Editorial Calendar, and I like it because it does help you see when you have things scheduled. The primary way that I use that is to make sure I didn’t goof up when scheduling posts, because I can see at a glance whether or not I have things right.

    But you’re right that collaboration works better with Google calendar and I also like some of the other features such as task lists, being able to attach documents and images, etc. There is also a WordPress plugin that I’ve used called, “Post Ideas +” that works well as a way to keep track of ideas. You can dump all of your ideas there, and then turn them into drafts when you’re ready write them, so you might want to check that out as well.

  • http://www.simplicityadmins.com/ Sarah Santacroce

    thanks Rebecca ! Will have a look at “Post Ideas+” right now !

  • http://paulkirtley.co.uk/ Paul Kirtley

    Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for your great post.

    It’s very timely for me. I’m not short of ideas of what to write about but in addition to writing two established blogs, I’ve recently taken on the commitment to write for two magazines. I need to up my game with planning and your article will help me no end.

    Thanks,

    Paul

  • http://www.professionalcontentcreation.com/ Rebecca Livermore

    Paul, I’m glad to hear that you found my post helpful. Like you, I write for my own blog but also write other content as well, and it can be hard to keep track of everything without a good system.

    One thing you might find helpful is changing the color of the entry dependent on where the post or article will be published. At least for me, that visual helps me to keep everything straight in my mind and helps me to avoid dropping the ball on any of my commitments.

  • http://twitter.com/MOALee Lee Drozak

    Great idea using Google Calendar. I too used the WP Editorial Calendar but I think this idea will help with the research and planning stage. I can then us WP to schedule posts and make sure all bases are covered. Getting back on track with blogging for my 2013 Q1 goal this tip will get me prepared and on track.

  • http://www.professionalcontentcreation.com/ Rebecca Livermore

    Lee, that’s basically how I do it and I think it works well. I love all the functionality of Google calendar, which is lacking in the WP Editorial Calendar, but the WP Editorial Calendar helps me see at a glance what is actually scheduled, in draft mode, etc. This is especially good for me when I do a lot of posts in advance (primarily for clients) and am supposed to schedule posts for certain dates. It’s easy to make mistakes when scheduling (at least it is for me), and the WP Editorial Calendar helps me avoid those mistakes.

  • http://aliciavaz.com/ Alicia Vaz

    I’ve been using Google Calendar for some time now, but mainly to manage my bills, keep up with mine and my husband’s scheduled appointments, and my kids school activities. I’ve tried to use Google’s Calendar to help me be more efficient with my business but have, for some reason, done a poor job of sticking to things as scheduled. I appreciate your step-by-step guide for using Google Calendar, especially how you use task and the attachment feature to collect ideas for future use. I’ve never used those aforementioned features but immediately realized the benefits after reading this article. I feel so disorganized when it comes to scheduling posts, writing articles and staying on schedule. You’ve given me a lot of great ideas to help me be more productive. Thanks a million and one!

  • http://www.professionalcontentcreation.com/ Rebecca Livermore

    Alicia, you’re very welcome! I can certainly understand your problem, because I’ve had the same one myself. You may want to try adding just one small commitment related to your business onto your calendar and work on making that a habit before adding more.

    Do you know that you can have multiple calendars in the same gmail account and hide or show any of them at any time? That can keep your main calendar from getting too messy but help you avoid scheduling a business related item at same time you need to be doing something else. I also put actual appointments (e.g. a phone call) in red to make them stand out. That way when I glance at my calendar, I immediately see things I have to do at a specific time.

  • http://aliciavaz.com/ Alicia Vaz

    Really useful information Rebecca. Definitely worth sharing with everyone I know. I do have multiple calendars which I create in the same gmail account. I use to share calendars from my other gmail accounts but recently decided to just use one gmail account. It’s so much simpler. You are right, one small commitment is what I need to take on at a time. So I’m giving myself permission to do so right now. There, I did it, permission granted.

  • http://www.professionalcontentcreation.com/ Rebecca Livermore

    Good for you, Alicia! Hope it goes well for you!

  • http://ShesConfident.com Jeannie Spiro

    These are such great tips, I didn’t even think to use Google Calendar for this but it makes perfect sense! Thanks so much!

  • http://www.professionalcontentcreation.com/ Rebecca Livermore

    You’re welcome, Jeannie! Hope this works well for you!

