Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Improve Your Writing: Make An Editorial Calendar

When I first started this grand freelancing adventure, I literally jumped right in without any idea what I was doing. Several missed editorial opportunities and I realized the huge importance of planning ahead - far ahead.

Most publications work ahead. Newspapers have features planned for weeks. Magazines already have the rest of the year's content at least sketched out. The freelancers career should be no different. Whether you are writing your own blog, guest posting, filling website content or pitching major publications you need an editorial calendar.

Here's how to set one up:
  1. Buy a basic calendar. I recommend one that gives you the whole month at a glance.
  2. Fill in all the important dates. This will vary based on the publication. For the teen site I work on for instance, I include things like the release of the new Jonas Brother's CD, Harry Potter's theater debut, prom season, spring break, etc...
  3. Now count backward and with a different colored pen note the day you need to have content for a specific topic completed by. (If writing/pitching a mag look at their editorial guidelines. They often work 4-8 months in advance.)
  4. Count backward again and mark the day you need to begin working on your article, assigning pieces, etc...
  5. Find the lulls in your calendar. Brainstorm appropriate topics for that time of the year . Jot down all your ideas.
  6. Fill in the low points with these topical ideas. These don't have to be set-in-stone articles. Other things might take precedence at the time - which is fine, but at least you have an idea.
  7. There are going to be events you miss. Write them in the calendar when they come up so that next year the day won't pass you by.
  8. Also some events you won't know the date of right away. Make a note to check on the topic occasionally and mark it in the calendar as soon as you learn it.

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