One of the most difficult things about blogging is consistency. It doesn’t matter if you’re a large brand or a small time consultant; we all have trouble producing unique, authoritative content on a regular basis. Especially if we haven’t planned for it in advance.
And that’s where editorial calendars come in.
Your editorial calendar is your plan for your blog. Quite simply, it’s a schedule of the content you plan to produce, who will be writing it, and when it’s due for publication. By putting your calendar in place it works to keep everyone accountable, lays the groundwork for the company’s blogging commitment, and ensures that blog doesn’t hit an unexpected dry spell because you get busy.
Everyone has their own idea of what constitutes an editorial calendar, however, below you’ll find a number of best practices to help you construct an editorial calendar that will most work for you, regardless of its form.
1. Decide On Your Tool
Your editorial calendar can take whatever form is most convenient and comfortable for you. In the past I’ve used Basecamp Whiteboards, Notepad files and even a constant stream of Post Its on my computer monitor to help me organize my ideas.
Today, many bloggers today use Google Docs to construct their editorial calendar because it’s accessible from anywhere and provides the ability for multiple people to share and edit the calendar. By making it shareable, everyone gets ownership of the content that is going to be produced.
Another available option is to use the Editorial Calendar plugin for WordPress. Here, you can create your calendar directly in your blogging form, quickly see all scheduled posts, and even move them around as needed.
2. Think About Goals
Having goals surrounding your company’s blogging is important regardless of whether or not you’re adhering to an editorial calendar; however, your calendar can help you make them actionable. You’re able to tie what you want to happen (increase rankings for the term [male cowboy boots] by tying them to specific actions [“We target [male cowboy boots] in a post a week”].
When putting together your content calendar, you’ll also want to consider things like:
- How many posts can you realistically publish per week or month?
- What percentage of your blog do you want to be about X topic vs Y topic?
- How many posts per person on your team can you expect?
- What other goals do you have for the blog?
It’s important to map these things out before scheduling content because it will frame the way you think about things. For example, knowing you’ll need to post twice a week about your core SEO terms will have a dramatic effect on the editorial calendar you put together. By building your calendar around goals it will help focus your efforts and increase ROI.
3.Map Out Keywords
In many cases, the keywords you’ll be targeting on your blog will mirror the terms you’re targeting on your main site. However, you may find there are other opportunities for long tail terms. Remember that you’re blogging as a way to highlight key services, bring attention to what you offer as a company, and to build thought leadership. So your keywords and topics should be selected to go along with those goals. You’ll also want to think about which pages you’ll want to be driving users to and select topics that will match up.
Once you have a list of keywords you’ll want to target, assign where you’ll want these posts to link off to on your site. For example, if you’re a florist wanted to target the phrase [Seasonal Plants], you’ll want to link off to pages that show those plants. You should do this with all of your keywords to help yourself, and your staff, so that everyone knows where they should link to based on the content they’re writing.
When you’re thinking about keywords, remember you’re also thinking about the terms you’ll want to use in headlines, subheads, tags, ALT text, and within other areas of your post. These are all equally important.
4. Brainstorm Content Types
When it comes to blog content, the options for what you can produce are virtually endless. Create a list of the content types you’d like to try out or what you think you can realistically handle.
Some content types to consider:
- Industry Commentaries
- How To/Tutorials
- Product/Service Reviews
- Case Studies
- Event Liveblog Coverage
- Potential themed months
Once you have an idea of the type of content you’d like to create for your blog, rotate the different types around the calendar to keep things fresh and so you’re not posting all your videos in the same week. Content diversity will help keep both you and your reader interested in your blog.
5. Check Your Other Calendars
While you’re still thinking up potential content ideas, take a moment to pull out your business calendar. Are there any anniversaries or birthdays coming up that you can create content around? Is there an industry conference happening that you can work into your schedule? Have a big offline marketing campaign launching first quarter? Consider all of these and find ways to work them in.
