The Easy-to-Use Tool that Helps You Build a Breakthrough Blog

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As a digital branding and marketing agency, our company has encouraged, coached, and cajoled clients over the years on the importance of blogging for building traffic, buzz, and organic search.

We watched some clients grow by leaps and bounds, attracting hundreds of thousands of blog visitors per month.

And we watched others clients stumble along without ever gaining the momentum we were working for.

Of course there are a lot of factors that drive success or failure. But among the blogs that succeeded on a huge scale, we noticed two common factors.

First, the breakthrough blogs had a strong editorial calendar. And second, they used a thoughtful, strategic approach to managing editorial content.

What is an editorial calendar, and why do you need one?

An editorial calendar is just a fancy term for a publishing schedule.

If you blog regularly, you should look ahead at least one month and make some decisions about which posts you want to publish on what dates.

It’s really that simple.

An editorial calendar is the foundation of strategic blogging. That little bit of planning goes a surprisingly long way toward getting the most audience reach from your blog content.

1. An editorial calendar lets you plan ahead

By planning your posts ahead of time, you drive perseverance.

An editorial calendar encourages blogging as a habit, wards off writer’s block, and ensures that you never miss another deadline.

It’s a small, subtle thing, but you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes in your mindset.

2. An editorial calendar adds structure to your creativity

Many bloggers worry that an editorial calendar will straitjacket their creativity. Actually, the opposite is true.

Writing comes to many of us in waves. Struck by a bolt of inspiration, a blogger can write two or three posts in an afternoon.

That’s fine — keep writing about what inspires you. Then use your editorial calendar to publish each post according to a plan that keeps your target audience in mind.

Staring at that blank screen and trying to come up with a topic can be one of the most stressful aspects of blogging.

But you’ll find that when you make those decisions weeks in advance, you actually come up with more and better ideas. You’ll be more creative, not less.

3. You can take a great concept further

An editorial calendar is a powerful tool for maximizing the reach of your content, while removing the pressure of having to generate new concepts for each post.

Say you’ve got a great topic in mind, one you know your readers care a lot about. There’s no reason to blow it all in one day.

Would it make a valuable series, parceled out over a period of time and then gathered into a content landing page? Could you run some interviews or line up some guest posts on the topic? Or go multimedia and round up a few engaging videos or cartoons on the subject?

Whether you write everything yourself or use guest writers, planning ahead lets you group your content more effectively. Once you start looking at your blog a month at a time, you can develop patterns and make sure your content is well-balanced among all the readers you serve.

4. You can be proactive and capitalize on search trends

When you pair planning with a strong foundation in SEO, you start to build your audience highly efficiently.

An editorial calendar helps you pay better attention to key outreach strategies, such as blog post titles and link building. At a more advanced level, you can use it to plan and time posts related to your target audience’s search behaviors.

Capitalizing on search activity can be as simple as timing posts and topics to synch with public holidays or product launches. Or it can be as complex as doing deep keyword analysis and planning content around trending search terms that will deliver maximum traffic to your blog.

Why Stresslimit developed the WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin

After years of hacking together editorial calendars for our clients, using Excel spreadsheets and Google Docs, we wound up in a long discussion with our close friend (and brilliant engineer) Zack Grossbart.

Beyond our mutual excitement about blogging and the power of editorial calendar strategy, we shared a passion for open source projects and wanted to give back to the WordPress community. We also wanted to develop a tool that would make our lives and coaching our clients more efficient, easier, and simply cooler.

Our clients were excited about the idea of using an editorial calendar. But there was no single tool that enabled us to eliminate “busy work” and free up more time for strategizing and creativity.

We were also in synch with Zack on our love for creating simple, intuitive interfaces that help people manage complex behaviors.

An eight-month collaborative project was born: co-developing, co-designing and re-iterating the WordPress Editorial Calendar.

We’re excited to announce the launch of version 1.0 of our editorial calendar plugin, which is (in our humble opinion) the killer tool for managing and driving the success of any blog — from the small and personal to the large and corporate.

We invite you to take the WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin for a spin at this link. It’s free, and we think you’re going to get a lot out of it.

Here are some of the things you can do with the plugin

  • See a month’s worth of posts at a glance.
  • Juggle your calendar by simply dragging and dropping posts from day to day.
  • Quickly edit your posts’ titles, contents, and publishing times.
  • Publish posts or manage drafts.
  • Instantly see the status of your posts.
  • More easily manage posts from multiple authors.

And you can do all of that right from the calendar interface itself. It’s simple and intuitive.

No plugin alone can make you a brilliant strategist. But the WordPress Editorial Calendar is a tool that will encourage more strategic habits, thinking, and behavior. Check it out here.

