So, you’re ready to do some content marketing, ready to start a blog or an article center, a newsletter or an online publication, and it’s time to put together an editorial calendar. Or maybe you’re already publishing but your existing calendar isn’t efficient? How can you set yourself up to succeed?
Start by considering these questions:
What are you going to publish?
Publishing a blog to help users understand health and wellness will call for a different editorial calendar, publishing schedule, and stable of contributors than a monthly newsletter that focuses on the latest consumer behavior research.
Who is going to contribute?
Are you relying on one content creator or multiple creators? Are they subject-matter experts who will need an editor to review for grammar, consistency, style, tone, etc.? Or are they generalist writers who will need additional time to research the topic? Will you be tapping outside contractors for your content (give yourself plenty of time!), or scheduling time for in-house contributors? And how busy are the people you will be relying on?
How often will you publish?
Take into account how many contributors you have; how long it will take them to write the story, edit the story, and put it through your publishing process; and how often you’ll have content worth publishing. Quality and consistency are both important, and you’ll set yourself up for success if you plan for a realistic publishing schedule.
What is your publishing process, and how long will it take?
Consider all the steps required for publishing within your organization (or your client’s organization).
I’ve worked on projects where the workflow process looked something like this:
Subject matter expert writes article > Content pro edits article, uploads in CMS, and schedules for publication
But I’ve also worked on projects where the process, for legal and corporate policy reasons, looked like this:
Writer researches article > Writer writes article > Subject-matter expert reviews article for accuracy > Writer edits article based on subject-matter expert feedback > Senior editor, CMO, and other stakeholders review article > Writer edits article > Legal team reviews article > Writer edits article > Stakeholders review article again > Writer edits article > Article is uploaded into CMS > Writer reviews and edits if errors are present > Article is published
I know. Daunting, right? That’s why it’s important to identify your publishing workflow before you begin entering dates into your editorial calendar. If you know who needs to review each content type and format, and how many times they will be reviewed, you can set realistic expectations for publication.
If your process looks a lot like my first example, it might be realistic to start an article Monday and expect it to be published Tuesday or Wednesday (or even same-day). If your process looks more like my second example, each article could be a two- to three-week process.
Which system will you use?
Once you have a workflow system, you can finally put your editorial calendar in place by choosing how your contributors, stakeholders, editors, etc. will view and interact with your calendar. I’ve seen very small teams use a simple Excel doc (often on a shared server or shared as a Google doc) and smaller ad agencies use an existing project management system, while larger agencies and enterprises often opt for content marketing software (like Kapost, which both powers and produces The Content Marketeer).
The number of contributors, length of your process, and frequency of publication should all factor into the system you choose. A two-person shop may require just one shared Excel document. But a daily blog with a dozen contributors begs for a more sophisticated solution.
Now that we’ve asked the right questions, take some time to consider your situation. Tomorrow, we’ll dig into the practicalities.