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Editorial Calendar Dos and Don’ts

Maintaining an editorial calendar involves a careful balance of planning ahead without neglecting important changes as they come up. Use these guidelines to help ease this process.

Once you’ve looked at this list of 31 Types of Content and have some ideas for the types of content you can have on your blog, use the following guidelines to schedule some of these posts on an editorial calendar.

Do: Brainstorm as a team and leave room for creative freedom

Don’t:  Assign posts to different people without guidance or structure

Planning an editorial calendar should not be a one-person job. All of the people who will be contributing to content creation should have some level of control in the calendar process. Come together as a group to figure out how individuals can bring together posts around common monthly or weekly themes. If you editorial calendar starts out as rotating list of names you are setting yourself up for failure because it will be much harder for ideas to flow naturally on the blog, to prevent repetition, and to vary type and format of content.

Do: Plan general themes for the entire year

Don’t: Plan out day-to-day posts more than three months out

The biggest potential flaw of content calendars is that anything you plan too far in advance will become irrelevant. However, some general themes and occasions come and go season after season, and these can be a great baseline. Just remember that “The Holidays” is not an acceptable theme and will not help generate posts–you’ll need something specific to your brand and your industry.

Once you have a creative, relevant theme for each month, start from the beginning when planning out daily specifics and don’t get too far ahead of yourself. It is way to early to know exactly what you should create 7 months in the future. When the time gets closer you can pull timely items into your pre-made topic.

 

Do: Plan OUt Both Topics and Types of Content

Don’t: Make an overly complicated plan that you won’t stick with

You don’t want to have too many of the same type of post in a row. However, if you try to schedule long, research-filled posts for every day, you likely will not be able to hold to your expectations. Including variable content on your calendar does not mean that you need to have a video one day and an infographic immediately following. This will be too much work for your team and too much information for your audience. Using different formats can be as simple as having a “How To” post one day, and a post answering user-generated questions the next.

Do: Leave flexibility for posts related to hot topics and current events

Don’t: Newsjack inappropriately

Plan ahead for important dates and special events in your industry. Mark off days on your calendar where you know that you are not generating the specific topic and format of the post until you find out the news surrounding that day/event. Understand that there will be other times when blog worthy news erupts unexpectedly and allow yourself the flexibility to move around previously scheduled posts in order to talk about what is now more important. The key is to really only comment on news that is critical to your specific industry–don’t try to take a hot news item that is completely unrelated in the hopes that you will generate clicks and shares (see Newsjacking: You’re Doing it Wrong).

Editorial calendars can be extremely useful when planned out correctly. Everything comes down to finding a careful balance: plan content enough in advance that you have time to execute posts to the best of your ability but not so far in advance that your ideas become outdated, and allow for creativity and a chance for updates without losing your cohesive message, theme, and voice.

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