Why You Need an Editorial Calendar For Your Blog (And How To Create One)
Do you frequently find yourself wondering what kind of content to create for your company’s website blog? Do you want to distribute press releases but don’t know whether you have anything newsworthy to share?
What about content designed for lead generation? Are you creating enough high-quality content that requires an opt-in so you can collect leads?
If you’re struggling with what, why, how, and when to create content to bolster your inbound marketing efforts, an editorial calendar can help your ideas come to fruition.
What Is an Editorial Calendar?
An editorial calendar is a list of content you want to distribute or post on your website. You should include keywords so you can get a birds-eye view of your content strategy, as well as deadlines for the first draft, final draft, and publication. You can also include the type of content asset required and the expected length of it.
Your editorial calendar can work in conjunction with your social media calendar, or you can include social media marketing in your editorial calendar. This will allow you to see how all the elements of your inbound marketing strategy work together.
Why You Need an Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar keeps your marketing efforts on track. It also provides clarity and accountability for your writers. They know what content you expect them to provide, when it’s due, how long it should be, and what keywords they should use.
You may also want to include any images, infographics, videos, or other visual assets that may be needed to supplement and complement the written content.
Let’s explore some of the additional benefits of creating an editorial calendar for your inbound marketing efforts.
Create a Roadmap for Your Content Strategy
Google rewards fresh content in their search algorithms. Posting articles or blog posts or creating new landing pages weekly or even more frequently helps Google recognize that your site is relevant and authoritative.
So let’s start with this: Any well-written content is better than not creating any content.
However, you can ramp up your results with a strong content strategy that:
- Ensures a mix of different types of content
- Uses the keywords you want to rank for
- Links to other relevant content on your site as part of an internal linking strategy
- Goes live regularly on a set schedule, so you won’t let weeks pass without fresh content
Having your editorial strategy mapped out in a single place can also help with paid search. For example, if you create a new landing page, you’ll want to promote it organically through social media and email.
For faster results, you may need to create a targeted Adwords or Facebook advertising campaign using the same keywords from the landing page.
Spot Gaps in Your Website’s SEO Efforts
With access to all the information an editorial calendar provides, you can see where your website’s existing content falls short.
- Have you gone months without a new blog post?
- Have you created new content with opt-ins required to build your mailing list?
- How frequently do you send out email blasts?
In addition to helping you see what type of new content you need and when you should publish it, your editorial calendar also helps to see which keywords may be neglected and could use a push with some fresh content.
You can also include older articles that could be due for a refresh on your calendar. Publishing a mix of new and revamped content can help you stretch your content budget or make the most of your time investment, especially, if you choose to write your own content.
Generate Ideas Quickly
When you brainstorm within an editorial calendar, either on your own, with a team of writers, or with a content strategist, you may find the ideas flow quickly.
Maybe some ideas aren’t in-depth enough for a full blog post or white paper, but they would make a good social media post.
If you brainstorm with your keyword list in front of you, you’ll discover variations on specific themes. You can jot down titles and ideas as they come to you. Then, you or your writers can create related content (perfect for internal linking) more quickly than it would require to research and write completely new topics.
Find Opportunities to Repurpose Content
In addition to revamping older posts to be more relevant (and thereby changing the date so Google crawls the post and recognizes them as new content), you can also make your content investment more impactful by repurposing content.
For example, a white paper can be broken into multiple blog posts, blog posts can become social media fodder, and you can write blog posts that support your landing pages or service pages on your website.
Some writers like to create a longer white paper first, touching on every element of a topic, and then break it down into blog posts. Other writers prefer to tackle shorter topics first and then combine a series of blog posts into one white paper.
Either way can work equally well. Just make sure the content created uses entirely new material, or Google will penalize you for publishing duplicate content on your site.
Hold Your Writers Accountable for Deadlines and Publishing Dates
If you’ve been approaching content marketing haphazardly, publishing blog posts, or sending direct email campaigns sporadically, an editorial calendar will keep you on track.
You’ll know when articles are slated to go live, so you can convey those expectations to your writers. If you share the calendar with your writers, you give them the responsibility to stay on track and meet deadlines.
If you’ve been too busy to manage any kind of marketing strategy, consider passing the responsibility on to someone within your organization, or hire a content marketing agency to manage it for you.
Test, Modify, Repeat and Track Your Results
Once you’ve started tracking the best days to publish content on, you can shift your calendar to ensure you are going live on the days when your readers are most likely to click-through your social media promotions or email campaigns to read it.
For instance, one client of mine gets an exponentially better open rate before 10 AM on Tuesday mornings. Another client does well at 3 PM, any day of the week. Still, a third client doesn’t care when we share their content. They have a captive audience that clicks at any time of day, any day of the week.
