One of the most difficult parts of content marketing is regularly publishing new posts, which is why an annual editorial calendar is so important. Without one, it’s all too easy to forget about an assignment, fall behind and fail to post stuff on your blog and social media channels.
As we move into a new year, it’s an opportune time to create an annual editorial calendar. You can use it to lay out blog and social post assignments for the year, schedule dates far in advance, and carve out time in your diary to do the work.
So as you go into 2020, set your company’s blog on the right path and create an editorial calendar that will keep your team on track and your blog filled with content.
How to create a blog editorial calendar
Here are five steps to creating an editorial calendar.
- Decide where your editorial calendar will live.
- Decide how often you want to publish.
- Include relevant blog post details on your editorial calendar.
- Assign blog posts to each person involved.
- Work backward to assign deadlines.
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1. Decide where your editorial calendar will live
The first step is laying out your editorial calendar. This can be created in something as basic as a spreadsheet or as complex as an editorial planning tool. As you choose which platform is right for your company, consider how many people will need to access the calendar and how you would like to manage collaboration.
Also, look at how many posts you will produce and how robust your calendar will need to be.
A few popular blog editorial calendar platforms to try are:
2. Decide how often you want to publish
There is no magic number for how often you should post to your blog and social accounts. You need to choose what is right for your organisation based on your goals and resources.
Consider the following factors as you lay out your publishing schedule.
Start with a schedule of once a month for your blog and once a week on social, and then decide if you can publish more than that. Don’t push past what you realistically think you can publish. It’s better to publish regularly and infrequently than to publish a lot of content sporadically.
Consider your resources. If you have a budget for writers, how many posts can you afford? If you’re relying on an internal team, can you get them to commit in writing to meet deadlines and hold them accountable for delivery?
Look at your competitors. If you have no idea how often to publish, look at your top competitors and see how often they publish. Start with this benchmark to compete closely with others in your industry.
Consider your goals. If your goal is to drastically increase traffic to your website, then you might need to publish more regularly. If your goal is to have content to send in a monthly newsletter, you may need less content.
3. Include relevant details on your editorial calendar
Start to lay out what information will be included with each post. In your editorial calendar, include fields or columns for:
- Topic: In one to three words, describe the general theme or concept of the post.
- Title: Come up with a draft title which explains the idea for the post. Keep in mind that the title might change during the writing process.
- Keyword: Assign the target keyword to the post that will be optimised.
- Abstract: For blog posts, write a brief overview of what should be included in the content.
- Resources: Include any relevant information or links that will help the writer (if not you) to create the content.
- Audience: If you have more than one target audience, define which audience the post will target.
- Call-to-action: Every post should be designed to lead the reader to take the next step toward doing business with you at the end of the content. Define what that next step is by labelling the call-to-action for the post (which could be to schedule a free consultation, read another post, get a free eBook, etc.).
4. Assign blog posts to each person involved
A production schedule might include one or many people depending on the size of the company and structure of the organisation. Consider who will need to come in contact with your content during all of its phases of production, and create a place in your editorial calendar to assign to each person. The blog post may come in contact with:
- Graphic Designer
- Manager for Approval
5. Work backward to assign deadlines
Once you know all of the people who will work on the blog post and how many steps it will go through before it’s published, you can populate your editorial calendar with dates.
Start with the date you want to publish and work backward to assign due dates for each step of the process. To make sure you can stick to your deadlines, give a large cushion of time, such as a week or at least three days, for each step of the process.
Find ideas for your blog editorial calendar
Now that you know how to structure your blog editorial calendar, it’s time to fill it in with post topics. Here are five ways to find inspiration.
1. Look at important dates for your brand
Start by synching your editorial calendar with a schedule of what is going on with your company. Those dates might be related to:
- Promotions and specials
- New product or service launches
- Company events
- Your company’s birthday or big anniversaries
Plan content that will need to be launched around those important dates.
2. Look at holidays
Next, look at important dates around the holidays. Consider top holidays and how they impact your business. Decide if you want to engage in any holiday marketing through your blog, and plan if you want to release warm wishes posts or other fun themed holiday content.
Don’t just focus on nationally recognised holidays. Also look at a calendar of fun “social” holidays, which are unique days often celebrated on social media through hashtags. Days like #NationalHatDay or #NationalCheeseLoversDay can give you inspiration for posts and also help you promote your post when it’s published.
3. Look at your analytics
As you plan future content, look to your past content. Consider your website analytics and look at what posts performed well in the past. Give readers more of what they already like. Develop ideas that expand on popular topics and themes.
4. Do keyword research
Do further research to find topic ideas by performing keyword research. Use keyword tools to find popular phrases that your target audience uses in searching. Create topics that target those themes, terms and keywords.
Publish great content
If you go through these steps, you can create an editorial calendar that will keep your blog and channels filled with great content, help you never miss a deadline, and give your readers relevant content they want to read.