You might think that an editorial calendar is only for big businesses with a huge team of creatives to manage. But even solopreneurs need a content calendar to ensure their marketing is consistent, on brand and tailored to their audience.
If you’re in doubt, has this ever happened to you:
- Your content ideas are spread out over so many to do lists and reminders that you’ve lost track.
- You had a perfect idea for a lead magnet the other day but somehow it’s erased itself from your memory.
- You’re kicking yourself for missing out on a timely marketing campaign because you didn’t have the content resources on hand.
The truth is that all types of businesses can reap the benefit of tracking their content ideas and production progress in one place.
Yes, you may be the sole content producer for your company. But a content calendar will still keep your branding and output consistent and your marketing campaigns on schedule. It also helps you plan for extra resources and time off, so you won’t have any gaps in your content schedule.
In other words, if you take the time to implement an editorial calendar, soon you won’t know how you managed without one.
What Exactly Is An Editorial Calendar?
An editorial calendar is a schedule that keeps track of your company’s content marketing from concept to publishing. It doesn’t matter if you’re just posting a weekly blog on your site or feeding 7 social media platforms with multiple content types. Whatever your content needs are, you should use a content calendar to keep your marketing on track.
The ideal calendar isn’t set in stone, but it usually includes the following info:
- Topic or title
- Content type (blog post, email campaign etc)
- Publish date
- SEO: keywords, meta description
- Image(s) location
- Call to action
- Status (draft, published etc)
If your industry is seasonal or you’d like to concentrate on certain holidays, make sure to list these important dates and themes. What also might be helpful is making a list of weird holidays that are fun, so you can possibly run a campaign around those, especially if your industry targets families or kids etc… That means you won’t get caught out and can take full advantage of these opportunities.
What Type of Editorial Calendar Should I Use?
If you work with freelancers, it’s a good idea to use a shareable file or app so that everyone can access the calendar from any location. And make sure you can access your calendar from your phone or tablet, in case you get a flash of inspiration away from the office. That means the next time you sit down to create content, your ideas are all in one place.
Large companies with big marketing budgets tend to use software to keep track of their content schedules. But as a solopreneur or small company owner, you’ll probably find a free spreadsheet, calendar or project management app will do the job.
If you’re a spreadsheet fan, you might find Google Sheets a good option. You could add tabs for each month of the year, highlighting important dates for your industry. And include an ideas tab that covers anything from specific content brainwaves to entire marketing campaigns.
Cloud-based calendars are an obvious option for small companies to organize their content marketing. Setting recurring events and reminders is a doddle. And you can even schedule posts and tweets to be published with Google Calendar and IFTTT.
Project Management apps are particularly useful if you’re working with freelancers. Trello even has an editorial calendar board as an example. People can claim jobs and tag each other in discussions.
How to Fill Your Editorial Calendar with Content and Marketing Ideas
The easy part is designing the calendar — the hard part is filling it with ideas. This is when the other editorial calendar guides tell you to sit down with your content team and brainstorm content marketing ideas. But what if you don’t have a team?
If you’re using one or more freelancers, you can arrange a group call and brainstorm together. Most content creators are happy to suggest ideas and themes for their clients. Share the content calendar with them beforehand so they know what to expect and to iron out any access issues.
But if you’re the chief cook and bottlewasher of your company, don’t despair. No one knows your company and clients better than you, and there are plenty of prompts to get your juices flowing. Get rid of all distractions and ask yourself some questions like:
- What are your content goals? To capture high-quality leads, get your company’s name out there, or both?
- What type of content does your audience like? Blog posts, videos, white papers?
- What old or outdated content could you repackage?
- How often do you want to publish content? And on what channels?
- Are there certain dates you want to focus on? Are there upcoming trade shows, industry holidays?
- Do you want to curate content? If so, which channels should you use?
Let’s say you want your website to rank higher on Google for your location and industry. You decide to:
- Publish four 1500 word posts a month with targetted keywords
- Find relevant videos from last year to insert into each new post, to increase dwell time
- Plan a campaign around a trade show your company is attending, including a competition hashtag and interviews with existing clients who will be there
Now that you’ve decided the why, what and how you should start to schedule content as far ahead as possible. Try to aim for a year ahead, or at least six months.
If you have any webinars, interviews, trade fairs or conferences in mind, put the dates in the calendar as soon as possible.
Planning Ahead for Resources and Downtime
An editorial calendar doesn’t just keep your content schedule on track. It also allows you to plan ahead for any future needs or situations.
Let’s say you wanted to design a content campaign around a trade show. If you’re on your own, you’ll probably need someone to take notes, record video interviews or design promotional material. If you’ve scheduled this in your content calendar, you’ll be reminded to start interviewing people and asking for recommendations.
Or maybe you want to update your tired lead magnet on your website, but don’t have the hours in the day to do it. When you reach out to ghostwriters or editors, you can use your content calendar to give them clear direction on subject, tone, branding, and deadlines. Your content is already sketched out and you’re not improvising on the spot.
Same goes for any travel days you have planned or school holidays where you don’t have childcare. If you’re determined to post several articles per week, you can write the content ahead of time and schedule for publishing in advance. That means there’s no gap in your marketing campaign while you get on with other things.
Analyzing Your Content Calendar
Your editorial calendar is a handy record of all the content you’ve ever published. You’ll never repeat yourself again! And if you want to repurpose or revisit old content, you’ll have the information you need at your fingertips.
And if you compare your content planner with your website and social media analytics, you can also work out what types of content are popular with your audience. Or maybe the days of the week when your videos, tweets and email campaigns get the most buzz.
But remember, just because you have a solid schedule doesn’t mean you can’t break out from time to time. If a trend, topic or breaking news pops up that’s relevant to your business and customers, don’t be afraid to pause the schedule and address this straight away.
Over to You
As a small business, you may think having a content calendar is overkill. But putting a suitable editorial system in place can save you time in the long run. You’ll ensure that your content marketing is consistent, engaging and aimed squarely at your audience’s needs and wants.
And in a year’s time, you’ll have a robust collection of content that got the word out about your company.
What type of calendar do you use for your content marketing? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Let us know in your comments!
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