An editorial calendar is a tool, and it can serve your trade website well if you know how to use it.
Editorial calendars spell out:
- Who is responsible for creating content;
- When content gets published;
- Where it will be published;
- How you’ll promote your content when it’s published.
The foundation of your editorial calendar includes dates, times, deadlines, and milestones, and once you have these, you can start reaping the benefits of a good editorial calendar.
How a Good Editorial Calendar Benefits You
A good editorial calendar forces you to consistently come up with fresh content for your audience. Scribbling ideas on sticky notes won’t do it. You need the follow-through that your editorial calendar imposes on you. When you create your calendar, you can more easily visualize long term goals, planning content around product launches, industry events, or holidays, for example.
You can also use your editorial calendar to plan out long term themes and then give a more detailed look to the next 30 days, knowing which social media posts go up on one day, and which blog post goes up on another. Editorial calendars help you coordinate content across multiple platforms.
Using Your Editorial Calendar to Boost Revenue Development
One of the best ways your editorial calendar can benefit your trade publication website is by helping you sell ad space for future posts. Brands want to advertise alongside content that focuses on topics that interest their target audience. Public relations professionals have long used magazine editorial calendars for finding and targeting great PR opportunities based on future features. In fact, most PR software makers incorporate editorial calendars into their products for this very reason.
If your trade publication website has an e-commerce section, your editorial content can guide you on where you can use content to influence purchases. If your site features a custom job board, your editorial content can include information for job seekers that will lead readers to check out job listings. When you plan major features, you can pitch them as opportunities for advertisers to sponsor the content, to everyone’s mutual benefit.
How to Create and Share Your Calendar
How you create and manage your editorial calendar depends on your organization. Very small organizations may do fine with a shared spreadsheet. Google Docs and other online resources offer free editorial calendar templates you can download. Whatever tool you use, it should be shareable and able to update in real time so everyone always has the same calendar version.
In most cases, you can have one master editorial calendar shared across your organization, even if your marketing, SEO, PR, and social media teams work independently. Many organizations have found success by organizing their calendar according to which channel the content will ultimately be published in. Getting it right will probably require some trial and error, but the effort will pay off long term.
Keep Your SEO and PR Leads in the Loop
Even if your SEO lead isn’t involved in creation of content, he or she can offer valuable insight in editorial planning by offering advice on content optimization, keywords, and timing of publication. Keeping your PR person in the loop is a smart idea too, because he or she can leverage your content plans when sketching out brand awareness strategies. By keeping your SEO and PR people involved, you can take advantage of their unique viewpoints and gain insight when planning your long term content strategy.
Use Your Editorial Calendar to Align Content with Branding
In the day-to-day task of content planning, it’s not always easy to know how to align various tweets, pins, and blog posts with your overall branding message. Every time you add a content item to your calendar, you should be able to determine which message or goal that piece of content supports, and which audience the content is targeting. That way, over time you’ll be able to better track how effective content is in brand building, and you’ll be able to balance content to meet multiple branding goals.
Don’t Toss Your Calendar When You’re Done With It
Hold on to your completed editorial calendars so you can learn from your past. How effectively did past content align with your branding goals? Which promotion techniques worked well? Did you balance content effectively to address the entire target audience? Hanging onto your completed editorial calendars for review help you see the big picture better and see just how much progress your website has made toward its goals.
A well-designed editorial calendar is a remarkably useful tool for meeting your audience development, and ultimately your revenue development goals. They can help you balance your content offerings, tie analytics to specific campaigns, and learn what is working well and what could be improved. That means that your revenue development plans, which may include advertisers, sponsors, e-commerce, and custom job boards, will have the best possible conditions in which to flourish.