One of the challenges any company faces as it creates great ongoing content is balancing that production with other business objectives. In my own business, I have client needs and deadlines that sometimes take over the time I would have spent on my own blog. (This happened last week – I’m sorry!)
Other companies have even more difficult challenges maintaining a production schedule. If they don’t want to hire someone to produce the content for them, they need to create, and stick to, a publishing schedule. In addition, content creation needs to stay among the key priorities of those involved in the project. This is where an editorial calendar can be a lifesaver.
Why Editorial Calendars Work
One of the issues that can occur with any project, especially in a larger company, is that initial enthusiasm quickly wanes. One or more of the stakeholders in the project moves on to other priorities, and the project slowly dies a death of neglect. Content creation is especially prone to this process, because it can be very time consuming and requires several different folks to sign off before a piece can be published.
An editorial calendar can make this much easier. When each phase of content creation becomes an actionable step assigned to a specific person, the process seems less overwhelming to everyone. It becomes much easier for each person to know what they need to do so that they can do it and move on with the rest of their day. This efficiency will keep the project alive.
Types of Editorial Calendars
Although paper calendars used to be the norm, today almost no one uses them due to the effort it takes to reprint and distribute them when changes are made. File-sharing software such as Dropbox can make it easy to brainstorm and share ideas. Online calendars such as Google Calendar can help your team keep up on deadlines and know what is next in the process. The truly key element of any project is accountability, and a simple spreadsheet can help you keep track of what step you are on with each piece and who is responsible to take the next action.
Some companies, individuals, and businesses like to set up an overview showing what days each channel will be published during a month. A monthly calendar with color coding for Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and other outlets can be very helpful to give both your team and the managers an overview of your content strategy. This can be shared electronically or printed, as needed.
There are commercial solutions available also that help you keep your content calendar and collaboration all together, but I personally think that a free application like Dropbox, combined with regularly available office software, will work just as well and help keep overhead low on your content creation.
However you choose to put together your editorial calendar, it is the one tool that will keep your content creation projects in the top priorities of those involved. It will make it easy to know what’s coming up, what the deadlines are, and where each piece of content is in the approval process. Each person will know when their work comes due, whether they need to write, approve, or publish. In all, an editorial calendar is the key tool in keeping your content creation project alive.
What editorial calendar tools do you use? Let me know in the comments!
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