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Guide to an Efficient Editorial Calendar

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September 8,2016

By Phillip Thune, Textbroker

 

Editorial calendars have been an immensely valuable tool in the publishing world since long before the internet. As the role of content creators has expanded, this schedule outline has also become a vital organizational tool for juggling the variety of blog posts, press releases, email campaigns, newsletters, and social media updates that are necessary to successfully market a business.

The purpose of using an editorial calendar is to provide a pathway for creating a consistent flow of content. A detailed schedule keeps messages on brand and ensures content is relevant to the interests of readers. It not only shapes focused content but also identifies the necessary resources to achieve the final goal.

In addition, it allows you to reflect on how various types of content, such as infographics and videos, can help your company connect in a more meaningful way with your audience. Content that requires more expertise to develop might need a lead time of weeks or months before it is actually released to the public.

 

Tips for Creating an Editorial Calendar

Creating an editorial calendar from scratch can feel like an overwhelming task that eats up valuable time. However, over the long-term, a strategic plan saves time and money by clearly defining goals and expectations.

Typically, each month is given its own key theme or topic. Start with broad strokes, mapping out general themes, ongoing columns, annual events and seasonal holidays. Don't obsess over a catchy title just yet, but if something comes to mind, record it on the calendar. A general concept serves as a placeholder and gets you thinking far in advance about the spin you want to put on the topic. Leave room in the lineup for current events, industry news, product launches, and trending topics.

Next, determine how much content needs to be produced and then consolidate all of the pieces into the calendar. Each platform, whether it is a newsletter, blog or press release, should have its own editorial timeline for each month. The simplest timetables include the publication medium, monthly theme, and article topic as well as assigned authors, photographers, and designers. An advanced schedule might also incorporate working titles, targeted keywords, research links, and content marketing channels.

Armed with a traditional calendar, backfill dates starting with the projected distribution date. Provide enough lead time in between each deadline for publishing, final approval, editing, writing, and assignment schedules. Be mindful of holidays and popular vacation times that could disrupt the schedule.

 

Tips for Staying on Track

The most important part of sticking to the plan is early communication. Sharing the plan creates accountability and ensures everyone from freelancers and designers to printers and distributors have enough lead time to keep the project on the targeted track.

Distribute the editorial calendar to everyone within and outside the organization who plays a role in producing the content. This includes writers as well as photographers, product developers and advertisers. Schedules often change in the publishing world, so an email distribution list or shared cloud file makes it easy to quickly send out updated calendars.

A planning and scheduling tool is essential in the successful execution of an editorial calendar. Some people prefer to create a simple Excel spreadsheet or vision board while others tap the powerful organizational options of high-priced software programs, such as Kapost and DivvyHQ. Free and more budget-conscious options are also available, including the Wordpress Editorial Calendar, SocialCast, Trello, and ContentDJ.

Every three months, review the editorial calendar for changes and fill in blank spaces for monthly topics and projects if they have already been identified. Make sure to solicit input from team members on the overall content marketing strategy and timelines to ensure everything goes smoothly.



 


 

Phillip Thune has been Chief Executive Officer of Textbroker since 2010. Through his leadership and expertise in business and content marketing practices, Textbroker continues to grow dramatically and remain the leading provider of on-demand, unique written content.

Textbroker can be found on twitter at @TextBroker.

 

 

 

 

 

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