Growing up, my mother always recruited my sister and I to paint the rooms in our childhood home. From the beginning we were determined to start painting immediately and wanted to ignore filling in nail holes, taping the edge of the ceiling, and laying tarps on the hardwood floors—only to find out it would lead to a sloppy job. When it comes to maintaining a company blog presence, many marketing teams face the same temptation: skipping the planning and preparations behind your content production and jumping right into writing and publishing.
At Don’t Panic, we’ve seen this happen in large and small businesses—skipping the preparations due to a lack of time, and instead hustling to just throw something out there. When you’re on the hamster wheel of managing a company blog, it’s easy to ignore this problem. After all, managing a blog is just one part of your much larger job! But by stepping back and taking just a few simple steps to get organized, your frustration can be solved—and all you need is a simple editorial calendar!
Here are the most common challenges we’ve noticed that businesses face when struggling to maintain a consistent blog presence:
1. You’re Forgetting Important Posts Without an Editorial Calendar
If you don’t have a content schedule yet for your team, you are likely prone to missing important deadlines. After all, it’s happened before; you assume that a team member will communicate deadlines with an external contributor and the post will be up and ready by the publishing date. The deadline passes, no one has uploaded the post, and suddenly you learn that it was never assigned! Not only does that leave your blog with out-of-date content, but missing posts or not giving consistent assignments can damage your relationship with contributor, making it harder to get great content for your blog the next time around.
There is a simple fix: track the date, time, and owner of the post, every time. You can use a tool like CoSchedule or Newscred, but we often find that a simple spreadsheet is actually the most effective solution!
The key to a successful editorial calendar is ensuring that each person is aware of their role in the process. Who maintains the spreadsheet and ensures that assignments are made? Who is the owner of each post, responsible for making sure that assignments are made, deadlines are met, and content is loaded in? What is the timeline for each step in that process? Ownership may need to be flexible depending on other responsibilities, but your calendar (as well as the keeper of the calendar!) will help to ensure that new content keeps flowing.
2. You’re Over-Working Your Content Team
Have you noticed that your writers’ posts have been coming in last minute, or that the post quality is declining? If your writers are consistently being assigned back-to-back publishing dates amidst additional responsibilities, you could be well on your way to a blog burn-out.
An editorial calendar will help you rotate authors and track publishing dates so that you can visualize your team’s commitments. By doing so, your team will avoid last minute post submissions and poor content that could have been improved through a better balanced schedule.
Create an editorial calendar, and integrate a monthly scheduling session into team meetings. Determine who is writing each post, as well as their deadline for submission. If it becomes apparent that you don’t have enough writers on your team, consider accepting external contributors or hiring a ghostwriter to fill in the gaps.
3. You’re Publishing Similar Content Back-to-Back-to-Back
You have assembled a team of exceptional writers and specialists. Keeping your readers in mind, each author spends numerous hours brainstorming, researching, and writing for every post. Despite the team’s efforts you’re faced with a disappointing reality: your reader rate and CTA clicks have been way below what you need. These poor results may be due to the overwhelmingly similar posts that have been published back-to-back.
Housing all your content marketing information in one place is a simple and a proven strategy to overcoming this challenge. Identify categories for each post and rotate each category within your calendar. With analytics in hand, schedule popular category posts more frequently to meet your audience’s demands and improve read rates.
4. Your Content Team Has Stopped Communicating
New content writers were just hired onto your team, and you realize you’re not totally confident in their skillset just yet. Typically, you count on your small team of seasoned writers to communicate with each other about the status of each post—and fortunately everything was always loaded in and ready by the publishing time. Now, it’s not clear whether or not something will be published on time. If these new uncertainties are slowing your blog train in its tracks, you need of a way for your whole team to track the status of each post.
By making your editorial calendar accessible to your whole team, you create instant accountability for your blog process. You can review the status of every post, and if something goes awry, it will be clear exactly where the problem came about. Even for a small team, it is beneficial to have one space for all content management information so that each member can visualize and execute their goals.
Do the challenges above sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone! Even the Don’t Panic team has faced these challenges as other business priorities leave less and less time for maintaining our blog presence. Yet we find each and every time that the best solution is always to go back to the basics with our editorial calendar.
By now, I hope you’re inspired to go and create your own simple editorial calendar. If you’re having trouble—or simply need an external person to be the keeper of the proverbial calendar keys—give us a shout! As always, we’re here to help.