Creating an editorial calendar doesn’t have to be complicated.
Sure, for magazines, news organizations, or multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns, there’s a lot of moving parts. But for individuals, small businesses, and startups, editorial calendars can be simple and straightforward.
Before moving on, there are a few housekeeping items I want to run by you.
First, it’s essential to figure out how much time you can realistically commit to creating content. Your experience, skills, and life circumstances (family, employment, etc.) will influence how much you can create.
If you’re just getting started, I suggest starting slow.
Get a feel for how quickly you can create content. Adjust your schedule to make room. Discover how your day-to-day life responds.
But don’t let this discourage you from creating content. The most important thing you can do is to get started.
Take a step.
Write a post.
Record a podcast.
Film a video.
The little steps you take today will lead to an avalanche of momentum tomorrow.
In the meantime, here’s the nitty-gritty to creating your own editorial calendar. Use this checklist to help you map out blog posts, podcasts, emails, and more.
1. Start with your business objectives and target market
Your editorial calendar should be built on two equally vital pillars:
your business objectives and your target market.
Before moving forward, you’ll need to determine your goals and clarify your audience. Afterward, you’ll be able to identify what pieces of content you’ll need to create.
2. Create a (realistic) publishing plan
During this step, there are two questions you’ll need to answer:
- What type of content do you need to create?
- How much content do you want to create?
Before answering these questions, take a deep breath, realistically assess what you can and cannot do, and go from there.
In regard to the first question, the types of content you’ll need to create may include one or more of the following:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
There are many different types of content, so lay out what you’re going to create.
Now, for the second question, you may have an endless source of ideas, but what can you realistically accomplish? How much time can you devote? Do you have a team who can help? Do you have the resources to hire an agency or freelancer?
How much content you create and how frequently you publish new material will be based on how many resources (time, personnel, and money) you can devote to your plan.
If you’re new to creating online content, I have no problem over emphasizing that you should start slow.
Get a feel for things.
Kick the tires.
See how things work.
It’s easy to get started right away. But there are a ton of little details you’ll need to learn as you go along. And it’s best not to overwhelm yourself at first.
Remember: A slow trickle of consistent content over time can create a torrent of attention.
Before jotting down your plan, there are a few more steps you’ll need to take. So, hang tight!
3. Get a calendar
Have a calendar in hand.
You can use a pen and paper, Google Docs or Sheets, CoShedule, or something else. Whatever you choose, just have a calendar handy.
4. Mark dates and events
Make a list of key dates and events for your business on your calendar.
Keeping track of these details will help you to keep an eye on upcoming events that will attract the attention of your audience. You’ll be in a good position to create helpful content that will add to the conversations already taking place in your community, region, nation, and the world.
Below is a not-so-comprehensive list of categories to help you think through ideas. Look through these categories and brainstorm the various events that take place and which make most sense for you to be aware of.
- Cultural Events
- Historical Events
- Sporting Events
- TV, Movies, & Music
- Local/Regional/National Events
- Religious Holidays
- Industry News
- Industry Awards
5. Decide quarterly content and semi-annual content
When you build your editorial content, I suggest starting with the larger projects you’re working on in the next 3–6 months.
Go ahead and jot down those ideas—e.g., blog series, online class, book, webinar, lead magnet.
Prioritizing your most important projects will help you to fill in the rest of your calendar with additional material. This will also help you plan your content around these larger projects.
As a reminder, keep your audience in mind. You want to ensure that you’re creating content that they want; in the format they want it.
6. Figure out a publishing rhythm
Now it’s time to figure out how much content you’re going to publish.
Do you want to write 1–3 blog posts per week?
Will you need to record one podcast per month?
How many emails do you need to create?
Creating a weekly, monthly, and quarterly plan will focus your efforts to ensure that you hit your goals.
7. Put together your workflow
A broken workflow is similar to a cracked water pipe. Though some water is able to pass through the pipe, other water is escaping, which can physically damage your home, increase your water bills, and more.
In the same way, a broken workflow can lead to work not getting
completed, inconsistent messages being delivered, and an inability to accomplish your content marketing goals.
For your workflow, here are the key steps you’ll need to take:
These steps, which identify categories of work, stay relatively the same for the creation of any piece of content. The most significant change in each step for different types of content, such as written, video, and audio, is the skill set required to complete the work.
Depending on what system you use to help manage your projects, Google
Drive used in conjunction with Basecamp, Asana, or another tool is a great way to manage your editorial calendar and workflow.
8. Execute your plan
Alright, now the fun begins!
It’s time to execute your content marketing strategy.
Do you run a marketing team? If so, be sure to review Why You Must Build a Marketing Media Company to walk through the different roles involved and the tasks your team members should be responsible for completing.
What is more, if you run a team, make sure you run them through the workflow above (or whatever you put together). Your workflow will improve your team’s communication and ensure everyone is on the same page.
If you’re individually executing your plan, take it slow. First, focus on creating high-quality content. After you establish a comfortable rhythm, build on the work you’re doing by adding whatever will benefit your audience and business the most.
Making this work for you
Creating an editorial calendar will help you plan in advance when you are going to spend time creating content.
Each week, carve out how much time you will need to create content. Pick a time you’ll sit down and build your schedule. Make this a priority if you want it to be one.
Look for ways you can create additional time if your plate is full. Get up earlier. Stay up later. Look for various activities during your week that you can cut out.
I know this is a lot.
I get it.
It is for me too.
As I said above, start slow.
Don’t allow the idea of an editorial calendar to stop you from creating content.
Sit down and create content—today.