“Content is King.” You’ve probably heard this phrase a thousand times but the magic behind creating great content starts with an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar provides you a framework to build a successful content business.
A newsroom without an editorial calendar in place is solely gut-driven. Everything is in order when there is abundance of news, but imagine days when there is a shortage of news and you face writer’s block. You can’t help but leave your contributors to create content at will. If you have been through such a scenario, it’s time to make an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar will keep you on the right track and will provide direction to your contributors.
In simplest terms, an editorial calendar is an overview of the publishing schedule for the forthcoming week, month or even a year created in advance. The calendars should be fluid and updated regularly.
After years of running a successful online magazine, I have realized that the editorial calendar is the heart & soul of any successful publishing process. Without it, content publishing is more like a ‘Hit or Miss” approach. Producing random content not just neglects what your readers want to read, what has been driving you traffic, but it also means publishing without a set goal.
No matter the size of your publishing team, an editorial calendar will help you maximize your content pipeline, drive better engagement with your audience and serve as a road map for the months ahead to ensure your content is optimized to meet your business goals.
Here are few reasons why you should consider making an editorial calendar to take your content planning to the next level:-
1. Roadmap for your content production
If you fail to plan than you plan to fail, goes the old saying. As an publisher or a managing editor its impertinent fo you to lay a roadmap for your newsroom. It could be quarterly to a weekly roadmap, depending on your immediate and long term goals.
An editorial calendar should include –
- Major categories or segment to cover on a weekly or monthly basic.
- Major events, dates you plan to include in your coverage.
- Sponsored content in collaboration with brands and advertisers
- Theme based coverage
An editorial calendar helps build momentum from day one. So whether you have just started your publishing career or have been doing it for some time, this is one of the important tools of the publishing trade.
2. Quality Content
Editorial Calendar not only adds X-ray vision to your content strategy but it will also equip you with binoculars. To ensure your content quality matches up to your high content standard, you should be able to switch quickly between an ant’s view to a bird’s view anytime.
You can plan to bring guest writers, subject matter experts, industry leaders for exclusive features and interviews in advance through an editorial calendar. During my stint as an editor I used to plan a different series every month for my publications. A series used to have one or two articles every month. Most of these series were planned way ahead and were clearly marked in our shared editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar will help you create content that is relevant to your niche and is valuable to your audience. It’s the key to create high quality content to help you stay ahead in your industry.
3. Consistent flow of content
As a publisher you need a consistent flow of content. A typical day in a newsroom starts with hunting for interesting news to cover, but then there are days when there is lack of enough ideas and you sit at your workstation and realize you don’t have anything planned for the day or next few days – anxiety sets in and you have no idea how are you going to run your newsroom; having an editorial calendar is the key to crank out fresh content everyday.
4. Maintain the tone of your site
Your publication should have its own voice to cut through the noise. The most important responsibility of a Chief Editor is setting a tone for the publication and giving an editorial direction to the team. An editorial calendar is the right tool to carry the editorial vision forward and get everybody in the organization on the same page. You can choose the most important categories for your site and ensure few articles in each of those categories to maintain the flavor of your site. An editorial calendar is a great way to plan all the content you will produce across different channels throughout the year.
5. Delegation of tasks
An editorial calendar is most helpful for mid-size publishers to large teams with multiple contributors. One of the biggest threats in working with a large team of writers is time pressure and setting deliverables. Using an editorial calendar, you can outline the content topics to be created and assign the team responsible for creating that content beforehand.
From my days at running a lifestyle magazine, I used to plan forward by using a publishing calendar. For example, around the holiday season like Thanksgiving and Christmas, we used to plan our theme based content much in advance and delegate to the team members accordingly.
Similarly, you can plan content creation around the important events in your niche so less things slip through the cracks. A smartly designed editorial calendar not only helps you plan way ahead but also in delegating various tasks to the team members.
6. Content Diversification
Your editorial calendar should reflect content divided in various categories, content templates and content types. Group your content ideas properly in these categories and templates, and if possible, keep a count on how much content you are producing in each of them.
A pie chart for each month can go a long way in digging out those malnourished content sections of your publication.
To get more eyeballs, there is a need for fresh content ideas. This ensures the content on your site doesn’t gets monotonous while your main content categories are getting updated frequently. A well-planned editorial calendar can help you map out the content types and help you to capture a wide spectrum of audience.
7. Easy collaboration
I am a staunch believer that a team that communicates, is a team that delivers. Transparency is equivalent to the health of a newsroom. Every team member should be able to see clearly what is planned for the upcoming months and who is in-charge of what.
An editorial calendar will get your whole team on board with pre-fixed responsibilities to avoid confusion and help boost collaboration. It will help you & your team to stay focused on your content goals.
8. Theme based coverage
Just like a holiday planner helps you in planning all your engagements well in advance, you can create a plan of action to work up content based on themes and important events in your industry. For example, a themed series on Halloween, Christmas, New Year, or event based content on iPhone launch or an Earth Day series.
9. Sponsored Content
Native advertising is gaining grounds with digital publishers. From the likes of Mashable, BuzzFeed, Forbes – publishers are producing interesting and relevant content for their audience in conjunction with the advertisers.
- An editorial calendar can help you and your advertiser communicate clearly on sponsored content.
- An editorial calendar will also help you to establish a threshold limit in terms of the number of sponsored content you will produce over a period.
- Creating a publishing schedule in advance will help you reach out to the advertisers and collaborate on future campaigns and promotions that resonate with the tone of your site.
10. Chasing Deadlines
Chasing deadlines is an occupational hazard for us editors given the unpronounced writer’s block, breaking news and other similar factors. A good automated calendar should be able to inform you if any of your articles are going to miss the deadlines or have already missed them. Your editorial calendar tool should also be flexible enough to change the due dates with ease.
Do remember, that an editorial calendar isn’t a blueprint that can’t be changed. Your calendar has to be flexible enough to incorporate new content ideas so that you can keep on iterating on the fly. An editorial calendar provides the flexibility to capitalise on news or hot topics as they happen.
So work smart, not hard and you will never have to worry about what content to create to run your newsroom efficiently.