2017 is around the corner. And if are reading this post, it means you already have a content strategy in mind. We recently published a post about why your business must have a blog, and if you are looking to get into 2017 and not 2016-S (pun intended) with your content marketing strategy, it is time to understand why you need an editorial calendar for your blog and how to build one.
First, why do you need an editorial calendar?
Have you ever sat down in front of a blank screen and wondered, “What am I going to write today?” If so, you have probably not been productive enough with your content production time. Traditional print publications have always used editorial calendars to help them define and visualise plans for their content. Although blogging is usually done against a “happening now” timeline, the posts and content can be planned well ahead in time.
An editorial calendar not only improves your blogging productivity, it also helps you create your posts consistently by helping you plan and maintain a schedule, so your readers also know what’s coming next.
Next, how to create an editorial calendar?
There are numerous tools available that you can use to create an editorial calendar. Some of them like CoSchedule is a paid tool with plans starting at $15 a month. CoSchedule is a collaborative tool that helps you plan and publish content seamlessly using drag-and-drop features. You can use the tool to create your editorial calendar, organise information for your posts, and save time with easy navigation features.
A cheaper way of getting it done is to use a spreadsheet. It’s easiest if you have an office suite installed on your computer, but you can always use a free tool like Google Sheets and sync your Google calendar with it. You can store your information in the cloud and get notifications as per your requirements.
You can also use a tool like Trello which is free, to create simple boards, drop ideas into lists and organise your content quickly. It’s a simple tool that doesn’t require any training and you can sync it across your devices for easy access on the go.
What all do you need in the calendar?
All you need to keep track of are a few basic things. Firstly, your target audience. This is of utmost importance while creating your calendar, since you should know at all times who is it that you want you to target with your content. Next, you should know when to publish it. Often there are trends in the marketplace, that will get you a bump on your SEO if your content has the keywords that match with the trend. Keep that in mind. And lastly, before your final date of publishing, keep a date for yourself by when your content should be ready for the push. At times you would like to send out feelers in your social media about what’s coming next. This date will help you project manage everything with your content writers, and publish it without punishing yourself at the last minute.
Avoiding some pitfalls
Now that you have been planful about creating your editorial calendar, there are certain pitfalls that you should definitely watch out for.
Be ready for change. Change is the only constant, and when you are planning content, although your calendar might be having everything laid out to the last minute, you should always have scope to make last minute changes based on trends and market movements.
Avoid complete consolidation. As your content strategy grows, you might need to have multiple calendars for different kinds of publishing. Although, you should be keeping the theme intact and communicate uniquely as a single brand, you should try and keep functions separate such as your twitter chats can be documented in a different calendar as against your main editorial calendar.
Visit your calendar everyday. Once you have everything set up, you should be visiting it everyday to know what you’re looking into, and keep your team and yourself updated of the entire plan. It is easy to skip visiting the calendar on a certain day because of your busy schedule, and miss out on one of the critical plans, which will make you lose the purpose of maintaining a calendar. A good strategy would be to set up reward points in the calendar, for yourself and the team, so you visit the calendar regularly, and you can collect the reward points up on a later date.
Create multiple calendars. We highlighted the possible pitfall most content marketers could fall into, while creating their editorial calendars. It is good to have multiple calendars based on the channels you’re focussing on, and the target audience.
Integrate social sharing. While planning, you should envisage clearly about the social channels you would like to target along with each post. It will help you plan intricately and consistently deliver to your audience’s expectations.