Editorial Calendars: Why You Need To Create One and How to Do It

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Calendar Card
Photo by Joe Lanman
Image via Creative Commons

Last week when I interviewed L.K. Whitney about her new blog Magic City Made, she said one of the most valuable lessons she'd learned from her previous blogs was the importance of having an editorial calendar. I decided to not only pass on Whitney's wisdom to you all but to actually follow it too. 

Since I started this blog back in August, I've really been struggling to find my way. I put so much of my creative energy into Georgia Mae that I'm often too exhausted to give this site the attention it deserves. But I realized that I could stay on top of things if I had a plan. 

Developing an editorial calendar for this blog was harder than I thought. Even though I've been blogging for years, Georgia Mae began as a personal blog where I would really just write about whatever was on my mind or going on in my life and things going on in the news or in pop culture that inspired (or angered) me. But that's not why I created this new blog. 

So that's step one to creating an editorial calendar: Be mindful of your mission. Remember why you started your blog and then develop categories that fulfill that purpose. 

According to my Welcome page, "The purpose of this blog is three-fold: 1) to chronicle my attempt to make my writing dreams come true while working a full-time job (I’m a high school English teacher) and in the most unlikeliest of places (I live in the Deep South),  2) to explore my attempt to be fit and fabulous while I’m making those dreams come true, and 3) to share stories, advice, and ideas to help other authors, bloggers, and journalists make their writing dreams come true as well."

With that in mind I decided on the following editorial calendar:
  • Monday Motivation -- quotes from famous writers or personal stories that aim to offer encouragement to my fellow writers and bloggers
  • Tuesday and/or Thursday -- This will be my time to show off how I'm trying to be "fit and fabulous" on a writer's budget
  • Wednesday -- Writer Wisdom. These posts will offer practical advice for writers and bloggers, tips gathered from either my own experience or from other writers and bloggers
  • Friday or Saturday -- Weekend Links: Interesting articles I think you writer-types and blogging babes should read
I fully expect this calendar to change as I and the blog evolve, but I feel confident this will get me on the right track. 

Why should you bother making an editorial calendar? The gals over at Independent Fashion Bloggers agree that using an editorial calendar is one of the best ways to increase blog traffic. It can keep you motivated. Now that I have my editorial calendar I know what kind of content I need to work to generate for this blog. 

Editorial calendars are especially important for those of you who write niche blogs. Consider different elements or facets of your niche and use those to help you create your editorial calendar. You'll then know that each week you need to develop interesting content related to these specific topics. 

Taylor Davies writes that having a "featured type of post is also a great way to hook readers, and keep them coming back to see your new twist on that feature each week." For example Eat, Sleep, Denim, a blog for which Davies writes, features every Wednesday a blogger with great denim style. 

And for you current and aspiring fashion bloggers, here, from IFB, is the editorial calendar for Eat, Sleep, Denim to give you a bit more guidance:

  • Monday: Trend post
  • Tuesday: How to post
  • Wednesday: Blogger Style
  • Thursday: Street style
  • Friday: Denim Review
Now it's your turn. Join the fun and share your editorial calendar in the comments section.

February in Review

It's the last day of the month and time to reflect on my intentions for February. Let's see how I did: 

1.     Post a 31 before 32 list.
Done! Check it out here.

2.     Have a great birthday weekend (I'm planning dinner and a movie with hubs and brunch with my girls.)
Did this too and had a fabulous time at Edgar’s Bakery. I forgot to take pictures, though. I must get better about that.

3.     Run a half-marathon.
I did it and, much to my surprise, I survived! Here’s the post I wrote over at my blog GeorgiaMae.com about my race and my decision to start running despite my battles with a connective tissue disease.

4.     Start a new workout regimen.
Fail! I knew after completing the marathon I wanted to cut down on the amount of running I do each week (for the sake of my joints) and develop a new routine. While I’ve gotten back into attending the dance-based aerobics class Body Jam every Wednesday, my plans to lift weights three times a week simply have not happened.

5.     Start guest blogging. 
I was honored to write a post for The Social Path on the social media hiatus I took in January.

