If you’re looking for content or editorial job opportunities, one of the most common role requirements is that you can create and maintain an editorial or content calendar. Today I’m looking at why having an editorial content calendar is so important, how to create one, and what to bear in mind as you plan your content creation and publication.
Why do you need an Editorial Calendar for your Content Marketing?
In a nutshell, an editorial or content calendar helps shape your content creation, and brings some strategy and direction to your content. Rather than just flying by the seat of your pants, you know ahead of time what content you’ll be publishing, when, and why.
It will help you to:
- Align your content creation with business priorities and objectives (like new feature launches, industry trends or promotions).
- Organise your ideas.
- Manage your time to meet proposed publication deadlines.
- Plan your content, and take a strategic approach to content topics and ideas.
Additionally, it will help keep you and your colleagues on the same page: with an up-to-date content calendar to refer to, your colleagues will be able to plan other marketing or promotional activity to fit-in with your content publication schedule.
How to Create an Editorial Calendar
There are three simple steps to creating your editorial calendar.
1) Understand Why
First of all, you need to understand the business goals that are driving your content creation. With that in mind, you should then consider your audience: what do they need to learn from your content, or what value must it provide, to keep them coming back for more – or subscribe to your newsletter, or buy your product?
2) Plan Your Content
Keeping your customers’ or audience’s needs in mind, it’s time to start actually planning out your content.
The first thing to consider is how much content – how frequently you want to publish. For example, if you’ve just launched a blog, one post per week might be a good starting point to aim for. Maybe even one every other week. But if you’ve got a large team of content creators, it might be that everyone in your team can commit to creating one post every two weeks, meaning you’re able to publish 2-3 posts per week.
You then need to identify key topics to focus on – something that’s aligned with both your customers’ needs, and your company’s goals.
You can then start to flesh-out your content calendar: you know how often you will be publishing, and you can start to turn high-level topics into fully-fledged ideas for blog posts, infographics or other types of content.
You’ve said what you’re going to do – now you just have to do it. Easy, right?
Until someone’s off sick, or changes role, or misses a deadline and throws the whole content calendar out of sync…
To ensure the success of your editorial calendar, the most important thing to do is to clearly define who’s doing what – assigning tasks to people, and setting clear deadlines.
When Editorial Calendars Don’t Work
An editorial content calendar can make a real difference to your content marketing strategy. However, it does have one major drawback: once you’ve invested a ton of time and energy creating a detailed content calendar, it can make it difficult to change as business needs and priorities change.
In more mature organisations, it might be possible to plan out a few months worth of content at a time. However, for startups, flexibility is key. In this case, a more agile approach to content planning may be a better fit – for example planning out a detailed editorial calendar for the coming month, then having a backlog of higher-level ideas for the next couple of months’ worth of content. This will enable you to adapt your content to fit in with what your audience is responding to, as well as meeting shifting business priorities.
Essentially, planning out months and months of content may not be the best use of your time – so take some time to experiment with different editorial calendar set-ups, to find something that works for your team and your business.