The 8 Blog Posts You Need in Your Editorial Calendar (Plus a Free Content Planning Template)
My marketing consulting work for startups often involves kicking off a content marketing program.
For some companies, that means starting the blog from scratch.
For others, it means taking an existing content marketing program and using this as a jumping off point for a more cohesive, proactive, and effective approach.
In both cases, setting up an editorial calendar is always a part of the process. An editorial calendar is basically just a schedule of posts you plan to write for the upcoming month. It’s a key step towards making content a priority at your company.
The Templates You Need
This post will prep you to perform a competitive analysis and content planning session with your team.
These free content planning templates will help you take action on the tips we talk about in this post.
Develop an Editorial Calendar
For startups, planning content a month out is perfect. I wouldn’t plan further out than a month because things change so quickly. If you plan for less than a month it’s not worth it, and you end spending more time in meetings about the content than you do producing it.
As far as how often you should post, you should publish content as often as you can while maintaining the quality and still having time to hustle the content on social. This may only be one time a week for the first month. If that’s the case, that’s awesome. Use that as a starting off point, and accelerate from there.
Your editorial calendar doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark.
You shouldn’t copy others, but you should have a sense of what worked for them and what didn’t work for them to guide your own original strategy.
Here is a step-by-step process for performing a competitive analysis:
- Collect two or three months worth of competitors’ blog posts in a spreadsheet like this (Competitor Analysis tab).
- Check out how many social shares the posts got using MuckRack’s Who Shared.
- Record the number of shares in the spreadsheet.
- Review the results to identify patterns. Which content formats worked best? Which topics fell flat?
- Discuss this together as a team.
Of course, social shares are only a rough proxy for a blog posts’ success. But it is the metric that’s available to you from the outside looking in and a good starting point for your strategy.
The Blog Posts You Need
Here are the types of blog posts you should put in your editorial calendar.
1. Something Evergreen – Explain something that your customer wants to know about and will be popular even two years from now.
2. Something Shareable – Format this post with this in mind: How will I get 1,000 shares on this article? Mention other people in the blog post so that you can tag them in Tweets (a list of quotes or brands works) and get them to share the post. Use Click to Tweet to create Tweetable links of quotes or statistics.
3. Something That Shows You How to Do Something – This can be step-by-step instructions or a list of tips. Get tactical.
Example: 25 Ways to Run Faster Right Now
4. Something Timely – Offer your take on a current event, new study that just came out from your industry, or a recent announcement that would be important to your customer.
Example: How Much Should I Pay for Facebook?
5. Something That Worked for a Competitor – Find blog post topics and formats that worked for others. Then add your own spin and do those on your blog.
6. Something That Shows Off a Customer - You want your users and customers to come off as pioneers/experts, as that success will be associated with you.
7. Something Controversial – Controversial doesn’t mean culturally offensive or mean spirited, it’s about drawing the line in the sand and taking a strong stance on a topic. Taking the contrary opinion and backing it up is a good way to think about this content.
8. Something Repackaged – Once you have almost a month’s worth of blog content, think about how you can re-package the stuff you’ve already done in a new format. For instance, collect all the statistics you have mentioned from your previous blog posts into a “25 Facts About _____” Slideshare presentation.
Example: At my last company, I turned this blog post by our CPO into this Slideshare presentation, which was featured in the Leadership and Management section, has gotten more than 4,000 views, and inspired a few articles from the community.
Sit down with your team, this content planning spreadsheet, and this list. Then fill in what posts you’re going to write about for the next month or so. Then, get writing!
Wrapping It All Up
Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind:
- Figure out the main messages you want to put out into the world as a company first. It’ll make repackaging those messages into different kinds of content much easier.
- Planning is important. It holds people accountable, and by making this a priority in your schedule, you will produce much higher quality content.
- Your content doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark. Don’t copy competitors, but use their past mistakes and successes to inform your own unique approach.
- You don’t always have to start from scratch. Re-packaging content into new formats is an opportunity to not only save time, but also to reinforce messages.
- With a focused strategy and regular look at the metrics, you can calmly review what is working and not working, and improve from there.
How do you plan your content? Let me know in the comments.