editorial-calendar

Editorial Calendars: Why You Need ‘Em & How to Build ‘Em

Trend Analysis

Regularly posting content is the key to your blog’s success. Busy consumers will not wait for your brand to produce content when it’s in the mood to produce content; if your brand doesn’t provide the information they need and want, they’ll seek out the information elsewhere.

Unfortunately, as anyone familiar with its demands can attest to, consistent content production is difficult. As business floods in, content marketing is often the first to fall by the wayside; this is especially true for the majority of smaller companies that do not have the benefit of a dedicated content marketing team. But, the New Marketing Normal rewards the most forward-thinking organizations; the benefits of blogging and other content production cannot be seen in a day.

Rather, content marketing is a strategy that requires long-term consistency and steadfast commitment.

So, just how do you maintain consistent content marketing? Try an editorial calendar.

The purpose of an editorial calendar is to create a publishing schedule over the upcoming month (or more) that focuses on the information you need for content production during that period. This information can range from content topics and resource links to publishing dates and writer assignments. Regardless of the amount of content produced or contributors involved, there are a number of benefits to establishing an editorial calendar:

1. Structured Content Production

Editorial calendars provide a space to plan exactly what’s included in and needed for your blog far in advance; thus, brainstorming topics, deciding on authors, and planning publishing dates is no longer a daily scramble. With editorial calendars, everyone on your team remains organized and continues working toward a clear, outlined goal. Without this editorial calendar, however, your content strategy is in risk of chronic disorganization and with it, eventual collapse.

2. Consistency

Structured production leads to consistency. As soon as you write down your plan for your business blog and other content efforts, your team becomes accountable for its execution.

3. Improved Communication

In many cases, an editorial calendar will benefit the communication flow of your entire staff. With editorial calendars, team members are able to visualize and meet shared goals as well as see the content planned for the coming months, allowing them to better participate in idea generation and content creation.

Editorial calendars are particularly useful for large teams that have multiple people contributing to a blog or other content initiative.

The calendar solves many delegation issues and allows the team to assign content topics to the most appropriate writers far in advance.

4. Diversified Content

The calendar also helps to plan focused content campaigns and create content templates, which allow for more efficient production. The planning nature of a calendar creates a “big picture” view of your content strategy, giving you the perspective needed to ascertain consistent balance in both topics and writers.

5. Increased Traffic

Publishing quality content consistently will build trust with your target audience, driving them back to your blog, website, or social platform again and again. This in turn leads to higher traffic and a greater opportunity to convert visitors into leads.

Building Your Calendar

Frequency

First, your team must decide what it means to create content “regularly,” which can mean vastly different things to different organizations. Taking a business blog as an example, some companies may want to post twice daily while others will aim for once weekly. For blogs, posting frequency largely depends on available resources of time. At the very minimum you should try to post at least once a week, but once a day is ideal.

Set reachable goals.

Perhaps this month’s resources allow you to post twice a week. So, set that as a goal and stick to it. You can always increase your content output later on, or decrease it as circumstances dictate.

Format

Next, discuss the ideal calendar format. Do members of your content team office out of different locations or work from home? Try an online calendar. Is your office space open and highly visual? In this case, a physical calendar on a whiteboard may be the best option. Or, perhaps your team would perform best with both.

Once your organization has decided on the best editorial calendar format, it’s time to build it. Using our blog example, let’s say you’ve decided to post content every Tuesday and Thursday. For each Tuesday and Thursday of the month, then, write the following on the intended publishing date of the blog:

  • Blog title/topic
  • Writer(s)
  • Keywords (optional)
  • Links to resources and helpful links to include
  • Links to additional visual content

If you have several writers contributing to the blog and would like to have each blog edited by another pair of eyes (a smart idea), then your calendar should not only include posting dates, but also include due dates for initial drafts.

To ensure follow-through on your editorial calendar, create an entire month’s calendar (topics and writers included) by the end of the previous month. Doing so holds all writers accountable and forces the team to think out blog ideas ahead of time.

Take a nod from the pros

Editorial calendars, while helpful, are nothing new. You need not reinvent the wheel. Instead, browse around and check out examples until you find something that works for you.

To help you get started, here are a few examples. Inbound marketing platform software provider Hubspot offers a free editorial template. Full-service search, social and content marketing company Vertical Measures also offers a free template. Finally, this blog from web analytics company Crazy Egg features 14 different free downloadable options.

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