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How to Create an Effective Editorial Calendar

Keep your content marketing process on track with a dynamic editorial calendar. Here’s how.

editorial calendar

A lot of businesses kick-start huge content marketing campaigns, but later find that even the best intentions can go off track without the right organization. An effective editorial calendar can solve issues such as a lack of consistency in posting, keeping up with team members and their assigned tasks, and being able to analyze any holes in your content plans. In this post, we’ll look at what it takes to create an effective editorial calendar that improves your content marketing results.

Start with a List of Great Topic Ideas

If you haven’t already, start brainstorming a list of great topics to cover. Once you have topics for content you want to develop, it becomes clearer how often you will want to publish and what themes you will want to follow. There are plenty of topic ideas and themes to choose from for your content strategy. It’s just a matter of getting ideas out of your head and turning them into action items. It will inspire you to get your editorial calendar organized so you can start creating great pieces of content.

Establish a Realistic Publishing Schedule

It’s tempting to research your competitors and decide that if they are posting new content to their blog once a day, you should be too. But you have to keep in mind factors such as how many people your competitors have dedicated to content development versus how many people in your organization that are dedicated to content development.

You need to establish a realistic publishing schedule for your business. It’s better to start with one post a week and realize that you have plenty of time to create more than start with one post a day and always feel like your team is falling behind. The latter can be frustrating to everyone, leading to burnout and an ultimate lack of content.

The goal is to create a blog with high-quality content, not high-volume content. If you can guarantee that each piece is golden, you need to cut back on your frequency.

Choose the Right Tool

Having a dedicated editorial calendar or content management tool is essential. It will prevent communications from getting lost in lengthy emails, and it will allow everyone on the team to see what’s happening in each step of the content development process.

There are tons of great tools that can help you maintain your editorial calendar. Popular tools used by businesses for editorial calendars and content management include CoShedule, Trello and ClearVoice.

CoSchedule is dedicated to content. It allows you to create an editorial calendar that includes task scheduling as well as promotion. You can also implement your editorial calendar directly in WordPress.

editorial-calendar-coschedule

Trello, on the other hand, is a project management tool that makes tasks easy to visualize and organize using cards, lists and boards.

editorial-calendar-trello

You can also use platforms that integrate everything involved in the content marketing process like ClearVoice. This way, you can plan your content calendar, recruit content creators to help you develop your content, manage content files and analyze the results all in one place.

clearvoice

And, of course, you can also choose simpler tools that you are already familiar with such as Google Spreadsheets, Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar. While they will have less features and versatility, they are better options than no editorial calendar at all.

You will need to consider several factors when choosing an editorial calendar or content management tool. For example, will those who need access to it be completely in-house or include contributors outside of your company? Do you want your tool to be desktop or web-based for access anywhere? Do you need additional features beyond the calendar, such as file sharing or built-in promotion? Do you want to access your editorial calendar from mobile devices?

When you’re not sure what to choose, get feedback from your content team. You might find that several people have experience with one particular tool, which will make it that much easier to implement. They may also be able to provide feedback about the features they like, they features they dislike, and the features they need to make the content development process flow smoothly.

Once you make a decision, make sure everyone on your content team is trained on how to use the tool. While most tools are easy to use, you cannot assume that everyone will be familiar with them. Each member will need to learn how to use different features of the tool, including assigning tasks, sharing files, commenting, mentioning others, and marking tasks as completed. This will ensure that no one misses assignments, comments, or other important communications.

Schedule Each Task

Most people will schedule a publishing date for each piece of content. But to be successful, you need to schedule each task in the content marketing process. These include the following.

  • Submission of a topic idea
  • Submission of the first draft
  • Editorial review
  • Submission of the revised/final draft
  • Artwork creation
  • Publishing date
  • Promotion
  • Analytics review

By breaking out each of these tasks, you will ensure that nothing is missed in the process that might affect the quality, reach and refinement of your content. You will also be able to troubleshoot any parts of your process that are taking longer than they should.

Each of the above tasks should be assigned to a person in charge. To ensure accountability, you may also want to assign the content manager to each milestone. This way, they can be notified when a particular task is running overdue.

Get Feedback from Your Content Team

After implementing a new editorial calendar or content management tool, get feedback from your content team on its overall effectiveness. Find out what is working best for them, and what they think could make the tool work even better. The longer your team uses a tool, the more ideas they will have on ways to make it further benefit the content marketing process.

Follow the Tool’s Blog

Last, but not least, follow your tool’s blog, Twitter or other social profiles to keep up to date on new features. Depending on what tool you choose, you may also be able to get great tips, tactics, and best practices from their blog as well.

How do you organize your editorial calendar to get the best out of your content team? Please share in the comments!

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