  • http://twitter.com/PatrickSturgill Patrick Sturgill

    I’ve been playing with Google Calendar for a bit now, and I just wanted to mention one of my favorite options. After you have all the information in, not only can you view by day, week, and month; you can also click on agenda view and get a nice looking list view. For my mind, it is a bit easier to see all the upcoming stuff at once in list form.

  • TravelGenee

    Thanks for confirming to me that the Google calendar I set up earlier this week is a great tool and should help with my work and blogging.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AlisaUgalde Alisa Kuker Ugalde

    #6 is so helpful. To be able to have all of the attachments handy will be a huge time-saver. Thank you Rebecca!

  • http://www.professionalcontentcreation.com/ Rebecca Livermore

    Patrick, this is a great point, and one that I don’t use often enough. I have used it when I’ve signed up for things like online summits that have their schedule on a calendar, but haven’t used it on my own calendar. I think I’m going to have to give that one a try!

  • http://www.professionalcontentcreation.com/ Rebecca Livermore

    You’re welcome! Hope it works well for you!

  • http://www.professionalcontentcreation.com/ Rebecca Livermore

    You’re welcome, Alisa! The attachments and the description area are my two ways to use Google calendar to help with my content planning.

  • http://www.LipstickUnplugged.com/ Dee Copeland Patience

    Very helpful! I tried using a wordpress plugin and it toasted my site.

  • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ jbledsoejr

    Mine too! :(

  • http://twitter.com/RavenHeart81 Wayne Cochran

    Although I’m not currently using an editorial calendar app, I at least have a written plan,and this article validated some things for me, so I feel like I am on the right track.

  • http://twitter.com/DinaEisenberg Dina Eisenberg

    Absolutely fab info. I already use the wp plugin, which really improved the cohesiveness of my content, but wanted to connect with Google docs somehow. Your instructions and well-reasoned explanations are like manna from the heavens-thanks!

  • Tom Corcoran

    This was enormously helpful. Thank you!

  • Devani

    LOVE these tips! So helpful, thank you.

  • http://mxcoachradio.com/ AKA Byronious

    Very thankful for this informative post… much appreciated.

  • http://www.makementionmedia.com/ Jen Havice

    This is a terrific idea! Thanks so much for the details on how you go about doing this. I think you just solved my scheduling problems.

  • Christy Campbell

    This was super helpful. Thanks so much! I’ve been wondering about a good way to set up an editorial calendar–and despite already using Google Calendar, using it for planning and scheduling posts (and other social media) had still never occurred to me. I also really appreciate the tips/hints about the tasks and attachments!

  • Justin Gaberial

    Now this is in actual fact cooperative. It’s very openhanded of you to share this with us.printable calendars

  • Justin Gaberial

    adasdas

  • johnystrong

    Hello This is good post and this is blog is given many types of information and this is very nice blog.

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  • http://www.terencechang.com/blog/ Terence Chang

    Ha. I thought I was the only one using Google Calendar for this purpose. Great article. I also set the reminder to make sure I don’t miss the schedule.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • sc

    stuff like this you should sell..great job!

  • realsource

    Thank you for this great information – You know how you know how to do something – but then don’t take advantage of what you know — that is where I am now — thank you for getting me back on track.

  • http://www.cottageblogger.com/ Heather Bayer

    I just found this post after searching for using Google as an editorial calendar, and wanted to thank you for the clarity of explanation. It seems I have spent far too much time looking for a suitable solution for this simple problem but it seems I am not alone!

  • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    Old post, but still GOLD. Thank you for the valuable tips…

  • 1
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  • Edward

    Hi Rebecca, here’s another easy method to prepare an editorial calendar. Have a look; http://www.proofhub.com/use-cases/editorial-calendar

  • http://clippod.com/ Gaurav Gupta

    Here’s another tip Rebecca – Try ClipPod for Google Calendar. It should be a great addon if you are using Google Calendar as an editorial calendar.

  • http://www.befreeproject.com/befreeproject BeFree Project

    Thank you! This post was so helpful for me as a fairly new blogger.

  • http://www.achelandoor.com/ آچیلان در

    Hi amy ,Thanks for confirming to me that the Google calendar I set up earlier
    this week is a great tool and should help with my work and blogging,

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