Publishers popularized the editorial calendar (who like to refer to it as an “ed cal”) to keep track of when copy should be complete, layouts finished, ads in, final layouts proofed and when the publication will be sent to the printer.
Content marketers are often told to think like publishers, so it’s common—and strongly suggested—to use an ed cal for the same purpose, but more commonly to keep track of blog posts.
However, for a content marketer, an ed cal can be used to keep track of ALL of your content marketing projects—not just blogs. With all projects displayed on a single calendar, your entire team can benefit from the efficiency of a centralized planning document.
Here are few reasons why an ed cal is important to your content marketing practice, and how it can increase the efficiency of your content marketing practice.
Top benefits of using an editorial calendar
Ideas come to life
As the talented content marketer that you are, you’re full of ideas—they come to you as you brush your teeth, walk the dog, dream in the middle of the night (do you ever stop working!?).
Back at the office, add these ideas to your calendar so that they come to fruition. Without such a calendar, an idea could get lost on a post-it note or email chain and be lost forever.
Not only will you remember all of your award-winning ideas (aim high, folks), a calendar allows you to archive all content so that you can check to make sure your brilliant idea is original, yet consistent with current messaging and themes.
Get the big picture
The visual nature of an editorial calendar is a good way to SEE how well you’re implementing your content marketing strategy. If there are any gaps, this could be an indicator that you need to produce more content or that you’ve been neglecting to post on certain days.
Also use the calendar to take a snapshot of how balanced your content is. Check that you don’t have too many or too little blogs about one topic and that you’re varying the format from listicles to videos.
Regular content production
Plan it. And forget it.
Well, don’t completely forget because you’ll still need to create and publish all of your content.
But with a calendar, it’s easier to get in a planning groove so that projects are planned and published on a regular basis.
This approach allows for a more strategic stream (say that five times fast) of content that could be influenced by the season, holidays, or other timely events.
Scheduling posts also ensures you meet your goal for posting a certain number of blogs each day or week, which helps build your social following. This also proves to your current adoring fans that you’re a reliable source for consistently awesome content.
Especially if you send out a regular newsletter, a calendar will keep you on track. With a plan in place, you can better focus on creating quality content.
An editorial calendar is a tool for the entire team. When everyone from writers to editors to stakeholders has access to the calendar, it provides clarity so that everyone is on the same page.
A writer will know when he or she needs to finish writing a blog and the editor will know when it’s time to review, while a stakeholder will appreciate being looped in to what the team is doing.
When your team plans ahead, everyone will also know what kind of work load to expect each week so that it’s easier to balance tasks or get a head start on a tougher project.
Struggles of using a traditional editorial calendar
Too many documents
A traditional editorial calendar is usually an Excel or Google doc of some sort. It’s a great place to keep track of all your projects, but that’s the extent of its use.
Everything else associated with the content projects—blog posts, images, analytics—must live in other documents or platforms. Especially if your ed cal is saved on your company’s server, it could be inconvenient to access and difficult for infrequent users to find.
Every piece of your content strategy is located in the CMP, saving everyone time from bouncing between platforms, sifting through documents saved in multiple places and having to stay afloat on the latest email chain.
Tracking content performance, ideas and changes
Here’s a typical process for developing a piece of content:
- Generate ideas, refine and finalize (email chain, Word or Google Doc)
- Schedule finalized ideas (editorial calendar)
- Create content (word processor)
- Review content (emails, word processor)
- Copy/paste content into a content management system (WordPress or other CMS)
- Schedule and/or publish content (depends on the platform)
- Track contents’ performance (Google Analytics or other tracker)
In this process alone, you’re using up to eight different platforms or documents, and you’re only utilizing your editorial calendar in one of them. Though scheduling content is a crucial part of any strategy, it’s not as efficient as it could be when using a CMP.
Most teams want to be as efficient as possible. When an editorial calendar is part of a CMP, it becomes the central location for the whole content creation process—cutting time used on managing several platforms.
For instance, using BrandpointHUB, my team brainstorms in the ideas parking lot and each one can be scheduled to appear directly on the editorial calendar.
You’ve probably got a lot on the docket. Perhaps, even more than your editorial calendar can handle. Using traditional methods, one calendar may be used for blogs, one for social media, one for press releases, one for videos, etc.
When grouped together as one master calendar, it can look messy and confusing.
Using a CMP solves this issue with several features. Most offer drag and drop functions to move a piece of content to a new date (no hassle of copying/pasting in the proper spot).
When creating a new piece of content, BrandpointHUB allows you to choose the type type including an article, email, social media post, press release, etc.
Icons denote the different article types so that you can easily identify them with just a quick glance at the editorial calendar. Or, use filters to view only certain content types at one time, which you can also use to view tasks assigned only to you.
It’s safe to say that without an editorial calendar, content marketing strategy becomes a lot more difficult. An ed cal, after all, keeps your team on track to meet deadlines and execute a consistent stream of content.
A CMP is a tool to enhance the function of your ed cal to increase efficiency, promote quality content, save you time and support your overall inbound marketing efforts.