Why You Should Have An Editorial Calendar

If you intend to put any content online in any form this year you should be thinking of yourself as a content publisher. You should know in advance the type of content you want to produce for each of the coming months. One resource that can help greatly with this is an editorial calendar.

Theme based content

Planning ahead means you can allocate themes for your content to different times of the year. These themes could be based on products and/or services you are promoting, the time of year, or anticipated developments in your business. A theme could last a month, a quarter, or could even be used throughout the year.

If you know the products you want to create or services you want to provide for certain times of the year it will be easier to plan appropriate content. If you can identify how content can help your marketing it will be easier to decide the approach and tone of the content you need to create. Planning a theme in advance on a calendar means you will be better prepared and have time to come up with ideas and content, and find the images you want to use.

Effective content

Planning makes it more likely that the content you are going to produce will be more effective, appropriate, and enjoyable for your target audience. It means you can build in time for editing, so your finished content has optimised titles, and is focused on conveying the message that you want it to send.

Quality content

By planning correctly and following the plan you will have more time to improve the quality of your content, whether you’re writing and editing it yourself or outsourcing the work to others. Planning in advance means you can build in the time to produce the highest quality content and have it ready when it needs to be delivered to your audience.

Repurposed content

Planning means you can also build in the time to create the different forms of content you need. You can ensure you have the time to create blog posts, reports, videos, Facebook posts and more, all based around a particular piece of content or theme.

Regular content

Having a publishing schedule that gives you time to create your content increases your chances of producing content regularly. If your audience learns to expect a certain type of content from you at certain times, in certain places, they are more likely to adopt the habit of consuming your content.

We’ve all seen blogs and websites that have been abandoned for months and we rarely return. An editorial calendar can help you get in front of your content creation workload and save your sites from becoming neglected ghost sites.

Enable collaboration

Having an editorial calendar you can show to others can also help increase collaboration. It will be easier for you to give guest writers, bloggers and outsourcers guidelines for the content you require and show that you are well organised and have given your content a lot of thought.

Monitor your progress

Completing an editorial calendar means you will have to set expectations and deadlines. Once it is set up you can refer to it and be clear on the content you should be creating right now and in the near future. If you begin to drift from those deadlines you should have plenty of time to adjust your efforts and publish on schedule. You will also be able to spot content that is going off topic or that needs to be moved to a more appropriate time. It can prevent you creating content at the last moment and being rushed into publishing content that is irrelevant and has no purpose.

An editorial calendar will help you have a better organised and planned business. It will keep yourself and anyone you outsource to on track. It will help you create content that is published and distributed according to a plan which means it will stand a better chance of achieving its objectives.

How to build a calendar for the next 90 days Part 2

Last week I described how you can start setting up a calendar to help keep your business on track for the next 90 days and beyond. Today I’m going to give you the steps to complete your calendar.

Having put all the regular events onto your calendar, you next add those events that will not be happening regularly.

This includes product and service launches, attending workshops or seminars (or even staging your own!), affiliate promotions, etc. Once you have these in place you can plan how you’ll prepare for them.

There’s plenty of information out there on how to prepare a product launch , but how much do you prepare for the others? Do you identify people going to the same seminar and think about how you could get in touch with them before seeing them face to face? Do you know which affiliate offers you want to promote to your list? Could you prepare your own bonus to offer with an affiliate product?

Events and product launches are announced months ahead of time so add them to your calendar for the whole year, not just the next 90 days. Having entered these onto your calendar you need to work backward to see how you’ll prepare for them. You may find that even if an event is planned for the latter half of the year, you might need to begin preparing for it in just a couple of months time. One of the biggest advantages of having a calendar is that you can prepare in plenty of time and avoid feeling a lack of control.

By this point you should have a calendar that shows when you are going to publish or release your regular content (like blog posts, videos, etc.) and the major events of the year, like product or service launches and other events and promotions. With this overview you can start thinking about the nature of the content you will be releasing.

For example, you can see when you’ll want your blog posts to address certain topics. If you are promoting a product about Adwords you could produce a blog post about the advantages of Adwords a week befoe your promotion. The following week your topic could be the product itself and the following week you could present another angle on advertising online.

Go through the next 90 days picking a theme per week, fortnight or month and tailor your blog posts and social media topics to those themes so they reinforce your marketing. If you have months where you are not promoting a product pick a theme and create your content around that. You can use the analytics on your blog and Insights from your Facebook Page to help you choose topics. You can also look for topics you’ve already written about to see which ones generated a lot of interest and comments.

This is also when you can coordinate any cross-media content you may want to create. For example, if you are producing videos you could have them tie in to your blog posts so you have a compelling reason to send viewers from your videos to you blog. Taking the time to plan ahead like this means you have the opportunity to direct traffic from sites like Facebook and YouTube to your blog or sales pages. If you don’t have regular marketing activities this is a great opportunity to build some into the year ahead, even if it’s only promoting your blog.

By now your calendar could be looking quite packed. Now’s the time to ask yourself whether you will be able to cope with the required workload. If you are going to be doing something for the first time you should at least double the time you allocate to it. If you complete the project ahead of schedule that’s great, but if you meet a roadblock you will have built in some buffer time to tackle the problem.

Planning ahead like this will also improve your marketing. Doing less marketing but doing it really well is better than having promotional campaigns that appear rushed and poorly prepared. This also means you have time to select appropriate images or quotes, or produce downloadable items to go with your posts, podcasts or videos, etc. You can use these to help build your reputation and your list.

A well thought out and organised calendar can help keep you on track. If you work through the process I’ve outlined in the last couple of weeks you should have the foundation for a successful year.