6.     Post three Blog Like a Girl Q&As
Perhaps this was too ambitious. I managed to post one on the lovely L.K. Whitney of Magic City Made.

7.     Plan the next See Jane Write event. 
Still working on this.

8.     Write more articles for Clutch, Guerrero Howe, and Weld.
Fail! Sort of. I did write for Guerrero Howe, but produced nothing for Clutch or Weld. Sigh.

9.     Write and submit an essay to one of my favorite publications. 
Fail. Hope to fix this next month.

10. Go out on a girl-date.
Some of you know I’m on a mission to find a new best friend, so I’ve been trying to get back into the girl-dating scene. I think I’ve found the one, but I don’t want to speak too soon, so more on this later. 

I’ll be back tomorrow with my list of intentions for March.

How did the month of February treat you? 

Monday Motivation from Sylvia Plath

Monday, February 27, 2012

"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."  ~Sylvia Plath

Weekend Links

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Happy Saturday!

I hope your weekend is off to a great start. Here are a few links you should check out during your down time:

The tagline for this blog is: "I have some stories. I want to look good while I share them." And I mean that. But at least one fellow writer would have a problem with such a statement. Writing for Fishbowl DC, Betsy Rothstein says that female reporters look way too sexy these days, especially in their Twitter pics. The article is so funny to me I thought it was a joke, but apparently it's not.

Be sure to read this oh so clever response from Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel.

But speaking of writing and looking good, do you remember that Kanye West song Kanye's Workout Plan? I admit it's a guilty pleasure of mine. Well, inspired by this Kanye track, this week on Independent Fashion Bloggers Taylor Davies put together "The Blogger's Workout Plan". Not only is this post hilarious, but it's quite informative and contains plenty of tips that are helpful not only for fashion bloggers, but really any blogger who's looking to get their site in top shape.

In other social media news, my Sweet Home Alabama apparently really loves Pinterest. According to al.com people from Alabama are using the hot new social networking website at a rate more than two times higher than people in the United States as a whole.

Blog Like a Girl: Laura Kate Whitney of Magic City Made

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blog Like a Girl is an occasional feature here at The Writeous Babe Project that highlights some of my  favorite babes who blog. Today we chat with Laura Kate Whitney who became a blogging star here in Birmingham with her blog Magic City Manifesto. She started this blog when she first moved to the city. Her posts were all about her journey of getting to know and love her new home. Recently, Whitney launched a new blog, Magic City Made and she's here to tell us about this transition. 

How did you decide it was time to end Magic City Manifesto and start Magic City Made?

Magic City Manifesto had a great run, but I’d been struggling for some time with the concept – it was started as a “newcomer’s adventure”, and I’m no longer a newcomer here in Birmingham. I’m not out exploring the streets and neighborhoods; rather, I’m engaged in community projects, I’m developing relationships, I’m used to my surroundings and I’m settling in to life here in the Magic City.  Creating a new blog, and giving myself a fresh start, seemed like such a good idea. So far, so good.

What lessons did you learn from Magic City Manifesto and other blogs you've had in the past that you plan to help guide you with this latest project?

I think that each blog gets better. I really challenged myself with Magic City Made in that I wanted to dig deeper into Wordpress, I wanted to have a sharper/sleeker look. I’ve also learned, through experience, not to be so hard on myself, to spell check always, to map out some sort of editorial calendar, and to just be myself with it. Blogs are no fun if they begin to stress you out…

If you had to describe your new blog in 30 seconds, your elevator pitch if you will, what would you say? How would you say this project is different from Magic City Manifesto?

Magic City Made celebrates community and culture in Birmingham, Alabama. It’s a way of letting others know about the great things happening here in the Magic City, from local artisans and their wares to important initiatives that need support. My family of four is making their lives here in Birmingham. We are deeply connected to our city. I want others to see what we see. I want others to be aware that there is still plenty of magic to be had (and made)!!

How have you gone about promoting your new blog?

Twitter and Facebook, of course. And you know I’ve been talking…to everyone who will listen. I also look for complimentary sites and comment on those, linking back to my site. I try to stay part of the online dialogue. If I see an opportunity to shamelessly promote myself, I go for it.

