What is an Editorial Calendar and Why Do I Need One?

Editorial Calendar

Simple Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar, or “ed cal,” is nothing more than a publishing schedule.  If you decide you’re going post to your blog twice a week and send out your newsletter once a week, and you plan out that content in advance, say by keeping an ideas file or similar, then you have yourself an editorial calendar.  It doesn’t need to be formal or fancy, just so you have some kind of system for planning and scheduling regular content.

 

Why do I need an editorial calendar?

To be successful online, whether your business lives strictly online, or you use online marketing as part of the marketing mix for your offline business, you need a content marketing plan.

If that sounds too oppressive, think of it as your communication plan (or your content planning system, as I do). This communication plan will consist of posting free high-value content to your blog, newsletter, and social media profiles regularly, content  that “inspires and instructs” your audience, as our good friend and mentor Marie Forleo says.

Great free content is the cornerstone of your online success, so you want to have a system in place for making it happen.  Using an editorial calendar is part of that system.

I can tell you from vast experience (World’s Biggest Procrastinator here), that it’s much less stressful to look at a calendar with several working blog post ideas jotted down and start writing, than it is to sit down in front of a blank computer screen with a blog post looming and the feeling you got nothin.’  In which case every sentence feels like torture.  This is bad for your creative juju.

Establishing an editorial calendar is the fastest, easiest and best way to establish consistency with your content marketing and get your audience coming back for more on a regular basis.

 

My Content Planning System

My system is simple, and has just two steps:

#1:  I keep a Notepad document open on my desktop, and anytime I think of an idea for a blog post or weekly newsletter, I add it to my running list in Notepad.  I’ve got more ideas there now than I can write about for the rest of the year, and that’s where Step Two comes in.

#2:  I go through the Notepad doc at the beginning of each month, and plan out by week precisely what I’ll post to the blog and send out in the newsletter for that month.  Note, I don’t plan more than a month in advance because, A., it feels completely doable this way and doesn’t cause undue stress, and B., I might come across some great thing I want to respond to or write about right away, and I want to leave room for random inspiration.

So think of an editorial calendar as the foundation of your communication plan.  This bit of planning will keep you consistent and help you get the most audience reach from your free high-quality content.

Your system can be whatever you want it to be – but do have a plan. Because it’s consistency that separates the amateurs from the pros online, and an editorial calendar will keep you consistent.  Just a little tip from me to you.  ; )

What’s your system for planning and scheduling content?  Please share it in the comments section!

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Comments

  1. Hi Kimberly, Lovely site you have here, and great content, too! 🙂 I use a 2 month, plan-ahead wall calendar to plan my editorial/content marketing. I find that I actually stick to it better than when I was using Google Docs. I tend to ignore digital calendars, but with wall calendar positioned right in front of my desk, I’m faced with my to-do list every day.

  2. Hi Monica, thanks so much for stopping by, and for your nice comments. : )

    I actually read the post over on your blog recently about your system for planning out your content, and I was really happy to see that I’m not the only one who uses an actual hard-copy calendar to do this. : ) I totally agree that having it in front of your face is better for making sure the work gets done!

    Thanks for commenting, I surely do appreciate it! : )

  3. Well, mine hardly qualifies as a “system,” but I jot things on a little white board on my desk. It’s very cute, it looks like lined paper they used to teach cursive on. (Anyone remember that?) Anyway, it’s only a week at a time. I justify my limited planning by the fact my work is news dependent 🙂 But this post inspires, Kimberly, thank you. I am am going to strengthen my relationship with that little white board — starting next week! 😉

  4. Hey Annie, thanks so much for your comment, much appreciated!
    I’ve seen your little white board (or at least the one you had last time I was there), and I love that “system.” : ) Of course with your news dependent work, that makes all the sense in the world.
    In fact, I have a white board too that I was using all last Fall, but then when I moved my desk into the living room, there was no good place to put it. I love using a white board for daily and weekly tasks, must put that back into rotation!

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