Another technique is once you figure out what works best for you, work backward to set deadlines on your editorial calendar so you always have fresh content when you need it.
Steps to Creating an Editorial Calendar
Now that you see the benefits of creating an editorial calendar, you probably want to know how to get started. Follow these steps, using whatever tools and resources you’re most comfortable with to create the calendar.
Use a Keyword Tool to Create a Keyword List
SEO content marketing relies on a strong keyword strategy to begin climbing Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). Your editorial content should begin with your keyword list: The words your customers use most frequently to find your website.
You can use Google’s Adwords tools or specialty SEO software like Moz or SEMRush to create a lengthy list of keywords relevant to your readers. Eliminate any that you feel may not be relevant to your website or could be hard to include organically in articles.
Generate Ideas Based on Your Keywords
Now, jot down as many ideas as you can using the keywords you listed. You may Google to find the top articles already published using your keywords. Use sites like Quora and Reddit to find the top questions asked about the subject. Type your own questions using those keywords into Google and see what comes up.
At this point, anything goes. No idea is too big or too small. The key is to get ideas down. You might also consider industry news that’s trending now, ideas you’ve been wanting to write about for a while, or topics your customers have asked about.
No one knows your customers better than you do. Tap into your industry experience to decide what they may want to read.
You can also ask your team of writers to pitch ideas based on your keyword list or a few broad suggestions. As people who are not as close to your business as you are, they may come up with fresh takes on older topics or brand new ideas.
Determine the Type of Content You Need
Once you have ideas, you’ll want to determine how best to present each topic. Schedule a mix of:
- Blog posts (how-to, breaking news, industry insights, thought leadership)
- Long-form content like white papers
- Press releases
- Landing pages
- Interviews with people in your company or industry
- Social media posts
Next, look for common themes. Can you turn a series of four blog posts into a white paper? Can you break up a white paper into blog posts? Try to create as many content assets as you can out of each original idea on your list.
Choose Publication Dates and Assign Deadlines
Decide how frequently you want to publish content. This will depend on how many ideas you have written down, your content budget, and how many people are on your team to create, review, and publish content.
You may decide to publish one blog post per week, with one of those being an interview with an industry expert, however, you only want to put up a new landing page every six months. On the other hand, you only want to create a new white paper every four months – and break it up into four blog posts that you can share once a month until the new white paper comes out.
An editorial calendar puts all this information in front of you so you have a clear strategy. Once you’ve decided on content frequency, assign publication dates. Then, work backwards to create deadlines.
Your mileage may vary, but you probably want to give the writer at least a week to write an article, give yourself at least three days to review it, and an extra day to make sure it gets published. Try to build in a buffer of a week in case you need revisions. That means you probably want three weeks to a month lead time: the time between assigning the article and publishing it.
You can assign multiple stories at a time so if something happens and the content isn’t finished to your satisfaction, you can run a different article in its place.
Choose a Project Management Tool to Organize Your List
If you’re already using a project management tool, you may have done your brainstorming right in the app. That means everything is scheduled and you’re ready to go!
If not, you’ll need to find a way to determine what works for you and your team.
Trello, Teamwork, Asana, Basecamp, and Monday are all relatively affordable project management tools that can help you create and maintain your editorial calendar. Trello is free!
Each of these software-as-a-service platforms has different user interfaces, drawbacks, and benefits. But they all help you accomplish the same goal: Giving you a place where you can see what content is in the pipeline to drive traffic to your website.
Each of these platforms allows you to assign articles to different people, track their completion through various stages, and mark it “done.” You can communicate within the apps through messages or send emails. You can also set the project management app to send automatic email alerts when projects are approaching their due dates.
CoSchedule is a plugin that works with WordPress and integrates your editorial calendar directly with the WordPress Content Management System. If you are seeking an all-in-one solution, CoSchedule might work best for you.
Modify Your Editorial Calendar as You Test Your Content
Like most efforts related to online marketing and SEO, an editorial calendar is a continual work in progress. It will change – and that means you’re doing a good job of adapting your content to what your readers find most useful and ranks the best on Google. Use Google Analytics to track views for each piece of content, and SEO software to track your articles’ positions on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Begin creating more of what works and modify or eliminate what doesn’t.
Don’t be afraid to shift stories around due to breaking news, changing circumstances, or industry trends. Your editorial calendar isn’t a bible. It’s a guideline to better content and a well-organized strategy to drive traffic to your website.
An editorial calendar can help you get and stay organized, convey expectations to your writers, and create better content over time.