But that would be a lie.
You see, when I first started, my “editorial calendar” consisted of whatever struck my fancy at any particular moment. I pretty much I wrote what I wanted, when I wanted, with no real thought of how it fit into the overall picture of my blog. It was all footloose and fancy free.
In fact, I didn’t even really have a posting schedule. I would get an idea, think “Hmm… maybe I should write that down!”, and that would be about it, especially since in those days most of my blogging was squeezed into naptime and on-demand episodes of Dora the Explorer.
And that’s the way it went for the first six months to a year of blogging at Living Well Spending Less.
But as time went on, I realized that writing down my ideas on random scraps of paper (and then hoping that my kids didn’t color them) probably wasn’t the best way to manage my content.
So, at that point, I started getting more intentional. Instead of scribbling down random ideas whenever they popped into my head on whatever surface I could find, I created my first editorial calendar in a Word doc.
First, I created the actual calendar with a space for each day of the month. Then I started brainstorming content ideas. As the calendar took shape, and I gathered my ideas into one place, I started thinking more about the overall strategy. What categories should I have? Should I publish a recipe every week? When should all these ideas roll out?
As I slowly got a grasp on my editorial calendar, I was able to think more about my voice as a blogger and discovered three things about finding my blogging voice in the process that helped me and hopefully will help you as well.
Perfect Posts Don’t Get Published
Blogging is counterintuitive in a lot of ways–especially for people who take pride in things being just so–because it often rewards action over perfectionism. The simple reality is that a published blog post that happens to have a few cosmetic imperfections is going to be seen by a lot more people than an unpublished post that’s nearly perfect.
The truth is that if you wait for your editorial calendar or posts to be perfect before you start blogging — you’ll wait forever. Just look at my original editorial calendar (if you can even call it that.) “Perfect” definitely wouldn’t be a word I’d use to describe it. In fact, it was so far from perfect, it was laughable.
There were times I would change my mind about the content I had chosen, times I would miss deadlines, and times that I would stop following the calendar all together.
But that’s ok! Because the important thing wasn’t that I had it all figured out, but that I was getting something out there. And the same goes for you too! As long as you’re publishing, you’re connecting with your readers, gathering feedback and discovering your voice. The added benefit of consistently publishing (perfect or not) is the groove you get into. The more you write and publish, the easier it is, and the faster and easier ideas come to you.
So don’t worry about making it perfect! You can always change, delete or unpublish later. That’s the beauty of blogging! Don’t let an imperfect editorial calendar or blogging strategy stop you from writing your content and delivering it to your audience.
It’s great to have a plan, but remember plans evolve. So if you’re not 100% satisfied with your editorial calendar, it’s okay! You’ll figure things out as you go — it will become clear what you like writing about, what you don’t like writing about, what connects with your audience, and what doesn’t as long as you’re publishing.
Get a general framework in place so you’re writing with a purpose, but whatever you do, get that writing out there. Forget trying to make things perfect and focus on getting your stuff out into the world instead.
Discipline, Discipline, Discipline
Another issue for most of us when we’re planning content is not getting into the “groove” of things. It’s hard to find the discipline to move past our planning phase and actually write.
I know, the word “discipline” is a downer. But it’s a must if we want to consistently deliver content that’s going to excite and engage our readers. Writing and publishing content takes daily commitment and the discipline to sit down and write, even if when we don’t want to.
It’s easy to get stuck in the planning phase, and if you’re like me, you can plan forever. But once you start writing? That’s when the magic happens.
The more you write, the easier it is. The more you write, the faster new ideas will come to you. And the more you write, the better those ideas will be.
The beauty of blogging is that even if you put something out there that you don’t love 100%, it’s okay! You can always go back and make changes, update the post, or even take it down if it’s truly that bad (it probably isn’t!)
An imperfect published post beats a perfect unpublished post, every time. So don’t get stuck planning your upcoming content, start writing!
So what lights you up? What can you write about for hours on end? What feels true and authentic to you? Don’t just answer those questions, write about them!
Publishing a bunch of content without a clear structure in place might mean a little extra work down the road, but don’t let that stop you. As you figure things out and iron out the details of how to structure your blog, you’ll also figure out what you love to write about and — just as important — what your audience loves to read about.
It’s All Part of the Process
Finally, it’s important to remember that all of this planning, this discipline, this writing: It’s all part of a bigger picture. These things are all essential to finding and developing your voice.
When you start your blog, you probably won’t have a firm idea of what you want to say as a blogger. And even if you think you know exactly what will resonate with your audience, a few months of writing might show you the exact opposite is true. Don’t sweat it — it’s all part of the process.
Maybe coupons and saving money were your initial focus, but you realized you were really passionate about effectively managing your time and home. (That’s definitely the journey I took on Living Well Spending Less!)
Maybe you started blogging about all types of recipes, but the posts that focus on healthy living are the ones that get your fired up and really resonate with your audience.
Maybe you thought you wanted to be a fashion blogger, but you realized that helping women feel more confident is where your heart is.
Maybe you started your blog to talk about your kids, but you’ve realized that they’re not really that interesting (at least not to other people) and that you get way more excited talking about how to get out of debt.
It’s okay for your blog to evolve and change. And don’t worry! Your readers will evolve and change with you.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably change your focus multiple times. But being true to your voice is important, and the voice that feels true today might not feel true six months or a year from now. The key is to simply keep writing and to give yourself permission to not be perfect, and in the process allow yourself to evolve and for your nature voice to emerge. It WILL happen–I promise!