Yesterday we talked about the value of consistent content (as opposed to tons of content) and today we’ll talk about the most important tool in producing content… the editorial calendar.

First, a few surprising facts about editorial calendars: 1. Many people do not have one and 2. Many people get all freaked out about the “editorial calendar” likes it’s some sort of terrifying task involving filing forms in triplicate.

Relax! It’s a calendar. No, really.

An editorial calendar is just a plan to remind you what you need to write about and when you need to do it. Basically, you’re scheduling your blog post like any other appointment you absolutely can’t miss. That’s all. No big deal right?

There’s no big secret or miracle tool to making an editorial calendar. I highly recommend using… well, a calendar. I bet you’ve got one on your desk right now, with all your important appointments and meetings written down. Go ahead and schedule your blog posts there. If you’ve decided to publish a blog post every Wednesday at 9 am, go to the box for next Tuesday and pencil in “Write blog post for tomorrow.” There, you have an editorial calendar.

If you really want to get fancy write “Write blog for tomorrow about…” Get ahead of the game by repeating every Tuesday for the next month.

Of course, that’s a really basic editorial calendar. It works great if it’s just you producing content and your content needs are that straight forward. If you’ve got a team working on the blog or you have really specific topics that are time sensitive (tied to events, conferences, etc.) then you might want to go further. However, I still recommend… well, a calendar.

For example, maybe you’re going to publish three times a week. On Monday you’re going to publish on Topic A, on Wednesday on Topic B, and on Friday on Topic C. Then you’re going to do it all again next week. See, just pencil in your blog appointments, with idea topics and you’ll never get off track. If you’re working with a team, use a Google calendar and share it – it’s free, simple to use, collaborative, and you can even set email reminders for yourself.

The most important thing to remember about the editorial calendar is not to even try to remember it. Write it down. Even if you’re only blogging once a week. Do not store this task in your already cluttered and harried head. There’s something magic about writing down a task – it becomes real and it becomes a priority. Think a little ahead in terms of the content you plan to produce and you’ll relieve the stress and anxiety about actually doing it.

What tools do you use to track to your editorial plan?