31DBBB Day 12: Develop an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog

This is Day 11 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, a group project 60+ of us bloggers are doing together in an effort to help each other become better bloggers.

I truly loved yesterday’s assignment, brainstorming new posting ideas. At first I thought it was dumb, but the more I thought about it, the better it sounded. Likewise for today’s assignment–which is to plan out a posting calendar for blogs to write through the week.

First my objections: I don’t write an informational blog so much as an inspirational one. And the kind of inspiration I write is the stuff God has been saying to me in my daily quiet times (well, mostly daily). Why would I need to brainstorm about this? I’m not the one coming up with the ideas. How can I plan out what God is going to say to me? How will I know what He may want me to write on Wednesday? Why would I need to?

The thing is, though, I often do plan what God will say to me. People raise topics I have questions about or I read something in the word I don’t understand, so I take it to Jesus and He explains–usually–or sometimes He doesn’t. And planning out a week ahead isn’t all that draconian, especially since I’m the one who decides on the moment whether to follow the plan or not. I often get cool things from God and never get around to posting them because something else comes up that diverts my attention. A posting plan would help to avert that.

I also liked the idea of planning a posting rhythm or flow–posting a scripture meditation on Monday, a list of relevant posts on Wednesday, a word to the church on Friday. Probably not for me, but it’s a good idea, and the idea of varying the format of my postings does appeal to me, if not in quite so structured a way.

Another thing I liked was that planning a little ahead will enable me to use more relevant photographs instead of just looking through my photo files for something that might work–or at least be pretty. If I plan ahead, I can actually go out and take a picture that will add to the content rather than just drawing the eye.

Finally, Rowse makes a good point when he says that blogs can get a little one-dimensional unless the writer plans otherwise. Planning can act as a self-portrait that allows us to see the face of our blog and say, for example, “I think it should have a nose, too–all those eyes look weird by themselves.”

So give it a shot–what can it hurt? Even if you feel that your blog isn’t the sort that will benefit from planning, you may find some aspects of this assignment that do apply, and how will you know unless you give it a chance?

Discussion

  1. Do you think your blog could benefit from a little more intentionality? Why or why not?
  2. Do you sometimes feel that your blog is getting a little flat? What would pep it up? How can you make it more interesting and attractive?
  3. Do you find materials in your notebook, etc., and think, “Why haven’t I ever posted on that? Do you then flip past them and forget about them again?
  4. What is God saying to you about this?

The Extra Mile

A few other things you can do to take your blog, other bloggers, and this project even further today…

  • Reply & give other bloggers feedback on the little things they do.
  • When other bloggers include a link to a new article they’ve posted today, click, read, and comment on it.
  • Check previous posts in the series for new comments.
  • Tweet, share, & bookmark this post.
  • Please review Richard Sipes blog and give him some feedback.

Cindy Skillman lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota (USA) with her husband, daughter, and two goofy dogs. They’re involved with a group of brothers and sisters in a new organic church and meet to break bread with one another from house to house as well as just hanging out together through the week. She blogs at http://cindyinsd.wordpress.com and you can follower her on Twitter at @CindyinSDakota

63 Responses to “31DBBB Day 12: Develop an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog”

  1. this is where I, as they say, "Loose the Plot"
    but I think that, along with yesterday's post, this lesson has great value.
    if you have a good list of blog ideas then you can make good use of set times to write and publish.
    As for planning things to do with your blog, aiming for a target date and launching – that is straight wisdom.
    I am not a wise person in this regard, more of a cowboy :)
    What God is teaching me? hmm, Get organized?

    • LOL… okay cowboy! I don't think that you are alone in this!

      But as I read your comment, I can't help but to think about the Proverb that says, "where there is no vision, the people perish." A Hebrew word study on this reveals much deeper meaning, but the core idea is the same…

      Map out your plans and follow them, or suffer the consequences.

      You are right when you say that there is great wisdom in this post/lesson. And I need to follow that more often myself a well…

      • Thank you for sharing "where there is no vision, the people perish." And how that can apply to blogging.

        • gulp, well at least I know where I want to go. Planning posts is a way to make sure you stay on the path. So I guess I need to plan my route better. Although I think I have doing ok on instinct for a while, but just ok.

