Content Calendar Planning Tips

tips for creating an editorial planning calendarNow that so many businesses find themselves in the role of publishers, many are struggling to develop meaningful, relevant content for their websites, email campaigns, and social media pages. To address this challenge, I recommend adopting a best practice employed by news media companies: using calendars to plan content development.

Your favorite newspapers and magazines have been developing content for their publications for decades using a calendar planning technique. Essentially, their editorial departments plan out the topics they will cover in each issue in advance of publication. This planning device is better known as their editorial calendar and is used as an internal planning tool, as well as a mechanism for sharing information with their clients and readers. For these organizations, the editorial calendar is beneficial in multiple ways. It helps editorial teams plan their content development activities, and assists sales and marketing departments in achieving their revenue and readership goals. Using this calendar planning approach can be equally as beneficial for small businesses, by helping marketers to plan and execute content in a more strategic fashion.

To create an editorial calendar for your marketing content, use this simple, seven-step process:

  1. Determine Frequency–Whether you will share content daily, monthly, or even quarterly, before you can plot it on a calendar, you need to figure out how often you would like to publish your content to achieve your objectives
  2. Assign Format–Content comes in many different styles, from blog articles, to webinars, infographics, videos, and more. When creating your calendar, take the time to note the various formats your content will take. This is particularly important because format will affect your production timeline. Some content takes longer to produce than others. Videos, for instance, can have a lengthier turnaround time than blog posts. For each piece of content, be certain to assign the medium for which it will be produced
  3. Plot it on a Calendar–Go ahead and schedule when your content will be distributed on a calendar. If you don’t already use a calendar planning tool, executing a search for “editorial content calendar templates” will return numerous free templates you can download. Google Calendars also works well for this purpose. If most of your content will reside on your blog, there are even free plugins for WordPress like CoSchedule and Edit Flow that provide tools for planning and promoting blog posts
  4. Outline Topics–Assign topics for each of the content items on your calendar. Topics will vary greatly by brand, product, service, and season, so don’t look for topic ideas here. Whatever your topic may be, it is another best practice to identify the target audience each piece is targeted toward and note it in the calendar
  5. Assign Tasks and Expenses–In this step of the planning process, you need detail who will develop the content and how much of your marketing budget will be allocated for its production. Including these details on your calendar is considered optional by some, but for small businesses I think it may be worth the effort to keep everyone on the same page
  6. Estimate Production Deadlines–An important part of executing your content marketing plan is to assign deadlines for each project. Now that you know what content you want to produce, as well as when it will be distributed, who will produce it, and how much it will cost to produce, it is important to back out the necessary time for producing each piece. Tip: The further you work in advance of each distribution deadline, the more time you will have to proofread each piece thoroughly. This will help to prevent costly and embarrassing errors
  7. Plan Your Promotion–Placing keyword rich content on your website is an effective way to improve your ranking in organic search, but ultimately, you want more than just search bots to see that content. To drive real people to your content, be sure to promote it with the appropriate channel, like email, social media, or a pay-per-click ad campaign

By following these seven simple steps to creating an editorial calendar for your marketing content, you will help to keep your company’s content marketing plans on track–and ultimately maintain high visibility and demand for your company’s products and services.