If this article were to be written ten years ago (or more), an editorial calendar would have consisted of some post-its pinned to your cork board, or written down in your agenda.
But things have drastically changed since then. Writing has expanded, the way content is created has changed and the tools needed to produce it have evolved. As a result, you need some kind of mechanism through which you’re able to track what you write and make some sort of schedule for it.
Why You Should Have An Editorial Calendar
This article lists some of the most common reasons why it’s a good idea to create an editorial calendar. You’ll likely identify with some of them.
1. You have all the information you need in one place. This means that you will no longer be worried about misplacing one of your post-its, forgetting your agenda at home, or even worse, losing it. There’s no need to worry about losing your editorial calendar, since you will have it in digital format.
2. It makes you more organized. Aren’t you always looking for a bit of tidiness in your life? Especially in the professional realm. If you’re extremely detail oriented or OCD, this will be such a relief and a delight to do. Nevertheless, even if you like a little bit of mess in your life, studies have shown (isn’t it amazing how studies can prove almost anything?) that being more organized will make you more productive.
3. You can plan in advance. Planning the content you’re going to post is crucial if you want to have a strong content marketing strategy. You can plan your posts even weeks before they will be published. Most of the time, this is a good idea, because unplanned events may occur in your company that will prevent you from producing content, but you will still have something to post for a few weeks. At the same time, by planning in advance, you will be able to come up with ideas for upcoming holidays, or occasions when your content needs to be special as well.
4. You will keep a schedule. This is very important when you have a content strategy: being consistent is key if you want to attract a target audience to your blog. You won’t complain about the fact that you somehow forgot what you had to do, because you’ll have it all in the editorial calendar.
5. It’s the best place to write new ideas. It’s like a gold mine for ideas. All of your writers need to be encouraged to express their ideas, as crazy as they might sound (usually, they’re the better ones).
6. It’s motivating. You’ll most likely be more motivated to do certain things when you know what’s going to be next. This is probably related to that feeling of being in control. Nevertheless, it’s inspiring to see the progress you’ve made so far with your content strategy and all those new exciting ideas will definitely motivate you to continue creating content.
7. You can make notes on your articles. Inevitably, there are going to be some blog posts that will be more popular than others. Your editorial calendar can help you keep track of what posts were shared, liked, or commented on the most. After that, you can go in more depth and analyze it based on your analytics for more insight.
What to do next?
Now that you know why it’s important to create an editorial calendar for your blog, you need to get down to business. But not so quickly.
- Stop and Analyze
Before even thinking about creating it, you have to ask yourself why you want to create the content. What do you want to achieve? What are your business goals? Do you want to increase sales? Do you want to attract new customers? Do you want to increase brand awareness? No matter what your goals are, they need to be clearly formulated before you even begin creating a calendar.
- Who are your buyer personas?
Now that you understand what the purpose of your content is, it’s time to define your buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictional character, who in fact is representing your “ideal customer” (as HubSpot once said). To create its profile, you need to research your ideal customer in depth and come up with as much information as you can about him. From age to occupation, lifestyle, income, hobbies – nothing is too detailed. Creating buyer personas will help you produce content that will closely resonate with your audience, enable you to speak their language and address their problems.
- Establish categories for your blog
You will probably have more than one category on your blog. If you don’t know what categories to include, start thinking about what stories and topics would relate to your audience. And then, you can easily divide these topics into categories. Categories are a must for a blog, because they make the audience’s search much easier in finding articles related to a certain topic.
- Make a list of Calls to Action
Calls to Action (CTA) are connected to the purpose of your blog. Making a list of CTAs will help you stay more focused on your goals. Of course, you don’t have to copy-paste them into every single article, but rather insert them as subtly as possible, as if they’re a logical part of your story.
- Make pitches
Every now and then (every week, once a month, depending upon your strategy), you want to make pitches for future articles. All writers need to contribute to this aspect. Then, the content manager, or whom ever is in charge of blog maintenance will approve the pitches that are a good fit. After this, the writing process can begin.
What Information You Need For Each Article
- Title. This is a no-brainer, but often is forgotten. Start your calendar by listing the title of the article.
- Author. You will most likely have more than one author for your blog, so it’s a good idea to include the name of the person who wrote the article right after its title, so that it’s easier for you to know whom to consult if a question arises.
- Keyword. Every single one of your articles needs to be optimized based upon a keyword. For this, you should use a SEO plugin (if you don’t already). A good, long tail keyword can make your article rank better in Google search results, so make sure to include one whenever you write blog posts and put it in the calendar as well.
- Status. The status of an article is very important. You have two options. You may color the title box with a specific color based on a legend that will tell you if the article is pending, being edited or is scheduled/published. The other option is to make a separate column where you indicate the status of the article without using a color legend.
- Date. Even if the articles are going to be listed in chronological order, you definitely need to write the date the article is going to be published. This will also allow you to schedule it in advance and track your consistency.
- The type of content. Defy mediocrity by considering fun infographics based on data you’ve found, make a fun video, a beautiful presentation, or you can even write an eBook. Just make sure to specify what type of content it is along with the title.
- The link to it. To make it easy for everyone to access the article, insert a live link to the article.
- Social media messages. When you write an article, get into the habit of writing 3 posts for Twitter and 3 long form social media posts for Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn. This way, when you want to promote the articles, you’ll have the text ready to go. Also, if you have a social media manager, it makes their job much easier when promoting the articles on your company’s social media channels.
Adapt the Content of Your Editorial Calendar to Your Needs
No matter what tool(s) you use to create your editorial calendar, you can always adapt the ideas you’ve seen above. Depending on the complexity of your calendar, you can either extend the type of information you’re going to include, or eliminate things you don’t need.
The bullets listed in this article are essential if you want to have a kick ass schedule. Keep it simple by using a Google spreadsheet and Trello to keep track of articles.
What Happens After You Publish? Attract Readers!
It’s important to realize that readers won’t just show up to read your articles. You have to find ways to promote your articles.
Now that you know why you need this type of calendar and what information you need to create one, go ahead and just do it! Then, come back and leave a comment stating that you did.
If you’d like to add something to this article, or have any questions about getting started with your editorial calendar, please leave them in the comments below. Looking forward to hearing from you!
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