What advice would you give to a blogger who has hit a plateau with her current blog and is thinking of starting a new one?

As I said earlier, if a blog is becoming stressful, re-evaluate. You may very well lose readers in the meantime, but you will certainly risk losing those readers if your content is forced/contrived/irrelevant. For me, blogging is a personal purge. It’s an itch I have to scratch.

Listen to your gut. People want authenticity. If you believe in what you’re saying/writing/blogging, the rest of the world will, too.

Making a Difference with Social Media

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

When I took a 21-day break from social media in January I really missed all the fun I have on Twitter and Pinterest and the information and inspiration I gain from reading my favorite blogs. But now that social media and I have been back together for about a month now I’m beginning to wonder if this is really as far as our relationship will ever go.

I’m ready to move beyond just having a good time and I want to use social media to truly make a difference. But I’m not sure how.

Enter James Spann.

image via

As some of you who live in Birmingham may know, I am a member of the Alabama Social Media Association, better known as ALsocme. Yesterday, since school was closed in honor of President's Day, I was able to volunteer at a special talk we hosted featuring James Spann, who is arguably the best meteorologist in the Southeast (perhaps the world). So what does a meteorologist have to do with social media? Spann has nearly 50,000 Twitter followers and through Twitter and other social media platforms Spann saves lives as he warns us when to take cover in the threat of inclement weather. 

I knew Spann’s talk would be interesting because the man can make meteorology exciting, but I didn’t know I would leave the event feeling so inspired. Frankly, I left feeling like I had been to church. By that I don't mean that Spann was preachy. No. Not all. What I mean is that I felt motivated and understood.

One of the things Spann mentioned was that there are still businesses out there that belittle social media. He said they think social media is just a place for gossiping teenage girls. I wanted to raise my hand and testify. Many of my co-workers and even some of my friends don't understand social media. They believe it's somehow beneath them and shake their heads at me for my passion for these platforms because they believe social media is simply a distraction from intellectual pursuits that are more worthy of my time. 

But what these people don't realize is, just as Spann said in his talk, social media has the power to save lives. That's exactly what happened last year during the April 27 tornadoes when many people knew to get out of harm's way because of Spann's tweets. And furthermore it was through social media that many, if not most, recovery efforts were organized. 

Spann is a prime example that social media matters and that with it you can make a difference. With social media you truly can make an impact in your sphere of influence. 

Spann offered tips to business owners on how they can successfully use social media. For example, when a customer follows you on Twitter, follow them back. Otherwise, you're suggesting you want that person to listen to you but you don't care what he or she has to say, Spann said. And when a customer asks you a question via Twitter or Facebook, answer it ASAP. For businesses Spann also suggested staying away from divisive, polarizing topics such as politics or religion on your social media platforms. (And for Alabama-based business, he said, that also includes not stating whether you're an Alabama or Auburn fan. But I am not following that advice. Roll Tide Roll!)

But whether you’re a business owner or a writer or just someone who loves to tweet, Spann said that the key to making a difference with social media, or anything else really, is to have a servant's heart. When you start to put other people first that's when life gets good, Spann said. 

These are all things many of us hear in church, but probably never thought once about applying to social media.

So often I'm guilty of thinking of Twitter as a platform to promote my blog and my blog as a way to promote my writing. But what if I began to look at all these things -- Twitter, Facebook, blogging, even Pinterest and Foursquare -- as a way to reach out and inspire others? So I left the meeting yesterday with the decision to do just that. I hope this post will inspire you to do the same.

Why I Run

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Last week this time I was lying on the sofa trying to recover from running 13.1 miles. Yes, that's right: I have checked off "Complete a half marathon" from my 31 before 32 list

Below is a little essay titled Why I Run that I wrote about the experience for GeorgiaMae.com.   Enjoy!

javacia a.k.a. writeous babe


Sunday I completed the Mercedes Half-Marathon here in Birmingham. And I survived!

