These days, inbound marketers have to crank out content like never before. Between blog posts, ebooks, webinars, videos, podcasts, and more, it's hard to keep fresh topics on the horizon. So how can you make it easier to produce remarkable content at such a fast pace? Let me introduce you to your new sidekick, the editorial calendar.
So, you have a pretty good sense of the audience you’re targeting and what kind of content you will most likely need to create to drive sales and happy customers. (Wait -- you don't? Read this first.) The next step is to create an editorial calendar that lays out when and where to share that content. An editorial calendar is like a roadmap for content creation, showing you what kind of content to create, what topics to cover, which personas to target, and how often to publish to best support your inbound marketing strategy.
Here are 7 simple steps to set up your own editorial calendar:
1. Choose a template. Create a Google calendar or a spreadsheet to record your editorial plans. You should plan at least three months in advance, but it’s even better if you can develop a plan for the next six months -- or even an entire year.
2. Decide on your goals. Work backwards from your marketing goals to guide your plan. Look at how much traffic, how many leads, and how many customers you are aiming to generate each month. Analyze your previous marketing efforts to determine how many pieces of content you will typically need to reach those goals. For example, say in the past you produced 1 ebook and wrote 15 blog articles in a month, which generated X visits and X leads. If you'd like to double the amount of traffic and leads you generate in a given month, it might be safe to assume you'll need to produce 2 ebooks and 30 blog articles next month. The trick is to experiment, and over time, you'll be able to notice patterns that will help you determine how much content you need to create (and how much promotional muscle you'll need to put in) to meet your goals.
3. Schedule your content. Fill in the dates on your calendar with specific publishing tasks, such as updating your blog or social networks daily, posting new videos or podcasts each week, publishing an ebook or hosting a webinar each month, and so on. For each date, list the topic, the title of the piece, and the targeted persona. The goal is to create a good mix of content types, topics, and personas to make sure you’re covering all your segments.
4. Write down the focal points. Note the SEO keywords, the stage of the buying cycle, the call-to-action, or other inbound marketing goals that each piece of content must address.
5. Mark other significant events. Make note of important dates or external events that are good hooks for specific topics or types of content. For example, retailers could highlight major holidays such as Christmas, Halloween, or Mother’s Day and plan content that fits with the seasonal theme. B2B marketers could note important industry trade shows they plan to attend, and schedule blog updates, recaps, or videos generated at the event.
6. Find opportunities to repurpose content. For example, the publication of a new whitepaper/ebook or research report could generate several weeks’ worth of blog posts that each share details or small nuggets of data from the complete report. (Like this blog post does!) Or the transcript from that webinar you produced could get translated into an ebook.
7. Organize by content type. Create separate tabs in your editorial calendar document for each kind of content you publish, such as blog posts, webinars, ebooks, videos, etc. That way, you can make sure you’re publishing enough of each kind of content, and spreading that content appropriately among your targeted personas and stages of the buying cycle.
By the end of this process, you’ll find that you’ve filled up most of your calendar with detailed plans for content. No more coming to work in the morning wondering what you’re going to publish to maintain your inbound marketing goals!
And don't worry -- if there are a few holes, that’s okay. You want the flexibility to capitalize on news or hot topics as they arise over the course of the year. For those weeks when you can’t find the inspiration for, say, another blog post, calling up your calendar will give you a great visual reminder of what you’ve covered already and what you’re planning to cover next week or next month, so you can at least narrow down your options.
So what are you waiting for? Start filling up that calendar with great content, and get publishing!
Originally published Jan 30, 2012 12:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016