Why Your Company Needs an Editorial Calendar and How to Get Started

Dan Silber    By under Content Strategy.

Editorial CalendarThis is a guest post by Amanda DiSilvestro. She writes for HigherVisibility.com, a nationally recognized SEO consulting firm that offers national and local SEO services to a wide range of companies across the country.

Companies have quickly caught onto the fact that guest blogging, if done correctly, works. It works well whether you're writing for another site or another site is writing for you because it helps you share audiences. Your SEO efforts will improve because you will get a link back from the site where you're offering content, and your social media efforts will improve because you'll be able to reach a whole new audience who is interested in your material. This will help you connect and follow both those in the industry as well as potential customers and/or clients. So what's not to love?

The answer: Scheduling. Any editor will tell you that managing content is much more difficult than it seems at first glance. You have to deal with all different kinds of requests--one site may want to write for your blog the first Thursday of every month, another site may be interested in every Wednesday, another site could want to try it out for one or two articles first, etc.

In addition, it's also important that you schedule time so that you can write an article on your own blog. You want to make sure that the initial vision of your blog can remain intact despite all the different voices chiming in with opinions. For this reason, an editorial calendar is an absolutely necessity.

What is an Editorial Calendar, Anyway?

An editorial calendar is just a fancy way of saying "publishing schedule." It is a way of organizing all the content on a website and is particularly helpful when it comes to a website's blog. Even if you don't have a particular piece of content for a certain day, a calendar still works well because it will show that you have a space open. Many editors also use this schedule to write notes about content they hope to fill a certain time or a topic they are interested in for the future. Consider some of the other benefits of an editorial calendar:

5 Benefits of an Editorial Calendar

  1. Cover the Unexpected. You will be able to focus on the unexpected, alternative types of content. For example, if there is an event going on in your community that you would like to support on your blog, and editorial calendar will let you know when that will be possible.
  2. Communication. It allows for better teamwork and communication. Many larger blogs have several people managing content, so an editorial calendar will help keep everyone on the same page. No two articles will be published on the same day, and everyone will be able to see the article topics that have been/will be covered.
  3. Efficiency. It's very quick and simple to use an editorial calendar. Once you  have everything laid out, you will be able to see what tasks need to be completed and you can make sure you do not repeat something that has already been done.
  4. Stress. Many editors will tell you that managing a blog is stressful. However, an editorial calendar can help break up the priorities and tasks into day-to-day sections. This helps make things seem more manageable; thus reducing stress.
  5. Professionalism. Showing investors and/or advertisers your editorial calendar will show that you're organized and take pride in your content. Google has made it clear that content should be an extremely important part of any website (obviously), so companies you are trying to impress will be attracted to your organization.

How to Get Started Creating an Editorial Calendar

There are lots of different ways to set up an editorial calendar. It's all about personal preference. As long as you are staying organized and have your content laid out day by day, you have a successful editorial calendar. I have seen some people do this simply with a pencil and traditional calendar, but as your blog gets more popular you may want to consider going digital. Below lists three ways you can create an editorial calendar on your computer:

  1. Google Calendars. This tool works great because it can actually send you email messages to help remind you when content is due. The service offers many different templates so you can choose which one works best for your purposes. You can even find a few public templates in the Google Docs Template Gallery and then click on "calendars and schedules" on the left hand side. Below is a screenshot of what you will see if you click on the link:
    Google Docs Template Gallery
  2. Excel. Many editors feel comfortable using excel for their calendars. The program allows you to create different tabs for different projects. This can help you keep what has been published, what is pending, and what you hope to create all separate. You can also share this as a Google doc, which allows an entire team to work on the spreadsheet without any overlap. Visit Savvy B2B Marketing for a beautiful example of a successful excel-based editorial calendar. Again, you can use Google Docs which works in a very similar way in terms of layout (this is what I use).
  3. WordPress. This is the most popular option for editors today. Most editors are very comfortable with the program so the calendar plugin is the easiest solution. The plugin, which you can find here, actually lets you edit posts right in the calendar and it gives you the ability to move posts around as you wish. This works great if you have an unexpected guest post pop up and need to stick it somewhere in the middle. Below is a screenshot of what the plugin will look like:
    WordPress Calendar

The Takeaway

It may seem like a simple idea, but many editors still having gotten around to creating an editorial calendar. It will certainly take some effort at the start, but this should not discourage you from giving it a try. Even if you are have never been a plan-it kind of a person, an editorial calendar will likely be worth it in the end. If you're not into computers, try a traditional calendar, if you're not into planning, have someone manage the calendar for you. Take it from an editor and blogger--whatever you need to do to make this idea work for you is worth the little bit of effort, especially if you want your blog and content strategy to grow and evolve.

Are you using an editorial calendar? What have you found works best for you or hasn't worked in the past? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: top10hell.com