How to Use Your Editorial Calendar to Grow Your Readership

By Chris Gardner. Photo by Susie Blackmon.

There is a magical formula to growing your blog’s readership, and you’ve heard it a thousand times--publish consistent, high-quality, original content, and use it to interact with your audience and other sites. That’s it, and it comes as a surprise to no one.

And, in some ways, it’s not all that easy to execute. With this in mind, here’s an editorial exercise to help you plan and produce high quality pieces of original content every week for the rest of the year. You can mix these in with the rest of your posts to remind your readers that there’s a real person behind the site they’re reading.

Step One: Go to a fresh page in your notebook, or open up a new spreadsheet on your computer.

Step Two: Create a table that is 12 rows across and 5 rows down. In the top row, write the months out by February - December in columns B-L (for paper users, just leave the first column blank).

Step Three: Brainstorm four general coverage topics for your blog. For inspiration, look at your top posts from 2012 or come up with four areas you’d like to focus on this year. As an example, I run a blog called ManMade, which is a craft, design, and lifestyle blog for guys. I chose the topics: DIY & Craft Projects, Cocktails and Food, “Modern Manliness," and Men’s Style/Gear/Shopping.

List these topics in rows 2-5 of the first column.

Step Four: Start coming up with ideas and filling in the blanks. Consider the time of year - the holidays and the seasons. If you have blog series you came up with, distribute it among the different rows. Think about which projects will require new, original photography. Think about who you can collaborate with, or who might write a post as a guest blog on your site.

You’ll start to notice themes developing. Build on those and come up with even more content. Perhaps that shopping post you came up with for March could also have a summer version in June, and a fall version in September. When you’re done, you’ll have your original posts that you’ll publish for the rest of the year. For many blogs, that might be as much content as you want to try for 2013. But for most of us, you’ll find loads of other inspiration and dream up all kinds of projects and pieces you'll want to add.

The magic happens as you continue to publish these posts. Your readers will start to notice themes, and realize that your site is publishing quality content every week. And they’ll start to share it, re-blog it, and interact with it in comments and on your social networks. And your readership will have grown, all because you created an editorial calendar.

Join Chris in his class, Using an Editorial Calendr to Grow Your Blog, Febuary 13th 8pm ET for more editorial planning tips.