If you manage a business blog or any kind of website with a content marketing strategy, not creating an editorial calendar could lead to all kinds of problems.
An editorial calendar---a way of strategically planning and scheduling your content---offers your writers and editors numerous benefits, including:
- More frequent and regular publishing.
- No scrambling for ideas at the last minute.
- Easier coordination for blogs and sites with multiple contributors.
- Better alignment between content and advertising as well as corporate events.
Deciding to create an editorial calendar is the first hurdle (something is better than nothing!), but if you’re new to content marketing, it’s good to be aware of some common pitfalls that can sink your plans.
Here are four mistakes to avoid when creating an editorial calendar for your business.
1. Planning Too Far in Advance
I don’t recommend scheduling all your content several months in advance. You may think you’re saving time by getting that planning out of the way, but more often than not, you’ll end up having to redo some of that work. The fact is, plans often change. You may lose or gain a writer or part of your budget; your marketing team’s goals or even the goals of your entire company might change. Your editorial calendar needs to account for those changes, so start by planning about a month in advance. It’s a good idea to have a sketchy idea of what you’ll be doing for the upcoming quarter, of course, but trying to nail down the details of your daily content several months in advance could prove to be a waste of time.
2. Underestimating Time Needed for Big Projects
Make sure you give yourself plenty of lead time when it comes to bigger content marketing projects ----for example, an infographic as opposed to a basic blog post. An infographic can be a great way to accrue a lot of traffic and links in a short amount of time, but they are pretty resource-intensive, so allow plenty of time for design and revision as well as link outreach. Big projects are an exception to the “don’t plan too far in advance” rule.
3. Overestimating Your Bandwidth
Be realistic when creating your editorial calendar. Most businesses don’t really have the time or resources to produce new content every day. When deciding how often you will push new content on your site, consider the number of total writers and contributors, and what else they have on their plate. Often, when it comes to contributing to a company blog, everyone has the best of intentions, but people end up pushing it off until it’s the last thing on their list. There should be at least one or two people who can commit to delivering a piece of content once per week.
4. Not Using a Shared, Living Calendar
Building out an editorial calendar in a Word doc is a mistake unless you happen to be running a one-man (or one-woman) show. Usually, multiple people have a stake in your content strategy, and it’s best if there’s a way for all those stakeholders to easily view, share, and edit the calendar. Outlook, Google Calendar, and Basecamp are just a few of the applications that make this possible. And remember, your calendar should be written in pencil, in a matter of speaking. You wouldn’t do the New York Times Sunday crossword in ink, and likewise, your editorial calendar should be flexible. Make room for adjustments. For example, an industry news story might suddenly surface that you need to cover, or you might find that certain types of content are working for you much better than others. That kind of data should inform your calendar moving forward.
Elisa Gabbert is the content marketing manager at WordStream, Inc., a provider of search engine marketing software, tools and services including the AdWords Performance Grader, a free PPC audit tool, and the 20-Minute PPC Work Week. She manages the WordStream Internet Marketing Blog. Follow her on Twitter at @egabbert.