Whether you’re working with an entire team or managing the content marketing for your own personal, one-person show, it’s no secret that creating an editorial calendar can make the job exponentially easier. Having an one will help you (and your team) stay organized and consistent. It will also keep you accountable for maintaining your marketing efforts over the course of time. When working with a team, it’s a great tool to make sure each team member is on the same page and knows exactly what their personal responsibilities are. This guide will show you exactly how to create your own editorial calendar with a few easy steps.
Create Your Overall Strategy
First and foremost, you have to know what you are trying to accomplish by publishing your content. Without this information, you will likely find that it lacks a consistent flow that your audience can understand. Here are a few objectives you may have for your marketing strategy, as well as tactics you might find useful:
1. Drive more traffic to your site
Focus on creating content like how-to guides, articles featuring lists and other easy reads that will attract seekers.
2. Generate more leads
Focus on the creation of downloadable content and lead magnets.
3. Improve rankings on Google
Create valuable content the uses particular keyword phrases that will help you rank better on Google.
4. Increase sales
Focus on case studies or webinars that aim to inform your audience about your products.
5. Build brand loyalty
Consider creating e-books, in-depth guides, or other detailed and highly focused content.
Now that you know your purpose, you will also need to gather some pertinent information that will help to ensure your editorial calendar is serving your needs in the most beneficial ways. A few questions you will want to ask yourself are:
1. How frequently will I publish
Do you plan on sharing content weekly, daily, multiple times throughout the day, or something else? Pinpointing the frequency of your content posts will help you to determine which type of editorial calendar (we’ll talk more about those later) could work best for you so that everything is displayed in an easy-to-follow visual.
2. How many different types of content do I plan on using?
If you plan on creating a combination of written content, videos, audio clips, et cetera, you will need to make sure that the calendar format you choose has the capability to differentiate between them all.
Are you enjoying this post? If so, be sure to subscribe for occasional email updates from our team!
3. Which distribution channels do I plan on using?
Similarly, you’ll want to determine the different platforms you plan on using (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, blog, et cetera) so that you can incorporate them all into your calendar.
4. How large will my team be?
The most functional editorial calendars will let your whole team, no matter how large, communicate clearly with one another, brainstorm and offer feedback directly on the platform you are using.
5. What stages will my content need to go through before it is ready to be posted?
Understanding your content pipeline will also help you to choose the right format so that everybody can easily see where projects are at in the process in a given moment.
Choosing Your Format
There are many different options that you could choose when it comes to picking the right editorial calendar format for your company. Whether you work with a digital calendar (such as Google calendar), a spreadsheet, a project management tool (like Kanban Board or Trello) or a content calendar app (like CoSchedule or Loomly) is entirely up to you. Each format has its own set of pros and cons and you should take the answers to the aforementioned questions into consideration to help you determine which one best meets your needs.
As an example, for Joshua Lyons Marketing we are currently using Google Sheets. We can easily create a spreadsheet tab for each marketing channel we want to focus on. We can also easily sort the contact as needed and see anything that’s been done, or needs to be done.
The Next Stages
Now that you have determined your overall goals, asked the questions to expand your understanding of your “why,” and chosen your format, it’s time to start putting it all together. These next steps will ensure your editorial calendar helps you meet your initial goals.
1. Brainstorm themes and topics that might be relevant
A lot of great ideas never come to fruition because they don’t get written down. Don’t let this be your reality. Make sure there is a dedicated space on your calendar where team members can make notes, jot down ideas and offer feedback to one another. In the screenshot below you’ll see a tab in the bottom right corner called “Drafts & Future Topics.” This is where we write down blog post ideas that need to be worked into our editorial calendar.
2. Important dates and deadlines
Make sure that your calendar clearly denotes any important upcoming events, due dates and deadlines for all projects. This allows all of your team members to know exactly what’s going on and what’s expected of them. For our own company, our content manager or general manager will create a task in our project management software. They will make sure whatever needs to be done has been assigned to someone, so they can work on the content creation. Then, whenever a project is completed, we will mark it as complete within the editorial calendar (column “G” in the screenshot above).
3. Team member roles
Make sure that all of your team members roles are also obviously defined. Depending on the size of your team, you might just give everyone access to the editorial calendar, and let them see what they need to do. If your team is large enough, you may have a manager who keeps an eye on what needs to be done and assigns tasks accordingly, through a project management tool. And in case it helps to know, we use Basecamp for our project management.
4. Content title, type and distribution channel
Your strategy could easily include a mixture of videos, blog posts, podcasts, infographics, and interactive content, so make sure that your team knows what type of content they are responsible for creating, as well as its title and which channel it will be posted on.
5. Stages of production
Revisit your content pipeline and be sure to include a section on your calendar that tells your team where a specific project is in that pipeline at any given time. Has it just been assigned, waiting for edits, ready to be scheduled, or something else?
Once you’ve begun to use your editorial calendar, you can start to see what’s working and what might need to be tweaked. If, for example, the videos you are posting on YouTube are garnering a lot more attention than your blog posts, you may start to shift your efforts to include more video content moving forward and devote less time to blogging. It’s important to always remember that your calendar is a living document. For this reason, it’s always going to be changing to meet the evolving needs of your business. Either way, once you have the shell of your calendar created, you’ve done the hard work and the rest is simply upkeep.
If you need help developing a content marketing strategy and/or an editorial calendar, let us know. We would be happy to assist, and could even help with the content creation for you, if needed. To connect, simply fill out the contact form below. Otherwise, we hope this blog post was helpful and wish you good luck as you create your own editorial calendar.