What is an Editorial Calendar & Why Do I Need One?


Thursday, April 12th, 2012 at 11:00am -- Nadira Yasmeen


This is this first installment of a five-part blog series about using editorial calendars for your content. The other posts in the series can be found below:

In this day in age, it’s almost too easy to get contributors to agree to write blog posts (I mean who doesn’t want to share their ideas, tips, photos of Molly’s first swimming lesson, and so on, with the rest of the world). But following through, as we may have all too often discovered, is a completely different story. Good intentions alone do not guarantee a sparkling, fresh blog. We should all be so lucky!

Life, writer’s block, plain old fashioned procrastination, etc. often block those good intentions. Consequently, tumbleweeds drift across what was once a promising blog. This doesn’t have to happen to you! Consistency, organization and even more consistency are instrumental to any blog’s success. How can you kick your blog into 5th gear, you ask? The Editorial Calendar, aka your new BFF.

The premise of the editorial calendar is simple enough:

  1. Brainstorm and pool blog topic ideas.
  2. Transform these ideas into posts.
  3. Schedule each post from the blog pool.
  4. Publish each post according to the calendar.

That’s it! These four easy steps can be one powerful recipe! Okay, well, actually it's a bit more involved than this, but that's a good start...

An editorial calendar will keep your blog organized, effective and consistent. No more struggling to whip out a blog post for the sake of keeping your blog updated. Your blog quality will increase. Using an editorial calendar, your blogging team is able to take all those random blog ideas into manageable concrete details--the who, the what, and, the oh-so-important when. Your readers will feel engaged from your blog’s consistency and blog post quality. Your team is no longer plagued by the woes of writer’s block or having to come up with a blog topic on the spot. It’s a win-win all around. Let the calendar guide you.

So now, you’re probably wondering, why are we NOT using an editorial calendar, right? Here are some quick tips when including editorial calendars in your blogging strategy.

Plan, plan, plan!

Any blog strategy worth its weight in gold should be planned out at least a month in advance. Planning allows you to keep your content well-balanced. Of course, there are always unexpected events that occur, which may result in a scheduled blog post getting Plan-B’d. That comes with the territory of being agile! Plus, it’s easy to reschedule the postponed post when something more timely comes up. Planning ahead ensures your blog quality remains top-notch, because you aren’t rushing to publish a not-so-great post just to break a dry blogging spell.

Decide on a frequency schedule.... and stick to it!

What is a reasonable posting schedule for your team? Once a week? Once a day? Hopefully, it’s not once in a blue moon. Keep it fairly frequent but attainable for your team. Build your editorial calendar around this frequency, and most importantly--stick to it!

Get creative in your delivery!

Mix up your blog post presentations. Deliver your content using writing, photos, graphics and video. Engage the audience.

Use Keywords

Make the use of keywords an expected behavior from your content contributors by planning ahead for what keywords should be used in posts. Include a section in your editorial calendar for this, so you don’t forget to do it!

Add a Weekly Feature

On Mondays, you could do a wrap-up of the weekend. Fridays could be a Feature Friday, where you go more in-depth on a blog topic from earlier in the week. Having regular weekly series will motivate you to stick to the calendar and keep your readers coming back time and again to see your latest installment.

Ready to start using an editorial calendar? Our next installment will provide a real template that you can start using immediately, based on what we use here at Hannon Hill. We’ll also explain each part of it, so you can tailor it to your own editorial needs. Other upcoming posts in this series will include Combining Analytics With Your Calendar to Gain Insight into your Audience, Using Your Editorial Calendar to Re-use and Re-purpose Content, and How to Conduct a Content Audit of Your Site.

Questions?

If you've got questions that we might be able to address in the other posts in this series, please leave them in the comments! We'd love to hear your thoughts and concerns as well as what has worked for you in using an Editorial Calendar.


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