For a long time, I thought that content management should be an organic process. That is to say, when something needed to be written or re-written, I’d know it, because the project or task would manifest itself as a feature or project story through my Agile Development calendar or it would emerge through technical debt, and I’d address it. I could do content cleanup and I wouldn’t waste precious hours calendaring. I already spend time providing regular posts and I have a notes app where I jot ideas – I have plenty of them – so I can harvest things. I use Evernote to tack web pages for references to my writing, so for a long time I thought an editorial calendar was superfluous.
When my writing came to more teamwork and content that impacted internal teams as well as tech, well then. Sharing platforms and thinking about notation on spreadsheets? Content planning became a science as much as an art. Into my world came the Editorial Calendar. I thought about what I might want to do in planning, not just on a whim.
An editorial calendar allows me to:
- Consider a production schedule that is more consistent
- Track social media
- Encourage collaboration, not just solo production
- Balance content for graphics, media, and formatting
- Be accountable, if only to myself
- Analyze posts for popularity and relevance
- Plan things seasonally, well in advance
There are so many resources for calendaring that it can be overwhelming at first, but it’s not too hard to winnow things down quickly. Curata has a sweet graphic of templates and their features.
But I tend to just use Google Sheets. (not my sample)
WordPress also has a Plug-in, but hey…we all find our groove, right?
So what should go in your calendar? Well, that is largely up to you, but the basics are the basics:
How much content – are you super sleek and it’s just a tweet a day? Maybe, but it might be a blog post or even a few articles, a column, maybe a book chapter? Maybe you are looking at weekly, monthly targets.
Personas – definitely scope out your targets
Producers – who writes your stuff, who is responsible for what: copy, editors, will your blogging team in-house handle it or do you outsource some? Do you have a team, or solo folks? Name names.
Frequency of delivery – not frequency of writing, but when does the copy move out the door
Last, be flexy – Remember, there are holidays, people take leave (even you) and stuff might need an edit pass, new research, something changes. There are dates and then there are deadlines. Look, if a date is immovable, put it in bold red. But otherwise, understand that quality is super important. Ideas sometimes get superseded by better ideas.
I recently wrote a memoir. It took more than 2 years. I am still looking for an agent. The book is finished, but no one is publishing it yet. That part is not on my calendar, but the to-do lists surrounding it are. They are not concrete, but pretty close. They are important but not firm. My publishing schedule is important, they are on my editorial calendar just like this post was on my calendar, but I had to look up some stuff.
There were some work dates that were also important that needed addressing before I could do my fact-checking for this, so those went in. But hey, look, this made the site. Cool! And you are reading it (you are, right?) so yay, me.
Go find an app, test it out and kick the tires.
Calendar some dates – put an editorial calendar on your calendar.