Everyone starts the new year off with the best of intentions. We write down resolutions, we get into a positive mindset, we really do try to start off on a good foot.
If refining your content marketing strategy is on your list of improvements to make to your blog or business, then creating an editorial calendar is a key tool to make that happen. Psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, from the Dominican University in California, conducted a study about writing down our goals. She found that people were 42% more likely to achieve their goals if they wrote them down. That’s how an editorial calendar can help you.
If you’re struggling to start one, here are some tips to make a helpful calendar for you, no matter what your KPIs are.
Pinpoint Your Goals
What’s the reason behind why you want to ramp up your content marketing strategy? Is it because everyone else is doing it so you feel like you should too? Or is it to gather leads? Maybe you want to provide your potential customers with information that will help lead them down your sales funnel?
Whatever the reason, write it down. This way, when you’re creating your content ideas, you can refer back to the goals and ask yourself if the content will help achieve them.
Create a Plan
Ask yourself question like how often do you want to publish articles? Do you only want text or do you want graphics too? What kind of a budget will that take, both in terms of time and money?
Once you’ve narrowed down any potential problems with publishing type and frequency, you can be more realistic with your overall strategy and expectation. For example, if you hope to gain five leads from each article, and 500 leads for the year overall, then you know you need to publish 100 articles, or roughly two per week. If your budget only accounted for half that many, then you need to reevaluate either the budget or your expectations.
There are plenty of articles out there providing editorial calendar spreadsheets, telling you what you need to have in each one, and the list goes on. I’ve found that these are helpful to give you ideas of what you might want in your own calendar, but at the end of the day, you have to fiddle around and see what works for you.
Personally, I like to keep it simple and include:
- Headline and subhead (to remind myself of what the key points are)
- Intended Publish Date (which I keep flexible in case other more timely stories pop up)
- Social Media Support (how do I want to publicize each article and on which channels? This also gives me an opportunity to get the assets ready so I’m not scrambling for a relevant GIF at the last minute)
Once you know what each article will require, get to work brainstorming, while keeping your overall goals in mind. Remember: there are no bad ideas in a brainstorm.
Stick to the Plan
Think back to that 42% success rate for having written goals. With that in mind, be kind to yourself if every piece of content doesn’t go exactly as planned. That happens in business and in life. The key is to strive for consistency.
An editorial calendar takes much of the guesswork and forced creativity out of the equation. It lets you fully focus on creating quality content. It also allows you the freedom to work on content at will. For example, if you know much of your stuff will be on vacation in July, plan to have two months of content drafted and scheduled by the end of June. That takes the stress out of scrambling for last minute ideas.
If you need help with your editorial calendar, I’m happy to help. Just send me an email, and we’ll get you on track to a productive 2018.
Happy New Year!