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How to Create an Editorial Calendar That Will Grow Your Audience

christina-zila
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Editorial calendars can help content managers, SEOs, and businesses organize content and blog posts efficiently. These flexible tools can turn your blog, social media, and outreach efforts into a content machine that regularly delivers intriguing pieces to your audience through a variety of channels.

What are Editorial Calendars?

Editorial calendars are a schedule of what topics to cover and when. A basic editorial calendar could be as basic as a theme for each month and a requirement to blog every Thursday, like this example for a plumbing site:

editorial-calendar-month-themes

Themes or recurring features can improve your content strategy in multiple ways. A monthly theme can recruit guest contributors. If you already have a few contributors, whether guests, employees, or freelancers, you can better match your resources to your theme.

In our example, September’s “Back-to-school potty tips” can ask fans for their funniest potty-training moment, a guest blogger can contribute an article on ways to make potty training fun, and internal contributors can write about common problems that occur and how to fix them (i.e., diaper clogs a toilet, child fills toilet with paper so that it doesn’t flush).

We chose something that doesn’t directly relate to plumbing. Why? This strategy builds a relationship with potential clients and can be used to build authority on home maintenance in general, plumbing and water management specifically.

Alternatively, you can focus on activities that occur on a regular basis – weekly top 10 industry article summaries, monthly Facebook polls, or biweekly blog posts. Place each content channel in your calendar to remind you when each item is due. You can then choose to link your channels, leveraging the momentum from one channel to another and pulling the most productivity from a single piece.

Additionally, readers come to expect their “Friday funny” or tip of the day. Consistency helps increase reader loyalty and interest.

As your content strategy evolves, an editorial calendar can help organize your larger products, like a white paper launch:

editoral-calendar-weekly-posts

On the advertising and partnership side, editorial calendars can strengthen current relationships and help forecast the future. For a retail-focused blog, planning content around a certain theme may interest suppliers and lead to advertising opportunities. For our plumber, outreach to pool maintenance companies for their June segment can create a great partnership and lead source.

Why Bother?

Bloggers, editors, content managers, and project managers use editorial calendars to easily communicate deadlines and show contributors where individual pieces fall in the grand communications plan. It eliminates writer’s block, limits off-topic pieces, and engages the contributor team.

Editorial calendars minimize scheduling and resource conflicts, ensuring that items are delivered on time and syncing social media activities with other content marketing projects. They also double as a backup plan for emergencies. If one contributor doesn’t deliver on time, other contributors can easily jump in and help.

Consistent content updates thanks to an editorial calendar lead to more engaged readers and increased traffic, resulting in new clients and repeat business. Attract partners, guest bloggers, and advertisers by sharing your editorial calendar.

Aren’t Editorial Calendars Restrictive?

One risk with editorial calendars is overdoing them. Setting the exact title or format for each piece may wind up being too constrictive, or your planned schedule may be too ambitious.

An editorial calendar will organize your team, but team members still need time to research, write, and proofread. Outside sources for interviews or customer stories may not respond to requests within your deadlines, so allow enough time for contributors to deliver a quality product.

A good example of how editorial calendars can provide structure but still be flexible is how they can integrate breaking news.

New updates don’t always come in a predictable pattern, yet you want to show that you’re on top of what’s most relevant to your audience. There are two simple solutions: Add breaking news posts on top of the posts you planned in your editorial calendar, or just move your calendar back. If you blog once a week, hit the breaking news in the current week, and then resume your regular calendar the next week.

An editorial calendar is as flexible as you make it. Keep your resources in mind and be prepared for the unexpected.

How much work is putting one together? Luckily, editorial calendars are easy to create. Here's how.

Software

You don't need a specific software package to create an editorial calendar. Excel, Google Calendar and your e-mail client, especially if it's networked with your writing team, are all options to create your content marketing calendar.

Get Started With Brainstorming

The process of creating an editorial calendar for content marketing starts with brainstorming topics and ideas. Brainstorming ideas avoids writers' block and the stress of wondering what to write about at the last minute.

Group brainstorming can lead to many creative ideas that one person alone may not have considered and pulls writers into the content marketing strategy. Instead of a top-down approach, group brainstorming builds a team and gets buy-in from others.

Divide and Conquer

Narrow down the ideas to ones that truly fit your content marketing concept. Assign a date and person responsible for delivering each topic. Ensure that any standards, like pictures, formatting or links, are clear for all contributors. Follow up with contributors to receive and post your content.

Summary

Editorial calendars are wonderful organizational tools that can be created by common software and shared with a number of contributors. The point is to plan for pertinent content that draws readers in by delivering smart content consistently, turning your blog or social media presence to a standard resource.

This easy tool can focus your content marketing strategy while simultaneously reducing your stress and workload. Try it – the only thing you have to lose is disorganization.


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