An editorial calendar is a must for any marketing manager, but keeping the calendar up-to-date can be a struggle.
The team’s workload, confusion on responsibilities or inconsistent publishing can cause a perfectly good plan to fall apart. But your content marketing is too important to let the content it needs get left behind.
Your strategy for keeping an editorial calendar current needs to be in place every step of the way: from generating ideas to hitting publish.
1. Don’t cripple your calendar when you brainstorm.
Generating topics is a constant battle between having enough topics, making sure you don’t repeat topics and keeping every topic relevant to your potential buyers. To achieve the trifecta, you can:
- Focus on personas and keywords. Your buyer personas will have keywords associated with them. Those keywords will help you brainstorm plenty of topics while staying relevant to your ideal buyer.
- Don’t get caught in the details. Generate titles instead of whole outlines. If you start outlining each topic, you’re taking time away from generating ideas.
- Encourage continuous brainstorming. Don’t limit ideas to one meeting. You and your staff should log ideas as they come, for example when a customer presents a particular problem or when you find a relevant article
- Branch out. Plan to use content from outside sources to help fill your editorial calendar. Schedule guest bloggers, videos or post links to relevant articles.
- Generate the right number of topics. When you get to the planning stage, you don’t want to come up short on topics. Know ahead of time what your publishing schedule looks like and how many topics it takes to fill it.
2. Schedule your content in advance.
It’s important that all those great ideas you generate don’t come out looking like creative vomit on your blog and social media channels. You want consistency in both publishing and content themes.
Some recommend planning an entire year at a time, but you may work best on a quarterly basis. Either way, you need to look at the big picture and plan your content long term. This allows you to capitalise on certain topics for seasons, events or holidays.
3. Include the right information in your calendar.
Again, you don’t need to outline every topic, but a well-planned editorial calendar will always contain certain information, like:
- Title. What is the title you generated in brainstorming?
- Buyer persona. Which buyer persona is this based on?
- Relevant links or keywords. What inspired the topic or should be included?
- Deadlines. When do the drafts need to be completely written and edited?
- Publishing Date. When is the content being published?
- Writer. Who is responsible for researching and writing the topic?
- Editor. Who is editing the draft, fact checking, etc.?
- Platforms. Where is this content going to be published and promoted?
You may adapt some of this to suit your agency, but your team will be more effective if they know who is responsible for which content and when it’s due.
4. Schedule deadlines before the publish date.
Schedule the final version of each piece of content to be written and edited before the date you expect to publish. This gives you breathing room in case of unexpected projects or even sickness and vacations on your team.
5. Make the calendar accessible to everyone.
The critical point of a successful editorial calendar is that it must be accessible to the whole team. Use a web-based manager like Basecamp, Asana or even Google Spreadsheets so that the whole team can look ahead to see what’s coming.
6. Stay flexible on your content.
It’s a writer’s job to generate relevant, remarkable content before the deadline even if it wasn’t in the original plan, but it’s your task to help them do that. Keep an open dialogue to make sure the content you publish is all it can be.Tweak topics, change the course of research or add in new content as it comes up.
7. Learn to anticipate busy times.
Sometimes, your staff is truly busy and lacks the capacity to write remarkably. Use your calendar to anticipate those times and sprint ahead on content writing or know when it’s time to outsource. The effect of content marketing is well-worth the resources it takes to keep up with it.
8. Make time to update the calendar regularly.
Don’t let your calendar dissolve into chaos when a few things change. Adapt your calendar as new topics are introduced or unexpected posts are published. If you’ve put your calendar in a web-based manager, this will be easy.
The success of an editorial calendar and by extension your content marketing comes down to strategy. You must be able to generate plenty of strong topics, create a plan to consistently generate content based on those topics and ensure commitment to that plan from the whole team.
(Hat tip to S.F. for the photo)