Everyone needs content for their websites and social accounts. That’s a given. Planning and managing the content is highly important. There’s much to consider. In this post, I’ll provide information about some considerations related to planning and developing content. Read on to review this information:
- Editorial Calendar
- Maintenance Reviews and Sunset Dates
- Email Planning
- Social Media Planning
An editorial calendar is a plan and schedule for the content you’ll include on your website in the future. This planning also carries over to your social media, email marketing, and other marketing activities.
Perhaps you’d like some end-of-year posts or have a special topic for a particular month. I’ve seen some websites post their planned topics for the entire year. Focusing on a specific topic for a particular month provides an additional benefit. You can then contact businesses and perhaps partner with them or sell some ads. For example, if you know you’ll write posts about Topic A in October, you can contact businesses several months in advance that have products or services related to Topic A. Because you would be completing extra marketing for your monthly focus on Topic A, it could be a way for the businesses to gain some exposure. They might be inclined to post an ad with you. They might go a step further and step up their marketing efforts at the same time if they know they’ll have extra exposure during that month.
Here’s another example that I think might show the benefit of this type of planning. I have this information on another page on this site and am repeating it here as I think it provides a good description and example. Let’s imagine that you have a gardening business. I’ve come up with a few scenarios that I think illustrate how to use an editorial calendar both on your website and supporting social media and marketing materials.
“I need to publish something. I like roses. Who doesn’t? I think I’ll just write a quick post about roses this week.”
“Spring is coming in another month or so. In April, I’ll write a post about planting some roses. Maybe I’ll also make a short pruning video.”
“It’s January. In April, I’ll work with my supplier and have a sale on bare-root roses. In March, I’ll publish a series about roses and send it out in a special email newsletter to generate interest. I’ll also use some of the content to print a one-page flyer about roses, which I’ll give to to customers that purchase a rose plant. In April, I’ll publish a post and video about how to plant bare-root roses to coincide with the sale. I’ll use a certain kind of clippers in photos for the post and in the video. In December, I’ll have a sale on those clippers as a gift suggestion for gardeners, send notice about the sale in an email with a coupon, and will then link back to the articles and videos showing the clippers in use. I can also post the photos on a special board about roses on my Pinterest page – and on a gift suggestion board.”
There are a number of WordPress plugins available that you can use. Search for “editorial calendar” in the plugin directory. You’ll see a collection of calendars for various content topics. Take a stroll through the options and see if there’s something in which you’d be interested. Another way to plan is to use Excel or the Google Docs spreadsheet. Think about team planning as well when selecting a tool such as a plugin or use of a spreadsheet.
There’s an additional important consideration to keep in mind when planning your editorial calendar. To save time with content development, plan for ways to reuse your content across multiple platforms. For instance, you could take a “10 Tips for Something” post and make a slideshow. If you make a post series, create an ebook and use it as a download giveaway to encourage email newsletter signups. The list is endless. If you take the time to consider reuse in your content planning, you’ll save much time in the long run. Here’s an infographic I made that includes some ideas for reuse.
Maintenance Reviews and Sunset Dates
It’s helpful to set up a regular maintenance schedule for reviewing content and updating if necessary. Also, you can identify posts and articles that perhaps should be archived at some point. If you know beforehand, you can plan for it.
For maintenance, set up reviews for three months, six months, each quarter, a year, or some time period you determine. Having a set schedule makes it easier to manage your time. It lessens the chances of having something come up suddenly resulting in a need for you to drop what you’re doing and fix a post. You can plan your workload around the scheduled reviews and complete a number of post reviews at the same time.
It’s necessary to periodically review and update posts for various reasons. Here are some examples:
- Post topic has had significant changes (for instance, new social media platforms or changes in website management such as a site conversion to https)
- Topic occurs annually and warrants a quick review (for instance, students beginning college or moving into dorms)
- An organization updates guidelines annually, which may require an update to a related post you have about said guidelines
Let’s take these three examples and look at planning for them.
- Significant changes: for the social media example, perhaps review and update monthly but be ready for quick updates at any time.
- Annual changes such as moving into dorms: you can review this ahead of time so that when the topic becomes a hot topic, your post is ready and current. In this case, your review, preparation, scheduling, and planning would be before the event.
- Annual changes such as industry guideline updates: if it’s after a conference, you’ll need to wait until the conference is over and then publish updates as soon as possible. It’s certainly a good practice to run a quick review beforehand and update if needed. Or perhaps be ready to write and publish a new post. Either way, most work would be completed after the event occurs. Then it would need to be done quickly. Time is of the essence, as you would want to publish it while the conference is fresh in people’s minds. Also, get a jump on your competition by getting that information out quickly. In this case, your plan would be to set aside time around the conference to write the material or update existing posts.
These are just a few examples to illustrate the differences in planning for the type of post and the circumstances specific to the topic. Take a look at your own content that you can determine what’s needed for your website, industry, and audience. It’s one more reason to conduct a content audit!
Email marketing provides unique opportunities for planning. In addition to the example mentioned in the editorial calendar section above, you can also segment your audience. You can do this when people sign up. Set up your forms so subscribers can select what topics or newsletters that interest them. Then you can plan ahead and develop content for the different groups. You can create items for your entire audience as well as some content for particular interests.
Use your newsletter to push your content to your audience. Include this in your planning and schedules. If you’re sending a newsletter weekly, then publish your posts earlier in the week and send out your email at the end of the week. Or determine what day works best for your email open and click rates and plan your post publishing around that.
There are so many variables. Just be sure and add email to your planning!
Social Media Planning
So many platforms, so little time! Keep in mind that your website is your hub and social media platforms encircle it. Your social media accounts direct visitors to your website. Hence, along with your content planning, you should also plan your social media postings at the same time. Set up a spreadsheet noting the platforms and schedule and be ready!
I hope these items have provided you with some ideas for organizing and planning your content. It’s definitely worth whatever time you’re able to commit to planning up front. If you’d like assistance with developing a calendar and content plan, contact us!
For other tips in this series, see this post: Social Media & Blogging Tips: July 2017 (#2mDTips)
For information about content planning, reuse, and more, see these topics: