design matters | using an editorial calendar, pt. 1

For those of you who've been following Green Fingerprint for awhile, you know that I haven't been a blogger per se until recently. I spent many years doing custom stationery work, but after I had our second baby at the end of March, I decided it was time to try something new. Life had radically changed, and I needed to allow my work to change with it.

So I decided to put the brakes on custom work this summer and focus on blogging, creating and writing for myself, using the blog as a vehicle for that creative energy. With the exception of the last couple of weeks, when we took a much-needed family vacation, I hit my blogging goals in May, June and July. I've found using an editorial calendar to be completely indispensable to blogging multiple times a week. I use a weekly and monthly format, but I'll start by sharing how I put together my monthly calendar.

TOOLS / I've found a few things that really work in helping me put together my monthly editorial calendar. I'm a big-time creature of habit, so consistently using the same tools works for me. I also like having my calendar small and portable.

I spend several hours a week working outside my house, so it's important to be able to take it with me. I use this calendar from Em for Marvelous. It's a free download, and I like the simplicity and format. I don't blog on the weekends, so the Monday-through-Friday format works for me. For scheduling individual posts, I use these colorful page tabs from Russell + Hazel which allows me to move them around without erasing. And my favorite pen (in case you're interested!) is this one.

My process for developing the calendar comprises of two big parts: brainstorming and scheduling.

BRAINSTORM

Usually before the end of the previous month, I spend some time brainstorming ideas for blog posts. There's soooo much out there about developing content, so I won't try to add to that conversation here. But in a nutshell, I've starting thinking about my blog posts as falling into one of three broad categories: design, document, or do.

I start by brain-dumping ideas for each category. For example, let's say I start with the document category. Under that I might write "summer photobook, project life, photo ideas, summer vacation." Under the do category, I had my closet series. And some topics fall under multiple categories, like my get started posts, which fall under the do and design categories.

I try not to think about actually scheduling while I do this brainstorm. I just get as many ideas on paper as possible. Some come to fruition, some slide to the next month, some never make it on the blog. But this step helps get ideas out of my head so I have the head space for execution.

SCHEDULE

Next up, I actually begin scheduling posts. I write down the topics I think I'm going to write about on the individual colored tabs, including short-hand for the label I'll use on the blog. For example, "May Project Life" would have the label "PL," which reminds me to categorize the post on my blog as a Project Life post. I use green tabs for "design" posts, orange for "document" and pink for "do." That helps give me a very clear visual so I know if I'm heavy in one category or if I need to develop a bit more in another category.

I should say also that I'm so new to this. The last few months have varied greatly in how much content I have in each category, but I'm a visual person, so seeing it all in black and white (and pretty colors!) has really helped me gain insight into how and what I'm blogging. I'm also still really flexible. I have a plan in place for the most part at the beginning of the month, but that might change depending on whether I have time to complete a project or get something photographed. I'm living with a newborn and a toddler, after all, so my time isn't always my own!

Although I'm new to this, developing an editorial calendar has taken so much of the guess work out of blogging. It's also made it more enjoyable and certainly more doable to blog five days a week.

What about you? If you're a blogger, do you use a monthly editorial calendar? Have you found it useful, limiting, necessary, unnecessary?