If you’re like many entrepreneurs and business owners, knowing about an editorial calendar isn’t the same as using one. Creating and using this tool is often a tasks that gets put at the bottom of the To Do list — and this is a mistake! So, why exactly should you use an editorial calendar? Well, keep reading to find out. 🙂
First: The Difference Between an Editorial Calendar and a Content Calendar
An editorial calendar is a term borrowed from the traditional publishing world; it’s an actual calendar that directs content by setting high-level themes over a long period of time, usually the course of a year.
A content calendar instructs the day-to-day management of content; it is tactical, granular, and detailed. It often includes the exact messaging and content to be posted, such as article links, videos, or blog posts for each of your channels and the exact dates for when to publish. This content corresponds with the overarching editorial theme for a certain point in time.
Having two separate calendars best serves larger organizations where a Director may dictate the over-arching topics, but then the various tasks are delegated to a team who will populate and work on both the content calendar and produce the posts, blogs, etc.
For the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to assume an overlap of the two. Solo entrepreneurs or businesses with small teams will generally only create and use one calendar, so they combine the editorial and the content calendars.
Why Is An Editorial Calendar Important To Your Business?
While creating an editorial calendar may seem like busy work that isn’t going to help, The Content Marketing Institute says, “many organizations fail to see ROI from their content marketing because they don’t create a plan for getting everything done.”
- An editorial calendar can help you, and everyone else who’s involved, keep on track to accomplish tasks and achieve goals.
- An editorial calendar allows you to develop and use a big-picture strategy. Reach for the over-arching themes that support your vision, mission, and goals and then develop and/or identify the content for each month, week, day.
Consider why you produce content in the first place and whether or not you are properly addressing your audience’s needs. Ask …
- Do you wish to draw the attention of current or future customers?
- Or are you looking to attract customers to your website for a specific promotion?
Decide what your audience needs and wants and develop content to solve their problems and fulfill their desires.
11 Reasons to Use an Editorial Calendar
Consistency builds trust in your brand. They see you, they hear you, and most importantly, they see you not disappearing. Subconsciously, customers want to feel that if they put their trust in you, you’re not going to disappear on them. A recent study found that 27% of consumers say low-quality/infrequently published content would lead them to believe that a brand is out of touch or not up to date with customer habits.
An editorial calendar is great for helping people develop consistency. Successful bloggers know that consistency is more important than frequency. If people know that you publish new articles on Wednesdays, that’s when they’ll be checking your blog or their inbox to see it. If you fail to publish that day, there’s a danger that you’ll drop off people’s radar.
2) Never Lose Ideas
With a calendar in place, you can continually capture your ideas to create a list of content. A system to capture inspired ideas is hugely important! It doesn’t mean you have to immediately follow up and write on that particular idea topic, but at least with a system, you don’t lose the idea and you can draw on it later when you do need something to write about!
And your system can indicate where the idea is in development. Is it still only an idea? Has research been done? Is it ready to write? Is it ready to post?
3) Defeat Writer’s Block
Imagine sitting down at your computer and knowing exactly what to write about every time. If you’ve already defined how much content you need and what topics and type of content you need, it’s a matter of simply sitting down and writing each month or week rather than constantly reinventing the wheel. Let’s face it, most procrastinating happens when we sit down and have NO IDEA what we’re going to write or post.
4) Stay Current
An editorial calendar allows you to plan your content several or more months ahead of time. This means, you won’t forget to promote company milestones, highlight important holidays or cultural events, or planned promotional campaigns.
You can also track your content so you don’t end up posting something silly and fun on a day your community or State or the country is pausing for large and troublesome news. For example, when Australia was in the heart of fighting the out-of-control fires (during the 2019-2020 fire season) and was in “everything is burning” crisis mode, their Prime Minister was tweeting from vacation. He lost a lot of points there! With a calendar, you can move content around so it remains timely, relevant, and doesn’t damage your brand if the post doesn’t fit what’s happening around you.