About the Authors: Justin Evans is the founding partner of design branding and online marketing agency Stresslimit. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, startups, NGOs, and global thought leaders. Zack Grossbart is a programmer and author whose sensitivity to user experience and design has driven success for many Fortune 500 companies. He blogs about code and about user experience design, and is releasing his first book as a free serialized release at The One Minute Commute.

Editor’s Note: We use Stresslimit’s editorial calendar plugin here on Copyblogger, and we think it rocks. There’s no affiliate relationship, we just found it a nifty tool and think you’ll get a lot out of it.

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Comments

  1. Thanks!

    A solution for those who are challenged by details, structure and anything relating to organization!

    (Not me of course. Talking about “others.”)

    :-)

  2. I’ve installed the Editorial Calendar plugin on a couple of my own sites and I’m strongly encouraging all of my clients to add it to theirs (I’ve already nagged most of my blogging clients on to WordPress).

    I still maintain a separate calendar, just because I write on multiple sites regularly, but this plugin has definitely made my life easier. The only addition I’d like to see in the future is possibly a way to add notes on the calendar for content going out on other platforms, like a newsletter.

  3. great timing for me on finding this – thanks for the head’s-up. Looking forward to taking it for a spin.

  4. Good advice. We use a google document for this and have weekly content planning meetings. It’s kept us updating regularly which is a problem that a lot of blogs in our industry seem to have.

  5. This was a refreshingly sweet and relevant post. I woke up this morning with a huge headache about content organization. This definitely inspires me to change that.

  6. Victoria Gazeley :

    Brilliant! I’m looking forward to trying this out. Thank you!

  7. Excellent! I’ve been waiting for a plugin like this, since my blogging life is now getting complicated enough that I am starting to calendar. I will definitely try it out.

    You guys are part of a bigger trend, the birth of the scheduled web.

    There is a possibility that this could play very nicely with a free plugin that we offer, that allows you to create trails (= series on steroids) through your blog, Trailmeme for WordPress. If you’d like to chat, do get in touch via the comment form on trailmeme. The idea of scheduled trails might be a very sweet one indeed.

    Venkat

  8. An editorial calendar, including content for my email marketing, is what makes it even possible for me to juggle half a dozen blogs at the same time.

    I’ve also convinced my clients to use one, and they now see how much faster they can get a post published just because they already have a topic lined up.

    Having a calendar also helps to space out your various campaigns and promotions, so you don’t overwhelm your readers with one pitch after another.

    So far, a simple document using Google docs (so I can share with my clients) or Page or any other word processing software, has been working really well for me.

    However, I think I will give the Editorial Calendar plugin a try. It would be fun to drag and drop posts around… assuming I’ve drafted them already, that is.

    Thanks!

  9. I’ve been using it for a couple weeks now, and I’m in love. Super easy, and incredibly useful. iphone version?

  10. I’ve installed this now and will be happy to write an update on my site once I’ve run the plugin through it’s paces.

    Thanks,

    Karl

  11. This is one of the first plugins we built in to our new blog [it’s only 3 weeks old] and I LOVE it.

    I’m trying to keep ahead of myself and the calendar is brilliant for scheduling content.

    I also use the drag and drop function to reorganise posts.

    It literally makes my blog posting job easier.

    Congrats guys … you’ve saved me a lot of hassle and time.

  12. Very important stuff,

    A little bit of structure can certainly help to streamline and target the writing process.

    I have been doing this for a while now and I 100% agree. It actually helps a lot for creativity to have that measure of structure rather than hurting it.

    From what I have seen the editorial calender seems like a pretty nice addition that might be quite useful to helping with this.

  13. I just use a google doc, works like a charm and I can move ideas and posts from day to day with a simple cut and paste.

    • We did that as well before we installed the plugin. That works pretty well, but with the plugin, there’s just one thing to update. It’s all there in your WordPress editing area. Small bit of streamlining, but it was a really nice improvement for us.

  14. Thanks for posting about this terrific plug-in. What a find. It’s so easy for a blogger to get off on rabbit trails and leave the former topics unfinished. This will help keep me on track.

  15. As a former Hollywood writer, I know how valuable a delivery schedule (sic editorial calendar) can be to increasing INCOME. If you don’t deliver on time, you don’t get paid.

    The plug in is EXCELLENT! Many thanks for the tip. Installed and using it now.

    It might be cool to add a few features to it (as hinted in your blog) for tracking and scheduling content based on trends and relevance.

    Great stuff. Thanks.

  16. Oh, this is too awesome! The timing couldn’t be better…I just tried to whip something together in office word (poorly).

    On my way to the plugin! Thank You!! …I’ll be setting it up today!

    Andrea

  17. I had installed this about a month ago, and was very excited about it. However, it suddenly stopped working — as in, when I click on “calendar” I see a lot of . . . nothing. Blank page. Obviously conflicts with something else, but I don’t know what as I haven’t installed any new plugins since then. . .

