How to ensure you have a good editorial calendar
Every content marketer knows they need an editorial calendar. But once they’ve built one from scratch—either using software, a spreadsheet, or a crazy-looking corkboard—they are often at a loss for what to do with it. Do they print it out? Use more fancy software to manage it? Keep it in a locked drawer until the end of the year? Okay, obviously not the last one. Not knowing what to do next is understandable. After all, creating a 12-month editorial calendar is one thing, but ensuring it’s a good and effective editorial calendar is another.
So how can you, a content marketer, make sure you have a good editorial calendar? Here are three things to consider.
1. Reflect back on your editorial calendar before moving forward
It sounds cheesy, but it’s crucial to reflect upon your current and past content marketing efforts before checking in with your editorial calendar. Try asking some of these questions in your reflection:
- How did the prior content perform?
- Did we cover all the topics we wanted to?
- Do you have a good foundation for your editorial calendar?
- Do you have pre-existing content you can repurpose this year?
By checking in with your editorial calendar and asking these questions, you gain a clearer picture of what’s working and what isn’t. Plus, there are a number of ways you can “answer” these questions—by performing a content audit, creating a coverage matrix, isolating key performance indicators (KPIs), and so on. The point is to see the big picture of your editorial calendar to check if it’s functional.
Pro tip: perform a content audit to have the exact numbers of how much content you produced, how the content performed, etc.
2. Ensure you have a system to keep your editorial calendar up to date
That sounds like very obvious advice—ensure the calendar is updated!—but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to overlook. One change to the deliverables is manageable, but frequent changes in strategy, creation, and distribution can be tough to upkeep. An editorial calendar is only useful as when it is up to date. Otherwise, you might as well use a calendar from two years ago.
For an editorial calendar to work, it’s important for you to know what’s happening at all times (this week? Next week? Next month? Three months out?) and who’s in charge of it. For example:
- This week a writer is publishing the monthly newsletter, so it needs to be edited by Friday.
- Next week your strategist is delivering a quarterly strategy, so you need to hold time to review it with your team.
- Two writers are also submitting blog posts, which you will need to assign for internal editing.
- Next month your team is unveiling a new content series, so the writers and graphic designers need to be briefed ASAP.
You get the idea. Keeping an up-to-date calendar eliminates scheduling headaches and ensures nothing is forgotten.
Pro tip: be sure to leave room in the editorial calendar for more strategy discoveries, potential hiccups, and general flexibility.
3. Check in with stakeholders
What do we mean by “stakeholders”? Stakeholders is a blanket term that refers to anyone on your team who is affected by the content you plan to publish. That could include your sales department, your investors, your other marketing teams, and any other important person or team.
One of the greatest benefits of an editorial calendar is that it can compile not only deliverables, but important events, benchmarks, and milestones in one place. Your editorial calendar should include the conference your sales team is attending next month and when your product team plans to launch a new feature. That way your calendar can drive alignment between departments, teams, and channels. Check in with these stakeholders and ask them about any future plans or current strategies. Then review your calendar for optimal alignment.
Pro tip: if you’re ill-equipped to manage an editorial calendar—on a macro and a micro level—or you want to save time, resources, and/or money, consider asking for help. By working with a content marketing partner like Quietly, you can ensure that your editorial calendar is covered and setting your company up for success.
These are just three considerations to ensure you have a good editorial calendar. There are plenty of others—confirm briefs, coverage matrixes, a solid content marketing team—but if you stick with these ideas, you’re on your way to a better content strategy and, as a result, better content marketing.