How to Create an Editorial Calendar

4 min read
February 20, 2018

Quality content is one of the key components of a successful inbound marketing strategy.

But how do you develop an editorial calendar?

Here are 5 steps to get you from a blank canvas to a thriving blog.

1. Brainstorm

Start with the big picture. What are your goals for the year? The quarter? What topics should you make to cover?

According to marketing guru Marcus Sheridan, there are five types of questions you should always try to answer with your content marketing. Sheridan calls these the “Big Five.”

The Big Five:

  1. Cost and price - Even if you don’t provide the numerical value, give your audience a sense of factors that determine cost and price, especially if you offer different tiers of service.
  1. Problems - Know what your product or service is a good fit for, and what it isn’t a good fit for. Although talking about the “problems” associated with your product or service (or more accurately, areas where it’s not a good fit) may seem risky, at the end of the day, this helps weed out the bad-fit leads earlier on, and gives you more time to focus on quality leads that are a good fit for your business.
  1. Comparison - Talk about how your product or service compares with its competitors. Your audience is researching this question anyway. When you answer this question on your website, you also have the chance to frame this comparison in a way that puts you in a good light. Although your competition may have lower prices or different features, you know that what you offer is special. Share this perspective with your audience.
  1. Reviews - Your audience places a lot of stock in customer reviews. Build trust by putting those reviews on your website, social media channels, and external review sites. If you don’t have a process for getting reviews from your happy customers, implement one! What does your customer base need as motivation to fill out a survey?
  1. Best - Which is the highest quality? What features set a good product or service in your industry apart? What key quality markers should a potential buyer look for? It doesn’t hurt if you showcase some of the things you do well in this type of content, but just make sure you keep it educational and general rather than naming your brand.

When you’re brainstorming, you’ll want to come up with more than enough ideas so you can narrow them down later. For example, if you have 12 slots to fill in your editorial calendar for this quarter, try to come up with 20 possible topics.

Stuck? Try these strategies:

  1. Focus on the Big Five. Come up with as many possible topics as you can that are related to the Big Five. Bring out your buyer persona. What do they care about? What Big Five questions are they asking?
  1. Set a timer. Write down as many ideas as you can in 5 minutes. You’ll be amazed at how many ideas you can come up with if you set a time limit on your brainstorm.
  1. Go for a walk. Sometimes, stepping away from a problem is the best way to find a solution. Check out this great New Yorker piece on the creative benefits of walking - and once you’re done reading, get up from your desk and try it for yourself!
  1. Google it. What are other people in your space saying about this topic? What are people searching for around this topic? This is a good time to make use of any artificial intelligence at your disposal. Need some ideas? Learn how to leverage AI here.
  1. Hold a group brainstorm. If you’re lucky enough to work with a group of talented marketers, you know that they likely have brilliant ideas that you’d never think of in a million years. Just don't fall victim to the bystander effect, where everyone assumes someone else will take responsibility for the problem, and then nothing gets done. Our remedy? Accountability. For example, set a timer and have everyone jot down a certain number of ideas. Or, have everyone show up with a minimum number of ideas.

2. Narrow Things Down

Whether you’ve brainstormed by yourself or as a team, the next step of the process is to narrow things down.

Which ideas are practical? Which topics are the most talked about in your space? Which, according to your marketing data, are most likely to perform well? Are your ideas relevant to the buyer’s journey? Are you using content to strategically guide your audience towards conversion into customers?

3. Choose a Type of Content

What type of content best meets your needs? At Denamico, we’re big fans of written and video content.

Writing a blog post or article? Here’s why long-form content is usually the way to go. Increase your visibility and credibility by becoming a thought leader in your space.

Video is a smart choice too, and it’s performing increasingly well. According to Wistia, people spend an average of 2.6x longer on a page that has video. And Cisco estimates that video will account for “82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2021, up from 73 percent in 2016.” Thinking about creating a video? Ask these 10 questions before you pass go. Wondering what length of video is right for your platform of choice? Check out HubSpot’s helpful guide.

4. Produce the Content

Having a great idea isn’t enough. You need to actually produce the content, too.

Stuck in a rut? Try out one of these 10 Ways to Avoid Business Blogging Burnout, courtesy of our Senior Inbound Strategist Adam Stewart.

5. Edit the Content

“Kill your darlings,” the saying goes. We’re not sure who said it first - attributions range from Oscar Wilde to G.K. Chesterton to Stephen King - but so many writers can’t be wrong about this important stage of the writing process.

So, go back through your writing, or your video. Is it easy to grasp the main point? Is there a clear step the viewer can take to move to the next stage of the buyer’s journey? Anything that could be confusing needs to go.

Our best editing recommendation? Don’t let it out your door until it’s been seen by at least two sets of eyes.

Congrats, you’re ready to go! But wait ...

So you’ve successfully created and implemented an editorial calendar for this quarter. It’s time to sit back and relax, right?

Not so fast. Creating a system is only the first part of the process. What comes after is far more important.

Do you have a plan to analyze and optimize your efforts? If not, Denamico can help.

Schedule a consultation today. We’ll leverage your marketing data to drive concrete results that grow your business.