    Any suggestions?

  18. I currently do a lose editorial calendar, but this looks like it could tighten it up. I’ll definitely give it a spin. Thanks.

  19. Hi Justin & Zack

    Nice tool! I find when clients ask for direction, they need some structure to their marketing activities and that’s really often in the form of a schedule.

    I’ve just dowloaded this plugin for my own blog – thank you for enabling a more paperless world! (although I’m quite attached to my crossing out and scribbles but you know what I mean).

  20. We’re loving the editorial calendar plugin for our own multi-author blog, as well as client blogs — for all the reasons this article explains so well. Previously we used a shared Google calendar published as a private page on each blog, so the integrated WordPress calendar with its plugin’s drag and drop function is a major improvement.

    I would say that our number one request for enhancements would be to integrate a tickler system of some sort into the plugin. At the moment, we need to separately set up reminders for each client/author/editor for deadlines.

    • Hi Pat,
      This is Justin from Stresslimit. Just wanted to let you know that we are in the beginning stages of thinking through an edcal plugin that’s targeted at advanced users and mutli-author blogs.

      This version was really targeted at single-author blogs, as part way through the development cycle we realized we were better to focus on one use case at a time than aim for both beginner and advanced use cases and miss the mark on both. We’re very excitedly compiling a list of features for the next (multi-author, pro-blogger) version so we really appreciate the feedback.

      Feel free to email me at Justin at stresslimitdesign.com with any other feature requests, etc.

      I’m really glad you are enjoying the plugin.

  21. I installed the plugin on 1 blog. After looking it over, I add the Editorial Calendar to all my blogs. What a great resource. Thank you!!!

  22. I got into the habit of forward planning when I was doing the pre-writing challenge earlier in the year. Lovely Carlos set us up with the thing in Google Docs, colour coded and everything. But then the challenge ended, life did its thing and got busy, and pre-writing and planning sort of fell to the wayside.

    I’ve just installed your plugin and, at first glance, it looks fab. Like others have already intimated, it would be lovely to have the option of adding little notes to show links between posts but overall, it looks great. Thanks for giving back, its much appreciated. :)

    • I agree, as someone who runs a blog that’s at the center of a business, it would be nice to add some non-post-related things like “vacation to Paris,” “spa day,” etc.

      Other people may have less indulgent notes to make. :)

  23. I don’t use WordPress, and do my organizing with Emacs org mode, which I find works fantastically for me (but it isn’t for everyone).

    But the idea of being well organized and planning out one’s posts in advance has been something that I have give a lot of attention to lately. I do most of my initial organizing on paper – I have a magazine stand that acts like an inbox tray does, and I throw everything in there that has to do with blog posts.

    I organize it regularly and keep a peace of paper that has a section for brainstorming, resources (links, etc) and an outline. Each time I think of something new, I add it to the paper. I decide exactly what I am going to read before I write it, and then build the post up, so that by the time I post, I know so well what I am doing, I hardly look at the paper.

    I have mostly been doing this for my business blogging/writing, but recently I have decided that I even want to do it on my personal blog – it just makes blogging more fun.

    Like you say “Staring at that blank screen and trying to come up with a topic can be one of the most stressful aspects of blogging. “

    • I actually still have four calendar whiteboards (each one is 1 month) in my office so I can forecast out promotions, deliverables, etc. Looking a little further into the future is really helpful.

      • Sonia, I actually use whiteboards for planning new pieces of a website. (the rest of the time my kids take it over.)

        I use Django, so you plan out the urls, their content and the hierarchy of pages, but I really love the GTD (David Allen, getting things done) way of doing things and I could almost go with a real bucket for organizing.

        I’m fanatical about little pieces of paper, in my pockets, my camera bag, my car – and I constantly write it down, and throw it into my blog posts box or Inbox, and regularly clear that out and organize.

  24. Another big help for me who has left a couple of blogs idle for several months now. Reading through the post and the positive comments here, I will definitely install and use the editorial calendar. I am trying to work hard to become a power blogger and I guess the WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin might do well for my plans. Thank you!

  25. Thank you very much for this. I have just installed it on my blog and I can see it being very helpful.

  26. Simply fantastic! This calendar works beautifully for me.

  27. Brilliant concept. Can’t wait to use it. This is really going to help in managing multiple client campaigns. Thanks for adding so much value into the Blogosphere.

  28. Installed. Activated. Scheduled my first few blogs. Works great. Next I’ll test your theory that it will actually help me get my blogging done:-)

    I created a spreadsheet to do this with my social media posts and include the blogs as a placeholder. I like how this let’s you start writing down some thoughts as you schedule it.

