An editorial calendar is a main part of a strong content creation plan. Understanding each element will help you build a robust outline that delivers value.
To put it simply, editorial calendars are bundles of outlines that map out the content plan for customers. They come in groups of 10 and 20 topics, or outlines, each of which detail ideas for future articles. While calendars are crucial to an organized and effectual content creation plan, they do no good unless you include certain elements that enable the customer to picture the content roadmap and allow the writer to create the full article easily.
Take a look at five tips to help you produce an editorial calendar that does just that.
Understand the customer and their audience
This is perhaps the most important tip to remember: If you don’t write in the customer’s voice and for the customer’s audience, it voids the entire outline, no matter how good the content is. To help you meet this requirement, Tempesta Media provides you with the customer’s Voice Profile™ as well as any additional instructions from the customer themselves.
What to look for
With these resources, you will find information on:
- Suggested topics: The customer may give you topic ideas or keyword suggestions to build the editorial calendar from. This is a good starting point to help you create outlines that both fall within the customer’s industry and appeal to the right audience.
- Suggested word count: Sometimes customers will identify their own word counts. In other cases, you can make a word count recommendation by looking under the Content section in the Voice Profile. There, you can find the customer’s average word count range.
- Note: The word count of the actual outline you create is 100 words per topic. The suggested word count box you fill out is for the full article you are creating the outline for.
- Details on the customer, their company and their industry: The Voice Profile contains information on the customer’s products and services, their solution/value-add to customer, and other details about their content creation plan. Additionally, at the top of the Voice Profile, you will find the customer’s website link. Refer to this information to ensure you include topics relevant to their offerings.
- Details on the customer’s audience: Further down in the Voice Profile, you will find an Audience section. Make sure you review this to get a feel for who the audience is, what their problems are and what information would be valuable to them. Otherwise, you could write an outline irrelevant to the readers – you don’t need to tell a medical professional audience that washing your hands is important.
Information doesn’t stop here though! If you need more details on the customer, look on their website or search online for press releases and social media posts. The more information you can gather on the customer and their audience, the stronger the editorial calendar you will write.
Research relevant industry topics and trends
A huge part of writing for the correct audience is offering information that is relevant and valuable to them.
For example, if your information is too general or if your topic is for a beginner in the industry, an expert audience won’t learn anything from it. After identifying who you are targeting, you can move on to finding topics for the content creation plan.
Use the Voice Profile
Referring to the Voice Profile, identify the industry and industry segment the customer is in, as well as the solutions they provide.
For example, say your customer is a financial institution. What kind of finances do they handle – personal or business? If personal, what do they specialize in – mortgages/home loans, wealth planning, retirement planning, investment services?
Note: Here, remember to keep in mind the audience’s expertise. If the audience is new to retirement planning, you’ll have to explain concepts and industry jargon to introduce them to the topic.
Turn to the internet
After this preliminary research, you can move on to finding the actual topics of your editorial calendar. Here are a few tips to help:
- Search the keywords. In the finances example, you may want to start simply by typing in common keywords of that industry and segment: Personal retirement planning, business equipment financing, etc.
- Identify trends. Try to look at the bigger picture. Over the past decade or so, what has been the driving force for change in the industry? What are companies always trying to accomplish? What has the audience been asking for for years? In terms of finance, it may be more streamlined online banking or enhanced security.
- Consider direct environmental influences. Currently, COVID-19 is influencing every industry in some way. This is no doubt causing changes in your customer’s business and their offerings, operations and plans. Create a topic that shows how things have changed and how the customer is adapting to resolve the issues to continue to grow.
- Determine industry events. Similar to the above, consider changes within the customer’s specific industry, like the financial impacts of the CARES Act. Also, consider industry events – maybe there is an annual industry conference coming up or a huge security breach at a national company.
Choose reliable resources
The process of choosing good topics for an editorial calendar (and content creation plan as a whole) is multi-fold. Let’s recap – you need to know:
- The customer and their offerings.
- The industry and segment the customer works within.
- The target audience and their pain points.
The last major consideration for a strong topic idea is the resources. Essentially, they should be:
- Timely. The Voice Profile may specify how old the publication dates can be, but a good rule of thumb is finding sources published within the last 2-3 years.
- Relevant. Don’t choose a source that contradicts the idea of your topic. For example, your topic may be arguing for how retirement planning will be more difficult in the future, while your source says that things will get easier.
- Non-competitive. This step requires some scrutiny, but it is crucial. You don’t want to steer readers to your customer’s competition. Your sources can certainly be within the same industry, but make sure their offerings do not overlap with those of the customer. A safe bet would be to rely on news outlets or research firms (as long as that research was not commissioned by a competitor).
Develop strong key points and a quick introduction
For an editorial calendar, and a content creation plan in general, the more detail you include, the better. At Tempesta Media, we require outlines to include at least three key points and a quick introduction to establish the direction of the full article.
After you’ve identified your topic and resources, these steps are just a matter of summarizing the points that you want the full article to highlight. Feel free to use subpoints too.
However, when choosing main points, do not copy ideas directly from one source. That will just result in a duplicate article, provide no real value and present a potential plagiarism issue.
Besides establishing direction/focus, identifying key points is also the chance to set up the organization. How do you think this information could be best presented as a full article? Problem/solution? Chronologically?
Again, the more organized and detailed you are in this section, the more value you will present to the customer.
Identify a reasonable word count, relevant keyword and strong title
These last steps are quick but nonetheless important to the comprehensiveness of the editorial calendar.
As mentioned above, the suggested word count box of our editorial calendars are for your recommended length of the full article. This is based on the topic, the details in your key points and any specifications from the customer. Be reasonable here. Answer the question, “How much space would I need to adequately address all this information?”
Try to summarize the outline in a word or phrase. Answer the question, “What would I type in the search bar to find this full article online?” The answer will likely lead you to your keyword.
Use the same tactic here as you did to identify your keyword. Summarize your outline in a few words or a longer phrase. Make sure that it is informative, accurate and catchy as well.
An editorial calendar is crucial to a successful content creation plan. Each component adds value to the outline as a whole, making it easier for customers to picture their content roadmap and for the writer to create the full article.
Need help with creating an editorial calendar?
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