    • Here's my problem …

      I am an extremely organised person – just ask my friends – but when it comes to my blog I revert to this organsiational neanderthal.

  2. I never know what I'm going to write about. Except this week. :)

    Darren gets on the scale…
    http://greeninventionscentral.blogspot.com/2010/0

  3. I grew up with the prejudice that Spirit-led meant spontaneous or immediate. God spent several years [decades] getting me to see that He has a plan. He created with order and order underlies most of His nature. Then I started seeing it in scripture, too. So trusting Him to inspire what he wants – a series here, a more immediate response there – really enriched my writing and preaching. Besides where is the study to show yourself approved I you tell Him all things of value are found in the immediate. I have since found that I am thick headed enough that sometime He has to cut part of my skull away so the light can get in. Like a child I learn a step at a time as he build maturity, ability, and purpose. And when something is outside my scope of expectation, the layers of learning and prodding it takes to get a new expectation formed in me can be amazing in retrospect. So why would He not use our blogs the sameway – step by deliberate step – a plan – to get the fuller picture across. That's true of 31DBBB, right? That's true of the beautiful Greek logic use in Paul's inspired writings, right? Is that true of me? Right!

    • I know the Quakers have traditionally had a very free and spontaneous worship. That's a good thing. Do you find that God adds more to the immediate and spontaneous when you organize and plan more?

      • As scandalous as your statement sounds, it is really true. The original Quakers actually talked about preparing for open worship. Men like John Woolman and Stephen Grellet would come with prepared sermons. Then they would wait on the Lord again, this time in worship, for the timing of presentation. Sometimes it was a different day than they anticipated, but more often the Holy Spirit orchestrating worship created a context that enriched the prepared message. Yes, today, whether among pastoral or non-structured worship, God definitely adds more to the immediate and spontaneous when you organize and plan under His direction. Some people forget that unprogrammed worship actual rest on an underlying structure and plan. Always has. Thanks for the question! I need to blog on that on my thequakerprophet.blogspot.com blog.

      • Remaining free and spontaneous though is the trick.

        In the church I attend we've had in depth teaching about worship (and praise) but even we forget to remain free and come with our organised lists and just 'hope' that God turns up. So coming back to the point, is being organised any better than spontaneous when it comes to hearing from God?

        I don't know the answer – just tossing it out there.

    • This is a great point! When I think about being Spirit-led I think about Jonathan Edwards… I understand that he wrote all of his sermons on paper ahead of time and read then word-for-word when he preached. It shows how the Spirit can move through planned-preparedness.

      One way to deal with the 'spontaneity' that people here seem to enjoy, it to build that into the plan. I'm thinking that one (including myself) could plan the editorial schedule with specific posts (from yesterday's exercise), and also plan a day or two each week to just write from what God is putting on your heart for the last day or two. This would help to keep a balance of all of this…

      In fact, I'd be willing to bet that some good new scheduled posts (using yesterday's mind map) might come out of these more spontaneous posts… creating new series that could be written on for quite some time with greater depth.

  4. This weeks new post is up athttp://www.guidedreflections.blogspot.com . I loved the insight – and the processs – that resulted in its creation. Please tell me what you think! Especiallly you inspiriation bloggers, what do you think?

  5. Like yesterday’s lesson, this one fits me well. I have always been low in creativity, but high in organizing. In my preaching I usually work through a book of the Bible verse-by-verse—I find it’s a great plan. And God inspires both the plan and the execution of the plan. I even write out a manuscript for each sermon rather than just notes. Sometimes the word as I preach it comes out sounding very little like what I wrote, but the writing process still helped me think through all the issues, and it helped me to try to find the best words with which to bring the truth God is teaching me.
    I think my blogging probably works in a similar fashion. When I pray and plan, God more easily inspires because my mind and heart are already in tune to Him.
    Even so I do feel my blog writing getting flat sometimes. Today as you review my blog, let me know if you think so. http://junctionforjesus.blogspot.com/2010/05/31db

    • My wife runs a ministry studying Creativity as a spiritual discipline, and we usually find that people who think they aren't very creative simply haven't found the right way to express themselves yet. Remember that Creativity does not mean Originality, it just means that you're working hand in hand with the Creator to make something (whether that's a painting, a sculpture or a blog post…)
      That being said, the spontaneity traditionally associated with creativity and being Spirit-led are often best able to function when they have a set structure in which to operate.

