The web is content driven. Be it social media, blog posts, or videos – it’s all content. The truth of the matter is that most brands hack and saw at their content randomly. They feel like writing a blog post – so they come up with a subject and knock it out over the course of a couple hours with very little preparation or planning.
Not enough brands are planning their content ahead of time. This leads to shoddy content – or at least content that isn’t as good as it could be.
If you are an established brand, you need to stop taking your content creation so lightly, especially if it is a large part of your day to day operations. While it might seem best to go with the flow at times, you’ll find that planning things out ahead of time often yields better results.
You don’t have to plan down the exact second each piece of content will be posted – but it certainly will benefit you to have some idea of what you would like to post and when. This is where editorial and content calendars can come in handy.
Benefits of a Content Calendar
To start – a content calendar gives you a birds eyeview of the content that you are planning on creating. It gives you some structure, and certainly can help during those times when you run into some writers block and are having a hard time coming up with that next high quality piece of content.
A sense of direction
Editorial calendars have been used since the beginning of journalism. While the day to day headlines are dependent upon the stories of the day – an editorial calendar allows a publication to ensure that it covers a range of subjects that their readers will enjoy throughout the month. These pre-approved subjects also give writers a sense of direction.
Find Content Holes and Gaps
Being able to see what will be published when, also allows you to find holes and gaps in your content strategy. Are you focusing too much on one subject? Do you want to schedule a series of blog posts in succession of one another?
Make Your Content Strategy Less Stressful
Creating a content calendar also makes it much more manageable. Loading up a list and seeing 50 topics that have to be covered can make the task seem daunting. However, loading up a pre-planned publishing calendar can be much easier to soak in when you can visually see that you are only writing 2-3 pieces of content per day. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Organize Content Around Specific Dates and Events
An editorial calendar also allows you to plan and organize around events and dates that are significant in your industry. Maybe you want to release a barrage of content to gain some attention and traction in the days leading up to a big conference? An editorial calendar can better position you to take advantage of these events.
Give Writers Time to Research
Most blog posts are hastily thrown together at the last minute, with some minimal research. By putting together a posting schedule ahead of time, you give your writers time to research their subjects in full, which in the end translates to better content.
Weekly vs. Monthly vs. Yearly
There is no wrong way to put a content calendar together. Weekly, monthly, and yearly editorial calendars are all viable depending upon your industry, the pace of change, and the current trends. For long term calendars make sure to leave some space to follow trends and hot stories.
You can collect ideas well ahead of time and plug them into your yearly calendar. Remember that you can always go back and edit your calendar should the subjects that you have chosen no longer be relevant to your goals. Some industries change rapidly. When creating long term editorial calendars, try to choose content that is evergreen in nature, and will always be useful to your audience.
Types of Content for Editorial Calendars
There are no restrictions to the type of content that you can create and plan for. It all depends upon your organization and the industry that you are within. Some of the different types of content that you can plan in advance include;
- Blog Posts
- Social Media Posts
- Case Studies
Don’t be afraid to go above and beyond in your planning. In the end, a well thought out editorial calendar helps your content creation team to be more organized and have a sense of direction.
Examples of Editorial Calendars
Some of the biggest brands in the world make their editorial calendars available to the public. This serves a number of different purposes. To start, readers have an idea of when their favorite pieces of content are coming. Other publications can publish content in advance, and build anticipation for their big content series, and actually help them to promote themselves!
Big brands mostly keep their (public) editorial calendars boiled down to their “big features,” For Forbes, this includes their “30 under 30″ series, “Top Colleges,” and other similar lists. Here are a few of the public editorial calendars that are available today.
- Forbes Editorial Calendar
- Time Editorial Calendar
- Vogue Editorial Calendar
Each of these companies make different bits of information available to the public, but all serve the same purpose. These should give you an idea of large-scale editorial calendars, and help you to come up with some ideas of your own.
Content Calendar Tools
Luckily, there are a number of excellent editorial calendar tools available to get the job done. Some are more basic than others. Some are huge, full-featured programs that would be suitable for large publications like the New York Times.
Editorial Calendar WordPress Plugin
This WordPress plugin is a simple but effective way to create an editorial calendar for all wordpress users. It features a drag and drop interface that makes planning and scheduling exceedingly easy, but is rather limited in its features. I would recommend this plugin to anyone that is looking for a basic WordPress editorial calendar plugin without all the fuss that some of the more comprehensive solutions provide.
CoSchedule is a WordPress plugin that is a step above the Editorial Calendar plugin. It also features a drag and drop interface, but also allows you to shcedule social media posts, and comes complete with some additional features. They also offer a free trial so that you can try it out and see if it meets your needs. I would recommend CoSchedule to anyone that wants a full featured editorial calendar plugin for WordPress at a reasonable rate.
Kapost is a high quality solution for large publications, so it might not be ideal for those that are just starting out. It provides a full content marketing suite, complete with project management and an editorial calendar. Kapost offers a number of high quality automation features that can take your content marketing efforts to the next level.
For agencies and freelancers alike, Gather Content is a high quality solution for all forms of content that you publish. It offers page development, file upload, an editorial calendar, content maps, project management, and a workflow all in one! They offer a free 30 day trial, which is a great starting point for testing it out and seeing whether or not it will meet your needs.
Editorial calendars can be a great way to plan ahead and get a birds eye view of the content that you are creating. It helps teams to better organization their curation, and spot holes in their content strategy. Using these tools can help you quite a bit, but there is nothing wrong with a good old fashioned excel file either!