How to Develop Your Editorial Calendar

Author Emma Knightley

One of the most difficult and monumental tasks facing digital marketing strategists is how to create a consistent cascade of online content to help drive sales. The problem isn't limited to one's ability to pump out high-quality blog posts, videos, updates, and infographics. Every piece of content you produce has to fit into your overall digital marketing strategy.

When developing a digital marketing strategy from scratch, creating enough content can seem like a monumental task by itself. Many have a difficult time getting things off the ground or don't believe they produce enough content to have an impact. Self-doubt about the task at hand begins to creep in and leads to many marketers giving up before getting started. The real problem, however, is they don't know how to create a long-term plan.

When it comes to digital marketing, it all starts with the development of an editorial calendar. It's a tool you and your marketing team can create to map out digital content for a certain period of time. Editorial calendars can cover different seasons or even the entire year. By putting all of this on paper in a format that's easy for your team to read and analyze, you can easily focus your strategy to ensure you're producing the right mix of content types and topics along with enough actual content to cover each stage of the purchasing cycle.

Are you ready to get started? Here's how you can start developing your editorial calendar to help you achieve revenue goals throughout the year.

Establish Your Topics

It might seem pretty obvious, but it's an important first step. As a digital marketing strategist, it's your job to identify topics of discussion that are relevant to your target audience. You need to find the intersection where consumer needs and your company's expertise crosses paths. But you can't do this without being proactive. You have to dive headfirst into the digital spaces occupied by your target audience. Listen to what their needs are and understand what type of content resonates most with them.

Survey the Battlefield

What are consumers talking about? How are they engaging with connections and potential prospects? You need to figure out what conflicts they're dealing with and try to find out what you can do to help them.

Buyer Personas

Try to get into the mind of potential buyers. Why do they react in a certain way? What do they want? Make use of buyer personas to understand what's important to them.

Establish Your Topics

Social Influencers

What topics are being covered by thought leaders in your industry? Which ones are seeing the most engagement numbers? The answers to these questions can offer clues to the type of digital content your target audience craves.

Keywords and Algorithms

Assuming you know the keywords relevant to your industry and expertise, find out if any new ones have developed which describe similar topics and take advantage of them. Also stay up to date on social media algorithms so you can change your strategy to bring in more traffic.

Discussion Forums

Find out where your audience goes to find answers to questions or content related to your industry and find avenues of exploiting it.

If your customers are interacting in a place you can access, you should always be paying attention. These sources will help you collect data, find topics and generate content ideas for filling your editorial calendar.

Audit Your Existing Content

Don't let the idea you might not have enough content to employ your strategy infect the planning stages of your digital deployment strategy. Trust us, unless you launched your business only yesterday, you have enough content to get the ball rolling. In many cases, your marketing team should have been sending emails, promoting white papers and publishing blogs for some time now. It may not have been at the pace or volume you desire yet, but it's likely you have plenty of content to draw from.

Once you've laid out your topics for your editorial calendar based on the advice written above, check your catalogue of content for anything that fits. There should be evergreen content available for you to slot in at your convenience. You can also audit your past content to find ideas for new content based on research you've already spent resources gathering. It's even beneficial to add internal links to old content within new blog posts on the same topics. This adds credibility to your content and can even drive up traffic numbers of customers reading the old posts.

If you find an old piece of content with relevant yet outdated information, you should recreate it and publish the story again. On top of taking little effort to produce, by making over old content this way your customers will appreciate the fact you bothered to drum up an update. It also gives the appearance you care about stopping the spread of misinformation.

Any popular post from years past can also be republished in a different format. It adds more value to the content and may even reach new heights in terms of page views.

Plan Content to Fit the Buyer's Journey

Plan Content to Fit the Buyer's Journey

After drumming up some repurposed content to act as a framework for your editorial calendar, it's time to fill in the gaps. Each piece you produce must target a specific stage of the buyer's journey. Try to balance late-stage content and early-stage content.

Don't fall into the trap of publishing more late-stage content. There's a perception doing so will encourage customers to go straight to the step of making a purchase and therefore generate additional revenue. In fact, this isn't the case at all. If you don't serve up a healthy portion of the early-stage content, you can't properly build up and guide customers to the late stages of the buyer's journey.

Get Into a Rhythm

Do you think it's a better idea to publish content daily? Five times a week? Once a month? A lot of studies have been conducted trying to find the perfect publishing cadence. They've all had varying results. It seems there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to how often you should publish digital content. The one thing we do know, however, is consistency matters a lot more than frequency.

This makes creating your editorial calendar a bit easier. Only plan to publish as frequently as you can reliably churn out top-notch content based on past performance. If you can produce small, bite-size to fill an entire week, your audience will rely on you for a daily dose. But if your strength lies in creating well-researched, long-form content, you should aim for weekly publications. Content should come out like clockwork at regular times. It only reinforces the idea you know what you're talking about and establishes you as a reliable source and authority in your industry.

Fill in the Blanks

Fill in the Blanks

Now comes the fun bit. It's finally time to fill out your editorial calendar. This stage of the process can be so exciting because you get to see your digital content strategy take shape and come to life. Begin by adding content about broad topics, and then fill in the remaining slots with related posts from your existing content bank and any new ideas you came up with. Try to mix up the types of content for variety, and make sure to cover every stage of the buyer's journey.

If you plan to publish content series based on an ongoing idea, slot these in at regular intervals, so your audience has something to look forward to every week or month. If they have a reason to visit your website on a regular basis, they will be consistently exposed to new content. So whether you publish daily roundups, weekly analysis columns or monthly interviews, if you can find a reason for them to keep coming back it will yield positive results.

One more trick you can use is to leave one or two spots blank each month. This can give you the flexibility to produce timely content, respond to trends, and publish guest posts or newsjacking. These are the types of things that see high engagement numbers and add value but are difficult to plan ahead of time.

Adjust When Necessary

Once you've finished filling out your editorial calendar, which can guide your content strategy throughout the year, remember that nothing should be set in stone. It should evolve based on the performance of topics, types of content and when they're scheduled to be published. A good digital marketing strategist focuses on what actually resonates with audiences in the moment, not something they planned months ago. Don't be a stickler. Change tactics when the occasion calls for it.

Get to Work on Your Calendar!

Planning out a season or year's worth of content is a huge task, but an important one for digital marketers. It provides a framework for everything to come and a basis from which you can evaluate your content's performance. Do your due diligence finding new topics, making use of old content and giving yourself enough space to cover trending topics, and you can fill out your editorial calendar in no time.

Emma Knightley