Another deadline passes. It’s been weeks since you published any new content, and now the thought of restarting the whole process feels overwhelming.
It’s settled. You’re just too busy to create content. No more content marketing for you. It’s obviously not working for your business. And that’s OK, right? It doesn’t have to work for you just because it worked for your competitors.
Have you ever felt this way when you’ve fallen behind in your publishing schedule? I know I have.
Sometimes, it seems like it’s just not going to work. But in the depths of that despair, you know what I’ve learned? The demands of good content marketing isn’t the problem.
It’s easy to blame external factors beyond our control. Things such as time, skill level and lack of support come to mind. These issues don't seem fixable, at least in the foreseeable future. But those things aren’t the real problem.
They may seem like the problem. But the truth is, for content marketing to work it must first have a solid foundation. Think of it more like a machine than an art form. And, much like a machine, it needs schematics.
Enter the editorial planner.
Did you know that business-to-business marketers with a documented strategy are 28 percent more effective than those without one? An editorial planner is just one piece of the puzzle. But it’s an important piece that drives your content efforts.
It transforms it from a simple idea into a structured system. If you work the system, then you can get results. It’s that easy.
I’m sure you’ve heard about editorial planners before. But do you still feel confused about what to actually put into it? Don’t worry, you’re not alone in that confusion.
Naturally, how you lay out, share and access your planner depends a lot on personal preference. But regardless of how it looks, an editorial planner should include all of the following fields, at a minimum:
For my blog and my clients’ blogs, I use a simple seven-step publishing cycle to identify status: Idea, In-Progress, Ready for Review, Needs Revision, Final Editorial Review, Ready to Post and Complete.
2. Publishing date
Identify the date that the post needs to go live. Put that date in this field and stick to it.
3. Draft due date
Each piece of content has two basic stages: drafting and editing. Manage your time by setting a due date for the draft.
4. Editing due date
Similar to the draft due date, establish a time (prior to the publish date) that you want to have the final edit complete.
5. Working title
As you get into the post, your title may change a bit. But you need a solid headline to start. Put that beginning topic or title into this field.
Content comes in many shapes and forms. A few different formats include blog, video, podcast and infographic, so be sure to specify the type of content you’re trying to create.
This refers to the type of place where the content will be published. Channels include things such as website, email, newsletter, guest blog, Tumblr and LinkedIn publishing.
Categorizing your posts makes it easy to see at a glance which topics you’ve already covered extensively. Doing so helps you balance your topic load to ensure you don’t speak too much about any one thing.
This field is important if you run a team of different writers. Use it to show who’s responsible for creating the content.
You’ll also need an editor. Even if you write the posts yourself, it’s nice to have a fresh pair of eyes to check for errors and improve your content’s quality. Identify who’s in charge of editing in this field.
Chances are, you’ve got certain keywords you’d like to rank for. Put relative keywords into your editorial planner so they don’t get overlooked in the writing process.
Writing for just one person can make your content feel more personal. But you’ve got to know who you’re writing to. That’s why we have personas. Track yours by putting that target persona in this field.
13. Call to action
A strong piece of content will end with an even stronger call-to-action. These calls can range from an engagement-building question to a soft sale on one of your products. Direct your writers on how they should conclude the piece by directing its call to action.
14. Editorial notes
Do you have any specific notes about the content? Perhaps you don’t want to use a specific word or have a certain piece of content you’d like to link to. Put it right into your editorial planner so that it isn’t forgotten.
After you publish a piece of content, paste the URL into your editorial planner. It’s an easy way to keep up to date on your content audits and easily find old posts to link to.
16. Number of comments
After a post goes live, it’s important to understand its performance. Number of comments is just one way to measure the posts success. Keep a tally of it here.
17. Number of social shares
Another way to see how a post performed is through the number of social shares. You can do a total count or break it up by individual social channel, depending on your goals and the complexity of your social media marketing campaigns.
Which of these elements are missing on your editorial planner? Leave a comment below describing how you’re going to improve your in-house content marketing process.