For many content marketers, an editorial calendar is often an important piece of the content puzzle. Deciding the who, what, when, where, and why of a content strategy does, in fact, take some careful planning. However, content calendars aren’t always all they’re cracked up to be. They can require a lot of time and effort, and for some businesses, those are things that can’t easily be spared.
Verblio (formerly BlogMutt) customers frequently ask if they should be using an editorial calendar for their own content strategies, but unfortunately, the answer isn’t a simple “yes” or “no.” Deciding who needs or could benefit from a content calendar depends on a number of factors.
What is an Editorial Calendar?
An editorial calendar is a timeline, of sorts, that charts your upcoming marketing communications. It can help you track the subjects, dates and authors of future blog posts, promotions, tweets, and Facebook posts, so that all of your marketing content is scheduled and planned for in advance.
Companies can share and even plan this calendar with their marketing team, so everyone knows exactly what content is needed and when. Editorial calendars can be planned out weeks or even months in advance, depending on the business and its organizational needs.
If you’re stumped on where to begin, the Content Marketing Institute has a simple template for an editorial calendar here: CMI editorial calendar template.
But, before you rush off to create your own content calendar, consider some of the pros and cons that come with it.
They allow you to plan content around important events.
Creating timely, relevant content is an important strategy for any marketer. Editorial calendars make it easier for you and your team to schedule your content around important events. Holidays, trade shows, conferences, company promotions, public speaking events; these are all great fodder for content. With an editorial calendar you can account for these things in advance, so no content opportunities are missed.
They help keep your contributors on track.
When you have several people managing and contributing to your content marketing efforts, it can be challenging to keep everyone on track. Editorial calendars prevent your team from scrambling for content ideas at the last minute, forgetting deadlines or duplicating the same material. Everyone sees the big picture at a glance: who’s blogging on what subjects, who’s taking care of the social media, what’s due and when.
They help you stay consistent.
Consistency is crucial when it comes to your content creation. We’ve discussed consistency on our blog before, but it bears repeating. With the busyness of day-to-day business operations, content can often get swept to the side, especially if you are a small business. An editorial calendar gives you a framework in which to structure your content and can ensure consistent posting on all of your digital fronts.
They only work if your whole team complies.
Unless your whole marketing team — no matter how big or small — uses the editorial calendar, it’s useless. All the time you spend carefully planning out when, where and what to post ends up being a waste of time, if no one is actually sticking to the schedule.
To combat non-compliance, make sure your calendar is accessible to everyone on your team and easy to use. Make adhering to the calendar a priority for your marketing team and hold people accountable for the content they are responsible for.
They can restrict creativity and flexibility.
While the glue that holds a content calendar together is its deadlines and careful planning, too many restrictions can stifle creativity and eliminate flexibility. A meticulously planned out calendar can discourage your team from thinking outside the box, responding to timely or relevant topics or shifting strategies when old ones are no longer working.
They don’t allow for spontaneity or changes in plans.
There is simply no way to predict what might happen weeks or months from now. Your business’s plans may change, something may come up, or a breaking news story may demand your attention. Since many content calendars are scheduled months in advance, there is often not much room from spontaneity.
To prevent this, consider creating a more fluid and short-term editorial calendar. Build in time to react to timely news stories or company events, and don’t plan your calendar out too far in advance. After all, if you knew everything that was coming down the road, you’d have already made a fortune on the lottery.
Is an Editorial Calendar Right for You?
As with most things, editorial calendars may not be right for everyone
If you have a small team or are simply not publishing a lot of content, you may find that a content calendar takes more time and effort than it’s worth. For example, if you are the sole proprietor of content marketing for your company, you may find the upkeep of a calendar especially restricting and tedious.
However, for any business that wishes to maintain consistent customer contact and a strong digital presence, a content calendar can help keep your efforts on track. Editorial calendars can be especially helpful for companies that have a group of people managing their content, as it can clearly lay out the responsibilities of each member of the team.
Quick Tips for Making Verblio Work With Your Editorial Calendar
Utilize your “one-time topics”.
One of the best ways to fulfill your editorial calendar and get the content you need from Verblio writers is to utilize your one-time topics. A one-time topic can specify to writers exactly what you are looking for and that you only want one post on this subject. You can provide the headline, resources, and explicit instructions to get posts that fit perfectly into your editorial calendar. Just remember: the more information you provide the more targeted your posts will be.
Rearrange your queue to fit your calendar.
The beauty of the Verblio queue is that it is incredibly flexible. Rearrange your queue so that you receive the posts you need, when you need them. If managed properly, your queue can grow to match and support your editorial calendar.
Add or delete topics.
Since your Verblio posts are driven by the topics in your account, build in time for refining those topics. Are your topics still relevant? Do you need to add new ones or delete old ones that aren’t working? Having frequently updated and detailed topics in your Verblio account is the key to getting the posts you really want.