by guest author Lacy Boggs
I’m going to be straight with you — creating and sticking to an editorial calendar is a real struggle for me so I’m thrilled to invite my friend and content marketing expert Lacy Boggs to share her wisdom with us this week.
Let’s get our blog calendering on!
I’m going to be super honest with you: I’m a little bit type-A.
And when I say a little bit, I mean A LOT. As in, it drove me CRAZY as a kid when my crayons and markers weren’t in rainbow order. (I’ve really had to give that up as the mother of a 4-year-old.)
But there’s an upside to being a teensy-tiny bit anal retentive — I’m pretty dang organized. I love a good chart. I’ve got an entire Pinterest board dedicated to paper planners. And nothing gets me more excited than new office supplies.
Now, you may or may not be with me on that, but you can borrow a little of my OCD when it comes to planning, and use it to create an editorial calendar for your content marketing that will not only keep you organized, but also make your content more effective as well.
Why do I need an editorial calendar?
You know that saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”? Well, it’s true of content marketing, too. As you know, just throwing content out onto social media without a strategy isn’t a good way to build your business. It’s a waste of time and effort.
The same can be said for blogging without a strategy. Crafting a valuable, thoughtful blog post takes time and effort — and that time and effort is wasted if you’re not following a strategy to make those blog posts convert for you.
I like to think of an editorial calendar as your way of zooming out on your content strategy. Done correctly, it’s your big picture and your roadmap to success.
How to get started
Some people get confused between an editorial calendar and a blogging or content schedule. I’ve seen loads of posts about “editorial calendars” that suggest you post on a certain category or topic on Mondays or the first week of the month. But that’s really just a schedule.
A schedule tells you when you’re going to post, and maybe very generally what you’re going to post. Like saying you do taco Tuesdays and fish on Fridays, a schedule is painted with a broad brush.
An editorial calendar, on the other hand, takes a lot more detail into account. It answers the five Ws of content marketing: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.
- Who: To whom are you speaking? Some businesses have more than one ideal customer profile, and everyone has readers who are at different places on the customer awareness spectrum. Knowing exactly who you’re trying to reach will improve your chances of reaching them.
- What: What topics are you going to cover? If you’re not sure what to write about, you can think sideways from your topic to get started brainstorming ideas.
- When: More than just what day of the week you post, your editorial calendar helps you time your posts for the most impact, whether you’re hoping to get more opt-ins or support your sales cycles.
- Where: The dirty little secret of blogging is that you can’t just blog — you’ve also got to promote it. This is where your blog editorial calendar intersects with your social media strategy.
- Why: Maybe the most important question your editorial calendar should answer is why you’re writing any given post in the first place. What do you hope to get out of it for your business? What do you want your readers to get out of it? Going into any post with this kind of clarity will make it exponentially more effective.
I fold all five of these questions (plus a How column for notes) into a spreadsheet format, which I’m happy to share (Click here to access the template for free.), but the magic of this system is less about the format and more about getting all the pieces in one spot.
Whether you’re a bit of an organizing freak like me, or more of a go-with-the-flow type, I can guarantee that if you take the few extra minutes required to plan out your blog posts addressing all five of these questions, your content will become more effective and more useful to both your business and your readers.
And who doesn’t want that??