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How to plan your editorial calendar for 2013

Written by Todd Mumford on 31 December 2012

2012 is over, so if you haven't already, it's time to get started on your editorial calendar for 2013. Wait. Are you saying you don’t have an editorial calendar with that confused and guilty look on your face?

How you manage to survive blogging without one must be hell. With an editorial calendar, you won’t have to struggle through nerve-wracking episodes trying to come up with post ideas just to have something on your blog.

Basically, it’s a list of articles you’ll be putting up on specific dates throughout the year organised on a chronological basis. It can be as simple as marking dates on an actual calendar (physical or digital), and writing the ideas on those dates.

The benefits of an Editorial Calendar

The benefits of having one are many, and yes, that includes the number one reason which is…

  1. Less Frustration: No more sleepless nights thinking up of topics, lying in a pool of your own sweat trying to squeeze out ideas from your stress-addled brain. You’ll be getting a good night’s rest leading to more productivity for the next day.

  2. More Posts: You’ll be sticking to a regular schedule so you’re bound to become more responsible in posting on a consistent basis. This is compared to  writing whenever you “feel like it”, which leads to a post maybe once a week, twice a month, six posts in a month and nothing the next, etc.

  3. Better Posts: Since you won’t be rushing out your blog posts trying to beat deadlines, you’ll be able to focus on writing quality articles. You can go in-depth on certain subjects, since you’ve got the time; you won’t be overlooking any typos or other basic mistakes that would make your blog look slapdash; and you’ll even maintain a balance of what content to create and focus on, since you’ve already got everything planned out.

  4. Aligned Content: Expanding on the last point, you’ll be able to maximise your company’s marketing efforts for important events, since you won’t be flooded with a backlog of topics keeping you from writing about the more urgent ones.

  5. Managed Multiple Contributors: If you’re leading a team of content creators, an editorial calendar will keep the company blog from turning into a mess of duplicate topics and uneven updates.

Things to include

Now that you’re convinced to drag yourself out of that unorganised hellhole and to start an editorial calendar, you need to know what to actually put in it. Sometimes, just putting a topic idea on a specific date isn’t enough, especially when you’re in a competitive industry.

Here some important details you need on your future editorial calendar:

  • Working Title: It pays to have an actual headline for your idea since it immediately gives your post focus.

  • Content Type: Not all posts have to be written articles. You can decide to put up an infographic or even a video if you have the resources.

  • Rich Media - Videos, Photos: If it’s going to be a written article, there’s no harm in spicing it up with pictures and/or videos, so remember to add these details if necessary.

  • Author: For content creation teams, it’s better to assign the tasks ahead of time for less hassle.

  • Targeted Keywords: A little search engine optimisation (SEO) can help, so write the keywords you’re aiming to rank for with that particular piece of content.

  • Targeted Persona: Varying your content’s approach and tone helps keep it from being boring, and targeting different personas for different sections of your audience does the trick.

  • Call to Action: The CTA is what you ultimately want your followers to do after seeing your content, so decide on that to give your content direction and engagement.

  • Notes: Anything else that needs to be considered before creating the content goes here, such as short reminders of the main points of the post.

  • Status: The calendar should be constantly updated to keep everyone informed, whether an article is still in the works or if it’s been published.

  • Metrics: You also want to keep track of how well your content is doing, so plug in factors like the number of comments and views.

Tips for an effective Editorial Calendar

With these fundamentals down, you’ve got the workings of a good editorial calendar. But you can’t be contented with something that’s “just good”. You want something extremely efficient. Here’s what you’ve got to do:

  • Budget Your Time: The editorial calendar is supposed to help you manage time and have clearly planned goals, so take the time to do your research for the entire year for little to no headaches in the future. You also need to evenly spread out your content and schedule on the dates when they’ll have the most impact.

  • Understand Your Audience: They’re the reason you’re even writing in the first place. And to not understand what they want, how they want it, and when they want it will only lead to wasted time, effort and money.

  • Define and Make a List of Keywords: What words and phrases will get people to your website? What words and phrases distinguish your business from the rest? Write down the answers to those two questions and you’ve got yourself the main keywords you’ll be using in your content. They’re usually broad, so expand on those general ideas for more specific ones, and they’ll be your secondary keywords.

  • Create a List of Topics: Based on the keywords you just thought up, brainstorm actual topic ideas and list them down. They’re going to be the ones that you’ll be placing on your editorial calendar.

  • Time Your Posts: You want your posts to get as much potential views and shares, and you can achieve just that by knowing when people are most active online. People are predictable, and that applies to when they log on to social media sites. For Facebook, Saturdays and 12pm are the best day and time for sharing your articles. You also want to limit your sharing to a post every two days to reach the maximum potential of likes they can get. For Twitter, Tuesdays to Thursdays and Saturday to Sunday are the best days for your click-through rate (CTR), while 12pm and 6pm are the best times. Keep your link shares to just one to four an hour, so they all get clicked. For Retweets, 5pm is better.

These tips should help you craft a solid and effective editorial calendar, but if you need any clarification or some sort of model to begin with, check out these following samples:

Todd Mumford is the Co-Founder and CEO of SEO Visions – a Vancouver SEO company that provides online marketing solutions and does SEO consulting for different types of business.

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