It’s easy to make grandiose plans in the whirlwind of running an online community, but it’s far more challenging to stick to them. Exciting events and milestones come and go, but sustained progress ensures a company’s continued growth.
However, we all have those days when we sit at our desks and realize we have no creative content scheduled for the next few days or weeks. Anxiety descends upon us. In the pressure of the moment, we are unable to come up with a new initiative or piece of content for members to engage with.
The key to solving this organizational problem is planning in advance. This is where an editorial calendar comes in. As a content creator, you can reduce the stress of figuring out what content to create next by using a content calendar or editorial calendar. An editorial calendar also helps you to stay focused on your mid-to-long-term objectives. Additionally, it provides a constant stream of valuable content for your consumers. Additionally, with this calendar, you can enjoy consistency for your community initiatives.
You’ll also find it easier to break down larger concepts into more manageable tasks. Of course, you don’t have to obey this calendar to the letter – you can always add last-minute ideas to it. Producing content consistently will also benefit your company’s community members, as it will provide them with a schedule to work with. They’ll know to expect a web chat or a competition at regular intervals, for example. Over time, this helps you to boost the likelihood of repeat visits from loyal consumers of your content.
Benefits Of Using An Editorial Calendar
Aside from providing you with a clear plan over a set period of time, an editorial calendar can provide a Community Manager with a slew of advantages. Here are some examples:
- Suppose multiple community managers manage a company’s online community. In that case, an editorial calendar will allow for task delegation and oversight so that everyone knows what’s coming up and what needs to be worked on.
- You don’t have to set specific time constraints on your calendar. However, by planning ahead of time, you can include critical cultural events or community achievements that need to be promoted. This allows you to devise a strategy to deal with the situation.
- You need to gather various assets, such as images, text, and other forms of media when launching a community initiative. You can set dependencies for entries in your calendar. This way, you can ensure that everything is ready on the day to be shared with your audience.
- We will be able to attract potential advertisers based on the strength of a clear and structured editorial calendar. An editorial calendar will help you plan for content that you can work your upcoming marketing campaigns around.
- The calendar could be used to plan weekly or monthly themes for your communities. If you run a horse-riding community, for example, you could devote each month to a different aspect of the sport. This way, members feel like they’ve progressed in their hobby due to their involvement in the group.
Ultimately, the quality and alignment of content that you publish can determine the effectiveness of your marketing plans. You can publish amazing content every day. However, if these assets aren’t connected to your specific goals or aligned with your marketing strategy, your efforts will not contribute as effectively to the company’s overall growth.
How to create an editorial calendar for content marketing
1) Start with an editorial calendar template
The primary goal of creating an editorial calendar is to create a workable system for coordinating various content marketing efforts. You are less likely to forget about multiple initiatives if you plan and organize them. With a good editorial calendar, you can avoid potentially missing opportunities to build relationships with followers.
Getting a head start on content creation makes the process much less stressful. This is especially important if you are coordinating the efforts of a content writer, a graphic designer, an SEO strategist, and an editor.
As previously stated, establishing organization and structure reduces stress for all parties. This is because everyone can work around established deadlines rather than last-minute demands. Your team is more likely to stay on track if everyone is aware of their roles (and relevant due dates). Perhaps you are coordinating efforts with multiple parties. In this case, this process may be best handled within a project management tool that your team already uses. You will, however, need a separate tool to manage your big-picture editorial calendar so that you can see what’s coming up at a glance.
That is why experts should start with an editorial calendar template. For example, when coordinating all your content marketing efforts, HubSpot’s social media content calendar template is an excellent place to start. Alternatively, businesses could follow in the footsteps of top content creators such as Sprout Social and Kinsta. These teams use Trello as their editorial calendar template tool of choice. Trello makes it easy to collaborate with multiple people. Moreover, Trello makes it easy to visually display content assets in various stages of publication (ideas, in progress, editing, published, etc.)
2) Determine content categories
Ensuring that you cover a broad range of topics will keep readers interested in returning for more. This is an essential part of content planning. However, this does not imply that you should try to be everything for everyone.
Operating in a clearly defined niche is ideal. The more precise you can be when defining your niche, the better. All that is required is for you to be strategic in your coverage. It’s critical to consider things like the sales funnel and search intent when creating overarching categories to guide content such as blog posts. Consumers may not be ready to convert when they first interact with your brand. You can create an opportunity to build a relationship with your prospects by creating content that meets them where they are in the buyer’s journey.
Informational intent and transactional intent are two significant factors that drive organic searches among your consumers. Both types of search intent align with essential parts of the sales process. The discovery and consideration stages of the sales funnel are reflected in informational intent. At these stages, people aren’t quite ready to buy yet, but they’re thinking about it and looking for more information.
You should optimize for keyword phrases that include the phrase “how to.” Transactional intent, on the other hand, means that someone is searching for keywords such as “reviews,” “discount,” or “pricing.” Searches of this kind mean the person is ready to make a purchase right now. People’s various levels of readiness to buy and the information they need to make that decision must be reflected in your editorial calendar.
Your calendar must also consider the attention span of your target audience. Additionally, it should provide a variety of content to move them down the sales funnel. After all, if you consistently post the same content on your social media channels, people will eventually get bored.
