You were lied to.
Don't be too mad. I was lied to, as well. We all were.
We were told editorial calendars were the secret to consistent blogging and to creating content our customers would love. We were told that if we just created an editorial calendar, we would write better content, faster content and that we'd fall head over heels with business blogging.
But for many of us, that's not what happened. Instead we got missed deadlines, frustrations and coworkers who no longer respond to our emails.
Editorial calendars, themselves, aren't to blame, though. It's our fault and how we use them. And that has to change.
If your editorial calendar isn't producing the results you had hoped for, here's why and what you can do about it.
You're Assigning the Wrong People
If your editorial calendar isn't working, it's because you've assigned the wrong folks to do the writing.
Maybe you picked your department heads or the people with the most experience or the developer who just did that cool thing on that one site or the CEO who you know has the right amount of life experience to pen the next viral hit. Sounds great on paper, right? But these aren't the people on your team who want to write or who feel confident writing. They may love to share their experience around the table during Pizza Friday, but put themselves out there for the general masses? Nooope.
The result? You are never, ever getting a blog post.
Instead, seek out those who enjoy sharing their opinions for the purpose of online dialogue and who enjoy writing. That seems obvious, but many of us have done the reverse. We've taken blogging out of the Content department hands and forced it into be an all hands on deck effort.
Don't make blogging something your team has to do but something people on your team get to do. If your larger team sees others enjoy it, they may be more inclined to try it themselves.
If there aren't enough people on your team who enjoy writing to sustain a blog or to cover the many topics you wish to write about, get in the habit of interviewing people on your team who have insight to contribute but don't feel comfortable writing it themselves.
Give them a topic and ask them to provide a few bullet points or a few sentences about each item. Then, have someone who does enjoy writing take it from there. You get the smarts, and they're not put through the torturous process of writing a blog post. You may even stop ignoring one another at lunch.
You're Making It Too Hard
If you want someone to do something, you have to remove all obstacles and make it as easy as possible.
The tricky thing is that "hard" means different things to different people.
For one person, "hard" may mean making them come up with a topic by themselves. Or making them commit to a written blog post when they'd rather design a great visual. Or making them hone a new skill (writing) instead of leveraging a skill they already have and love (video production). Or making them take an extra three hours in their day to write a post when they'd rather be coding something.
Interview your team to understand why blogging is hard for them and brainstorm how you can make it easier.
- Do they start posts but not finish them?
- Are they insecure about their writing ability?
- Can you eliminate the panic that comes with penning a new post by creating a repository for ideas or interviewing them to see what pops out? I bet you can, and I bet it will make all the difference.
You're Assigning The Task, Not Giving The Reason
When "create editorial calendar" becomes a blanket task for your content manager to complete it starts to lose its effectiveness. Now content is a segmented "thing" instead of part of a larger company mission. You can imagine why your staff may then take to it with the same lack of excitement.
Instead of throwing a title and due date at your team and walking away, talk to them about what you're doing and how things are going. Make sure they understand the purpose of this content, the funnel it's creating, and how it's affected internal lead generation and the types of clients you're getting to work with.
If you haven't seen the positive effects of blogging yourself, show the success of a competitor or a brand they're fanatical about. Nothing gets a team (or a boss) jazzed like seeing success they want for themselves (or to take from someone else).
You're Creating Bad Deadlines
There is a single reason why I remember to pay my mortgage every month: The due date never changes. So paying it by a certain time has become habit.
Why are you not scheduling blog content the same way?
The only way to get a blog post from someone on a consistent basis is to install a deadline that never moves. Make it a habit they catch. Sometimes it's that simple.
You're Not Promoting It
Content you don't promote is content you shouldn't have written. That's my mantra to content promotion, regardless of the type of content we're talking about. If you want your team to get excited enough about content that they keep producing it, you need to promote like hell the content they have already written.
It is your content manager's job to drive people to that content, to share it on social platforms, to send it around internally, to keep conversation around it going and to make sure it gets eyes. Promote it internally to your team and your stakeholders, and external to potential customers and industry eyes.
If you make your team look good, they will want to outperform themselves and, by association, make the company look mighty sexy in the process. Create a plan for content promotion and put it into action on behalf on your team members.
They said that content was king and that editorial calendars would be our pathway to the kingdom. And maybe all of that is true. But for it to work, it's time to design your editorial calendar around real-life habits and situations, not as writing dictatorship.