One of the most important but commonly disregarded aspects of a content marketing strategy is the editorial calendar. Any successful digital marketing strategy requires robust planning and understanding. An editorial calendar gives clear and coherent steps to creating a fully fledged strategy across board – and not just relying on flights of fancy for posts.
Sadly, by their very nature, editorial calendars and content marketers don’t often go together well. This is simply because the vast majority of writers tend to be creatives – and quite often these minds are prone to fits of creativity. Planning, although highly regarded and very much appreciated by them, may not be in their nature. Alternatively, if you’re lucky enough to be in the minority that have cracked the code to amalgamating preparation and inspiration, we salute you – but there are always steps that can be taken to improve your current processes.
Editorial calendars should be well respected in the world of content marketing. They allow for integrity and consistency in a strategy that will benefit both your short term and long term campaign goals. While they might be seen to be a limiter, often the reality is that the role they take is one of guidance, ensuring, among other things, that each separate post or aspect is aligned with your campaign.
Editorial calendars also enable content creators to delve deeper into what they are going to write about. The angle that they offer can often play a crucial part in deciding how your content sways; when you have a certain niche that you have to look through while researching you can find new and different ways of approaching a subject.
How editorial calendars can differ in function
Editorial calendars vary immensely from industry to industry, business to business, marketer to marketer, and depend wholeheartedly on what is included in each strategy. They can even go full scale to include absolutely all social media posts, interactions, and internal and external blog postings. At this point, they can start to look closer to a workflow management system. If this is what you are on the lookout for, we would suggest looking towards software like Asana.
Our personal recommendation for the function of editorial calendars is that they should be used to plan each of your blog posts from research through to publishing. This should include the production of the articles themselves, keyword research findings, purpose analysis and, importantly, the inclusion of an acceptable KPI. You should also include promotion details such as what social networks and communities you plan on sharing it with.
Are your editorial calendars really up to scratch?
The best way to layout an editorial calendar is in a spreadsheet style that is accessible and easy to follow. Chances are that there are some steps you can take to improving your editorial calendars, and we hope that this article works as a springboard for additions to your current processes. We’ve broken down a selection of best practice tips for editorial calendars as a place to start and ideas for columns on your spreadsheet:
1. Chosen headlines: Obviously it is important to include headlines for each of your chosen blog posts, however it is a good idea to think these up in advance. A great post headline can be the difference between a successful article and one that fails to hit where it should. If you are struggling to write headlines that incite enough interest to gain clicks, take a look at CoSchedule’s Headline Analyser.
2. A (brief) brief: Ensure you include a few sentences on what your article should include. Unless it feels right for you, we wouldn’t necessarily suggest including pages of research as an editorial calendar should be accessible, succinct and usable. Just enough to tell yourself, management or a client the kind of thing that your articles will include.
3. Full-scale timings: Choose timings for each part of your editorial calendar. Dates of when you will produce, proof and publish each article, alongside any research you have about the best times to post on your website for traffic.
4. Keyword research findings: If SEO is a big factor in your content marketing strategy, this step cannot be overlooked. Research the most/least contested keywords for your industry and for the topic you are covering and take note to ensure you make use of them.
5. Campaign details & post purpose: Make note of how each post will fit into your overall campaign and the part it will play.
6. Graphic details: Good blog posts always include graphics. While you don’t have to create them beforehand, keeping details of the kind of thing you think will work will help you when you get to that point further down the line.
7. Target audience findings: This is another piece of information that will play a big part in the tone of your articles. Be sure you know exactly who you are writing for.
8. CMS details: Content marketing is about way more than just creating a great piece of writing and hoping it sticks. Be sure to include as much detail about your blogging/CMS platform as possible; categories, tags, SEO details, meta data etc.
9. Social media promotion plan: A good content marketing strategy can only be as good as it’s promotion will allow. Certain posts work for certain networks only. Be sure to plan where you will posts in advance as this will effect the style you opt for.
10. Your own KPI: Be sure to include a KPI in line with your overall goals. Everything you do will be accountable to this, so make sure it relates to what you want to achieve.