The Secret to a Super Fast Editorial Calendar for Your Art Blog

Congratulations, you have given yourself a schedule for posting your blog each week.

But it’s the night before your post is supposed to go live, and you don’t know what you’re writing about. Cue a flashback to those late nights in college where you put off writing your term paper until the night before it’s due.

You wail and moan: Why didn’t I plan ahead and schedule this weeks ago? What am I going to write about, anyway? Why am I not using one of those editorial calendars I’ve heard so much about? And how the heck am I supposed to actually use one? I’m an artist! I’m a free spirit!

Let me show you how.

Recently, I discovered a new way to approach your editorial calendar or content calendar. A few months ago, Pat Flynn did a YouTube show about how to quickly write a book draft using sticky notes.

The idea is to use color-coded sticky notes to create an outline for a book: use one color for chapter headings or topics, and then another color for sub-topics within that chapter, mind-mapping them out on a table. Pat used fly-fishing as his example. One chapter can be about, say, fly fishing lures, and within that chapter are different kinds of lures.

You can apply this same kind of thinking to planning your blog’s content.

In fact, this is how Pat and his videographer planned the video show. Each month is devoted to a particular topic, like productivity or networking, and the weekly episodes for that month go into detail about those topics.

This gave me the idea to do the same for my blog.

(Can’t see the video? Click here.)

I started by taking out a single tall Post-It® Note, and I made a list of all my blog categories. I even added some I haven’t written about yet.

Then, on a page in my Moleskine notebook I put down one category at the top, followed by 10 bullet points. I brainstormed 10 topics I could talk about within that category. I repeated this for several pages.

If I have a dozen categories, and 10 bullet points per category, I can easily come up with 120 topics to write about. If I blog once a week, I now have a framework for the next two years’ worth of blog posts!

All I have to do is write them. No more of this “what am I going to write about?” treadmill. I can spend a Sunday afternoon at the local coffee shop and rough out four or five posts, which I can edit and clean up a few days before they go live. Or I might do it all at once and batch a month’s worth of posts over a weekend. We’ll see.

So how can you put this into action?

Take a look at the broad topics you want to talk about on your blog. Jot down 10-12 possible sub-topics per category.

Here are some example categories an artist might want to explore:

  • color
  • themes/motifs in one’s work
  • influences
  • practices/techniques
  • philosophy/manifesto
  • books/films/etc. that inspire you
Pick one of those topics for the next month. Explore four things within that topic, in depth, posting once a week. Then the month after that, move on to the next category, and write about it for four weeks. That’s it!

But that’s boring.

If writing about a particular theme all month long sounds tiresome, you might try cycling through four different themes in a month, devoting one theme to each week. You could keep a pretty strong recurring schedule that way, too. For example, the first week of the month can always be about color, the second week of the month is always about techniques, and so on.

Putting this into action

I’m really excited about this, because now I have an actual framework for creating content for my blog. I have a rough idea of what I’ll be writing about for the next year. I can always change my mind. But this takes a lot of the stress out of figuring out what I’m going to write about. Now I know. I just have to write it. It’s almost like an assignment this way, and closer to a true editorial calendar like magazines use.

So, May 2015 is going to be about blogging around here. More specifically, blogging for artists.

Give it a try! Let me know how it goes. I’m going to be trying it myself, and you’re going to see how it works out for me, too. Feel free to share your results in the comments.

Photo Credits

Header Image: ‘S’ via Compfight cc Stressed student Sticky Notes