Kick Your Content Up a Notch by Using an Editorial Calendar

editorial_calendar _planningWhat’s the way to create stickiness and interest when you’re talking social media posts and blogging? You might be weary of hearing the answer, but it’s…

Content, content, content.

If the quality isn’t there, and let’s face it, freshened up regularly, your readers might not return. What’s a small business to do?

Enter the Sanity-Saver: An Editorial Calendar

There’s a simple but highly efficient tool that will come to the rescue. Book and magazine publishers (remember them?) have been using editorial calendars for eons to make sure they can properly develop their content and deliver it on time.

Digital writing means the ability to publish is pretty much instant, which might make you think you don’t need an editorial calendar to help you keep things lined up. After all, our friends’ social media updates appear on the fly and off the cuff, so it’s got to be easy, right?

So with lead time not necessarily being a requirement, you might just write and publish posts or blogs on the spot, right? Ahhh, the best laid plans, but that’s not really a promising way to help your overall marketing effectiveness, and what if other things get in the way, in a day, in a week, or…more.

And what if, like most of us, you’re the kind of writer who needs a little time to develop a piece?

Use It to Corral Your Brilliant Ideas

What if you had some killer ideas when you were watching that movie the other night, but can’t remember them now? What if your topics are stale or redundant because there’s no aerial perspective? What kind of method could you use to capture those ideas, even if you’re not sitting down to pen the next best viral blog post? This morning, you were reading a really great article that you want to share, and even expound on in your next blog post, so how can you note it and get back to it, so that genius of your idea isn’t left to the wind?

Organize and Strategize

Putting it all in one space, whether a spreadsheet, a Google calendar, or a more complex online tool complete with colored cells and dedicated symbols, gives you a big picture view and a strategic approach to content.

An editorial calendar also captures errant ideas, organizes thoughts, helps you develop themes, and makes it easy to efficiently fill holes in your content so that it dovetails into your other marketing efforts.

And it still seems to follow that writing something down makes it real and tangible — and therefore means that following up is more likely.

Keep It Simple for Now

Try using an editorial calendar to give you a panoramic view of what’s ahead, to line up with product launches, marketing campaigns, holidays, and to help spur new ideas.

If nothing else, you’ll end up with these five bonus items:

  1. better content — with more lead time comes more coherence and productivity
  2. smoother collaboration — everyone knows what’s expected and when, including guest contributors and staff features
  3. audience loyalty — if you’re publishing consistent and engaging content, your readers come back
  4. more control — planning ahead means you’ll always be on top of events before they’re on top of you
  5. less stress — because you know how much is on your plate, you know what you can be added or moved to another spot in the calendar

Depending on how fancy you’re feeling, you can get very clever about tying your themes into both your  blog and social media schedule, and (here comes the nerdy part!) track reader responses, shares, and engagement. Take it a step further and you could document in that very spreadsheet the number of times people clicked your posts from your own web analytics accounts and see how it compares to other content you’ve published.

Start out with a simple option so you don’t get overwhelmed by choice.

So for now, test the waters and get your editorial calendar rolling. Make a simple spreadsheet to get started and see if it works a bit of organizational magic for you, as it does for us. If you want a fancier, more elaborate version, make sure to subscribe to our blog and one will be sent your way, pronto!

And then sit back and watch how your content not only improves, but becomes just a bit easier and fun to manage.

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