Pain-free Editorial Calendar Creation
Do you find creating an editorial calendar daunting?
Here are some tips to make creating your blog editorial calendar as pain-free as possible.
Before we start, make two strategic decisions about your blog:
- Choose your blog post frequency. Daily is really tough to manage for most organizations outside of media groups. We recommend that if you have a blog, post no less than once per week. If you have fewer than two posts per month, it might be a strong signal to retire your blog. What’s most important: be consistent with frequency and day of week. Refrain from posting in a flurry unless you have “breaking headline news” or a highly visible issue that the public is focused on, e.g. gun control right now.
- Decide who you are writing for. Before you develop your editorial calendar, you’ll want to understand who your target audience is, what their biggest concerns are, and what types of content they are looking for—from you. If you share editorial control of your blog, it’s a great idea to create an audience persona or personas so there is agreement about the tone and information in your blog. There is nothing sadder than writing a blog no one reads.
Here’s the “as pain-free as possible” part: Book about 90 minutes for this next section and that includes cold-beer-when-I’m-done-time:
STEP 1: Brainstorm 40- 50 ideas. Quality doesn’t matter here. Get raw data down on paper. 50 ideas will cover a weekly blog for a year or a semi-weekly blog for half a year. Pull info from:
- Your swipe file
- Most frequently asked questions
- Topics you get the most questions about
- Topics on your most-visited pages from your Google Analytics
- Search on Google for “your topic FAQs” or “Why your topic is important” or “How to measure your topic”
- Check Amazon for books on your topic. Use the “Look Inside” tool to review the table of contents. Read the reviews of the book to see what people identified as the most valuable content in the book and what gaps were in the book.
- Run a quick survey to your housefile using SurveyMonkey. Run the same survey for a few days on your Facebook Fan page. Run the survey on your favorite listserv and message boards.
- Do a search on listservs and message forums for your mission keywords
STEP 2: Sort your data
- Break “big” topics up. Long blog posts rarely get read
- Group ideas into natural topic areas to run a topical series
STEP 3 Choose a Calendar Management Tool. Three tools that make managing your editorial calendar much easier are:
- Wanna go “old school?” Use an Excel Spreadsheet. Still works just fine for many organizations
- Middle of the road: Google Calendar makes it easy to document and track your content. Use their attachment option to upload images and other items right to the calendar. Take full advantage of the description box to put all your brainstormed ideas in. When you go back to write the blog post, you have all your resources there. Again, this is easily shareable with multiple contributors
- High Tech: If you use WordPress for your blog, a sophisticated WordPress plug-in is http://stresslimitdesign.com/editorial-calendar-plugin
STEP 4: Calendar it
Plug in your date-driven and seasonal content first, e.g. Veterans and Memorial Day if you’re a veterans group, content directly tied into direct mail campaigns, or scheduled advocacy campaigns, or seasonal, such as swimming safety for May to coincide the start of summer. Be sure to leave slots open at end-of-year for content that bolsters and supports your year-end fundraising messaging.
Plan to spend an hour each week writing and publishing your blog because you already know the topic and have resources identified to help you write your blog post.
STEP 5: Enjoy the beverage of your choice