Your editorial calendar is one of your best friends when it comes to managing and creating content. As much as anything else, it lays out your plans for the future. You take a look ahead and determine if some topic might fit a particular celebration or special date. You can manage priorities better with a carefully plotted approach to the content you present to your readers. Campaigns designed around offerings on your landing pages, and the goals you are targeting, are now set.
Starting on the right foot
Generally, it is wise for any business to set quarterly goals. This also applies to your editorial calendar. At CommonPlaces, we make an effort to keep a 3-month calendar, and reference it daily. We plan ahead and provide helpful resources for the author on the topic to assist with the research and writing process. This is a great time saver. It also helps to find an image to use well in advance, or confer with one of our graphic designers to ask for an image when the time to post arrives. As many of us know, finding the right image for a blog can suck precious time out of the day.
When plans go awry
Another reason to regularly review the editorial calendar, and to set it far in advance, is to fiddle with it. Any writer knows the value of revisiting your work. What seemed like a burst of genius one day is a head-scratching wonder the next. For your editorial calendar, you might realize, for instance, that you've got too many similar topics coming too close together.
There is also the inevitability of confronting the unexpected. The world intrudes, and a story in the news or an industry changing event demands a blog. You suddenly need to shift your focus. We didn't expect to be called to the White House, or know that a blog we wrote about the right to be forgotten would receive national attention. We knew that HubSpot's Inbound 14 would make news, but we couldn't anticipate that a presentation by Martha Stewart would resonate so forcefully with our CEO, Ben Bassi. You learn to juggle your content in order to keep it appealing to the widest possible audience.
I honestly don't know how any content creator can perform without an editorial calendar. We keep one for ourselves as well as all of our clients. Plan your content at least three months ahead, and expect to make adjustments along the way.
If you don't yet have an editorial calendar template, here's one to get you started.