5) Better Project Management
If you have trouble keeping up with projects — such as a special series on a particular topic — an editorial calendar will keep you on track. Since you’re planning what to write about ahead of time, you can do more research. You might find that the information you gather is more than can be covered in one blog post, and dictates a two or three-part series instead.
6) Organize Creative Assets
Now that you have your topics assigned in your editorial calendar, you can spend time gathering images, videos, or other content to supplement your articles. List the links, files, etc. in your calendar, so you’ll have everything you need when it comes time to publish.
7) Lead Generation
Now that you’re planning articles with an editorial calendar, you can make sure that the topics you’re writing about meet the needs of your target audience, a.k.a. your future customers. You’ll have a better chance of generating leads from your blog and other social networking sites if you’re strategic and plan well.
8) Create a Social Media Strategy
An editorial calendar also plays a key role in your social media marketing. With your themes and topics planned out, you can ensure that there’s a thread that runs through your social posts linking content and guiding your audience the way you want them to go.
You can also track which Facebook, Twitter posts, etc. get the most engagement. Then you can revisit those topics again since they resonate with your audience. With strategy, social is more effective in cultivating brand awareness and/or generating leads.
9) Evergreen Content
Yes, you can recycle content — so do it! A calendar can help you build up a library of content you can recycle, saving you a glorious amount of time.
“Evergreen” content can be reused because it’s not dependent on timing, but rather it’s a core topic. Evergreen content can be your best friend. Core topics you wrote or posted a year or more ago can easily be reused. You’ve just saved yourself tons of time.
There are some social media management tools that specifically help you recycle content … and here, Google is your friend. 🙂
10) Scheduling Save Time
Scheduling posts is super helpful. If you can get really motivated one day and churn out three blog posts and corresponding social posts it’s ideal for scheduling. If one articles is timely, you can post it right away, and then schedule the other two articles based on your editorial calendar.
Additionally, when you let an article sit for a while, you can review and enrich the content before it finally gets published. You’ll soon see how helpful it is to create content and schedule ahead of time. When you know you have a crazy week with little extra time for anything, you’re set. With scheduling, you are also covered for things like vacations and family time — the work still gets done, but you’ve got your toes in the sand.
11) Reduce Stress
One of the biggest benefits of an editorial calendar is that it can reduce your stress level. As business owners, often wearing too many hats, this is super helpful! Knowing you have a topic in mind before sitting down to write is a much better feeling than just staring at a blank computer screen with no idea what to write. And when you combine this with scheduling, your marketing just got a whole lot easier.
What to Include
Consider including some of these following elements, keeping in mind what is right for you:
- Important dates (events, seasonality, holidays, etc.)
- Posting timing (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.)
- Key distribution channels (website, newsletter, blog, social media, etc.)
- Tasks, timing, and who’s assigned
- If you have a team, even a team of two, the calendar can identify content owners and assign tasks
- It can also include stages of production (in progress, editing, approved, etc.) with timelines.
How to Create an Editorial Calendar
There are a number of ways to chart out an editorial calendar and it doesn’t have to be complicated. The most important thing is to find one that works well for you and anyone else who may be involved. Keep in mind, you may have to experiment a little to find the right solution for you.
- Notebook Calendar
- Wall Chart
- Excel spreadsheets
- Google Sheets
Two main benefits of using a software/app solution vs a manual solution:
- Changes are much easier to make. There’s much less manual work!
- Everyone can be notified of changes through the app: dates, adding/removing tasks, theme/topic shifts, and/or who is assigned what.
There are tons of app solutions out there. I only have direct experience with Trello and Asana (which is my current solution.) Please note: I AM making a distinction between an editorial calendar app solution from an app solution that publishes your posts.
If you’re brand new to this, I highly suggest spending some time searching out editorial calendars. There are a LOT of people offering “kits” or downloads that provide you with an already-filled-out-with-prompts calendar to help jumpstart you OR simply provide you content when you don’t have a clue or the time.
Remember, the most important thing is to take the time and search for the solution that is right for you!
Overwhelmed? Don’t want to create one? Or need help creating the structure and prompts? I can help! Schedule a call with me and let’s see how I can make this piece of your marketing easier for you!