Lately, as online marketing shifts to a heavier focus on content, it seems that businesses are clambering to start publishing content.
But without a plan to guide the way, a company can quickly get bogged down in confusion, frustration and inefficiency, or publishing content erratically, with no clear aim or focus. Topics will be at the whim of the writer, and the editorial process will break down.
If you want to avoid frustration and make the most of your content marketing efforts, an editorial calendar needs to be at the heart of your content strategy.
What is an editorial calendar, and why do I need one?
At its most basic, an editorial calendar is a document that lays out a publishing plan for your content. It acts as a guide for your content process and keeps everyone involved on the same page as to what’s being published and when. They’re usually shared between departments, authors, project managers and other staff, but there’s equal value in creating a content calendar even if you’re a business of one.
To be really effective, an editorial calendar needs to offer more than just scheduled publishing dates and blog post titles.
The 10 essential components
Be sure that you include all of these items when designing and working with your content calendar. As you’ll see, each one contributes an important piece to the puzzle, removing ambiguity from the process and tying strategy into the equation.
- Scheduled Publishing Date
Yes, this is an obvious one – but plan out when the post should be set to go live. Keep in mind that your audience may be more active on different days of the week or at different times. Tools like Tweriod will help you determine the best time to publish your most important pieces.
- Working Title
Include a proposed title or headline for the piece – but don’t necessarily enforce it to the bitter end. Pieces can take on a life of their own when new research comes in or when an author interprets them their own way. Still, make your title descriptive enough that an author knows exactly what they’re writing about.
Always include a brief explanation of what the piece is about and the information it should cove – especially if you’re working with multiple authors or people outside of the initial ideation process.
- Assigned Author
When working with multiple authors, make sure you list which author is on the project so that others don’t mistakenly take on the work. It’s an easy error to make, especially when you have overenthusiastic content producers on the team.
Is the post assigned, in progress or completed? Is it in the first wave of editing, or has it been sent back for revisions? Know exactly where the article is so you can keep track of the content production process.
Your content should naturally fall into different categories; not every post will be about the same topic or operate under the same theme. By classing similar posts together, it’s much easier to see which topics are getting a lot of attention and which are being neglected. It also makes for much easier sorting later on.
- Targeted Keywords
Although I’d never recommend peppering your content with keywords in a misguided attempt to hit a “quota," you should do a little research on the topic at hand and which phrases see the most attention from searchers.
- Targeted Persona
Your content should be created for a very specific, defined audience. Make sure you indicate who that audience is, and if you can, link the persona listing back to more detailed information to help writers address the right people with their content.
Everything you publish should come with a goal, and those goals should be tied back to the buying cycle and the stage of the buying cycle your targeted persona is in.
- Publishing Location/Targets
Will the piece be on your own website, or elsewhere? By clearly stating the intended location of publication, you empower content creators to research the requirements of that target and to custom-tailor their work to the target site.
As you can see, a content calendar acts more like a hub of activity than just a reference point. It’s a living document that others will need to be able to read, understand and action upon, so it’s crucial that you leave no questions unanswered by providing all the information one might need to produce what’s being asked for.
Invest the time to get your editorial calendar right. As the cornerstone to your strategy, you can’t afford not to.