My journalist training occurred in a newsroom environment. As both a staff writer and editor for the El Camino Union , I was schooled in the art of the newsroom editorial process.
A giant whiteboard at the front of the room served as our editorial calendar, and each week it was filled in with all the articles planned for publication that week, the number of words for the article, who was responsible for writing it and the editor that assigned it. It made it easy to be able to tell who was doing what when, where and why.
At the Union, we were required to submit article pitches on a weekly basis, and we did that through a system called Camayak, a newsroom workflow tool. Camayak allowed editors to post articles in the system, turn pitches into articles and set up publication deadlines for future articles.
Alas, I am no longer in the Union newsroom; I am my own media outlet, and I am working out the kinks in my own editorial process so that I can produce quality content on a regular basis.
My editorial process looks something like this:
- Brainstorm content ideas
- Organize my ideas into a planned publishing schedule
- Research and write the content
- Edit the content
- Schedule the content for publishing
I will admit that the process from conception to inception was a bit hard at first. Because of the way WordPress on its own handles posts and drafts in the posts listing page, I would often have drafts languishing in unpublished status because they got buried under all the other unpublished draft ideas I kept coming up with.
I thought about doing the calendar visually using index cards and the cork board just above my desk, but in the long-term, that would not work out to be a good plan, so to Google I went in search of solutions.
My search led me to the WordPress plugin site, and the Editorial Calendar plugin. I was sold immediately after reading the information and viewing the video. This was exactly what I was looking for, and it fit into my editorial process perfectly.
Now when I brainstorm, I am able to hit the “new draft” button in the unscheduled posts ‘drawer’ and quickly type out the idea/title/slug of the post and make a few notes detailing what I want the post to be about. I also include any links that I may want to reference when writing the post.
Whenever I come up with a new idea for a post, I add it to the unscheduled drawer. If I am away from my computer and/or WordPress, I write it down in my trusty Moleskine and add it to the unscheduled drawer as soon as I can. This gives me a bunch of ‘pitches’ to work from.
Yesterday, I spent 90 minutes coming up with post ideas for the next month. I put them all in the unscheduled drawer, and then I mapped them out over the editorial calendar until I had at least one longform post planned for each of the next 30 days. I actually ended up with a few leftovers, so I added them to the calendar on days I felt could benefit from extra content.
The most daunting part about writing and maintaining a blog is the blank white screen. Coming up with something new to write about can be a frustrating part of the process when you have to do it on the fly, but I don’t have that issue now, because I have 30 days worth of posts waiting to be researched and written. The hard part, coming up with ideas, has already been done. Researching and writing, at least in my opinion, are the easy parts.
I can write the pieces in any order that I want, as long as I meet the publishing deadline on the schedule. This is helpful, because some posts are quick and easy to write, and those can be cranked out in a matter of minutes, edited and scheduled for publishing, allowing me more time to focus on the more time consuming or meatier topics I plan to cover that may require a bit more research or even an interview or two.
However I choose to do it, the best part is having all of my posts laid out in a calendar view. I can drag-and-drop content to move it around on the calendar or move it back to the idea drawer if I want to hold off on publishing for a bit. I can click edit on a post on the calendar, and it will take me to the editing screen for that particular post whether the post has already been published or not.
My editorial process has been given a breath of new life.
What is your editorial process? Are you using the Editorial Calendar plugin? Do you have any tips on how to improve the editorial process? Let me know in the comments.