A 2-Step Editorial Calendar Template that Can Boost Your Content Marketing Productivity
Looking to increase your content marketing productivity? To get yourself started, try using this two-step approach to creating an editorial calendar:
Step 1. Use the Monthly Editorial Calendar work sheet (below) to choose 12 monthly topics, or themes, for the upcoming year. This creates a basic structure for your content marketing success
Step 2. Once a quarter, use the Weekly Editorial Calendar work sheet (below) to flesh out each of the monthly topics, identifying and scheduling specific projects for the next 3 months.
This two-step approach simplifies decision-making, helping you identify relevant, practical topics and schedule tasks far enough in advance to allow timely production and editing. Benefits include:
Perspective: The Monthly Editorial Calendar template creates a birds-eye, big picture view of your editorial calendar, helping you focus attention on your prospects’ key goals and objectives.
Easier decision-making: Focusing on 12 monthly themes at the beginning of your content development process helps reduce the number of decisions needed and increase the likelihood of getting a consensus on your ideas — which is particularly essential when multiple shareholders are involved. The monthly themes also make it easier to identify appropriate topics in advance of content creation.
Consistency: Multiple projects that address different aspects of each month’s theme reinforces your firm’s key messages on a regular, ongoing basis.
Scalability: The two-step approach to creating an editorial calendar is efficient enough for small firms and self-employed professionals, yet can be upgraded to create robust applications for larger corporations.
Efficiency: Identifying overarching themes that can be reinforced on a weekly basis also simplifies your efforts to reformat, repurpose, or recycle your key messages across multiple media channels.
Step 1: Choosing monthly topics
Start by choosing a topic, or theme, for each month, using the Monthly Editorial Calendar work sheet.
Success in this part of the process will depend on satisfying three key criteria:
Relevance: Choose topics related to your prospect’s primary goals and the challenges they’re interested in addressing.
Depth: Select topics that are broad enough to be approached from several different perspectives, which will permit a variety of approaches (i.e., articles, tutorials, examples, case studies, pros and cons, profiles, best practices, warnings, etc.). (See the sample Monthly Editorial work sheet.)
Significance: Focus on topics that also reflect your firm’s strongest areas of competence and competitive superiority.
When selecting monthly topics, look for ones you could return to during the same month each year (e.g., holiday-related themes for December; or themes that coincide with major conferences in your industry). Repetition builds familiarity and comfort. It also makes it easier for you to schedule future promotions around your planned content marketing efforts.
The right-hand column of the worksheet provides space for you to track the results of each monthly topic, helping you quickly identify topics that you might wish to repeat in the future.
Step 2: Choosing weekly topics
Next, use the Weekly Editorial Calendar work sheet once a quarter to plan your weekly content marketing topics for the next 3 months.
Identify topics that provide implementation ideas, and provide details to support each monthly topic. In each case, list the street date (the day your market will encounter your message) and the necessary deadlines for completing each project in time for launch. In addition, include the content marketing channel, or media, (blogs, guest posts, article directories, etc.) where you will share your message.
Try to fill out the Weekly Editorial Calendar at least 2 weeks prior to the end of the previous quarter, which will give you time to get started on the initial projects.
Remember: The weekly planner is not a strait jacket; it does not limit your ability to respond to time-sensitive issues. It simply specifies the minimum amount of content you’ll need to produce for each week.