3) Do keyword research
Though an editorial calendar can aid your company’s efforts across various digital marketing platforms, the primary focus is usually on blog content. If the goal of your blog content is to increase SEO traffic, then you should base the topics you write about on results from keyword research. It is beneficial to come in with ideas of what visitors want to learn about. Once you have this list, you can refine those ideas using your favorite keyword research tool.
Why this is important
It’s more difficult to write a blog post without this information. If you wait until after you’ve written the majority of an article, you may discover that your chosen topic is challenging to rank for. Alternatively, you might realize that there isn’t enough search volume to justify its publication.
You should think about a few things when coming up with potential keywords that will lead to blog topics:
- Relevance of keywords: You must be brutally honest about whether your target keyword is relevant to your target audience. Consider adding word modifiers to make it more specific if it’s too broad (and give your keyword a longer tail).
- Keyword difficulty: Unless you are a well-known entity with authority, relevance, and trust, you should stick with options on the lower end of the keyword difficulty scale. An SEO tool like Ahrefs makes it simple to figure out how many backlinks you will need to rank for a given term.
- Keyword intent: You need to ensure that your mix of keywords reaches readers at various stages in the buyer’s journey without an uneven focus on “how-to” queries.
- Keyword volume: You should remember that attracting ten qualified leads to your website is preferable to attracting 1,000 random visitors. Anything with fewer than ten monthly searchers is unimportant. On the other hand, anything with more than that is worth attempting to rank for, particularly for a super-niche.
4) Combine everything into actionable briefs for each content asset
By this point, we’re assuming you found your ideal editorial template/tool and fleshed out the categories. You want to be creating content for and starting the process of keyword research. There’s only one more thing left to do if you want to ensure that your editorial calendar is used effectively: write a detailed brief for each planned topic.
This step is especially essential if the person who creates the editorial calendar is not the same person who will create the content. For example, let’s assume you have a vision for how a piece should look. In this case, it is your responsibility to effectively communicate that vision. Otherwise, you will risk getting a final deliverable that does not match your expectations.
Here are some things that you should think about including in each content brief before plugging it into your editorial calendar:
- A rough title: The content writer can flesh it out to make it ready to publish, but even having the skeleton of a title can help define the direction of your content creation.
- Keywords (primary and secondary): Tell your content creators ahead of time if you want them to use specific keywords. Once they know what needs to be included, it’s easier for them to write content that sounds natural (instead of trying to add it back in after the fact). You should also include suggestions for any semantic keywords that you may have in each brief.
- Source material that can be used: How can a writer learn more about this subject or gather quotes and statistics from reliable sources? If you have a suggestion for where your writer can begin their research, you should share it with this writer.
- A written summary: For some blog posts, a few sentences will suffice. Others may require a full outline, complete with suggested subheadings. In either case, the goal is to specify what you expect to see in the final product.
Additional elements to keep in mind include:
- Outperform article(s): If you rank in search results for a specific target keyword phrase, you should include links. When you do this, your content writer will understand the nature of the content they must be aiming to produce. This can also help when the content writer is beginning to consider the structure of the article.
- A featured image: Consider this a bonus step. While not required, a featured image helps you to get a leg up on the competition. Leave some direction for a graphic designer who will be creating relevant article imagery here.
- A publishing or promotional checklist: Ideally, the process for publishing and promoting content should be in place in advance. Including a checklist in your editorial calendar ensures that the proper procedures are followed and that each piece achieves its full potential. You may begin coordinating the creation of copy, imagery, and other relevant content. With this content, you can promote your blog content while still planning.
5) Plug your marketing efforts into other mediums
SEO content may have been the sole motivation for your company to create an editorial calendar in the first place. Nevertheless, this is far from the only way you can use it.
The coordination of cross-promotional actions across various channels is the key to content marketing success. You can include other assets in your editorial calendar. This includes social media posts, social ad promotions, email marketing plans, webinars, and lead magnets, such as ebooks and whitepapers. Including these assets in your editorial calendar can be helpful regardless of whether or not they’re 100% related to your SEO content creation efforts.
Given the time and effort required to create content, content that doesn’t align with your goals will cost you money in the long run. In other words, content that is out of line with your objectives is an inefficient use of your time.
An editorial calendar allows you to quickly identify content and strategy gaps and, as a result, save time by planning. It helps you to answer questions like: Is there a blog post that feels out of place? Is the goal of your social media posts to raise awareness or to promote a new campaign? Is the theme for this month’s meeting adequately focused on your goals? When you use an editorial calendar to map out everything, it becomes easier to answer these questions correctly. Likewise, it’s easier to align your content to contribute to your company goals.
The importance of focusing on variety
The variety of content that an editorial calendar can cover is what gives it its versatility. This includes content for your various social media channels, such as Facebook and Instagram, and blog posts. An editorial calendar can be used to plan and evaluate content that you want to improve.
If you don’t provide variety in the content you post on a day-to-day basis, then eventually there will be no curiosity gap for readers to satisfy by clicking on your content. Once they realize that you’re just posting more of the same old content, they’ll move on to a competitor to fill their knowledge gaps.
You must first define higher-level blog categories before you define individual blog topics. The point where you’re defining your blog categories is the ideal time to audit your existing blog categories. This is true even if you already have some set categories in place and are restructuring your editorial calendar.
Developing a content marketing strategy is much more difficult without an editorial calendar. When used correctly, an editorial calendar can streamline a company’s content marketing process while also reducing the stress that comes with last-minute planning.
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