Content marketing is a tried and true method of generating traffic and leads for your online business, yet keeping to a consistent schedule seems to be hard for a lot of website owners.
It’s quite common to see blogs push our content sporadically or even if they do manage to do regular posts, the contents topics can be mixed or directionless.
To take your content marketing to the next level you need to invest in an editorial calendar.
What is an editorial calendar?
At it’s simplest an editorial calendar is a guide so that you know what you’re posting, when you should publish it, and where you’re going to post it.
Your editorial calendar isn’t just restricted to blog posts, pretty much any content you have (blog posts, social media content, email marketing and pay walled content) should be listed on the calendar.
By combining your various content types as well as having the calendar list the content written by all the staff handling your content, you can get a clear view of the overall trend of your content.
Why do you need one?
There are numerous benefits to using an editorial calendar to control your content marketing strategies.
It helps with consistency
By planning your content in advance there’s no more rushing around for content ideas, or staring at a blank page waiting for inspiration. You know what you need to write and when it’s due by.
It allows you to see your overall content direction
Laying out your content for the next 6 to 12 months allows you to see the overall pattern your content creates: is it sporadic and mixed up or does it follow a game plan that can actively help your business grow? An editorial calendar also allows you and your team to coordinate social media to complement your content marketing campaign.
As well a direction, laying the content out can make it much easier to spot any holes in your content that can be filled out.
It allows you to assign work to staff
Even the simplest of editorial calendars allow you to assign work to one of your team, and this can keep people accountable, even yourself!
Be ready for key holidays and events
I don’t know about you but some days I start work and the next thing I know the week’s flown by! Being caught up in a work bubble also makes it hard to keep track of the less obvious national holidays and other business related events.
Having them noted on your calendar and weaved into your content where necessary can help you avoid missing out on sales opportunities.
What sort of info does your calendar need?
Depending on your business type and needs, the details for each calendar listing will be different but some of the most popular types are:
- Date for Publish – When the content should be made live.
- Topic/Title – An at a glance look at what the content is about, or it’s title.
- Author – Who is due to write the content.
- Owner – Sometimes also the author, but who is responsible for making sure the content is delivered in a timely fashion.
- Status – This could include, unassigned, pending, drafted or published.
- Channel – Where is the content meant to be published? Your blog? Social media?
- Format – Is the content a written article, podcast, infographic, etc.
Too much information can make any editorial calendar difficult to use, but so can too little information. Find the right balance with what you need to successfully use the calendar.
Tools for creating an editorial calendar
There’s a variety of different tools that can be used to create an editorial calendar, for free and at a premium cost.
Whether you prefer Google Sheets or Office Online, the fact that you can create a spreadsheet in the cloud means you can also create an editorial calendar too.
This might not be the most feature packed method to do it, but it’s free.
You could also use a calendar system such as Google Calendar, but you might find that the process is inelegant as it’s not really designed for this purpose.
This service allows you to easily organize and schedule both your website content and social media at the same time. It comes as SaaS but also has a dedicated WordPress plugin if you prefer to stick with one dashboard.
If you need a free and easy way to handle a multi author blog, then Editorial Calendar needs a look. As it’s a WordPress plugin it integrates seamlessly. With over 50,000 installs and a 4.9 out of 5 score on WordPress.org (no mean feat), Editorial Calendar stands out one of the best options for WordPress users.
If the Editorial Calendar plugin didn’t rock your world, check out Edit Flow. It comes with similar features, but also with the addition of editorial comments and meta data allowing you to keep track of what’s happening with the content directly from WordPress.
A favorite of many and free to boot, Trello can be used as an editorial calendar if you set it up right. Trello have even provided you with a basic example to work from.
The Bottom Line
If you use content as a marketing tool, and why wouldn’t you, then you should seriously consider a building your campaign via an editorial calendar.
Used right these calendars can save you hours of work, hours of frustration and might even enlighten you to issues and problems in your content campaign.
For the price of free (or cheap) they really are worthwhile.