Six Reasons Your Organization Needs an Editorial Calendar
I generally think of myself as a person who hates structure. I prefer to “wing it” and have fun. But, I have three active kids; I work, and I am always training for my next race. All of those pieces of my life have to fit together like a puzzle—if my family and I are going to live the full lives we try to lead. So, while I tell myself I’m flexible and carefree, the truth is, I live by my calendar. It is because of this calendar that I am able to pack so much into my life. What does this have to do with you and inbound marketing? Everything, if you want to be successful.
As an inbound marketer, planning is critical. We’ll talk another time about planning and executing your lead generation strategy and the steps you must take to be successful with content creation. Today, I want to talk about your editorial calendar.
The editorial calendar gives you structure and is a great planning tool. At The Center for Sales Strategy, we have a shared calendar saved to Google Drive. It’s an Excel spreadsheet that goes several months into the future. As each article comes in from our writers, I schedule it on the calendar, and note which of our five main blog headings the article falls under.
In addition to creating a schedule of when each article will run, who is writing it, and what the topic is, the editorial calendar serves as a way to:
- Stay on top of content. Our editorial team tries to have four weeks’ worth of content on hand at all times. When we get below that point, we send out a call for articles and ask each writer if they can send something within the next week.
- Plan for holidays. A calendar helps you plan content around holidays and special occasions—so you can write articles around a theme, or avoid using premium content on that day. Some Center for Sales Strategy articles tied to the dates on the calendar include posts about: the first day of summer, Halloween, summer vacation and the anniversary of Elvis’ death.
- Keep the blog balanced. The calendar makes it easy to see if you are maintaining a balance of topics and authors. You can do a periodic count and compare the results to your content strategy to make sure you are on track.
- Push important key words. You should already have a list of key words on which you focus for search optimization. You can use the editorial calendar to keep that balance in check. In addition, you can develop a strategy to “own” a new long tail key word and plot your campaign on the editorial calendar.
- Be creative. It’s hard to believe that structure can help you be creative, but it’s true! When you are not in a panic to figure out what you’ll post on a given day, you have time to plan for the future. You can spend your time writing a new post, orchestrating a new campaign, developing a new download or pulling together content to repurpose.
- Remain flexible. Yes, the calendar allows for the ultimate flexibility too. If there is breaking news you want to piggyback on (we call that newsjacking), you can put the plan on hold, and use what’s going on in the world to drive people to your site.
An editorial calendar keeps you from constantly scrambling to “find” content and helps you focus on the future by keeping you organized. Your calendar provides the structure to pack more into your week, while keeping you focused on the big picture, your overall content strategy.
Tell me about your editorial calendar. What do you track? How far in advance do you plan? And what makes it a valuable tool for you?
Kim Peek is the Blog Boss at The Center for Sales Strategy.