Instagram estimates that 500 million of its users use the social media platform’s story feature…
In 1996 Bill Gates wrote an essay titled “Content is King” in which he declared as such and this sentiment still rings true today, more than 20 years later. Content is still very important to educate and convert customers and is arguably even more important today with the access to information consumers have at their fingertips. Thus, implementing a content strategy is a must. One of the most crucial aspects of an effective content strategy is an editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar gives publishers the tools to plan, create, publish and then promote their content in an organized and optimized fashion. This streamlines the whole process. Many times, the editorial calendar is a lifesaver for companies and their creative teams and it will help them stay on track while ensuring a consistent flow of content. The organized approach can also improve focus, keep content evergreen, and limit writer’s block. Let’s take a closer look at some of these benefits:
- Organization and Delegation: An editorial calendar will allow you to see what needs writing, what has been written, and what needs edits. From there, you can delegate these articles to your writing team and avoid scrambling to find writers for last minute assignments. With the calendar it’s all there for you.
- Better Planning: The further out you plan in advance the better your content will eventually be. Not only will last minute scrambling be avoided but your writers will have more time to formulate their approach to each topic and find sources.
- Sticking to deadlines: When your writers know what their deadlines are, content creation won’t be rushed and new content that’s part of a new business strategy or event – a new website, new location, new sale – will be completed on time to accompany it.
Setting out to create an editorial calendar may seem like a daunting task, but it’s not complicated once you have a plan. Take a look at the outline below and feel free to change up the steps, or add any steps you feel are necessary, to meet the needs of your business.
1. Determine What Tools to Use
Google Docs, Microsoft Excel, and Trello are popular free choices, with Trello offering the most customizable options, while Airtable, Asana, Monday, and Brightpod are paid options that give you more control and customization options but also have free content calendar options. This is what you’ll be using to come up with ideas for content, assign them to writers, track their progress, and ready them for publication. Keep in mind that it won’t be just your content team using the calendar so make sure the tool you select meets the needs of everyone who has access to it. The tool, or tools, you settle on will be used to plan content, keep track of it as it is created, and schedule when it will be published. This will vary depending on how much content your company plans on producing.
2. Make a Backlog for Content
“Content backlog” is really just a fancy term for a list of content ideas. Each entry should include the content’s title or subject, the assigned author, the status, and due date. You could get even more organized and include things like the distribution channel or important keywords to the entry as well if you like. The backlog should be easy to read so you can easily track ideas and avoid duplicates.
3. Refine, or Develop, a Content Strategy
When developing a content strategy, you’ll first want to have a defined goal – are you wanting to reach new customers, strengthen relationships with existing customers, or something else? Understanding your customers is another important step in developing a strategy because it’ll likely change depending on what platforms your audience uses, what content they typically prefer and respond well to, and more. Analyzing your competition to see what works for them that you could adapt into your strategy is the next step, as you’ll likely have very similar customers. Lastly, you’ll want to estimate or set a budget for how much the content strategy will cost in order to maximize the return on investment and stay organized.
4. Create a Schedule
For those just starting an editorial calendar you’ll need to get some content ready to be published. Creating a schedule as to when content is published and where will help with organization and ensure customers get new content when they’re expecting it.
This is a process you’ll want to continually optimize over time and if something isn’t working or meeting all your needs – change it! After all, nobody knows the unique needs of your business and industry better than you. It’ll take some time to get used to the tools and the process but considering the benefits of an editorial calendar it’s well worth it.