Developing Ceramicscapes Editorial Calendar and History

I’m developing an editorial calendar for ceramicscapes so that writing becomes a regular habit in an effort to build more content on my website. I need a calendar to hold myself accountable on those days that I might not feel like writing. While I hope to benefit from some added traffic that content will bring, writing helps to clarify long term goals and provides a record of my creative efforts.

The evolution of my creative business:

In the not so distant past, I wrote about my art and pottery business on my website, Colorado Art Studio (don’t bother searching for it – the domain is being held hostage for a ridiculous sum). In fact I wrote, on average, every other day and was able to build up a nice network of virtual creative friends and a bit of regular traffic to my website.

Archived Snapshot of my former website Colorado Art Studio
Archived Snapshot of my former website Colorado Art Studio

Topics included my pottery, the kids classes that I taught after school at Steele Elementary in Denver, summer art camps that I taught at the Art Student’s League of Denver and Anderson Ranch, my association with the Colorado Potters Guild, technical problems I had and I even shared personal snippets of my life.

In 2009, I decided to finish a masters degree in landscape architecture that I had abandoned when my daughter was younger. For the most part, I blogged sporadically when I returned to school and my website was basically parked, but still live.

Pinterest:

An odd thing happened though – my website continued to receive traffic despite not having any new content. I credit this in part to the advent of Pinterest, a visual bulletin board or “catalog of ideas”. People searched for pottery related ideas and my photos came up in their searches. 

Colorado Art Studio Google Analytic Snapshot
Colorado Art Studio Google Analytics Snapshot showing traffic despite not adding new posts

Why is this important? Pinterest serves as a potential funnel for people interested in buying my work or clay enthusiasts who want to take classes. The problem now is that people who click on the image are directed to a dead end – a domain repository. Someone purchased my old domain who is in the domain resale business. 

Covered Box Pinned from Colorado Art Studio
Covered Box Pinned from Colorado Art Studio – this photo has over 1k repins

Business class for creatives:

After I graduated in 2012, I worked for a landscape architecture firm in Fort Collins on a part time, contractual basis. At the time, my intention was to make pottery as a hobby when time permitted, but I ended up having a lot of free time (the construction business was just beginning its rebound) and started fantasizing about restarting my clay business with a focus on architectural ceramics. 

I signed up for a business class for creatives through the Small Business Development Center in Denver. I even won 2nd place for my business plan submission. Ultimately, I decided to leave my position at the landscape architecture firm to try making my creative business a reality.

Rebranding:

After I graduated from the business class for creatives, I rebranded my clay business and called it ceramicscapes. The name is a play on ceramics + landscape. This made total sense to me at the time after spending several years studying landscape architecture and my new interest in architectural ceramics.

I started working on a new website for my business in 2013 and decided to start fresh rather than import old content. I was so sure about this decision that I let my old domain lapse. (Don’t do this! I should have just redirected the old domain to my new one)

To be honest, not all of my old content was worth importing because I wrote about so many different things, much of it personal. 

Ceramicscapes editorial calendar:

This brings me back to my need for structure as I rebuild content for this website. I commit to writing three blog posts a week.

Rain or shine, I’ll be posting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday every single week, ideally at the same time. Though, I might need to employ a scheduling app at some point in the event that I go on vacation.

What is an editorial calendar? 

According to Wikipedia, “Editorial calendars are used to define and control the process of creating content, from idea through writing and publication. An individual or small business might have this publishing process: brainstorm content ideas to publish, where to publish, and when to publish.”

Ceramicscapse Editorial Calendar
Ceramicscapes Editorial Calendar in development

So far, I’ve identified the schedule. Now I need to identify the types of content that I’d like to publish for ceramicscapes editorial calendar. 

If you look at the calendar above, you’ll notice that I’m using Google Apps to keep me organized. I’ve scheduled my blog posts just like I would any other to-do list item. 

Content:

I plan to write about my own work, offer tutorials, write about topics in the field of ceramics and also profile other ceramic artists working in the field. Feature Fridays happens – you guessed it –  every Friday and I’m thrilled that I’m currently scheduled up to May 2017.  

This leaves Mondays and Wednesdays for the other types of content. I still need to start preplanning my posts. I’ve been following along with Darren Rowse’s podcast, ProBlogger, where he provides so many great tips for people interested in writing and specifically blogging. In addition, I’m also taking an online blogging class that is helping me develop a robust website and to think long term. 

Final Thoughts:

Developing an editorial calendar for my creative business will take a lot of the guesswork out of writing for me since I can have several topics and draft posts  already started. It won’t be like sitting down to a blank screen wondering what the heck I’ll write about today.

How about you – do you have an editorial calendar for your creative business? If not, how do you schedule your time?

 

 

Organizing for my next sale – it’s all about the list!

I’m not quite sure when I became a list maker, but it happened within the last 7 years. I tend to be slightly scattered and have often wondered if I have an attention disorder. I think the lists started to become a big part of my daily routine when I was in graduate school from 2009-2012 – I had so much to do and so little time that it was easy to overlook a task or two. We often worked in small groups and forgetting to do your part was not cool. Now it’s just me, and I really hate not being prepared. My list is like a mind map and I really love maps!

Fast forward to today and I write monthly and daily lists, and when I’m getting ready for a sale I write a “things to make list”. I don’t beat myself up if I don’t manage to tick everything off my list because often my “things to make list” is very aggressive and optimistic. Most of the time I come very close to achieving my goals and it’s a great way to organize my time in the studio and out. For example on today’s list I was able to check off:

  • write “things to make list” ✔
  • social media posts for my business and the Colorado Potters Guild  (I’ll admit I spent about an hour+ wasting some time on Facebook and Instagram after I posted) ✔
  • create a Facebook ad for my Dabble class on Dec. 3 
  • make stuff – and start ticking items off my list (ticking things off my list feels like a wonderful accomplishment to me) ✔
  • unload kiln – happening in about an hour or maybe tomorrow morning…
  • write blog post (working on right now) ✔
  • get gas heater working in garagio  (there’s a chance of snow tomorrow) ✔
  • walk the dog and get some exercise ✔
  • take a Skillshare class on how to make tall pins ✔

How do I organize my “things to make list”? Part of it is based off of the popularity of my work at my last event – and I’m adding in a few holiday specific items like ornaments for the Holiday Pop Up in Boulder at the Food Lab. I honestly don’t know what to expect because I’ve never done an intimate pop up shop before. Obviously, I’d like to sell enough work to cover my participation fee and then some, but it’s also the last big hurrah when it comes to sales for many handmade makers until late spring when art fairs resume again so I’d like to sell a bunch. I’m making a variety of items at different price points in the hopes that I can appeal to a lot of different people.

Holiday Pop Up at the Food Lab Boulder
Holiday Pop Up at the Food Lab Boulder

If the Holiday Pop Up is a bust, my consolation is that I will have a ton of work to list in my Etsy Shop the beginning of December. I’m a little embarrassed to say that my Etsy Shop tends to be a repository for left overs at this point – with the exception of my made to order wall pods. These listings reside here all the time because I don’t keep them in stock and they’re popular. 

My goal in 2017 is to keep my Etsy Shop stocked with new work all the time. It’s hard to do because I also plan to participate in a number of different craft markets in Colorado next year as well as the biannual Colorado Potters Guild Sales. AND, continue to develop both in person and online classes. AND, find the time to volunteer my time some where in my community which I’ve narrowed down to a few places if they’ll have me. 

Are you a list maker? I’m thinking of making a digital to do list for makers – if I do, I’ll share it with you.