One of my tasks last year was to create an integrated editorial calendar for my upcoming podcasts (Social Media for Authors Podcast), Friday blog posts, and newsletters.
The content calendar in turn directed my social media calendar.
I hate to admit this, but I’d never created this type of calendar before. I’ve written three-month editorial calendars for my blog, but never one that was so detailed.
My first task was to brainstorm topic ideas. Some people use mind maps for this step, but I’ve never found one that I liked.
So I applied my fingertips to the keyboard and started writing whatever came to mind. Here are some examples:
- Blogging Apps & Plugins I Wouldn’t Be Without
- Marketing Strategies for Indie Authors
- Is Facebook Advertising Worth It for Authors?
- Why Authors Need a Pinterest Business Account
- How to Engage Your Readers
Each topic becomes a theme, which I note in a separate column, and every bit of data I introduce supports the main thesis.
Next, I decide on one call to action and note that in the next column. I’m an author so right now the calls to action are for one of my books.
In the next column, I list the web address to previous posts that are pertinent to the theme. This step is followed by the web addresses of other posts I find on the blogosphere that contain valuable information within the established theme.
In the next three contiguous columns, I write In the final columns: the date the episode airs, the date my blog post publishes, and the designated date for my newsletter. (Note: My blog subscribers do not receive the newsletter.)
Finally, I have a column for when I create the artwork.
You can add additional columns to incorporate your social media marketing plans. They can include:
- How often you’ll post the information.
- Which social media networks you’ll post it on.
- The changes in title you’ll create for each tweet if you send recurring tweets.
- If you write in different genres, you might want to add a column for the specific demographic you’re targeting.
- Maybe you want to use specific keywords in different posts depending on your specific demographic. You can do the research in advance and plug it into your content calendar.
The Benefits of Planning a Content Calendar
There have been times in my life when I’ve gone without a calendar. It’s not a particularly good feeling.
When it’s time to write, I have to spend time researching topics. That’s what I love about the calendar; the research has already been done.
Having a calendar doesn’t mean that you have to stick to it. Life happens; issues shift. If you have a sudden burst of inspiration and want to change some items on your calendar, do it.
Don’t ever let a calendar stifle your bursts of creativity.
Here are some of the benefits that you will derive from having an editorial calendar:
- You won’t have to face the question, “What will I write about today?”
- You can incorporate holidays into your calendar and plan ahead for them.
- You can incorporate book launches into your calendar.
- You can include content to support book sales, book readings, and other efforts that promote your books.
- It makes your social media marketing easier because you’ll be able to plan future tweets and Facebook posts and artwork for Pinterest.
There’s another benefit to developing a calendar. If you track web visits, retweets, and other forms of social sharing, you will develop a body of evidence. This evidence will be in the form of dates your readers were more likely to share you content, dates when web traffic spiked, and dates when book sales improved.
Then you can refer to your calendar and determine which types of content triggered engagement and sales, and which type of content left your website a tad lonely with few to no visits.
Click here to download a sample of an editorial calendar.
I’d love to know how you prepare your calendars and what you include in them.
Frances Caballo is a Contributing Writer for The Book Designer. She is also an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. Click here to receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers.
You can learn more about Frances and how to connect with her here.