No matter how good we are at our jobs we all want a better, faster way to get things done. Luckily in this rapidly changing world innovations are constantly emerging to help us do what we want in less time, with less wasted effort, and with greater success. Reinvention is the commodity we trade in these days to keep pushing our digital world forward.
The editorial calendar is the perfect example of this reinvention having transformed itself over the years, from a simple spreadsheet for tracking what we publish to an essential component for managing the entire life cycle of a content marketing campaign.
The following editorial calendar tips, tools, templates, and takeaways will help your business whether you need to build a new system from scratch or just want a few tricks to make your calendars more efficient.1. The Basics
The first step is to gather key content marketing strategy information. Answer the following questions to determine what you need to track in your calendar, as well as help you stay focused on your marketing goals.
- Who are you creating content for? Knowing your buyer personas helps you to keep your target audience in focus as you create your calendar.
- Why you are creating content? Think about your goals for the content you create. Your content marketing mission and goals will impact what you publish, where you publish, and how often.
- What resources do you have at your disposal? Do you have a dedicated in-house team of writers and videographers or do you outsource most of your content creation? The workflow you track in your calendar will likely depend on who is writing and where their expertise lies.
- How can you stand out? Are you filling a need with the content you create? What gaps exist in your current content creation efforts – or the efforts of your competitors? Aiming to play a lead role in meeting your audiences’ needs will help you fill your editorial calendar with enriching content that helps you meet your business goals.
2. Setting Up Your Calendar
There are lots of dedicated tools on the market that offer a wide range of calendaring capabilities.
When first starting out it’s fine to use a simple Excel spreadsheet or a shareable Google Sheet to track your content’s progress through your editorial process. As you grow you may need to expand content collaboration solutions with integrated tools that can help marketing teams manage editorial processes.
We recommend that your editorial calendar include the following:
- The date the piece of content will be published
- The topic or headline of the content piece
- The author of the content
- The owner of the content – i.e., who is in charge of making sure the content makes it from ideation to publication and promotion
- The current status of the content (updated as it moves through your publishing cycle)
Depending on your company’s specific goals you may also want to track these elements to help you stay organized and on track over the long term:
- The channels where your content will be published: This can include only your owned channels (such as your blog, Facebook Page, website, YouTube page, email newsletters, etc.), or you can expand your tracking to include paid and earned channels, as well.
- Content formats: Is it a blog post? A video? A podcast? An infographic? An original image? Consider repurposing great content into other formats to ensure you get the most mileage out of it.
- Visuals: Don’t overlook the appeal that visuals can add to your content, both in terms of social sharing potential and overall brand recognition. Tracking the visual elements you include in your content efforts will establish a signature look and cohesive brand identity.
- Topic categories: This helps make your calendars more searchable when you are looking to see which target topics you already created a lot of content about – or which you haven’t covered often enough.
- Keywords and other meta-data: Track meta-descriptions and SEO titles (if they differ from your headlines), this will keep your SEO efforts aligned with your content creation.
- URLs: This allows you link to older pieces of content in the new content you create.
- Calls to action: Every piece of content you create should align with your company’s marketing goals.
One of the most challenging parts of building your editorial calendar is making sure you have enough relevant ideas to fill the schedule.
You should use your editorial calendar to keep a running list of topic ideas. It makes it an easy reference tool when you need some inspiration or direction.
We recommend that you track:
- The topic idea
- The owner of the idea
- The target keywords/categories to which the content would map
- Who might be available/qualified to write the piece
- A time frame for when you will publish it.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to using editorial calendars to organize your content marketing and to keep your marketing efforts moving in the right direction.