As a small business owner, you wear MANY hats – employee, content creator, visionary, strategist, marketer, and perhaps even the coffee maker. In the whirlwind of tasks, it's easy to let your editorial calendar fall by the wayside. Thinking, maybe, that you can wing it and be just as well.
The thing is you'd only be half right. You absolutely can wing it. In fact, I have wing-ed with the best of them. Wing-ing it officially for the first 3 years in business and unofficially here and there.
You CANNOT however achieve the same bank for your buck, peace of mind, or clarity that comes with a comprehensive or even half-ass comprehensive editoral calendar while doing the chicken dance.
So why do so many of us find ourselves doing this unplanned but completely expected chicken dance? For most of us, it is one of two reasons: we either don't know how or we don't have the time. So today I'll be eliminating both of those barriers for you by walking you through exactly How to Create your 2024 Editorial Calendar in 3 Simple Steps!
Wait, remind me what an 'editorial calendar' is again!
At its core, an Editorial Calendar is a scheduling tool that helps you plan, organize, and execute your content strategy over a specific period. It's your business roadmap, outlining when and where your content will be published across various platforms. Whether it's blog posts, social media updates, newsletters, or any other form of content, an Editorial Calendar brings order to the chaos of content creation.
The Power of the Editorial Calendar
An Editorial Calendar is not just a planner; it's your secret weapon for staying ahead in the competitive business landscape. Here are some of the perks of a well-planned calendar:
Consistency: In the digital landscape, consistency builds trust. An Editorial Calendar allows you to maintain a regular publishing schedule, keeping your audience engaged and anticipating your next move.
Strategic Advantage: Rather than creating content on a whim, an Editorial Calendar enables you to plan strategically. Align your content with key events, holidays, or product launches to maximize impact.
Improved Efficiency: Time is money, especially for small businesses. With a well-thought-out Editorial Calendar, you can allocate resources efficiently, ensuring that every piece of content serves a purpose in your overall marketing strategy.
Adaptability: While planning is crucial, so is the ability to adapt to trends and changes. An Editorial Calendar provides a framework that allows for adjustments, keeping your content relevant and timely.
Improved Collaboration: If you have a team or work with freelancers, an Editorial Calendar serves as a centralized hub for collaboration. Everyone can see the content schedule, deadlines, and overall strategy, fostering a more cohesive and coordinated effort.
Enhanced Content Quality: When you're not rushing to meet last-minute deadlines, the quality of your content improves. An Editorial Calendar provides the breathing space needed for thoughtful creation and refinement.
As a small business owner, investing time in creating and following an Editorial Calendar will pay dividends in the form of increased visibility, engaged audiences, and a more efficient content creation process.
Who doesn't want that?
3 Steps to Creating an Editorial Calendar
Step 1: Get Clear on the Components
Before delving into the intricacies of an Editorial Calendar, the initial step involves a comprehensive overview of your marketing essentials. This clarity ensures that your calendar aligns seamlessly with your business goals.
This is much easier than it sounds and simply requires you to take stock of what marketing efforts you'd like to plan for in 2024 (social media, newsletter, blogs, etc) and take note of any events, promotions, or sales to consider.
During this step, we're not looking at any actual calendars yet we're just collecting information like:
social media channels we're active on &/or ones you'd like to ad
how many/if any blogs you'd like to produce
what services/products do you offer
what videos need to be recorded
what events need to be promoted
what services or products are being released &/or need promoting
Step 2: Zoom Out and Set Themes
Now we get the calendar out. I use a Google Calendar because I use Google Calendar or everything else. I simply made a separate calendar called 'Editorial Calendar' and shared it with the team. Now I can see it every day when I'm looking at my calendar. You should use whatever calendar or project management tool works for you (I've seen great content calendars in Asana and Trello).
Once we have our calendar or tool of choice we start by zooming all the way out. We start putting in the date-specific things. For me that usually means starting with the annual Summer Social Sale and the new Winter Website Wonderland. (Starting December 21st, 2023)
Once the date specifics are in there you can fill in the general themes for the rest of your calendar. I typically keep this pretty simple and themed things by the month. So in April 2024, for example, my theme is blogging.
You don't have to make your themes monthly. I've seen some on a weekly, bi-weekly, and even quarterly basis. This largely depends on how much and what type of content you're producing as well as how many themed options you can think of to work through in a calendar year.
Step 3: Zoom In and Get Specific
So now we know what we're producing and how often; as well as the themes for the entire year, now what? We zoom in and get specific.
So let's take April from my example just now. My theme is blogging. I will need to plan one blog, 22 social media posts, and 2 email newsletters, and add at least one free and one paid product to the Clever Commodities for the shop.
From here I will choose the keyword for the blog and give it a cheeky name like: "April Blogs Bring May Customers". Check.
Then I need to come up with the two email topics for the month. How about "Done for You Blog Packages" and "Tips for Getting your Blog Monitized"? Check.
What's next? Oh, the products, let's do a free blog planning template for the free product and since we can't do physical blog products- maybe we'll add a new notebook to the shop in April. (I literally just came up with that!)
So do we need to plan EVERYTHING for the whole year?
That's the best part, you don't! In fact, in my example above you will notice I didn't plan my 22 social media posts. I also didn't plan what design might be on that notebook I'm offering or really what's going into the blog beyond the keyword and the theme.
Your editorial calendar is a tool and should help you get more done, better! So if you just want to plan every month the month before it happens, that's fine.
A good starting point is to at least set themes for the year so if you are winging it or even just planning closer to the time you will still have a solid jumping-off point that was well-thought-out and planned around with intention.
In fact, my calendar is built out like April's example above with the elements below through the Summer Social Sale:
blog keywords & titles
email headlines & CTAs
And I plan the social media only about 3-4 weeks out if that. Why? Because keyword research is hard coming up with good email headlines in a pinch can leave me reaching for Chat GPT for some good-four-year-ago backups.
I know what my pain points are and I know that if I sit down with a cheeky blog title that will be just enough to inspire me to get to work tap tapping on this keyboard. I don't worry too much about social media because I can produce social media content in my sleep. (Really I have!)
So what do you think?
Do you feel less overwhelmed by the idea of putting together your editorial calendar for 2024? If not what pieces still overwhelm you? You can drop us a comment on this blog or schedule a time to chat with me, Christi! I'd love to help you make heads or tails of it all!