4 Editorial Calendar Essentials for Startups (And a Few Handy Tools)

Content Marketing

For a busy business, creating good content consistently can seem like yet another thing on your growing marketing to-do list, but that extra work pays off. With the explosive growth of businesses around the world, good content is a distinctive advantage for any business hoping to attract and retain customer.

Blogging in particular can pay off big time. Small businesses who regularly blog generate more leads, increase conversions, and can even double the traffic from their email marketing efforts. With these kind of statistics, it’s not hard to see why blogging has taken such a hold, but if you’re a startup, proceed with caution. With 440 million blogs (and counting) out there, competition for customer attention is stiff!

To make the most of a company blog, startups need an effective strategy and plan of organization – in other words, an editorial calendar.

Understanding Your Future Editorial Calendar

Before we go into what you an editorial calendar is, let’s go over why you need one.

Let’s imagine that you want to create a blog for your floral business. As you sit down to write your first blog post, you might have the following questions:

  • What am I going to write about?
  • How often should I write?
  • Where do I get the information I need to write?

That’s where an editorial calendar comes in. A well-planned editorial calendar is a document or tool that establishes your overall strategy.

Using an editorial calendar provides a clear direction for the type of content you’ll create for your business blog. It enables you to compile all necessary information for a blog post in one area, delegate tasks to others, and see how one post fits into the overall pattern and plan of your blog. Without an editorial calendar, blogs can quickly become a haphazard and inconsistent marketing tool, diminishing the return on investment.

The Essentials of an Editorial Calendar

Editorial calendars don’t have to be complicated, but they should be detailed. Here are four key characteristics of a strong editorial calendar.

1. Variety

Some things about your blog should be consistent: posting schedule, tone, and unique and useful content. Most other things should vary to create a dynamic and interesting blog. Experiment with different content formats, such as infographics and videos, or even different ways to format text articles, such as lists, picture-reliant pieces, and more.

Be sure to write on a variety of topics related to your industry, but to strike the delicate balance between variety and consistency, focus your post topics within 4-6 broad categories. Rotate through these categories to ensure equal coverage of important topics. The OpenView blog organizes their posts by color-coded category, giving an easily visual of the variety of topics available on the site:

Blog categories are also important for organizing content and helping visitors browse your blog more easily. The ShareAble for Hires allows visitors to browse by both category and article type in a clean and visually-appealing set up:

 

2. Integration

A blog should not require you to reinvent the marketing wheel. Blog content should be shared widely across social channels, whether in the form of tweeted quotes, Instagram graphics, or other formats. Plans for sharing this content should be included in the editorial calendar and planned out across a week or month. For example, one blog post should be shared on every channel, and likely more than once. Tweet five unique quotes from the same post, spread out over a month or more, or create a set of Instagram graphics for easy sharing.

Grammarly has great social media posts promoting their blog content, with eye-catching visuals and (typically) a hashtag or two:

Pro Tip: Rather than automating your tweets to publish every time a new post goes lives, take the time to draft a series of unique tweets spread out over a few weeks or months. While this will take a little more time up front, the benefits of multiple unique tweets will more than make up for it.

Marketing integration like this increases the reach of your brand, while reinforcing your brand’s consistency.

3. Long-Term Strategy

Ideally, an editorial calendar will be filled with posts anywhere from 1-3 months out. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all content is written and finalized that far ahead of time, but simply that you have a long-term view to incorporate into your other marketing strategies. Once content is finalized, however far in advance that is, it should be scheduled to post at the desired date and time through your blog hosting platform. Don’t schedule unless you are absolutely sure it is publish-ready!

4. Flexibility

An editorial calendar isn’t a fixed thing. News items, company changes, or industry trends can and should affect the editorial calendar, adding timely new posts where appropriate and holding off on a more evergreen post until a lull in newsworthy content. This ensure that your blog stays on top of trends, increasing your visibility in your niche. Always capitalize on these timely topics.

Uncharted Supply Co has a great example of this kind of timely content. As a Southern California-based survival gear company, they were well aware of the wildfires and people’s need for information on staying safe, so they published this guide with exactly that information.

This kind of flexibility was on-brand, related to current news, and helpful to their readers.

Be open to customer feedback on your content, and adjust things like posting schedule, post length, or other elements as you are able to improve the customer experience.

Further, blog content has the ability to be altered an ongoing basis, unlike traditional print media. This means that editorial calendars can and should include plans for updates and corrections to content as the information changes.

Structure of an Editorial Calendar Entry

The key to a good editorial calendar is filling it with specific, relevant, and helpful information. For that information, you want to make sure that you provide the following, at a minimum, for every piece of content you put on your calendar:

  • The Basics: Title, author, and publication date and time
  • Content Details: Outline or description and word count
  • Category & Content Format
  • Images Needed

Here is an example of what a calendar entry might look like in Trello:

Depending on preference and workflow, editorial calendar entries could also target keywords, references and resources to include, or any other directives or information that will assist in the creation of each post.

Key Tools for Editorial Calendar Creation

Editorials calendars can easily be created on a variety of digital platforms for ease of organization and collaboration. While expensive and fancy tools are certainly not necessary, something more collaborative than a piece of paper will overall be the most beneficial. Below are some resources on creating an editorial calendar with some of the most popular tools.

Trello: Trello, shown above, displays content in easy-to-manipulate boards that allow for shifting and sharing information. Try these tips for creating a calendar with this tool.

CoSchedule: For a more advanced option, CoSchedule is one of the best tools out there. It allows for lots of detail, task assignments, and can even integrate with WordPress for post automation.

Google Sheets/Calendar: The free Google tools are more than capable of handling and managing the content for a small- to medium-sized blog, and because they are easily accessible to everyone, it’s a great option for collaborating with teams across different companies or departments if needed. Hubspot offers a free template for creating an editorial calendar to help get you started.

Conclusion

An editorial calendar might seem like a small document, but the planning on that document is your business’ key to creating consistently good content. Content is the fuel for building a strong customer relationship. To manage that high level of content efficiently, an editorial calendar that considers a variety of content formats and topics, integration with social media, and a long-term content strategy is absolutely necessary. If your business taps successfully into the power of a well-planned content calendar, your business has the power to build powerful and profitable relationships with people around the world with just a click.

Author Bio:

Sophia Conti is a contributing editor at 365 Business Tips. She specializes in helping small businesses grow their digital presence through content marketing and outreach.

Image Credits:

Featured image taken from Pexels.com

All in-content images have been provided by the author.