After setting a very bad example this week, I’m resolved to get my own editorial calendar in order. Here’s how I’m going to do it.
Before beginning to plan an editorial calendar, you need to determine who you are expecting to attract to your content so that you can tailor your content and voice to that audience. In my case, I am publishing content for both people that I hope will become clients (small- to medium-sized businesses) as well as those in the social media blog community that I consider myself to be a part of.
I’ve determined which platforms I’m planning to publish in, at least for the moment. They are this blog and Twitter. You or your company may also publish in other places – Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr, etc. For the purposes of this post I’m going to focus on the blog calendar; I’ll write more about an editorial calendar for Twitter in a later post (it’s already on my calendar!). It’s different, but the principles of planning in advance are exactly the same.
For my blog, I’ve laid out a calendar in Excel that outlines my posting schedule. As you can see in my real-live example, I don’t plan to post on weekends or national holidays, and I do plan to post on 4 out of 5 weekdays, unless I’m traveling, in which case I plan to post 3 out of 5 days in that week. My assumption is that most of my intended audience will do the majority of their reading during the business week. I’ve also decided to do this because it’s part of how I want to design my lifestyle – I’d prefer not to moderate and reply to the bulk of my blog comments on weekends and holidays, as I spend that time with my family, so by posting during the week it’s likely that I’ll get the majority of comments on the posting days. Of course, I will monitor comments on weekends and holidays and respond as quickly as I can. (Sidebar: Folks, I’d love your comments. Anytime, really. I’m not being deluged with them at present, so let’s get them flowing, okay? Then I’ll worry about not wanting to moderate over the weekend! :-))
I’m working to setup my calendar for a rolling six-week period, and once I’ve done that, I’ll be adding to it frequently to be sure I never get too far behind. I’ll also set aside time every week to update the calendar and to make sure that it stays on track. And if cool ideas come to me that aren’t part of the calendar, I can always move a post out further and insert the hot topic or new idea anytime.
It’s also important to note that I don’t intend to do most of the writing of this blog on the days designated on the calendar. After this weekend (which is a catch-up penalty weekend for not doing this the right way the first time) I hope to have at least two or three posts queued up and ready to go in advance. This will be especially important as I’m traveling again at the end of the month; I know that I won’t want to feel pressured to write on those days or the first day I’m back in my office.
In my spreadsheet, you’ll see the following columns:
These are all the fields that I will fill out for each post in my calendar. For each post I want to make at least a few notes on the content, choose the keywords I’m trying to associate with the post (for SEO purposes and tagging), and make note of some relevant links I can use in the post. If I already have an image to use, I’ll include that here as well. And, when my calendar is complete, I’ll also have written the Tweets that will accompany each post when I send it out via @socialologist.
As you can see, I’m still working on my calendar (there are a couple of open dates and not every field is filled in), but I’ve already got themes developed (Q&A Mondays are something that I’ve established that I plan to stick to for a while) and a number of posts queued up with fairly specific information behind them, so they won’t be too difficult to write.
Later, I’ll add columns to track the number of comments, tweets/retweets and pingbacks each post gets as well as pageviews for each post – which will give me some metrics to understand which topics are the most well-received and/or the most controversial. That information will be invaluable in helping me to develop further content.
So there, I’ve laid it all out publicly, so now you all can watch to see if I stick to my calendar or deviate, and how well I manage to translate my initial chicken scratches into posts. Please give me your thoughts on the validity of this plan (and on the content ideas themselves if you’re so inclined) in the comments below.