Whilst day-to-day posting is essentially the equivalent of breathing life into the lungs of your platform, it can easily bite into your creativity. Very few of us, if any, have the luck to swim in a creative flow every day and posting for the sake of posting is simply not the recipe for a successful organic grow. Preparation is key when it comes to providing quality content and this applies to your brand regardless of whether you are an Instagram shining star with plenty of time on your hands whilst living worry-free from your parent’s house or an established entrepreneur working between side hustles and a regular 9-5 job. We all have 24 hours in a day. This is why I am a strong advocate of planning. I plan everything, from 3 meals a day for the week ahead to holidays I want to go on next year. When it comes to my passion for writing and untangling the dark secrets of social media, I like to create an editorial calendar that works for me and adjust it every time I need to, making sure that I take full advantage of the magical moments when creativity is flowing in the air for hours.
The concept of an editorial calendar
What is an editorial calendar, I hear you ask. Simply put, everyone has been using a rather dry definition: An editorial calendar is a calendar that acts as the central hub for content production, workflows, and deadlines. It’s essential for alignment of content production teams and visibility across business stakeholders. In my view, an editorial calendar is the backbone of a good brand strategy. Think about it. Knowing when everything is due, what needs to be done and what needs to be looked into weeks ahead of time gives you time, saves you stress and calms your nerves.
First steps to creating an editorial calendar
In order to start creating an editorial calendar, you need to assess your current position. This is when:
- having an established brand strategy,
- knowing who your audience is; and
- what type of content you want to put out there comes in hand.
These are non-negotiable basic pillars that you have to figure out before jumping into planning your content, because there is no point to schedule instagram posts for once a month, if your audience is hungry to hear from you every day. You will lose their interest and whilst you plan that perfect once per month grid post, the new shining kid around the block will most likely have slipped in the dms of your followers and stole their attention. Social media is a fast environment, so you have to factor that in. At the same time and at the extremes, posting everyday when your brand is about ‘long read’ blogposts just for the sake of posting will lack in content quality. As always, it’s about the balance.
Once you are set on the type of content you want to deliver to your audience, and you know who that audience is, it’s time for a bit of a self-review. How long does it take you to prepare that content? Make a list of all the steps you usually take in order to produce a final product. For example, when I plan to post an article on my blog, I do the following: brainstorm the idea, find supportive research and statistics if available, have a go at a first draft, do some more research, form an opinion and fluff my first draft into the final product. Once the writing bit is over, I go into thinking about the metrics attached to the article like key words, categories, tags, featured images, permalink, etc. It can take several hours to build an article that satisfies my needs before posting it. On ‘bad days’ when creativity is playing games with me and my confidence, I take even longer, sometimes I have to shut down my laptop and return to it on another day. All this information needs to be included in your editorial calendar. I know some of you think all this planning will take you away from time you could have spent creating, but trust me, after the first time you do it, it will come to you as natural. Spending a Sunday planning your content for the next month, will protect you from wasting time when you’re in the creative flow, thinking about what to write.
Now that you know the type of content and audience applicable to your brand as well as how long it will take you to produce that content, let’s get technical.
Types of editorial calendars
Depending on the type of person you are (it’s always about what works for you), there are a number of calendars that could make your life easier and that I can vouch for. This is not an exhaustive list, so feel free to experience and find what fits your planning skills. As you will see below, I like to combine some of these and although it may look messy, my brain likes it. So, you may want to stick to one type of editorial calendar, and that is absolutely fine.
I love using a good spreadsheet, mainly because it can be changed at any time without much damage and it looks all neat and fancy, but also because there are so many templates out there that you can use for free! Even if the templates are not your cup of tea, they can serve as inspiration or a starting point for creating your own shining version.
This is a completely free platform that allows you to create ‘card entries’ that can be moved around for your own convenience. What I like about Trello is that you can upload your excel spreadsheet on it and access it everywhere. Cheeky right? But truth be told, any type of content can be set up in Trello. I will insert a screenshot of my old Trello workflow to show you how easy the process of preparing a blogpost, for example, can be created in Trello to make sure you have everything you need at your fingertips, no matter whether you’re using your personal laptop to write or you’re stranded on a stranger’s computer – it’s all there! Amazing, right? Plus, the aesthetic of it is so pleasing.
If you’re not very techy or you don’t trust that your computer will not eat up your whole calendar in one second once you forget to save it – worst case scenario ever, but still not the absolute apocalypse – you have the option to use a physical planner. I like the concept behind the content planner but any planner would do. I would even challenge you to have a go at a bullet notebook to create your own.
For the techy ones out there, I’m sure you heard of Goodnotes before. If you check Etsy, the amount of templates that can be used for your e-planner is endless.
ZTC TIPS & TRICKS
Here are my tips for building an editorial calendar that will make you proud:
- Plan your content for weeks, or even months, in advance
- Build seasonal themes in your calendar
- Plan for big holidays like Easter or Christmas
- Plan for mini holidays like Valentine’s Day
- Plan for occasions where fans are actively searching on social media for advice
- Create daily themes across your social networks: New blog post Mondays, Infographic Tuesdays, Quote Wednesdays, etc.
- For inspiration, check Planoly and subscribe to their newsletter. They provide monthly content calendars which come handy when you run into a creative block
- Create workflows (step-by-step tasks you undertake to produce an article for example) and incorporate them in your calendar
- Factor in deadlines (even if only self imposed) – this will give you a sense of urgency which sometimes accelerates the creative flow
- Give yourself time – you deserve to plan your content in order to create qualitative work
That’s it for me this week. If you want to share your secret tips, I will find you down in the comments.
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