When you’re passionate about sharing your message, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You want everyone to know everything, and there’s always something new to talk about, blog about, and create products about. When you add in all the different types of content you can create it’s easy to see exactly how overwhelming it can all get. You almost need a degree in organizing skills to keep track of it all!
So maybe an organizing degree is a bit over the top, but you need something to help you keep focused on your message. The easy solution to that is to create an editorial calendar. You can make it as simple or as complex as you like, but just the fact that you have a calendar means you have put some thought into your content strategy. It’s a much more stress-free way of creating content than getting up every morning thinking “What will I write about today?”
Here are a few of the reasons why I wouldn’t be without an editorial calendar now…
An editorial calendar helps you hone your message.
Regardless of how far in advance you create your calendar, planning your content helps you sharpen your message. Whether you provide products or services, or a combination of both, when you plan your marketing and content for the period (usually a quarter or a year at a time), you’ll also be planning your products and services as well. Knowing what you’ll be promoting gives you time to craft your message so that it really speaks to your audience and provides a foundation for the connections you are building with them.
An editorial calendar helps you identify themes in your marketing.
A few years back, when I was the editor for an online magazine, I would plan out all the topics for a year in advance. It’s a good habit to get into for your blog too.
Having a calendar planned out a year in advance gives you a chance to see themes or create them around certain times of the year. This can be applied just as easily to your blog, product creation, and other marketing efforts as well. Once you have your themes set out for the year, it’s so much easier to slot in the content, products, and promotion materials, and to set their creation in motion.
One of the best examples of content planning I know of is the MyNams Insiders Club. The whole site is structured around 12 monthly challenges, each one a full course on an important topic for online business owners. You know every month what the topic is going to be, and every blog post, every video, every email and often times the new products they release are all somehow related to the theme of the challenge for that month.
An editorial calendar helps you diversify your content
Using a calendar helps you plan out when you want to use different types of content. You don’t even need to have topics in mind to start setting it up. To make sure you’ve got a good mix of long and short posts, video, reviews, infographics, etc., you can start slotting them into dates and then creating or curating the content needed to meet your formatting needs. Having it all laid out in front of you makes it much less likely that you’ll get stuck in the rut of creating only one type of content.
It’s even easier to do now than when I started blogging way back in 2004. Now you can use visual aids such as CoSchedule, WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin, or Trello to plan everything and see it at a glance. You can also download a set of free editorial calendar templates from Hubspot to try.
And at the same time, it helps you keep your content focused
When you don’t have a plan, it’s really easy to wander off the path and into the deep dark forest of unfocused content. And I can tell you, when that happens you will leave your readers shaking their heads, wondering what’s going on, and hitting the unsubscribe button faster than you can shout “Squirrel!”
I know it’s easy to lose your focus, because I’ve done it. I do it on a daily basis and have to force myself back onto the path. For me, this is the biggest advantage of planning out your content. You get to see it all, and you have time to group your ideas into themes, decide where they fit best on the schedule, or if you’re going to scrap them because they’re really not relevant to your topic.
Focused content is quality content, and that’s what you want to present to your audience. Everything you give them needs to lead them ultimately to becoming your customer or client. And if you’re all over the place writing whatever you feel like, it’s a sure sign that you’re not focused on your own business so how can you possibly serve them and their best interests?
An editorial calendar also helps to keep you in ideas
What you’ll find as you become more focused is that the planning becomes easier and so does the idea generation. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the more off-topic ideas you toss out, the more focused, relevant and timely ideas show up to replace them.
Having a calendar also makes it easier to plan for guest bloggers. If you know in advance when you want to share guest content, it makes it easier for your guests to plan for you too. They are able to see what you are planning and then plan their content accordingly so that it fits the flow of your blog.
And while having an editorial calendar is great for organizing and planning your content, there are a few side benefits as well.
Having all this content planned out will help bring more visitors to your site.
It’s simple, really.
By having your content planned out you can’t help but be more consistent in your posting. Consistency is one of the top qualities people look for when deciding what blogs to read. Knowing that you will be releasing certain types of content on certain days will help to bring regular readers back again and again.
And, on a more personal note…
An editorial calendar can help to define your goals and map out your plans to achieve them.
It gives you a big picture overview of what you have set out to achieve over a year or however long you set your plan up for. So when you’re tempted to veer off and chase those darn squirrels again, all you have to do is look at your calendar to see what you are supposed to be doing to get you to where you want to be.
It will also help you to plan your workflow so that you meet the deadlines you’ve imposed on yourself. But that, as they say, is a story for another day.
Finally, one of the biggest advantages to using an editorial calendar is that it puts you in the mindset of being a publisher. Gone are the stressful days of wondering what to blog about and randomly picking topics. You will have everything planned and organized so that you know exactly what type of content and products you should be working on each day in order to get your message out.
Once you start using an editorial calendar you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it!