How to Create a Content Editorial Calendar
Tips to Planning Your Content Marketing Strategy
Gone are the days in which you simply run ads to generate interest in your business. Today consumers want information about the products and services they buy, and the companies that sell them. Businesses are able to do provide this through content marketing.
Like other forms of marketing, content marketing is all about attracting potential customers and clients to your business. It does this by:
- Showing off your expertise
- Providing valuable information or resources
- Increasing your visibility through other resources that target your market, SEO, and social sharing
The challenge of content marketing is that it takes time to create and distribute. Many new home business owners begin to use content marketing, but quickly run out of time and/or ideas. The solution to having regular content is through a plan and editorial calendar.
Developing Your Content Marketing Plan
Before creating your editorial calendar, you need to have an idea about the types of content you want to create. To do that, you need to answer the following questions:
- Who is your target market? Like all other forms of marketing, content marketing should be focused on attracting your most likely buyer.
- What value will your content provide? People buy because they have a problem. Through your content, you can offer a solution that entices them to learn more about you.
- What is your USP? How is your content and business overall different from all the other businesses providing the same service or products?
- What is the best way to deliver the information? Depending on your topic, you can do how-to content, reviews, lists, opinion pieces, etc.
- What are the best formats for reaching your target market? This is where you decide the types of content you’ll provide. Options include articles, videos, infographics, short reports, etc.
- Where are the best places to publish your content? In many cases, you’ll post content on your own website; however, you can also create content for other sites, social media, YouTube, and more.
- What frequency will you post new content? This is where you decide what you’ll create and how often. In many cases, you may have a plan for several types of content. For example, you might create a schedule of writing two blog posts, creating one video, and syndicating one article a week.
Creating Your Editorial Calendar
Once you know the types of content you want to create, for whom and how often, it’s time to write your editorial calendar. The farther out you can create your calendar, the easier content creation will be. With that said, it can be difficult to plan content a year in advance. Further, you want some flexibility to create content related to what’s going on the in the world at that moment.
Get a piece of paper to jot down notes and ideas that will eventually be added to your calendar. As you begin to add themes and events to your calendar, jot down any content ideas that come up on this piece of paper. Later they’ll be added to the calendar.
- Make a list of the topics and niches you want to create content for. If you’re a blogger, this would be your categories. For other businesses, think about the types of information your target market would like.
- Write down any content ideas you currently have. If you know a title you’d like to create, write that down.
- Check your website stats to see what content has been popular on your site already and what your market is searching related to your topic. Remember, the goal is to attract your target market, so you want to know what it is they’re interested in. It doesn’t hurt to check this data every few months as sometimes it can change.
- Add other ideas that come to you as you add the calendar themes and topics (below).
Creating the Calendar's Topics and Themes
- Pull out a calendar with all the months you’d like plan content for. For example, if you’d like to plan for the next three months, pull out calendars for those three months. You can use any calendar you like, whether it’s paper, digital or online calendars.
- Write down seasonal information for each month. Most magazines have editorial calendars that go with a monthly theme. For example, January is usually about goals, February is about relationships, and August is back-to-school. As you do this for each month, if a content idea is sparked, write it on your list (pre-calendar to dos) to be added to your calendar later. Right now, you’re just putting in the themes and structure of the calendar.
- Write down any holidays or other special dates in those months. For example, in April you’d write down Tax Day on the 15th. Don’t forget any dates related to your business, such as your business’ anniversary.
- Look up other events that you can create content around. You can get a copy of Chase’s Calendar of Events or visit a site like BrownieLocks.com that list monthly, weekly, and daily events. For example, December is “National Write a Business Plan Month,” the first week of December is “Cookie Cutter Week,” and December 9th is “Gingerbread Decorating Day.” These resources can help you come up with content ideas. For example, if you’re a food blogger, December has lots of cookie and cooking weeks and days. Again, as you go through these resources, write down any content ideas that pop in your mind on your idea sheet.
- Include evergreen content ideas. Attaching your content to seasons or events helps give your content relevance in the moment, but evergreen content is good all the time, and can be easily used to fill in blank spots on your calendar.
- Write down any sales or affiliate specials you’re aware of. Content can be used to help you sell as well. For example, you might add Black Friday and Cyber Monday to your calendar.
Putting It All Together
You have the themes and ideas, now it’s time to create your editorial calendar.
- Consider using monthly themes similar to how magazines organize their content, which can make coming up with ideas easier. They don’t have to be the same themes. In fact, it can make you stand out to come up with your own themes or variations of traditional themes.
- Armed with your content schedule, begin filling in the calendar with your content plans. For example, if you’re a business coach, you might have a two part blog post for “National Write a Business Plan Month” on how to write a business plan, and a video tutorial on using a business plan template (that perhaps you sell). Be sure to check the month ahead to see what’s going on as often you can create content in anticipation of upcoming events. For example, March is a good time to write about tax preparation.
- Fill in as many dates as you can. For dates that you’re not sure what you’ll create, at least mark on the calendar that content is due based on your publishing schedule. For example, you might have placeholders of BP for blog posts and V for video.
- For each piece of content you schedule, indicate who is responsible for creating it. If you’re a one-person home business, chances are you’re creating most of your content. However, you can use guest bloggers on your site, hire writers, or buy private label right (PLR) content, all of which reduce your time in creating content.
- If the content will be posted somewhere other than one of your properties (i.e. your blog or YouTube channel), indicate next to the content title where you’ll publish it. For example, if you’re writing a guest article for another website, write down the name of the site next to the title.
- Include your planned called-to-action (CTA). Every piece of content should have a CTA whether it’s telling people to sign up for your email list, take a survey, add a comment, or check out a product. A CTA can lead to sales, but also, it’s a great way to encourage engagement that can lead to building a relationship with the reader.
Now that you’ve created your calendar, review it monthly. The editorial calendar is designed to help you know what to prepare and when, but it’s not a static tool. Something in the world might happen that can lead to new content ideas. Or something in your business might change. You can add, delete or move content around your calendar to best provide the content your market wants.
Content is an effective, free marketing strategy ideal for the home business owner. It works best when providing consistent, relevant, valuable information. But it takes a lot of time to think up ideas and create content several times a month, or even a week. An editorial calendar can give your content marketing structure so that you’ll never run out of ideas.