As a digital branding and marketing agency, our company has encouraged, coached, and cajoled clients over the years on the importance of blogging for building traffic, buzz, and organic search.
We watched some clients grow by leaps and bounds, attracting hundreds of thousands of blog visitors per month.
And we watched others clients stumble along without ever gaining the momentum we were working for.
Of course there are a lot of factors that drive success or failure. But among the blogs that succeeded on a huge scale, we noticed two common factors.
First, the breakthrough blogs had a strong editorial calendar. And second, they used a thoughtful, strategic approach to managing editorial content.
What is an editorial calendar, and why do you need one?
An editorial calendar is just a fancy term for a publishing schedule.
If you blog regularly, you should look ahead at least one month and make some decisions about which posts you want to publish on what dates.
It’s really that simple.
An editorial calendar is the foundation of strategic blogging. That little bit of planning goes a surprisingly long way toward getting the most audience reach from your blog content.
1. An editorial calendar lets you plan ahead
By planning your posts ahead of time, you drive perseverance.
An editorial calendar encourages blogging as a habit, wards off writer’s block, and ensures that you never miss another deadline.
It’s a small, subtle thing, but you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes in your mindset.
2. An editorial calendar adds structure to your creativity
Many bloggers worry that an editorial calendar will straitjacket their creativity. Actually, the opposite is true.
Writing comes to many of us in waves. Struck by a bolt of inspiration, a blogger can write two or three posts in an afternoon.
That’s fine — keep writing about what inspires you. Then use your editorial calendar to publish each post according to a plan that keeps your target audience in mind.
Staring at that blank screen and trying to come up with a topic can be one of the most stressful aspects of blogging.
But you’ll find that when you make those decisions weeks in advance, you actually come up with more and better ideas. You’ll be more creative, not less.
3. You can take a great concept further
An editorial calendar is a powerful tool for maximizing the reach of your content, while removing the pressure of having to generate new concepts for each post.
Say you’ve got a great topic in mind, one you know your readers care a lot about. There’s no reason to blow it all in one day.
Would it make a valuable series, parceled out over a period of time and then gathered into a content landing page? Could you run some interviews or line up some guest posts on the topic? Or go multimedia and round up a few engaging videos or cartoons on the subject?
Whether you write everything yourself or use guest writers, planning ahead lets you group your content more effectively. Once you start looking at your blog a month at a time, you can develop patterns and make sure your content is well-balanced among all the readers you serve.
4. You can be proactive and capitalize on search trends
When you pair planning with a strong foundation in SEO, you start to build your audience highly efficiently.
An editorial calendar helps you pay better attention to key outreach strategies, such as blog post titles and link building. At a more advanced level, you can use it to plan and time posts related to your target audience’s search behaviors.
Capitalizing on search activity can be as simple as timing posts and topics to synch with public holidays or product launches. Or it can be as complex as doing deep keyword analysis and planning content around trending search terms that will deliver maximum traffic to your blog.
Why Stresslimit developed the WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin
After years of hacking together editorial calendars for our clients, using Excel spreadsheets and Google Docs, we wound up in a long discussion with our close friend (and brilliant engineer) Zack Grossbart.
Beyond our mutual excitement about blogging and the power of editorial calendar strategy, we shared a passion for open source projects and wanted to give back to the WordPress community. We also wanted to develop a tool that would make our lives and coaching our clients more efficient, easier, and simply cooler.
Our clients were excited about the idea of using an editorial calendar. But there was no single tool that enabled us to eliminate “busy work” and free up more time for strategizing and creativity.
We were also in synch with Zack on our love for creating simple, intuitive interfaces that help people manage complex behaviors.
An eight-month collaborative project was born: co-developing, co-designing and re-iterating the WordPress Editorial Calendar.
We’re excited to announce the launch of version 1.0 of our editorial calendar plugin, which is (in our humble opinion) the killer tool for managing and driving the success of any blog — from the small and personal to the large and corporate.
We invite you to take the WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin for a spin at this link. It’s free, and we think you’re going to get a lot out of it.
Here are some of the things you can do with the plugin
- See a month’s worth of posts at a glance.
- Juggle your calendar by simply dragging and dropping posts from day to day.
- Quickly edit your posts’ titles, contents, and publishing times.
- Publish posts or manage drafts.
- Instantly see the status of your posts.
- More easily manage posts from multiple authors.
And you can do all of that right from the calendar interface itself. It’s simple and intuitive.
No plugin alone can make you a brilliant strategist. But the WordPress Editorial Calendar is a tool that will encourage more strategic habits, thinking, and behavior. Check it out here.
About the Authors: Justin Evans is the founding partner of design branding and online marketing agency Stresslimit. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, startups, NGOs, and global thought leaders. Zack Grossbart is a programmer and author whose sensitivity to user experience and design has driven success for many Fortune 500 companies. He blogs about code and about user experience design, and is releasing his first book as a free serialized release at The One Minute Commute.
Editor’s Note: We use Stresslimit’s editorial calendar plugin here on Copyblogger, and we think it rocks. There’s no affiliate relationship, we just found it a nifty tool and think you’ll get a lot out of it.