For a busy business, consistently creating good content can seem like another thing on your growing marketing to-do list, but that extra work pays off. With the explosive growth of businesses worldwide, good content is a distinctive advantage for any business hoping to attract and retain a customer.
Blogging, in particular, can pay off big time. Small businesses that regularly blog generate more leads, increase conversions, and can even double the traffic from their email marketing efforts. With these statistics, it’s not hard to see why blogging has taken such a hold, but if you’re a startup, proceed cautiously. With 440 million blogs (and counting) out there, competition for customer attention is stiff!
To make the most of a company blog, startups need an effective strategy and organisation plan – in other words, an editorial calendar.
Understanding Your Future Editorial Calendar
Before we go into what an editorial calendar is, let’s go over why you need one.
Imagine you want to create a blog for your floral business. As you sit down to write your first blog post, you might have the following questions:
- What am I going to write about?
- How often should I write?
- Where do I get the information I need to write?
That’s where an editorial calendar comes in. A well-planned editorial calendar is a document or tool that establishes your overall strategy.
Using an editorial calendar provides a clear direction for the type of content you’ll create for your business blog. It enables you to compile all necessary information for a blog post in one area, delegate tasks to others, and see how one post fits into your blog’s overall pattern and plan. Blogs can quickly become a haphazard and inconsistent marketing tool without an editorial calendar, diminishing the return on investment.
The Essentials of an Editorial Calendar
Editorial calendars don’t have to be complicated, but they should be detailed. Here are four critical characteristics of a robust editorial calendar.
Your blog should be consistent: posting schedule, tone, and unique and helpful content. Most other things should vary to create a dynamic and exciting blog. Experiment with different content formats, such as infographics and videos, or even different ways to format text articles, such as lists, picture-reliant pieces, and more.
Be sure to write on various topics related to your industry, but to strike the delicate balance between variety and consistency, focus your post topics within 4-6 broad categories. Rotate through these categories to ensure equal coverage of important topics. The OpenView blog organises its posts by colour-coded category, giving an easy visual of the variety of topics available on the site:
Blog categories are also crucial for organising content and helping visitors browse your blog more easily. The ShareAble for Hires allows visitors to browse by both category and article type in a clean and visually-appealing set-up:
A blog should not require you to reinvent the marketing wheel. Blog content should be shared widely across social channels through tweeted quotes, Instagram graphics, or other formats. The editorial calendar should include plans for sharing this content and planned for a week or month. For example, one blog post should be shared on every channel, likely more than once. Tweet five unique quotes from the same post spread out over a month or more, or create a set of Instagram graphics for easy sharing.
Grammarly has excellent social media posts promoting their blog content, with eye-catching visuals and (typically) a hashtag or two:
Pro Tip: Rather than automating your tweets to publish every time a new post goes live, take the time to draft a series of unique tweets spread out over a few weeks or months. While this will take more time upfront, the benefits of multiple amazing tweets will more than makeup for it.
Marketing integration like this increases the reach of your brand while reinforcing your brand’s consistency.
Ideally, an editorial calendar will be filled with posts from 1-3 months. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all content is written and finalised that far ahead of time, but simply that you have a long-term view to incorporate into your other marketing strategies. Once the content is finalised, however far in advance, it should be scheduled to post at the desired date and time through your blog hosting platform. Don’t schedule unless you are absolutely sure it is publish-ready!
An editorial calendar isn’t a fixed thing. News items, company changes, or industry trends can and should affect the editorial calendar, adding timely new posts where appropriate and holding off on a more evergreen post until a lull in newsworthy content. This ensures your blog stays on top of trends, increasing your visibility in your niche. Always capitalise on these timely topics.
Uncharted Supply Co has a great example of this kind of timely content. As a Southern California-based survival gear company, they were well aware of the wildfires and people’s need for information on staying safe, so they published this guide with precisely that information.
This flexibility was on-brand, related to current news, and helpful to their readers.
Be open to customer feedback on your content, and adjust things like posting schedule, post length, or other elements, as you can improve the customer experience.
Further, blog content can be altered continuously, unlike traditional print media. This means that editorial calendars can and should include plans for updates and corrections to content as the information changes.
Structure of an Editorial Calendar Entry
The key to a good editorial calendar is filling it with specific, relevant, and helpful information. For that information, you want to make sure that you provide the following, at a minimum, for every piece of content you put on your calendar:
- The Basics: Title, author, and publication date and time
- Content Details: Outline or description and word count
- Category & Content Format
- Images Needed
Here is an example of what a calendar entry might look like in Trello:
Depending on preference and workflow, editorial calendar entries could also target keywords, references and resources to include or any other directives or information that will assist in creating each post.
Key Tools for Editorial Calendar Creation
Editorial calendars can easily be created on various digital platforms for easy organisation and collaboration. While expensive and fancy tools are unnecessary, something more collaborative than a piece of paper will be the most beneficial overall. Below are some resources on creating an editorial calendar with some of the most popular tools.
CoSchedule: For a more advanced option, CoSchedule is one of the best tools. It allows for lots of detail and task assignments and can even integrate with WordPress for post automation.
Google Sheets/Calendar: The free Google tools can handle and manage the content for a small- to medium-sized blog. Because they are easily accessible to everyone, it’s an excellent option for collaborating with teams across different companies or departments if needed. Hubspot offers a free template for creating an editorial calendar to help get you started.
An editorial calendar might seem like a small document. Still, the planning on that document is your business’ key to creating consistently good content. Content is the fuel for building a solid customer relationship. To manage that high level of content efficiently, an editorial calendar that considers a variety of content formats and topics, integration with social media, and a long-term content strategy are necessary. Suppose your business taps successfully into the power of a well-planned content calendar. In that case, your business can build powerful and profitable relationships with people worldwide with just a click.