Ever arrive at your computer, bleary-eyed, to write a blog or social media post that just has to go out that day?
Go ahead, raise your hand if that’s you.
I’m raising my hand right along with you! This is one area that took me a long time to master. And all it took to send me well on my way to mastery is a tool called an editorial calendar.
Simply put, an editorial calendar is a tool to schedule your content marketing.
An editorial calendar means you create a plan, a schedule for your content, like blog posts and social media posts, ahead of time. You have time to think about how your content fits into the big picture: your overall business and marketing strategy. You have room to improve the quality of the content to its best level.
It took me a long time to give up winging it every week. I was worried it would stifle my creativity, or that I wouldn’t be able to react to what was going on in the moment. I was concerned that it would all look stale and rehearsed.
What an editorial calendar lacks in spontaneity, it more than makes up for in clarity, ease, alignment with your branding, and building your credibility as an expert.
It builds confidence and trust in your audience if you post regularly (that means at least once a week for your blog, daily in social media). They know they can rely on you to show up and provide them with great information. An editorial calendar makes it much easier to be consistent.
It reduces your stress. Instead of being constantly under the gun, you can book a time with yourself to work on your content marketing. You can explore new and effective ways to present your business.
As you look at your editorial calendar, you’ll be able to schedule in blog posts or social media posts to take advantage of those times when your audience is most receptive. Analyze when you’ve gotten the most engagement so you can spot patterns.
Another reason to use an editorial calendar is that it reeks of professionalism. When you map out your content in advance, you have a much better eye for brand alignment and integration with any campaigns you’re doing. You not only know what you’re doing. You make that clear to your audience too! That will improve your marketing results.
One more big reason to use an editorial calendar: it encourages you to effectively re-purpose your content. Nobody out there is creating new stuff every single time. And nobody in your audience sees everything you share (sorry). So, you can use the same content again, perhaps in a different format, e.g., blog post becomes an audio. When you have an editorial calendar, you’ll be able to see much more clearly how you can space out re-purposed content for maximum effectiveness.
Now that you know all the pluses of having an editorial calendar, let’s get to work on putting one into place for your content marketing. Here are 5 ways to set yourself up for an editorial calendar that works wonders for your business:
1. Be clear about the goals for each of your content marketing outlets. It’s so much easier to create content when you know what you’re going for. And it all helps your marketing to hang together in a cohesive way when you have your goal in mind.
What blog or social media content would help you achieve your goal? Is it tips/strategies, research, or success stories? Goal clarity makes your content effective and laser focused on your ideal audience.
2. Keep it simple. Have just one editorial calendar. Avoid creating separate calendars for blogging and social media, for example. When you consolidate them into one, the habit of using a calendar will kick in faster and its benefits will be more apparent.
You can use a no-cost or low-cost app that helps you to create an editorial calendar. CoSchedule and Trello are two. WordPress also has an editorial calendar plug-in. Or you can keep it simple with a Google spreadsheet or even a Word document.
The key here is to avoid making the process of calendar creation and updates an obstacle. Choose a tool that is easy for you to use. Avoid ones with a substantial learning curve, so that you’re not spending your time playing with a new toy over creating new content.
3. Make it a daily habit to check your editorial calendar. You should be releasing content daily in some form, so this will help. At the start, put a reminder in your phone or scheduler to check your editorial calendar. New habits take some time to become reflex, so reinforce your new habit with a reward. Celebrate that you’re using this new tool!
4. Create a running list. As you think of blog post or social media post ideas and topics, add them to your calendar. You can assign dates later and reorder as needed.
That’s the advantage of an easy approach: you don’t have to schedule new ideas in right away. You can devote a chunk of time to scheduling in an order that aligns with other aspects of your marketing.
5. Analyze and revise as you go. Modify your editorial calendar based on what posts are getting the most traction. Learn what your audience most wants to read, and adjust your editorial calendar accordingly.
Since each social media platform has its own optimal frequency of posting, analyze each platform’s results. For example, on Twitter it’s best to tweet multiple days in a row, whereas on Facebook, you may wait a week to for a reminder post. Play with what works and make the appropriate changes to your editorial calendar.
Freely offered content is a cornerstone of your marketing. If it isn’t already, it needs to be!
Take this aspect of your marketing seriously. Devote time to it. Plan ahead. Make it the best and most effective it can be. Your editorial calendar will be a huge help in doing all of that.
You’ll never have to arrive at your screen again with a big question of what to write and little time to do it.