One of the best ways to avoid writer’s block is by creating an editorial calendar. You skip all those sessions of staring at a blank computer screen and get down to business generating content. You don’t have to wonder about what you’re going to write next, with an editorial calendar, the decisions are already made. You can save an enormous amount of time by creating an editorial calendar.
What Exactly is an Editorial Calendar?
An editorial calendar is a schedule directing the topics and timing of any content you choose to create during a given time period. The time periods are flexible and can be organized around the frequency of publication, the traditional yearly calendar, or any other format you choose to use.
Creating Your Editorial Calendar
If you choose to organize your editorial calendar according to season, you can design the topics, and timing of your content publication around certain seasonal events. By developing these themes ahead of time you’ll have a clearer idea of the material you’re planning on publishing, and you’ll be able to keep your content timely and relevant.
A seasonal editorial calendar might have themes similar to the ones below:
- The Best Apps for the Upcoming Year
- Apps You’ll Love (Valentines)
- Lucky Lotto Apps and Games (March)
- Spring Fever: Get Your Game On (Spring)
- Wedding Oriented Apps
- Apps for New Grads
- Apps & Sites to Help You Survive Summer Vacation
- Homework Related Apps & Sites
- Football Related Apps
- Holiday Related Apps
This is just a very basic example but it effectively shows how you can divide a year into seasons and tailor content around those seasons. The topics and seasons you choose might be very different according to the type of business you’re involved in.
After creating a yearly theme you can divide your theme into smaller sections of time depending on how frequently you plan to publish content.
Your weekly or daily plan might be similar to the schedule below:
Week 1: Article 1
Week 2: Article 2
Week 3: Article 3
Week 4: Article 4
By generating an editorial calendar you’ll lay the framework that you need to create timely and relevant content for your business or blog. You’ll spend far less time wondering what to write and more time creating usable content to maximize your marketing efforts.
Before You Begin
Here are a few helpful hints that you can use to make creating your editorial calendar easier:
- You should decide how many times a week or month you plan to publish content. You can use a spreadsheet to assist you in determining the amount of content you’ll need to produce in order to keep pace with your schedule.
- If producing content is part of a team effort you should be sure to designate one team member to keep the calendar schedule up to date. This person should make sure content is submitted in a timely manner and in an appropriate fashion.
- Never consider the editorial calendar as a plan that is set in stone. Maintain flexibility in scheduling. It’s easier to move dates than to ignore breaking newsworthy opportunities.
- Once the calendar is in place adequate time should be scheduled around the recommended timeline in order to write and edit content. While the calendar isn’t set in stone, it shouldn’t be discarded entirely.
- An editorial calendar is a guideline on what content should be created and when it should be created. It is not an appropriate place to practice brainstorming. Find another medium for brainstorming session, and once ideas are fleshed out they can be transferred to the calendar.
- Again, if you have multiple authors, sharing the calendar between authors is a necessity. By providing a copy of the calendar to everyone the right content will be created at the right times.
The Fourfold Process in Structuring Your Editorial Calendar
Now that we’ve covered the basics of creating an editorial calendar we’re ready to delve deeper into Editorial Calendar Creation. We’ve broken the process into an easy to follow four step solution:
1. Reach for the Stars
Start publishing your content with just a select few primary goals. It doesn’t matter what your goal is as long as the goal is specific and well developed. Instead of just creating content to generate more traffic, you’ll want to want to develop a goal that also answers the question, “What am I going to do with the traffic I generate?”
Additional questions you may want to ask yourself are:
- Who is your audience?
- How will you reach you reach your audience?
This step is basically building your brand by creating a guide to your style and the direction you plan to take. By doing this you can develop your brand more effectively and determine who you are writing for, how you should write, your perspective, and what sources will best enhance your content.
2. Determine Your Topics
As soon as you’ve fully developed your goals you can break them down into specific topics you’ll want create your content around. You’ll want to be mindful of target keywords that are topic driven and creating useful content that will best stimulate community building efforts.
Initially you’ll want to find about 6 or 7 topics that your audience will find interesting and useful and then figure out how you’ll develop these stories with your target key words. Your content should appear natural and well developed instead of useless nonsense with random keywords crammed in for good measure.
3. Create a Master Calendar
Now that you’ve got your vision and your topics, you’re going to have to chart your course. The next step is creating a master calendar as a template for future content publication.
The simplest way to do this is to schedule specific posts by date. If you’re new to the game choose this method initially. As your endeavor matures you’ll begin seeing patterns that may cause you change your publication timing.
Remember it is acceptable to deviate from your schedule as long as it’s intentional. The calendar is never written in stone, just make sure that any deviation can be worked in with future dates or that the entire calendar can be easily amended.
4. Let the Brainstorming Begin!
Now that you’ve laid out the master calendar it’s time to start an initial brainstorming session in order to produce a batch of article ideas. Take enough time to create a fairly long list in order to be able to evaluate worthy ideas and weed out ideas that don’t make the cut. You should come up with enough ideas to keep you occupied for the next couple of weeks and from then on you can schedule regular brainstorming sessions to generate new ideas.