How to Create an Editorial Calendar - Easily!
So you're sick of winging it week to week when it comes to your content creation?
You're spending waaay too long struggling with your blog posts and your social media?
You've decided it's time to get organised, to plan ahead and to start working smarter?
Then you've come to the right place my friend! I'm going to show you how to create an editorial calendar and get all your content planned for the next 3 months. Let's kick things off by answering the most obvious question....
What is an editorial calendar?
Don't feel bad if you're not sure what the heck an editorial calendar is. There are sooo many weird and wonderful terms floating around in the online business world that there are bound to be a few that need explaining!
An editorial calendar is the schedule you create to plot out all of the content you plan to publish for your business. It can include any number of different content channels such as blog posts, podcasts, videos, social media and emails to your subscribers.
Why do I need an editorial calendar?
Another great question! You're quite the smarty-pants aren't you? Well, there are a few advantages of creating an editorial calendar...
Planning over Panic
First and foremost, it keeps you organised. It forces you to plan ahead and to spend time putting a content strategy together, rather than just madly panicking each week because you have no clue what you're going to write about..
Consistency breeds Credibility
A rather wonderful outcome of creating an editorial calendar is that you'll be producing content much more consistently. You'll have a schedule and it'll be easy-peasy to stick to it because everything is all planned out!
The moment you start showing up consistently, you also start to build trust with your audience. They can see you're not just some flakey online wannabe, you're here to stay and can be relied upon to stick to your word.
Know what happens when your audience trusts you?
They buy from you! Hurrah!
If your audience is happy, everyone's happy!
When someone finds one of your blog posts and inevitably LOVE it, they're going to know when and where they can expect more from you.
By creating an editorial calendar you can commit to a posting schedule that you can then share with your audience. Now it's SO much easier for them to find and read your stuff.
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How to Create an Editorial Calendar
Ok, now we're getting to the crux of the matter. You see the power of editorial calendars - now how do you create one of your own?
Let me show you...
Step 1: Editorial Calendar Software - How to Choose!
The first decision you'll need to make is which tool you're going to use to create your editorial calendar.
When you're just starting out you don't want to go with anything too complex (or expensive!) so I would suggest keeping it low-tech and going with something from the options below:
If you're more of a hands-on, offline kinda person then you might even want to create your calendar on a wall or white board.
I chat more about the tools I use to keep me productive in my blog post and video, aptly named My Favourite Productivity Tools.
Step 2: Select Your Content Channels
Your content is set to light the world on fire - but what's your weapon of choice?
Blogging? Podcasting? Video?
When it comes to social media, pick just 1 or 2 channels to focus on. This will give you more time and energy for these channels - and so more momentum, faster!
If you try to cover too many channels at once when you're just starting out, you'll get overwhelmed very quickly and your chances of staying consistent are slim to none.
For more on Content Marketing and the different channels and content you can use for your business, check out my post What is Content Marketing & Why Should You Use it?
Step 3: Consider Your Content Purpose
Now this is important, so listen carefully...
EVERY PEICE OF CONTENT YOU CREATE FROM THE LONGEST BLOG POST TO THE SHORTEST TWEET SHOULD HAVE A PURPOSE.
Otherwise, why bother?
Creating content for content's sake is one of the biggest mistakes made by business owners. They know about content marketing - they know they need to post regular content so they just go into 'content-churning' mode and never once consider what they actually want to achieve with said content...
Get clear on this now and you'll find this whole process much easier...
Content Purpose Examples
There are 3 main reasons that you'll create content. They are:
A key goal of your content marketing is to attract new ideal clients to your business. By providing free, valuable content that helps them with a challenge they're facing or perhaps just entertains them, you'll grow your audience.
The types of content which help to build your audience in this way are blog posts, podcasts and videos.
You're a business after all! You'll use your content to promote your products and services, but also to promote your lead magnets, your events (such as webinars etc) and of course, your other content!
An example of this might be to create a Facebook post to promote your latest blog post.
Once you've got the attention of your ideal clients with a high quality blog post, podcast or video, you'll want to develop your relationship with them by encouraging more of a 2-way conversation.
This is where social media comes into its own. You can encourage engagement by asking questions, telling stories and creating content that produces an emotional response - whether that be laughter, tears or even anger!
A good content strategy and schedule will include a mix of content that covers each of these objectives so keep them in mind as you continue to work through your editorial calendar.
If you struggle for content ideas then take a look at my post How to Come Up With Great Blog Content Ideas.
Step 4: Set Your Schedule
The question of how often you should publish new content is a common one and the truth is there's no 'one size fits all' answer. You need to decide how regularly you're going to publish new posts, podcasts or videos, how regularly you're going to post on your social media channels and how regularly you're going to email your subscribers.
