One of the main things that I do for my clients is to create editorial calendars.
When I tell people, clients or friends, about editorial calendars I usually receive a blank stare. They have no idea what they are or why anyone would need one.
So here’s a primer for both individuals and businesses on why you need this fancy productivity tool.
What the Heck Is It?
Editorial calendars have been around for a very long time.
Magazines use them as a guide for each issue. They center around a monthly theme. For magazines, that theme is then applied to their standard article formats. The theme is not taken literally. Instead, editors use them as a loose concept to help generate ideas and create cohesive content.
Let’s say a woman’s magazine had the theme of love for February (a bit boring, but let’s just go with it). The editors would apply this theme to the magazines standard articles of advice, budget, fashion, book recommendations, recipes etc.. etc… and feature articles would also be based around this theme.
For a concrete example, here is Vogue’s editorial calendar. Note that this is a public editorial calendar. Internal calendars are detailed with individual article concepts.
Not every article within a month needs to adhere to the theme. Current events might usurp the theme. However, if you are creative enough, you can work your theme into any topic.
Why You Need One
An editorial calendar should contain monthly themes and weekly subthemes. If you’ve never done this before, you might find it annoying (I’m being blunt here), but it all serves a purpose.
They help you to generate ideas.
If you write a daily blog, you know how easy it is to run out of ideas. If you have themes for your posts, you’ll have an easier time figuring out blog topics.
Take each one of your blog categories (What? You don’t have categories? What on earth is wrong with you?) and pair it with your subtheme. You may need to brainstorm a bit, but that’s part of the fun.
This is so important if you write blogs for brands. I’ve worked with investment bankers before. It’s a bit difficult to keep those blog posts fresh. Themes bring new life to old topics.
This is a must for online magazines. I’ve noticed that many of them have a difficult time keeping up a daily stream of features. You can plan for as many features a day as you’d like and assign them to your writers. You won’t have to worrying about simply aggregating industry news – which is a trap that swallows many an online magazine.
No More Writer’s Block
It happens to everyone. You sit down at your computer, open up WordPress and stare blankly at your screen. Maybe you scour writing prompt sites. Then you stare blankly at your screen some more.
An editorial calendar prevents this daily ritual of writer’s block. You plan out your post topics at least a week in advance (a month is better).
If you are an online magazine or a brand, you need to have your posts written in advance. This is helpful if you are an individual, but not as necessary.
(Do people say “FTW” anymore? I don’t know. I’m old. I have no idea what’s cool.)
It doesn’t matter if you are a magazine, a brand or an individual, you need to keep your article ideas organized.
I suggest assigning each of your blog categories to one day a week. Monday is category 1, Tuesday is category 2 and so on. This way, you have an equal amount of posts in all of your categories.
Besides keeping you organized, this helps you to determine which categories you don’t need. If you can’t generate enough topics for a category then demote it to a tag. It keeps you from cluttering up your blog.
So that’s the why. Tada!
Next week I’ll show you the how. Aren’t you excited? And of course, I can make you a customized calendar. Email me and we can get started.