There was good reason not to run 13.1 miles yesterday. I even had a doctor’s excuse. You see, I have a connective tissue disease that’s trying its best to destroy my joints and muscles. So my doctor is constantly discouraging me from high impact exercises and suggesting that I stick to water aerobics and cycling instead.

To top things off, after an unseasonably warm winter filled with 65-degree days, this weekend Birmingham experienced its coldest days of the season. The temperature didn’t rise above freezing during the race. (And my connective tissue ailment is aggravated by cold weather.)

As the day of the race drew closer and closer, I began to doubt myself. I began to wonder if I'd made a mistake signing up for this. "Why did you think you could actually do this?" I started to ask myself. 

But my husband and closest friends kept encouraging me and reminding me of all the training I'd been doing for months. They reminded me that during that training I had run 11 miles, twice, so two more would be a piece of cake. 

And they were right. Sort of. Not a single mile of the race was a cake walk. Thanks to the cold I couldn't feel my hands for the second half of the run even though I was wearing thick gloves. (Have you ever tried to tie your shoes with numb fingers? Doesn't go so well.) And thanks to that pesky connective tissue disease I spent most of the run battling an achy ankle, a throbbing knee or a stinging shin (though I'm thankful my body was kind enough to not allow all three to hurt at once). But I kept going. I kept reminding myself why I run in the first place and how those reasons outweigh all the factors that tell me I should stay home on the couch.

I run because I have a disease that tells me I can’t.

I run for all the women suffering from illnesses that prevent them from living their best lives.

I run because the women of my running group Black Girls Run Birmingham convinced me that I could.

I run so that women and girls of color can see someone who looks like them crossing the finish line.

I run to defy the stereotype that we Southerners are all sedentary.

I run to hear my husband say, “Javacia, I am so proud of you.”

And I run because my God told me, in Proverbs 4:12, that “When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.” 

31 Before 32

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Happy birthday to me!

Today I turn 31 and for the past few years I have celebrated my birthday by making a list of things I want to accomplish that year. So here are the things I want to do before turning 32. 

1. Have a birthday brunch with my girlfriends. 
2. Complete a half marathon.
3. Become a blogging star. 
4. Attend a blogging conference. 
5. Write for xoJane.
6. Write for Hello Giggles. 
7. Land my own column. 
8. Write for The Frisky.
9. Write for Bust. 
10. Have an essay published in Elle. 
11. Get an essay published in Self. 
12. Attend the Essence Music Festival. 
13. Try Dance Trance.
14. Try PYT.
15. Host a panel discussion on freelancing. 
16. Host a blog party.
17. Visit Chicago with my husband. 
18. See my byline on Jezebel. 
19. Write for B Metro.
20. Feel good in a bikini. 
21. Climb a rock wall. 
22. Find new BFFs. 
23. Get new business cards. 
24. Be in a belly dance hafla. 
25. Go to fun halloween party. 
26. Get a makeover. 
27. Become a good photographer. 
28. Fall in love with Birmingham.
29. Do 12 Dates of Christmas.
30. Send cute couple Christmas cards. 
31. Pay off my credit card debt. 

Check out my guest post on The Social Path

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My plan to do some guest blogging this month is already off to a great start! This week over at The Social Path I write about my social media hiatus. Learn more about what my time away from my favorite networks taught me about myself. (And be sure to leave comments on the post so the folks at The Social Path will be all like, "Wow, we need to get her to blog for us more often. She has fans!)


February Intentions

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February is here! It's my favorite month of the year, and not just because my birthday is on the 9th (although that has a lot to do with it). There's also Valentine's day and it's Black History Month. Here are a few of my goals for February:

1. Post a 31 before 32 list (coming up next week!)
2. Have a great birthday weekend (I'm planning dinner and a movie with hubs and brunch with my girls.)
3. Run a half-marathon.
4. Start a new workout regimen.
5. Start guest blogging. 
6. Post three Blog Like a Girl Q&As
7. Plan the next See Jane Write event. 
8. Write more articles for Clutch, Guerrero Howe, and Weld.
9. Write and submit an essay to one of my favorite publications. 
10. Go out on a girl-date.

What are your plans for February?