    Thanks,
    Jamie

  29. I also use notes or scraps for ideas especially if I have lost of ideas for one topic. It is just so difficult that is why it’s great that you shared this calendar post. :)

  30. Excellent tips, Zack and Justin! An editorial calendar makes blogging efficient, although I find that many times, I change my mind as to what to post for the week. Sometimes something new comes up and I’d want to write and publish that instead of the one scheduled so I just move it further along the calendar. Still, having a calendar helps you keep track of things and make easy adjustments! Definitely no writer’s block with the use of this kind of system.

  31. Great Timing!

    I have got so many things I want to blog about but I’m sort of holding back with them and then blurting them out when I know I need to make a post!

    I can see how this is going to help me structure my content and allow me to get my ideas down as and when they happen rather than at set dates.

    Thanks

    Simon

  32. Wow!!! this is really great wordpress plugin. Thanks for developing it Justin and Team.

  33. This is a very useful and complete plan of action.
    We’ll be sure to implement it in a very short while!!!

  34. The only problem is that I find that my blog still won’t let me schedule. The post does not get published and has a message saying schedule missed. I have to re do it and publish manually. It did this before but I had hoped that upgrading to wp3 would have sorted it. Never mind, the calendar is still really useful.

  35. I don’t have ‘plugin’ on my sidebar so how do I install?

  36. Sounds like a very interesting tool. I more-or-less starting doing this on my own using Mindmaps. I began to plan out what I wanted to accomplish in the month, especially post ideas and how to market. I also have a folder to bookmark certain links, pages, pictures, that gave me an idea for a new post. When I have enough material I can put it all together and publish it. So I’m always gathering new ideas for new blog posts, and I’m not worried about running dry anytime soon.

    Thanks for the tips.

  37. You guys made my day! I was just scheduling a bunch of blog posts and discovered just what you made a solution for. It was confusing to manage all the draft posts. So I was writing myself reminders elsewhere to make sure everything went smoothly.

    I installed your plug in. Marvelous!

  38. ahhhh…thank you. my brain is FULL.

  39. very helpful and useful for me as a new blogger…thank you very much

  40. I think the editorial calendar really helps. I started with mindmapping, and coming up with titles for my next blogs. I know also what to write about. I simply need to sit down and type them. This sounds easy, of course. But writing is a difficult task. That’s why only those with discipline may truly succeed.

    Including writing in the schedule will help a lot.

  41. I recently began using an editorial calendar. And believe me, I have sat here in front of a blank screen way to often. Here is what I would add to what you’ve written here. Since I began using this, I have noticed that when I simply come up with an idea and a blog title, I can put it into the calendar. Then, having a few of those in mind, I can over time, add outline pieces to the post notes. Then when I write, the writing is a log easier AND easier to organize.
    Mike

  42. Thanks for changing my life, guys! I tend to be very low-tech about organizational issues, and had my blog ideas just tossed randomly into a Word file. I put in the plug-in and now I have the next 6 weeks of posts planned out. I’m in loooove with this.

    I have a better sense of how to create good variety in my posts and schedule my strongest one first in the week now. Really helped me get organized.

    You rock!

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  44. This is a great tool, but useless if you only use WordPress.com or don’t use WordPress at all (I’ve given up on it –preferring the ease of Blogger).

    Love your site and have definitely benefitted from it!

  45. An editorial calendar PLUG IN … that is MUSIC to my ears and CAN’T WAIT to try it. (apologies for all caps … not “yelling,” just uber excited … )

  46. Sometimes you need to be reminded of the blatantly obvious! Planning like this will benefit the flow of my blog topics significantly (they have been a little haphazard of late). Previously I thought I was being organised writing my blog a few days in advance, I can see that all needs to change now, and will with the help of the plug in. Thanks!

  47. It always seem to be the simple things to help advance our goals. Thanks for sharing … especially the plugin!

  48. I’ve never really thought about scheduling out posts before, just king of posted random things as they came. But this is a great idea!

    This could definitely provide some structure and motivation. Maybe even create recurring subject entries scheduled for certain dates.

    I’ll definitely have to take a further look at this.

    Thanks!

  49. Now this is something I can use. Thanks for this post I was just about to crawl up a wall about writing and timing blog posts.

    Kudos for the plugin.

  50. After using it, I’d like to suggest some kind of reminder system. Maybe it emails the day before or something. Not a big deal for the daily bloggers, but for us 1 or 2 times a week it would be helpful.

  51. Thank you so much! I have been using this at my primary site for several months and it is such a blessing! I am just now adding it to a second site and it is one of the plugins I can NOT do without! It really helps me stay organized and not “lose” good article ideas in the stack of papers on my desk. It’s a BIG HELP for this very busy Sandwich Generation blogger! Again, thank you so much!

  52. A nice plugin with some excellent functionality. I am now using it on my newly setup blog.