How To Create An Editorial Plan
Editorial Plan Strategy – There’s definitely a process that you should follow. But rather than starting with the idea that you need to publish X posts per month and therefore need to come up with X topics to write about, it’s better to start with Goals.
Plan Around Your Goals
What are your business and blog goals? Are you focused on traffic, subscribers, leads or increasing sales? Or all of the above? Write those down and begin to note ideas for tasks, articles and other promotional activities.
Once you’ve given your goals some thought, you can begin to map out what content you actually need in order to meet those goals.
Again, we aren’t yet getting to frequency or schedule – just an outline of what pieces of content you think you have to have in order to achieve what you want.
For instance, suppose you want to be the authority for new bloggers, and specifically, want to rank for “How To Start A Blog.” You’d map out your “top-level” article that would be titled exactly that, and then consider 3 sub-pages, and 3 blog posts per sub-page.
(This structure is called a Content Pyramid though it’s also referred to as a skyscraper and other illustrative labels. The idea though is always the same – select a top-level topic and then structure additional content that will support that topic and lead readers into that topic).
Once you have your first content pyramid thought out, think about what your next pyramid will look like, and the next.
Creating Consistent Tasks
If you break down your plan into three key focal areas the tasks should come into clearer focus, making the process much more manageable. The three areas include:
- Guidelines and governance – editorial quality standards, preferred practices, and guiding principles that define and distinguish the value of your brand’s content.
- Processes and tools – tasks, workflow, and routing practices, and the production techniques and technologies to keep your content engines running smoothly.
- Team resources – roles that handle each task, skills those tasks require, and details on how to keep your team focused and productive.
Schedule Your Content
While you’re working through these structures, be thinking about how much time you’ll need to create these pieces of content. We do need to get back to that editorial calendar eventually, but not before we’ve given thought to our capabilities.
Can you write one article per day? Per week? Per month? A lot will depend on your available time, resources, motivation, and, ultimately, those goals.
You see, the more often you publish great content, and the more overall content that you accumulate centered around your key topics, the faster and more successful your Google ranking and referral traffic will grow.
In fact, a study from Hubspot demonstrated that most blogs & businesses needed 50+ pieces of content before they started to see exponential growth in Google traffic, leads, and sales.
So while the normal blogging wisdom is to publish once per week, resulting in 48–52 pieces of content annually, question that. Are you prepared to wait 12+ months before you begin to see real success from your blog?
If not, and if you can afford to devote more time to blogging, plan to publish more often.
Do Your Research
Here is a quick action plan you can start using right away for your editorial content strategy:
- Look for long tail keywords. These are 3 or more words your customers might be searching for.
- Create your headline/title using those long tail keywords.
- Make a list of secondary keywords to be included within the body of posts, images, and meta description. Secondary keywords are keywords which play a supporting role to the primary keywords.
- Come up with subheadings, introduction, include a quote, and look for the main image to show what your content is all about.
- Put together an outline with subheadings to fill out the gaps creating the body and conclusion as a result.
None of us start out as expert bloggers. It takes time and practice, so the more often you write, the better your writing will become!
Don’t forget to structure your content around how your customers like to read your content. This will keep them coming back and staying on your site for a longer period of time.
Stick With Your Calendar
Now, finally, you should have a sense both of when you want/can publish, and what you should be publishing. Only then can you fill out an editorial calendar that actually works.
You can create a planner specifically to assist with this process, as it takes you through the goal setting, topic brainstorming, structure building and, ultimately, a perfect calendar for your editorial content.
You can also use an editorial calendar in WordPress to organize your content inside your website. Use this to help your team link to previous posts and continue creating fresh content.
Use it to help you figure out exactly what you’re going to publish in the coming year and save yourself a lot of time in the long-run.
The Editorial Plan Takeaway
If you’re first starting out we recommend setting up your editorial plan on Google Calendar. It’s easy to set up and free to manage.
- Create a new calendar for each blog you manage.
- Create a new event for each planned piece of content.
- Use the event details fields to create an editorial brief. Here are some ways to use the fields:
Where: The blog’s URL or a draft headline for the post.
Calendar: Name the calendar after the blog itself (for example, this makes it simple and easy for your team members to search and find your content).
Created by: Whoever added the assignment (this comes in handy if you’ve got writers who also contribute to content planning) or whoever will be writing the post.
Description: Here’s where you can get really detailed. We included the following things in the description field:
- A draft headline.
- Your thought process in terms of what you want the post to be about and why you think it’s relevant.
- Links to sources you want the writer to refer to or cite.
- Contact info for anyone you’d like the writer to email or call for an interview.
- A sample intro paragraph or full outline for the post.
- Attachments (images, PDFs or other resources, a Google Doc that explains why you’re assigning the post (i.e., a completed value proposition or buyer persona worksheet).
- Use tasks to break larger content projects up into manageable parts. For example, if you’re doing a blog series that requires a bunch of interviews and back-and-forth between multiple parties, you can assign each interview as a task and set deadlines for them.
Tasks are also great for getting responses from clients and writers (i.e., asking for approvals, edits, etc). Put your team members, employee’s, co-workers and everyone that’s willing to help in your tasks section.
If your entire team is on board and willing to help, this will keep your editorial plan on schedule. They can easily log in, add content and even share your links on their social media channels.
These are just some of the tips you can start using right away to find leads without spending any money on marketing. Remember the goal is for you to create helpful content that will keep your readers coming back on a consistent basis.
About the author:
Dave Schneider is the founder of LessChurn, churn reduction app. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and has visited over 65 countries. In his spare time, he writes about SaaS and business at DaveSchneider.me.