In the Royal Flush of your online marketing hand, content may be king–but the editorial calendar is your ace in the hole.
The editorial calendar provides a framework to help guide your content marketing efforts. Beyond that, it forces you to take a harder look at the kinds of content your audience wants and the kinds of content your competition is producing. They have long been used by traditional publishers and this article explains how you can create one for your business.
Step 1: Research for Topics
The two primary purposes for an editorial calendar are: (1) organize your content marketing effort so it functions like a well-oiled machine and (2) produce the kind of content that your audience will find both interesting and useful.
Before you can do either of those things, you must first conduct some research. Research should consist of both primary and secondary sources. If you have access to your target audience, send out a survey asking about the kinds of content they like to consume (you can even incentivize it by offering up a free gift card for participating in the survey). Mine the last 12 months of your primary competitors’ blogs to see what kinds of content they have been producing. You can also gain insights by looking at the publishing schedules of industry magazines that are relevant to your business.
Once you have a basic idea of topics, be sure to check and make sure your topics are “search friendly” (meaning that there is enough search volume in the search engines for people to find your content). One of the best tools for this is Google Trends. Using Google Trends, you can type in search queries related to your topics and analyze how much search volume those topics get. After all, you want users to actually find and consume your content–best be sure your topics are search friendly.
Step 2: Brainstorm for Titles
You could simply choose 12 topics and pick the months in which you want to write about said topics and call your editorial calendar good. But to really amp it up, spend the time to determine the exact articles you intend to write.
Do this by spending time brainstorming titles. It helps to bring in multiple people at this stage, though be sure to keep your group relatively limited (no more than eight people) and to be mindful that a diversity of ideas always helps (no one wants a room full of yes-persons).
It is best practice to publish at least one new piece of content per week, so plan on brainstorming at least 4 topics for each month in your publishing schedule.
Step 3: Organize the Content and Assign Authors
Now that you have the titles you intend to write, the final step in the process is to organize yourself and assign authors. A simple Excel or Google Sheets document will suffice in this stage. Organize the spreadsheet in the following manner: Designate one column for the month, one for the topic title, another for the deadline and one more for the author.
If you want to make your editorial calendar more advanced, you can get more specific in your spreadsheet. Add columns such as “Call-to-Action” (for content that specifically asks your audience to do something) or “Purpose” (a column that describes the reason for the blog–such as to educate your audience or to spur them into buying). You can also include social snippets to easily grab and copy/paste into your social profiles once the content is published.
A Final Word on SEO
Adhering to an editorial calendar will keep you organized, but it also helps with your search engine optimization efforts–especially if you research the search friendliness of your content. Populating your site with content on a regular basis, and content that has a healthy amount of search volume, will improve how your site performs in the search engines. This will not only draw more traffic to your site, but because you are producing content that is exactly what your audience is looking for, you will provide useful information to a broader audience.