Tackling the content marketing beast means a lot of writing, but it also means a lot of planning. Editorial calendars are no longer just for journalists and publishers—it’s a content marketers best tool to ensure high quality, cohesive writing. There are many paid online platforms, such as Kapost, that allow you to plan and analyze your editorial calendar. Before you invest, we recommend starting with Microsoft Excel or Google Docs for their flexibility and familiarity.
When building an editorial calendar, here are some factors to think of including:
Typically, content will align with a day of the month, an easy way to list each post and track its stage in the process. Determine what’s most important to display in the calendar—draft date, revision dates, publish date, etc.—so steps in the editorial process aren’t skipped.
Variety of content
Whether it’s a blog, eBook, podcast or a mixture of many, include a column for each piece of content so nothing gets left off or forgotten. You may not have each column addressed everyday—or even every month—but it’s a good idea to visually display all so you can effectively plan and space out your content mix.
Savvy content marketers employ a network of copywriters to help lighten the load of regular writing. Include them on the calendar via Google Docs or another cloud service so everyone is aware of publishing expectations and deadlines. It’s also nice for copywriters to see when their work will publish if they’re interested in sharing with their social networks. You may also consider adding a column or note to keep track of paying your copywriters and your editorial budget.
The second step to every piece of content is how to promote it via social media channels. Depending on the topic, it may not be appropriate for every social media platform. Or perhaps it works for all, but needs different messaging. Including social media “checkboxes” ensures you don’t mistakenly leave one channel off.
Similar to the Author section, outlining who is responsible for certain stages is important to an editorial calendar. This could include who needs to provide edits, who needs to start writing new content and who is responsible for publishing the final content.
Your content should be addressing your target markets through thematic copy and specific calls to action. Outline those expectations within the editorial calendar so you can easily track if a topic or audience is not addressed as frequently as others.
Even with all of the above sections laid out, having a general feedback and comments section helps record specifics about a certain piece of content. Maybe one blog post spurs another, but there isn’t enough time in the current schedule to account for it. Or maybe an employee critical to the editing process is going on vacation. A general comments section helps keep the nuances in line.
To take your editorial calendar to the next level, add in some columns to track each blog post’s performance. Analytics you could provide include social shares, number of pageviews and/or number of comments. This also streamlines the regular reporting process, allowing you to simply tally up results instead of retroactively collecting them when you need to.
The most important part of an editorial calendar is that it should fit the planning needs of your business. Forcing yourself into an uncomfortable process just results in tools that end up abandoned. Be flexible with editorial calendar and adjust as necessary to refine your process.