I have a confession to make. About writing a blog. It's based on some advice I always share with new clients as a blog writer.
"You need an editorial calendar to schedule your blog posts. It's good practice. It works. It'll rock your blog writing world."
But here's the confession: maintaining an editorial calendar sucks.
It sometimes feels like more work than it's worth. It's difficult to maintain. So, it gets neglected and disorganised. It falls into disarray and, as a result, your blog becomes neglected and disorganised.
Working as a blog writer (and the freelance writer who gets tech) I've tried various online tools to help me master the art of the editorial calendar. Until now, other solutions haven't quite worked. They've helped, but never taken away all of the issues around writing a blog.
Then, I started working with Trello, and things have got a lot less...sucky. I know what posts I need to write and when. It prompts me when a deadline is looming, and it's a great repository to write ideas down.
What is Trello?
In case you're not familiar with Trello, its a fabulous collaboration tool. It organises your blog (or whatever project you're working on) into a board. This board is divided into columns (called lists) and tasks (called cards) pass along the columns from left to right.
Here's a quick tutorial on Trello:
How to use Trello for Your Blog
Let's assume you just want to manage your personal blog with an editorial calendar. Let's look into the three basic components (boards, lists and cards) to set up your blog:
1. Set up a board
Trello organises projects into boards. Your blog’s editorial calendar will be run from one board, so create this board. It’s incredibly simple to do for a personal blog — just hit the “boards” tab at the top left-hand corner of Trello, and click to “create a board”. Call it “editorial calendar” and off you go — told you it was simple!
2. Create a list for each stage of your editorial process
I'd recommend a really simple set-up where you just have three lists for your blog: ideas, writing and published. It should look something a little like this:
Here's what each list is for:
Ideas - this is where (surprise, surprise) you dump all of your ideas for your blog.
Writing - once you start working on a post, pop it in the writing column. This really helps me to push through posts to publishing, instead of letting them stagnate in some half-finished form.
Published - pop any articles you've published here. It's good to keep a couple of month's of posts here so you can make sure you don't repeat yourself or, more importantly, build a story of posts.
3. Assign each blog post to a card
Now we have a board and lists in place, let's drill down to creating cards for each blog post.
For a personal blog, you don't need to come up with a full outline - just a title is enough. Brainstorm and jot down ideas, no matter how daft they may seem, as cards. When you get to the writing stage, you can delete cards and choose which ones you want to write.
You can also add a quick description and outline, and remember to put in a due date. Which brings me to my next point.
A note on scheduling
It's vital to schedule your posts. Trello will alert you when a card is due, reminding you to post (or write!) that article.
I'd recommend installing the "calendar" power-up using the top right-hand menu. You can see when your posts are scheduled on a calendar - it makes it easy to identify any gaps when you should be posting, or maintain a consistent schedule. Here's what it looks like:
This post has covered the basics of maintaining a personal blog on Trello. If you want to extend these principles to a larger blog, with multiple writers, I'll cover that in the next post.
Hello. I'm the freelance writer who gets tech. So, I blog on three core topics:
Science and Technology
And I explain science with Lego in Sunday Science.
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