Editorial Calendars – Content Planning

By Shauna McGee Kinney

Editorial calendars are an important step in your content planning. Sometimes referred to as editorial plans, this document is as simple as a list, table or spreadsheet of dates and events that impact your website or business. You don’t have to do this alone; contact me to help you with your editorial planning and copywriting.

Ideal Calendar Size

The ideal editorial calendar is set up three months in advance and to build the topics you add to your website, put into your social media and link to your advertising to fit your ideal audience’s behaviour. Before you commit to topics, do a web search for dates and events such as:

  • Public holidays – business readership is low around these days
  • Trade and expos – in your customer’s industry and your industry include looking at where the event is held and for how many days
  • Newsworthy events – for retail movie release dates or sports championship dates, for business tax law changes or elections
  • Events hosted by industry leaders or competitors – webinars, annual consumer reports or local promotions

Cover topics

Next, look at your promotions, such as holiday sales, stocktake or inventory clearances, new product arrivals or lulls in your typical service cycles. Sort your list by date. Add any events or dates more than three months in the future to a holding list or ‘parking lot’ at the bottom of your plan.

Find 3 dates that are at least one week apart from holidays and mid-week (Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday). Highlight the three mid-week dates as good opportunities to do something big, like a sale or a special event. By picking days in the middle of the week, you are in between the weekend gaps caused by the international date line. For example, I am a writer and on Monday in Australia, my clients in Los Angeles and San Diego are finishing their Sunday. And, on Friday here, people are busy wrapping up weekly activities rather than committing to buying a service or edit a document.

Brainstorm a list of topics from other websites. Look for menu topics, titles, bulleted list items and product or service categories for keywords and phrases.

  • Popular news and industry media
  • Social media pages
  • Job and recruiting websites with jobs in your industry
  • Clients, suppliers and competitors websites

For example, you might find that many news sites, suppliers and competitors in your industry are talking about counterfeit products or phishing sites that imitate your services. This might lead you to write an article on how to identify fake products or what the warning signs of a fraudulent business look like.

Work Backward

What if you don’t have a schedule of promotions? Set a goal and work backward to the goal. Always err on the safe side and pad your time. If you promotions are successful, you may be too busy to keep up with a tight editorial schedule.

Here are examples of items to work into your plan on those ideal dates:

  • Write and post a landing page that explains what you can do for your ideal client, how to get started and a single step to get in touch with you or order that product or service. Next, create and run a Google AdWords campaign that links to that landing page.
  • Write a blog post of 400 words that addresses a topic in your business or industry and schedule the post to go live on the target date. Add links to product or service information on your site or previous posts you have made.
  • Send an email newsletter to your clients and leads using a service that accommodates the spam regulations and allows your easy management of the email distribution.
  • Post to your social media networks with an honest and appealing link to your landing page or your blog article. Try something like, ‘How do you know if that website is phishing? I wrote an article on what to look for when buying online. [ link to your article ]’. Or, ‘We’ve got a sale on this week for our [ product or service ] – details and how to order at [ link ]’.
  • Get a video service or oDesk contractor to help you produce a 60-90 second video about the topic and share the video through YouTube. Link to the video from your website and mention the video in your social media pages.

On the other dates, consider a softer sell. Maybe you will be adding a group of photos from a fundraising event to your gallery or Flickr account. You can share a link to the event through social media and your website news section. Other times you may search a LinkedIN Group and make a quality comment to a discussion. In this case, your editorial calendar only needs a reminder of what group to check.

Have a couple static items in your queue. For example, you might have a contractor who does videos or a vendor that uses Pinterest. Keep these on your list and add these third party items closer to holidays or when you are busy with projects or sales.

Calendar by Channel or All Together?

When your topics and pattern are simple, put your website topics and social media topics all into one calendar. This will help you plan continuity and cross-promotion between your web channel, your print channel and your social channel(s). If your website gets low traffic (under 200 visits per week), post to your website once every 4 to 6 weeks to maintain a presence. Instead, focus you frequent posts around busier online destinations like your Facebook page for fundraising topics or your LinkedIN groups for business interaction.

For busier websites or websites with e-commerce, consider rotating your promotions or posting articles at least once a week. Match that with weekly posts to your social media channels and consider grouping your comments around common themes. Remember on social media to only talk about your business or yourself once a month. Social media is more like going to a theatre or sports venue and having a conversation about the main event, not yourself.

Add a reminder to your phone or computer to check your editorial calendar. The key to being noticed is being consistent and maintaining frequency. You might even partner with a co-worker or fellow business to remind each other to produce the content you planned.

Chances are if you haven’t done a calendar, you won’t get around to making the post or keeping up with the posts. Sometimes you will find that you are rushing to post, because you lost track of the last time you posted. (That being said, have you noticed that I don’t post regularly? I don’t have an editorial calendar, but I manage 2 to 4 calendars and copywriting for others. Does that count?)

Show Me an Example

Find other examples of commercial and freeware editorial planning systems from Unbounce.com


Would you like some help finding key dates, choosing topics and selecting the channel to take action on? Contact me. I’m here to help.