The Forbes #EditorialCalendar: 5 Lessons That Will Make You Better At Blog PlanningClick To Tweet
Lesson #1: Forbes Isn’t The Only One Who Is Pre-PlanningThe pre-planning and pre-publishing of the yearly editorial calendar isn’t a new, or unique, practice. Time, Inc, and Vogue all have publicly available editorial calendars right on their website. Why?
For most publications, the reasons are actually very business focused, rather than content focused.Most editorial calendars are found within the “media kit” section of the website, meaning that most publications see them as tools for selling magazine advertising. Simple enough, but what about the content planning implications?
Lesson #2: A Yearly Editorial Calendar Makes SenseThere is value in taking a look at your content planning from a yearly perspective. In our own editorial calendar training, we advocate both yearly and monthly planning for most bloggers using an editorial calendar process. The idea is simple: When you force yourself to start at the highest level and work your way down through the food chain (yearly to monthly planning), you see everything from a grand perspective and consider each detail along the way. Ask any painter–there is big value in starting with a broad brush before honing in on the details. When you see a year’s worth of content all at once, you are free to think about the big picture, without getting too focused on the individual details. This lets you create the overarching themes that your smaller (or monthly) blog posts will fit into the whole plan. Some common topics you might place on a yearly editorial calendar are:
- Advertising Campaigns
- Key Industry Events
- Global/National Holidays
- Product Launches
- Commemorative Months
In a magazine, only 30-40% of the articles follow the theme directly.Click To Tweet
Lesson #3: Even Small Teams Can Benefit From A Yearly Content PlanThere’s an old story about a traveler who came across three bricklayers on a scaffold. The traveler asked the first one, "What are you doing?" The first responded, "I'm earning a wage." The traveler then asked the second one, "What are you doing?" The second responded, "I'm building a wall." They are doing the same work, but which of the two is laying the better brick? The traveler then asked the third one, "What are you doing?" The third responded, "I am building a cathedral.” The lesson here is very clear—we can all benefit from understanding the bigger picture, even content teams.
Good Questions To Ask Yourself:
- Where is this blog going?
- What is the larger goal?
- How are we achieving this plan?
All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year. Those who forget WHY they were founded show up to the race every day to outdo someone else instead of to outdo themselves. The pursuit, for those who lose sight of WHY they are running the race, is for the medal or to beat someone else. ― Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take ActionYou might be surprised at how much big picture thinking comes out as you and your team develop your yearly editorial calendar, especially if you make it a regular part of your content planning meetings.
Lesson #4: Let The Details Come Together Later
The enemy of the blogger is the blank WYSIWYG editor. #blogging #contentmarketingClick To Tweet
- What will this post be about?
- What should I use as a headline?
- What will my outline be?
When it comes to planning out your posts for the month, the broad theme should make individual topic selection easier than ever before. Now, you at least have a framework for making those decisions.All you have to worry about are the details when writing the post. Put the big decisions first and that will always make the detailed decisions come easier in the end.
Lesson #5: Painting With Broad Strokes Helps Your AudienceMaking your life easier is one thing, but how will a yearly editorial calendar impact your audience? If all goes well, planning for a year should boost your audience and grow your blog. With a yearly schedule, your audience will become more likely to connect with your content. There are a few simple reasons why this is so.
1. Relevant And Timely ContentAs you connect your content to the larger trends like the Forbes editorial calendar does, you will help your content become more relevant with what is going on at the time. A good example of this is a simple holiday post that I wrote for Thanksgiving a few years ago. Because we planned ahead and pushed for an emphasis on Thanksgiving, I was able to have a detailed post ready to go when Thanksgiving came around. My post was featured on the homepage of a prominent social media blog exclusively because I was taking advantage of a current trend. Sure, the post only lasted a day or two, but it drove big traffic in the mean time. Yearly planning made the difference on that post.
2. Delve Deeper Into TopicsYearly planning should also allow you to think deeply about the themes and topic categories that matter most to your audience in a new way. This can even be used to reach out to different segments of your audience in a strategic method. For example, on this blog we occasionally rotate between writing posts for “bloggers” and writing them for “content marketers” and "editors". While they all have similarities, they really are distinct groups with unique challenges and topics to cover. By focusing on a single topic theme, we're able to reach a specific audience more directly, and build their trust in our content faster than ever before.
Starting Your Yearly Editorial CalendarI know what you’re thinking: This yearly editorial calendar thing won’t be so bad. Here at CoSchedule, we have a set of free paper editorial calendar templates that can help you start the habit of using an editorial calendar to plan your content marketing. This includes a handy template for planning out your yearly calendar. You can download them here. Of course, CoSchedule itself is an excellent way to set up your monthly calendar. Just saying! :)
Subject To ChangeI’ve warned you before about the hazards that come when you plan too far ahead. This hasn’t changed, and it shouldn’t. Even the Forbes editorial calendar makes room for changes when needed. A plan doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind every once and awhile. In fact, it is probably dangerous not to. The key is to use the yearly calendar for what it does best—getting you through the big-picture strategic thinking. As you work the plan month by month, make adjustments and respond to changes in your plan. Nothing can substitute keeping your finger on the pulse of your own strategy. Plan ahead, but never let things go into autopilot.
5 Lessons From The Forbes #EditorialCalendar That Will Help You Plan Better ContentClick To Tweet