Why You Need An Editorial Calendar, How to Create One & My Secret Content Tip!

by Jennifer Good | January 28th, 2013 5:49 PM | No Comments

Content Calendar

If you have a website and/or social media accounts set up for your business, there’s no way around it – you’re in the content business. It’s just as simple as that. Even if you’re a mechanic, a salesperson or an artist – when it comes to spreading your message online, you are also a content writer.

That means you need to think like a publisher when it comes to updating your site or social media pages. Magazine editors don’t sit down once a week and just write whatever comes to mind. They have brainstorming sessions and then set up a content schedule that everyone adheres to. These schedules are referred to as editorial calendars.

An editorial calendar serves many purposes.

It helps you keep your content timely. If you know a holiday is coming up, you can start thinking about articles or social media posts that may relate. These type of timeliness can help your content have a higher chance of getting read and possibly shared more as well.

An editorial calendar saves you time. Even though you might spend more time brainstorm and planning than you did before, you will save time in the actual writing and scheduling process. That’s because when you sit down to write, you don’t have to wonder what it is you are going to write about – you’ll already know.

It keeps you organized. When you start planning out your content in advance, you can identify weaknesses such as covering one topic too frequently or not covering another enough. It allows you to make sure you have a good mix of topics.

It also allows you to plan in advance. If you know that next month you want to write a thorough guide to a certain area of your industry, you can start scheduling time now to research the topic. Knowing in advance what you will be writing will also allow you to follow up on your topics more effectively by giving you time to craft social media posts to go with the guide and help promote it.

It allows you to attract advertising more effectively. If you are making money through advertising or affiliates, an editorial calendar helps you organize your ads around your content. If you know you’re featuring a top ten apps or book list, you will have time to possibly work out advertising packages with the authors or developers ahead of time. At the very least, you’ll be able to research some affiliate opportunities.

How to set up an editorial calendar.

At this point, you may be convinced of the necessity of an editorial calendar, but not be sure how to start. There are a number of ways to go about creating a content calendar, so I’m going to give you a few ideas to get you started.

The content scheduling process should always start with some sort of brainstorming session. If you have to create content for your website or social media pages, you should always be collecting ideas somewhere (such as Evernote). This will make your brainstorming sessions run more smoothly. If you can, invite others who know your field to help you come up with topics to write about. During the session you’ll make a list of every article topic you can think of covering.

Once you have a decent sized list of articles, you’re going to start assigning due dates to them. When determining a due date, think about the other content being published that week, how long it takes you to write something and how long it will take to actually get it ready for publication (images, excerpts, social media posts, etc.).

There are a variety of tools available for scheduling. You can use something like Google Calendars, an actual printed calendar or just make a list of dates. Some people like to use spreadsheets as well. All that matters is that it works for you.

Once you’ve determined your schedule you need to make sure you (and anyone else involved) sticks to it. Setting up to-do tasks or reminders at this point that allow enough time for everything to get done would probably be a good idea.

A Secret Tip

top secretI’ve run a top 500 content-based website for twelve years. During that time, editorial calendars became a lifesaver. I also learned a few tricks to help make the planning process a bit easier. I like creating systems in as many places as I can, so that I can go on autopilot and get more things done. When it comes to content management, a system I devised around scheduled topics seems to work best.

For instance, let’s say your website or blog covers several different topics. This blog covers mainly marketing, design, social media, and writing. I try to write something three times a week. Since I can’t cover each topic every week, I’ve created a two-week content calendar system. During the first week, I’ll cover the topics of marketing, design and social media. During the second week, I’ll cover the topics of marketing, social media and writing. That way all my topics get covered, I know exactly what types of content I need to write, and everyone is happy.

You can also do this by theme. For instance, during November and December, you could still address each content area, but approach it from a holiday marketing theme. During March and April, you could do the same with an overriding tax theme. In the summer months, you may want to cover summer related topics. This system helps make your process of idea generation and promotion go alot smoother. It may even help you sell more specialized advertising or sponsorship packages as well.

For instance, my current plan of themes for the year on this blog include:

  • January: More Effective Content Marketing
  • February: Social Media Timesavers
  • March: Simple DIY Marketing Tactics
  • April: Spring Clean Your Website
  • May: 31 Days of Writing Challenges
  • June: Focus On Headlines
  • July: Building A Community
  • August: Focus on SEO
  • September: Email Marketing
  • October: Focus on Productivity
  • November: Holiday Marketing
  • December: Goal Setting

Hopefully this mini-guide will help you get started creating your own editorial calendar. If you’d like to share your thoughts or questions on this topic, I’d love to hear them in the comments section below!

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