    • I like how you asked questions for us to answer in the comments. Great idea to have your readers help with the blog layout.

  6. Jennifer Janes May 18, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Great post, Cindy! Thanks! I completely agree with the points you made. I've been wanting to "map out" my blog posts for a while but haven't made the time. Today's my day!

    I thought yesterday's assignment was quite helpful and can already see that doing it will offer significant help as I develop an editorial calendar. Like you, I'm not sure exactly what that will look like for my blog, but I'm praying about it and trying to see which direction God would like to see it go!

    Forgot to add that I tried a new type of post today: Travel! The link ishttp://jenniferjanes.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/dan

    ~Jennifer

  7. Not going to lie – organization and I do not get along. The more I try to organize my life and the more i try and come up with a schedule for things the more I find myself working to fit into that. I thought about putting something like Wednesday Word Slam on my blog, but the second I thought about it, I was having difficulty writing anything. One of my favorite styles of writing became a chore the instant I scheduled it. Don't get me wrong, I'm posting regularly even without the 31DBBB but God hasn't shown me how to operate inside a box, even if I'm the one who made it.

    • Well my 2p is that if what you're doing is already working for you then get on and keep on keeping on with that. Don't disrupt it.

      I think today's lesson is more for those that have no idea (like me) and despite being an organised person I can't work that into my writing. I'm trying to work out why though.

  8. 89% of my blog topics (which are really just daily devotionals for cowboys) comes from reading the Bible. I read a little out of the Old Testament and a little out of the New Testament and I write from what I read that day. I NEVER know what the topic will be.

    That's why yesterday's and today's lessons just don't seem to fit with what I do. I am not saying I didn't try. I have my piece of paper with the five recent posts on it with the brainstorming underneath. I just don't know how to apply the last two days lessons to what I have been doing without changing everything.

  9. I like many of you respond to the leading of the Spirit for my writings. So planning ahead does seem somewhat limiting. But like with speaking, it seems a plan is good as long as we are allowing the Spirit to lead us in different directions as He desires.

    This culture likes variety. And if we are going to meet them where they are, for the glory due our Lord's name, then maybe including a day for funny or a day for guest posts or a day for ___________ could be positive.

    So personally I think I am leaning towards planning one or two days of the week that are regular weekly topics.

    On Tuesdays I link to a friend's blog. You can check out today's post here http://unrehearsedadventure.blogspot.com/2010/05/

    Happy planning my blogging peeps.

  10. I have found that I enjoy planning a writing schedule. Although I do have some of the same issues that many others have. So my solution has been to write a few blog posts and put them in a holding pattern as a saved draft. That way if I am stuck for content on a particular day, I have something that I have thought through and is ready to go. This also gives me the flexibility to share something pressing that God may have put on my heart for a particular day.

    I find that I like structure, but if it is too rigid I feel confined. I have to have direction with the flexibility for me to make changes.

    Here is today's post: http://larrywestfall.com/character-insights-throu

    • I know what you mean, Larry. I, too, like having some idea of what's coming up–a plan B, if you will–in case I need it. I don't need to know for sure what's happening next, but it does help to know what COULD happen next, if I need to come up with something. And God can guide our planning, too. It's just important not to make the plan more important than God's leading.

  11. We have actually accomplished this lesson quite by accident, but have found that having a calender of topics can be very beneficial.

    In our blog today, we are talking about porn addiction, from the pew to the pulpit.
    http://ronniespoon.blogspot.com/2010/05/addiction

  12. The difficulty I face with a scheduling is that the time I can devote to blogging varies evening by evening. I tend to think of "schedule" in terms of "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…" and that already begins to overwhelm this guy who can't manage daily posts.

    But as I reflect on this, that's not what the exercise is saying. It's simply planning ahead. Tonight, I will be driving one daughter to youth group, and picking up another daughter from club volleyball. So I shouldn't try to write. Wednesday and Friday, on the other hand, look open.

