How to Create an Editorial Calendar

February 23, 2011
Creating an editorial calendar

Business blogging is a lot like exercise: you know you should do it because it’s good for you, and because you’ve seen friends succeed at it; but taking that first step feels a lot like doing a trapeze act without a safety net.

As working out is to a healthy body, blogging is to a healthy business. More indexed pages means that your business shows up more often in search engines, and more visitors (generally) means more conversions and more business. And it’s all a result of blogging.

Creating your editorial calendar

Creating a calendar doesn’t have to be a big, formal affair. There are dozens of editorial calendar templates to choose from, and you can alter or combine your favorites to make your own.

Although your calendar can include any amount of information you want, I recommend having at least these basics for each post:

  • The author(s)
  • The planned and actual post dates (Are you posting on time, or lagging behind schedule?)
  • The article’s objective (Are you trying to educate? Promote a product or service?)
  • The article’s title
  • Relevant keywords (Which keywords are you targeting? What terms are users going to search for that will trigger this article to appear in a search engine?)

For Digett’s editorial calendar, I took inspiration from a template created by Stephanie Schwab. Her template is particularly helpful, as it includes space for metrics:

  • How many people viewed this article?
  • How many comments did this post receive?
  • How many tweets and retweets? How many shares on Facebook?

This is great information to have, because it can show you which topics and types of content are the most popular with your prospects. Knowing this can help you justify abandoning efforts that aren’t working in favor of those that are getting you a better ROI.

Hints and tips

  • Decide first how many times per week or month you want to publish content. Setting out those days in a speadsheet or on a piece of paper will give you a better idea of the volume of content you’ll need to keep up with your schedule.
  • There should be at least one employee who, as part of his or her regular duties, keeps the calendar up to date. If there are multiple people creating content, it should also be this employee’s job to make sure that content is being written, submitted for approval and editing, and published — all on schedule.
  • Your editorial calendar is never set in stone. If you’ve got several weeks’ worth of posts planned, but then you realize that a leader’s marketing mistakes are landing him in hot water, it’s okay to make a switch. Breaking news (especially when it’s industry-related) is important, and should be given priority.
  • Just like with exercise, you need to stick with it once your calendar is in place. This means scheduling time to write (and to edit, if that is your responsibility).
  • Your editorial calendar is meant to show what will be posted, and is not a place for brainstorming. Have a separate spreadsheet available to authors so that they can jot down ideas as they come. Only once an idea is fleshed out should it be transferred to the calendar.
  • Share the calendar with everyone who will be creating content, so that authors know when they need to have their articles ready.

Lastly, Valarie wrote a great article with tips to help keep your content team on schedule.

Writing is an exercise, and should be taken up with a willingness to work, as well as the knowledge that results do not happen instantly. By creating an editorial calendar and sticking to it, your business will grow healthy and strong. And who doesn’t love those results?

Got more editorial calendar tips you'd like to share? Leave 'em in the comments!

Comments

Nice.

Nice.

Thanks! I hope it was

Thanks! I hope it was helpful. -Amy

Thank you! I'm encouraging my

Thank you! I'm encouraging my department to start a blog and this is a great article to share with my supervisor!

I'm glad that you found it

I'm glad that you found it helpful. Getting started is the hardest part!

We just posted another editorial calendar-related article yesterday; that one gives you some ideas and tips for keeping up with the calendar once you're already in the thick of it:

http://www.digett.com/blog/04/07/2011/prevent-editorial-calendar-hate-fo...

We'll be publishing more articles related to blogging and editorial calendars in the future—feel free to subscribe to the blog!