How to build a calendar for the next 90 days Part 1

Calendar with 90 days markedYou can make the most of the coming year by being prepared, and one of the best ways to prepare is to have a calendar that maps out your ambitions for the next 12 months.

This could be a physical calendar (board mounted that folds in the middle is best), or you can use a digital one. It could be a spreadsheet you make yourself or one based online, like Google calendar. You can even use a simple notepad on your computer, but that gives less of an overview.

Each have their benefits. Google calendar has a lot of features and can be easily shared, a self-made calendar should fit exactly what you want to work with, and a physical one means you don’t have to sit at a computer or activate an electronic device to access it. Even if you have an electronic version I’d recommend printing out at least the current month so you see it daily without having to turn on your PC.

Having decided which type of calendar you are going to use it’s time to start filling it in. Start by identifying holidays, celebration days and whatever other fixed dates are relevant to your business. Also add holidays or long weekends you intend to have. It’s important to build in relaxation and recreation time and give them the priority they deserve.

You can do this for the entire year or just for the first quarter. If you decide on the latter schedule when you’ll plan the next quarter. Also build in a quarterly progress review, so you can see what is working. What works best can change online. This is why I’m suggesting you only plan the next 90 days in detail.

Once you have done this add any actions you do regularly. This could be releasing blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc. Include any regular social media posts you make, for example you might have Twitter Tips Tuesday or Facebook Friday. For now just record the times you want to publish or release this material. Don’t decide on the subject matter, unless there is a topic you particularly want to mention at a certain time of year.

Having set the release dates for your content look at what you plan for the next 90 days. Don’t look further than this in any detail as it’s possible timelines or objectives may change in the next 3 months. Work back from the publish dates and add when you are going to write, script and record your content. Build in some extra time to allow for delays or difficulties that may arise. If you are going to be trying methods or equipment new to you also build in time for the learning curve you will have to travel.

Next include any networking you do on and offline, regular ad campaigns that you run, and anything else that you plan to do regularly on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Once you have these dates in place you’ll need to think about how you’ll prepare for them and the time you’ll have to allocate to doing this.

Once you’ve completed these steps it’s time to look at your calendar with an honest and critical eye. Have you got the balance right between being too ambitious and making the next months too comfortable? You should have built in some buffer time to compensate for unexpected delays, but have you built in enough? Do you need to start tasks earlier, or should you reduce the amount of content you produce regularly?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting your content to appear in as many places as possible, but it’s better and more practical to make a good job of producing regular, good quality content for just a couple of sites than to spread yourself too thin and create weak content that is not going to help you at all.

By the end of this process you should have a calendar that shows you how you are going to produce and release content on a regular basis. Next week I’ll go over the final steps to completing your calendar.

Planning Your Year Ahead

calendar

In my last post I outlined how you could review this year and plan for the next, producing a list of actions designed to help you reach your targets. Today I want to outline a way to plan the year ahead and ensure you fit in all the actions you want to take.

To do this you are going to create a calendar for next year and use it to manage your activity and keep you on track.

If have a Google account you can use the calendar provided there. This has the advantage that if you have virtual partners in your business it’s easy to share the calendar with other Google accounts. If you work with others in the same physical location it may be best to buy a physical planner. This doesn’t rely on people remembering to login to a calendar and can be placed where everyone can refer to it. I prefer the ones mounted on single fold card that are easier to carry around.

Now although the calendar is based around your online business the first thing you should do is add the time you plan to use for yourself. Holidays, family events and so on. It’s important to put these in first otherwise they can get squeezed out of your year.

Next add networking events you plan to attend and any other events with fixed dates that you want to take part in.

Now add those activities that should be regular events, like blog posting, email marketing, tweeting, using Facebook, etc. Just make a note that these need to be done. Don’t add the topics or themes just yet.

Next you need to address how you are going to make money next year. Many people online seem to set up blogs, Facebook pages and so on and yet do not concentrate on having a means of making money. So, what are you going to sell or promote next year? When will you do this and how will you promote?

Having decided this you can add special events like product launches, special promotions, etc. If possible add any launches in which you intend to act as an affiliate.

Work out the steps in your marketing and put them on your calendar. Start with the deadlines like product launches and work backwards. This will show you when you’ll need to start your advertising campaigns, your affiliate recruitment and so on.

As you plan the campaigns remember to allow for delays. Building in some catch up days often produces a more realistic plan than one that assumes everything will proceed like clockwork. Also don’t plan beyond the first three to four months of the year in great detail. Circumstances and plans can change and overplanning can be a waste of time.

Now you can plan the themes of your blog, Facebook and Twitter content and how to time them so they work best for your marketing. You can even plan website updates and changes to your Facebook cover image. If you aim to have guest bloggers schedule them too so you know when to start approaching people to write for you.

If you want to plan your blog posts and have a WordPress blog you can go to Add plugins and search for ‘editorial calendar’. This is a free plugin and you can even try it out before installing it. Once installed you’ll find it under the Posts menu. The fact you have it installed should encourage you to plan ahead and have an overview of your blog posts.

Lastly remember to schedule reviews and use them to adjust your plan as you take action. I used to review my progress every 2 weeks but often tasks took longer than this and consequently the reviews became rather pointless and depressing as nothing had been completed. I could review monthly, but that produces only 12 reviews per year, which seems a bit sparse to me. I now review every three weeks, but you decide what works best for you. You can do larger reviews every 6 months or quarterly.

Once you’ve worked through these steps you should have an overall plan for next year and a good idea of what you need to do for the first couple of months. The calendar won’t guarantee you’ll achieve all your targets but if used correctly it will make your success more likely.

Was the above useful? Do you already use a calendar to plan your marketing or blogging? If so is there anything you do that you have found particularly useful? I’d be interested to read any comments or feedback on this topic.