    I know! Tonight, I will catch up on yesterday's assignment! :-)

    My new post is an "out-of-context" quote from life which I use as humorous fillers on days when I don't have time to write.http://www.blogoneanother.com/2010/05/kay-sez-abo

    • I don't think today's lesson is so much about scheduling when you write as much as it's about scheduling when certain types of posts will be published. As much as creative people such as writers hate to be predictable, I think readers like a predictable schedule so they know when to expect fresh content.

  13. Cindy!! Great word.. I have slacked the past 2 days on posting.. Been so busy with work and some things God has been revealing to me..

    I feel God leading me to plant a church back in my hometown of Gatesville, Tx.. Scares the crap out of me! Fought with this decision for a long time.. Put it on hold when my mom was sick and when she died.. On the 1 year anniversary of her death it was finally completely revealed to me.. Very surreal…

    Anyways.. I think having a plan would be great and a calendar. I try to get our pastor to do that with his blog, but like most pastors he's a bit scatter brained! I will now be attempting to post regularly with a certain topic/idea for the days I do post.

    Maybe do a Monday post on what I learned on Sunday. A Wednesday post on something personal and a Friday post on what's coming up for the weekend..

  14. Its a challenging perspective you bring. I do tend to be in a constant train of thoughts and ideas, largely prompted by what happens everyday. Planning ahead, does, however, have its merits and on occasions I have run a deliberate theme – so maybe for me its a bit of both.

  15. So, I sat down and wrote out a plan. I have the picture (above today's post) to prove it! But do you think I followed it? Hahaha! Very funny! It did inspire me to sit down and write (well, transcribe) some posts, though, so I have a new post up and several more scheduled that I might not have gotten to for a while if I hadn't written down a plan to do SOMETHING. If you want to see, click on my name–it will take you there.

  16. Thanks so much for this post. I am a planner and so this works well for me. Although I must admit I've been a little out of sync lately. I know other bloggers (especially inspirational) who have struggled with planning blog posts. Thanks for encouraging us that our blog posts can be that much richer and informative with a little planning… Whether that be including link posts or intentional pictures, I think that planning will allow you to incorporate all the tools being presented in how to become a better blogger. Keep up the good work everyone!

    I'm a new blogger over at lashorne{dot}com. My latest post ishttp://lashorne.com/2010/05/18/joy-in-christ/

    • Love the picture you used with your post. The scripture and picture went great with it. Thanks for the visuals.

      • Thanks Becky! I checked out your blog post. I really liked the idea of color coding based on one-time posts, series, etc. I enjoy using color when I plan, that just brought some perspective for me.

  17. I can totally understand what everyone is saying here. Most people who blog probably take that common approach of being more spontaneous. However, this project is about building a BETTER blog.

    Personally, I'm doing this to learn how to take my blog to the next level, and this is just one of the best practices. So I have a choice to make. Do I stick with what I've always done, or do I try the best practices that I'm learning about? If I stick with what I know, will I ever be able to achieve the BETTER blog status?

    So while some steps like this one may seem uncomfortable (or unreasonable), I'm willing to give it a shot. I don't think that it means leaving the guidance of the Holy Spirit behind… just using that guidance to help me be a better planner.

  18. The idea of scheduling what to post and when to post for our blogs is a good idea. I sat down and did this and loved being able to see it visually and what I can do with it. Seeing what I'm posting when and everything. I know I probably won't always stick to this and will probably rearrange it or move posts sometimes because I feel God is saying to blog about something else or to wait on it.

    The links in the book for today were very helpful. Tips on the best time to post, blogging schedules, and more were great.

    Posts since yesterday –
    Your Community 6of6 – The Church -http://tijuanabecky.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/your
    31dbbb days 8-12 -http://tijuanabecky.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/31db

  19. Uh-oh! Since I wrote my new post, I am afraid that I need to give today's calendar topic a little more credence. Today's post is on being passive.
    http://campfirecowboyministries.com/2010/05/how-t

  20. I like today's lesson/assignment, and I think it's going to be really important in taking both this blog and LiveIntentionally.org to the next level. It think the one of the biggest problems with both is the lack of consistency.

