Get organized and rock your content strategy with an ed cal
Are missed content opportunities getting you down? We’re sharing the basics of creating an editorial calendar to help organize your content by week for the whole year. Whether you’re planning content for blogs, videos, other content projects or all of the above, an ed cal makes it easy to collaborate, keep a consistent posting schedule and knock out deadlines. Here’s why and how to map out a year’s worth of big picture content in advance.
What is an Editorial Calendar?
An editorial calendar is an outline of your content and strategy for the year and can be broken down into months or campaigns. These serve as a beacon and road map for planning and reaching your content goals.
At Yakkety Yak, we build out our editorial calendar and those of our clients ahead of the new year during collaborative brainstorming sessions. We plan month by month because some of our content, and often our posting schedule, depends on seasons and holidays for context. We also organize our ideas under content buckets, or larger overarching themes (but more on that later). These include titles like Thought Leadership, News and Team Culture that are tied to the interests of the specific audience we’re targeting.
Editorial calendars are designed to be collaborative working documents that team members can adjust and refer to at a glance. In 2020, after the pandemic began, our team easily revisited the year’s planned content and made adjustments that were more in line with our new reality. An ed cal should be flexible and keep up with the changing needs of your brand. To keep it that way, don’t get too granular with your content and social ideas. Definitely have a structure, topic and themes to follow, but leave room for more spontaneous content as well.
Planning Content Buckets
Content buckets are individual categories or themes that alone describe one specific area of your business. However, when put together, they communicate a well-rounded presentation of your offerings. Each bucket is a tool for showing your audience the products or services you offer, providing them with new and innovative ways to connect with your brand. For example, educational content, product promotion, giveaways, news and inspiration are all examples of content buckets that you can use to organize and vary the type of content you share each month. While you might not hit each category every month, simply having an ed cal to refer to helps you tell a well-rounded story.
To come up with your content buckets, first review your existing content to see if any categories naturally emerge. Then ask yourself, “What draws my audience to my brand?” “What can I offer my ideal customer to keep them coming back for more?” Your content buckets should align with your brand’s goals, audience and company services—and also target your audience at different points in the marketing funnel.
Each content bucket should also be broad enough that the content you write for it remains fresh. If a bucket is too specific, you’ll quickly find yourself scrambling to come up with a new focus for your next piece of content. We recommend brainstorming ten to twelve ideas for each bucket to create a well-rounded content plan.
Here are a few examples of how your topics might fit into a content bucket category:
An informational content bucket is designed to educate your target audience on topics related to facets of your brand.
- A short video created by a coffee company to show and explain the differences in technique between pour over and French press
- An interior design company’s step-by-step guide on how to hang light fixtures
A promotional content bucket sells your products and services.
- A photo of a styled, pet-friendly living room sofa shared by a furniture company with links on where to buy
- A gif of a work sample that shows off their client work and design skills
A company culture and news content bucket shows who your brand is and what you value.
- An online florist’s blog sharing their commitment to funding breast cancer research while spotlighting survivors
- A fun clip of a team member that shows the personality of a company and their work culture
Finally, structuring your content by theme also helps you repurpose content throughout the year. Especially because creative and engaging content takes a long time to produce, be sure to reuse, refresh and repurpose content when it makes sense to. To lean on our examples above, a shorter clip of the pour over/French press comparison video above might also become a gif to use on social media later with accompanying copy selling freshly roasted beans or offering a special discount. A blog containing the information shared in the original video could be written up to answer audience questions, and if optimized for search, could also draw in new website visitors.
Your Editorial Calendar
After your content buckets have been decided, get ready to start populating your ed cal.
Before you settle on a template for your editorial calendar, determine what kind of format best meets your team’s needs. A team focused on drafting blogs may not need the same level of complexity in their planning document as a team developing blogs, scripts, videos, e-books and other content types regularly.
You should also determine your editorial calendar’s role when it comes to project management. Do you want to include a column to designate responsibility or show where a particular project is in the drafting and review process? At Yakkety Yak, we use Asana for task management and our editorial calendar purely to brainstorm, plan and track our content. For social media posts, we plan our social buckets and determine what general topics to cover each week, but the more granular monthly social content lives in its own calendar.
Some things you may want to include in your editorial calendar:
- The type of content you’re creating: blog, video, e-book, downloadable guide, recipe
- Your posting schedule and how often you will create new content
- The team member responsible for drafting the content
- Where something is in the review process: whether TBD, drafted or approved
- Where the content will be shared: your blog/website, YouTube account, Instagram Reels, TikTok, etc.
- Important dates: holidays, business anniversaries
Once you’ve decided the level of complexity you need your calendar to organize, you can download an existing template or customize your own. At Yakkety Yak, we use Google Sheets to create, edit and share our editorial calendars internally and with clients. As a small agency, we find this format allows us to include the amount of information we need without over-complicating the process.
Now that you’ve built out your editorial calendar, you’re ready to start creating content! We can’t guarantee that you’ll never face writer’s block again, but your new ed cal should make it easy to visualize what you need to write and when each piece needs to be completed. With the details laid out in the editorial calendar, content creation becomes more manageable.
Do you need a hand with your editorial calendar or content creation? Our team has the process down pat—and we’re excited to tell your story. Head over to our website to learn more about our services.