Find what works best for you and your audience. There are a few guiding factors that should help you to make your decision...
Quality over Quantity
It is ALWAYS better to write fewer high quality posts than to churn out content all the time that has no substance or value.
High quality content builds trust with your audience. It helps them and so they come back for more. Maybe they even recommend you to a friend!
High quality content builds credibility. It shows your audience that you know what you're talking so they see you as an expert in your field.
High quality content performs better in search. Search engines want to show people content which is going to answer their search in the most comprehensive way possible. That's why longer content tends to perform better and also why high quality content will have a huge SEO advantage over fluff.
The moral of the story? If you can genuinely produce a high quality post every day that gives your audience value, then go for it. If you can't, scale back and post less frequently.
For more on quality over quantity, read my post on 'How Long Should a Blog Post Be (& Does it Really Matter)?'
Consistency is Key
I know, I'm sounding a bit like a broken record with this, but consistency is so important. When you choose your schedule, make sure you're not over-stretching and setting yourself up to fail.
Choose a schedule that fits around your life and be realistic.
Ask Your Audience
This is another common theme in my posts! You can't go far wrong by checking in with your audience. How often do they want to hear from you?
The schedule you choose for your social media channels will be very different to your blog posts etc. It's more important to show up every day. After all, the point of social media is to be social and you can't do that if you're only there every few days.
I'd suggest scheduling at least once daily for each of your social channels. This is another reason why it helps to keep the number of channels you're on to a minimum.
As with so much in business, research is vital but there's also an element of experimentation. Test what works and tweak accordingly!
Step 5: Choose Monthly Themes
Now this right here is one of the secrets to super-easy content planning. So many people struggle week after week to think of a topic but this is made simple by choosing a theme for the month.
If you've never worked this way before then I urge you to try it - you can thank me later! 😉
When choosing your themes there are 2 methods you can use to help you:
Yes, there it is again! It's amazing how often this is the answer to a problem with your business. The best way to ensure you're creating content that your ideal clients actually want to consume is to ask them what they want!
You can ask them in a Facebook post or send your subscribers and email. You can even create a simple survey.
The important thing here is to ASK.
Questions such as 'What's your biggest challenge with <your niche>?' should really give you some great insight.
This is another great way to give you inspiration. Brainstorm a few of the high level topics in your niche and them pop them into a keyword tool and see what other ideas come back. This is a great way to see what topics people are actually searching.
For example, if your niche is health and fitness you might type 'healthy diet' or 'fitness plan'.
You'll see from the screen shot below that this gives a number of new ideas...
So now you might decide to set one of your monthly themes as 'chest workouts' and another as 'fitness plans for weight loss'.
Step 6: Brainstorm Post Topics
Once you have your monthly themes you can start coming up with actual topic ideas for your blog posts, podcasts or videos.
If you've done your audience and keyword research above then you'll probably already have a few ideas for these.
Another great resource is the website Answer the Public. You simply type your theme in and it feeds you a ton of related questions which people are actually searching online.
Step 7: Schedule Your Posts for the Next 3 Months
Once you've decided your monthly themes and topics you can actually get them scheduled in - hurrah!
When you do this, don't forget to...
Plan for Events
Throughout the year there will be certain events which may influence your choice of topic and content creation.
For example, if you're a food blogger then in December you'll want to cover Christmas related recipes.
Keep an eye on what events are happening each week and consider whether you can weave them into your own content.
Step 8: Schedule Your Social Media Posts for the Next Month
As you'll be posting daily on social media, it's a bit overwhelming to have to schedule a full 3 months in advance. Instead, just focus on the next month for now.
To make your task simpler, you'll use your blog post topic (or podcast or video) as the basis of your content. By re-purposing this you'll save yourself a lot of time and effort!
For more on re-purposing content, take a look at 'How to Create Content for Social Media by Re-purposing Your Blog'.
You can also make life easier by creating a number of social templates. Think about the different types of post you'll use, for example:
Mini blog posts
You might also post regular threads to promote engagement. For example:
A weekly 'share' thread where you invite people to share their own content
Creating these templates and regular threads helps to give your planning more structure and your posting more consistency.
I talk more about how I schedule my own social media posts using templates in 'How to Create a Month of Social Media Posts in Just 10 Minutes Using CoSchedule'.
Hands up if you'd like a free gift?
To make it EVEN EASIER for you to get started, I've created a sneaky little cheat sheet for ya. How does a whole MONTH of social media post prompts sound? Good? Add your details below and they're yours...
That's it! Your Editorial Calendar is complete.
Feels pretty good doesn't it? Now you're so organised, actually producing the content should be a breeze!