When you decided to start your business, it was likely that you needed to create a business plan. You needed to explain what your business was, what you wanted to achieve, and how you planned to achieve it. It is highly likely that you created an outline of that plan before acting on your strategy. It would be best if you approached your business’s social media in the same way.
Enter: The Editorial Calendar.
What is an editorial calendar?
Let me start this section with an assumption – you are a small business owner or entrepreneur who is running the show solo or with a minimal amount of staff. Also, you have been or will be doing the business blogging yourself.
Distilling everything down to its essence: an editorial calendar is a schedule of what you are posting to your business blog (and other social media accounts) over a set period, typically one year.
It is the map of your online marketing strategy.
Why do I need an editorial calendar?
Why do you have a planner where you write down doctor’s appointments, business meetings, or your child’s sportsball games? An editorial calendar is used for the same reasons. The average year has cycles. Ups-and-downs that happen (usually) like clockwork. These rises-and-falls are true for most, if not all, businesses. Yet, despite those expected events, everyone gets busy, and when people get busy, they get forgetful.
The editorial calendar is a way to remind you that you are supposed to be working on a rough draft this week for that blog post you want to publish at the end of the month. Next week is your reminder that you need to set aside time to go over that draft, edit, and polish it before having, at the very least, one other person who isn’t you read it and give feedback.
The week after that? Your reminder to publish that beautiful piece of information!
How do I create an editorial calendar?
If you search for “blogging editorial calendar,” you will get approximately 1,700,000 results. At least that’s what I got when I plugged it into Chrome for illustrative purposes. The point being: there is no one best way to create an editorial calendar. Everyone has an opinion, myself included.
Look at what you use right now for your planner and ask yourself: “Does this work for me?” If it does – go with it.
I have a love of planners, and I haven’t yet found the perfect-for-me planner (this year I’m trying out the Tūl model from Office Depot). I use a combination of Google Calendar, the Tūl planner, and Excel. Excel?
Keep it Simple (& Smart)
I like to use the K.I.S.S. method for a lot in life. So, yes, I use Excel. I’ve used Excel for years. It was already installed on my work computers or personal laptops. I could customize it to fit my purposes. If I was not going to be around, I could give the person covering for me access to the file and post things in my absence without them trembling in fear of having to learn new software that they would probably never use again.
Does that mean I think you shouldn’t buy specialized software like Trello, Asana, or any of the multitude of other products available? Nope. Your money, spend it how you see fit. But my guess is that the learning curve for any new software will exceed the amount of time you presently have available to create an initial editorial calendar. Besides, as your company grows and you pass the baton to new teammates, you can always upgrade later. Or not.
Collaborative effort? If you’re working with more than one person on your online marketing strategy and you don’t have your Excel editorial calendar on an accessible network drive, a great substitute would be Google Sheets.
Most businesses use social media (and other online resources) blindly with no plan and no playbook. Blogs often fall to the wayside and are forgotten, often for years, or altogether abandoned. Yours doesn’t have to end the same way.
Every good business requires a plan. A business blog is no different.
Sarah Wilde is a freelance writer in Madison, WI. In addition to playing with words, she plays with numbers, and provides outstanding customer service. Sarah is also an avid reader and lover of audiobooks – she finished 82 books in 2019!