Don’t forget to check a real calendar, as well! Is there a way to tie-in blog content with national holidays, the seasons, well-known events (like the Olympics that just passed or Back to School season?). All of these things can be incredibly helpful in making your blog relevant and interesting.
6. Plot Your Course
Just as there are many tools to help you create a calendar, there are many ways to set it up.
Some bloggers create editorial calendars simply be plugging a keyword + content type (article, interview, photo, etc) into a specific day so they know on Sept 1 they need a post that matches these elements. Others will take a step further and start brainstorming actual titles, complete with keywords, tags, and the interior pages you’ll be linking to. Some will color code the calendar based on author or topic. However you want to do it is up to you.
Personally, I like writing down the keyword I’m going after and the proposed title. For me, this does the best job of setting up what is to come that day and to get my mind moving in the right direction. I also like knowing what the other people I’m working with will be targeting so that I can offer ideas or helpful links, when possible. But again, whatever makes sense for you.
The above is how I go about putting together an editorial calendar. What does your process look like?
Image credit: kovaleff / 123RF Stock Photo
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Great post Lisa. As a former editorial calendar resistor, I can personally attest to their utility. I recently set one up for our blog through November. It’s already had (and will continue to have) an impact on the type of content we write. Moving forward, our content will be more balanced in terms of the topics we cover since they aren’t last minute decisions. Additionally, coming up with a bunch of topics in one sitting helped me dive more deeply into topics I likely wouldn’t have otherwise even thought of.
Thanks again for the post.
Remember that even the most basic editorial calendar is better than no editorial calendar.
Thanks Lisa. You make it clear that the blog calendar work is all in the front end. Once it’s done, the blog itself becomes much less intimidating. I like Robert’s post above, too. There are also some good cheats like once you get the calendar set up, immediately fill in holidays, business-related events like anniversaries and even Awareness Dates (search “awareness dates” on wikipedia). With those filled in, spinning out other topics becomes easier.
Great tips all around. One comment on tips 1 & 5. Using Google calendars can be a great tool for having an integrated calendar (and avoiding needing to check multiple places). You can set up multiple Google calendars and then using the view/hide options view them in the ways that make the most sense to you. For example you could view your “blog ed cal” and “holidays calendar” while hiding “kids’ schedules” if that made sense. Or view them all at once if you needed the full 360 view of your calendared life.
I am a huge fan of an editorial calendar and agree that the more work done up front, the easier it is to blog. We try to tackle 3 months at-a-time for ourselves and clients. Planning much further out becomes too intimidating and difficult to follow. Great post, thanks, I will pass it along.
Lisa Excellent article we place order to our hectic life and why not say, messy. So to keep our audience informed online you need to have a rate established to provide input to our community while generating traffic to the search engine through the posts that positioning is food locally and globally.
Regarding the recommendation to use a plugin for WordPress not think it is necessary to overload and have to slow down and that’s what you do not like the robots, so I share with Cheryl in aplicaciciones using external and Google calendar that is very versatile, dynamic, for sharing and for the variety of colors and reminds staff activities with sending email to our own.
A hug and successes
totally agree that consistency has to be the biggest problem with blogging, so, in that sense, the editorial calendar is very helpful. also, the editorial calendar can help blog authors develop a writing habit, like when our body clocks remind us that we really should get some rest.
in addition to the editorial calendar, I think good blog writers need to get into the habit of writing every day. it does not necessarily need to be highly productive, or a diary—just something to keep the ink flowing through the pen. if you jot thoughts every day, you may begin to build up a backlog of ideas—the potential should be obvious.
Like the idea of marking up different types of calendars. Great tips!
Thank you for this informative post. As I work to improve my website’s content, its post like this I make sure to bookmark for the future. Also, I am going to try the idea of keeping the editorial and business calendars, as my schedule increases I believe I can weave more intimate details into my blog post.