    I hear what everyone is saying about wanting to be spontaneous, creative, and led by the Spirit, though. I think usually the best way to go is to have a solid plan and the freedom to deviate from the plan. (Hmm, that would be a good topic for a blog article)

    Today I wrote… Digging Deep: Leading When You Have No Energy
    http://www.liveintentionally.org/2010/05/18/diggi

    • Wow – if you think you lack consistency Paul then there's no hope for some of us then :)

      And that's a good post – I recall the lack of sleep (I typically only take 5 or 6) when I had my prolapsed discs this time last year. It came down to snatches of 5m at a time. I was literally paralysed by the pain and lack of sleep – it took three weeks before I could even get 2hrs straight and for about 6wks I was useless to all around me. Should have commented over there but ….

      • Posts in this series and in the 20 Ways to Share Your Faith Online series last month have been very consistent, but that's primarily because a) other people have been writing most of the posts, and b) I feel accountable to everyone else participating in each of these projects.

        Posts outside of these projects have been inconsistant. And if you look at LiveIntentionally.org you never know what you're going to get. My goal is 3 posts a week, but the last week in April I didn't post at all. It really comes down to a matter of priorities and writing that blog comes after God, my wife, my kids, OCC, my church, my small group, extended family & friends, exercise, household chores, and on and on.

        • Your last paragraph is precisely one of the reasons why I probably inwardly shy away from planning my blog.

          Committing to doing X on a specific schedule could easily lead to a clash with other more important items – your list being a great example and mostly mirroring my own degree of importance… plu sthe shift work can make life real tough to get everything done with a schedule whilst at other times it facilitates it.

          Plus, despite my regular, daily usage of tech I am more than happy to walk away from it for a period to recover so schedules definitely go out the window then.

  21. Today's assignment is great for a guy like me. I find freedom in checklists and structure…and I am smart enough to realize that there are many of you who are driven crazy by the structure and routine that causes me to thrive. I find that I am more creative when I have a plan to follow. That may sound insane to some of you, but it seriously works for me.
    Here is my totally unrelated post for today: http://www.nolanbobbitt.com/welcome_to_nolans_wor

  22. i can see the value of having a road map for the coming week. In theory I can see myself actually doing it, in practice I fear it maybe a case of over planning without actually doing. It has been a problem for me, planning planning planning and wondering why I don't have time doing. I'm getting better about finding a balance.

  23. If you've read some of my comments above you'll know that I consider myself organised. I can plan, manage and run events from the small to the very large without any real issues or worries (this is one of the giftings I have) but I'm unable to translate that organisational skill into blogging / writing. That has always been a 'when the mood takes me' thing.

    So here's a question I have on this…. how do you folks actually practically organise your schedule and writing?

    Do you use a notepad?
    Something like Evernote?
    Draft posts in your blog?
    Brain storm (mind mapping to the PC crowd I believe)
    Something else????

  24. First, I would like to congratulate Cindy on a great review of today's lesson. This one really applies to me. I definitely need more intentionality in planning my posts—and taking pictures ahead of time. I'm usually coming up with an idea and then run around trying to compose a picture. And, if I'm lucky, my camera will be charged!
    So, I made up a calendar using Google Docs. I thought I had conquered the "techy" hurdle somewhat–until I lost my calendar. My oldest son bailed me out–a true blessing!
    See the rest of my adventure at: http://openmyearslord.blogspot.com/2010/05/plan-p

    Blessed,
    Janis

  25. I wanted to make my blog a mixture of inspiration and information and so having a schedule is kinda hard. But i have found that I have a lot of things that I havent written about and want to and instead of losing those ideas putting them on a schedule to write about helps me make sure I get around to actually blog about it.

  26. I think my blog could benefit from a little more intentionality becuase I have categories to fill and people follow because of those categories.
    I do feel my blog has become a little flat and I just thought of a new category this morning to make it a little more interesting.
    I am always thinking of things to post about and not finding the time.
    I think God saysto me, get with it! You can't inspire others if you don't work at it!

  27. Yes planning is needed in order for one to achieve consistency. Many a time we fail in life not because we cannot do it but because we failed to plan. He who does not plan has invariable settled for failure by omission or commission. God Himself is a master planner. Take human being for instance to see that God is a master planner. The eyes, nose, head, leg, brain to mention but a few are skillfully planned and put in place. I have careful set out an editorial blog calendar for my blog http://www.christchosenambassadorsministry.com/ap
    Check it out and see things for yourself