For a copywriter or anyone involved in content marketing, the snooze button is arguably the worst invention. Unfortunately, this pesky tool is much like a mosquito, as it is constantly buzzing to remind you that you are once again in danger of being late. Early in my career, the snooze button was the near-constant reminder that those deadlines were rapidly creeping up on me and I, per usual, had no escape plan except to feverishly write at 100+ words per minute and hope that what I was typing actually made sense.
Considering I’m writing this post right now, I guess my frenzied writing paid off (although the invoices I raked up at the local coffee shops during those days are a reminder that my lack of editorial planning was almost my demise). Fortunately, I like to think that I am now older and wiser, which is why it is important for me to share a few words of wisdom about creating and following the one calendar that you can’t ignore.
Create An Editorial Calendar That Makes Sense For You
A quick Google search will produce hundreds of thousands of articles on how to create an editorial calendar. Many of those posts are well-written and contain valuable advice about choosing the right tools, such as Google Sheets, Trello, or CoSchedule. However, you are reading my post, and I want to offer a little bit of an unconventional advice.
An editorial calendar is for you and no one else.
The latter statement isn’t to say that you shouldn’t “play nice in the sandbox,” work with others, or recognize that more than one calendar is involved in any company’s content marketing division. It is however, meant to remind you that your editorial calendar must be designed to meet your goals. Much like the cog in the wheel, you have an important role to play and if you ignore said editorial calendar (or create it to meet someone else’s goals) then you will inevitably turn the well oiled wheel into a square peg round hole scenario.
… No pressure …
In other words, your editorial calendar should be uniquely designed to help you meet your goals without the coffee-induced, running on fumes feverish pitch that you probably feel when the alarm goes off and you are forced to hit snooze on a calendar event. To create your editorial calendar here are a few pointers:
- Understand your limits.
- Don’t over commit, until you have established that the snooze button is not your friend.
- Recognize that it will take more than one try to create a calendar that is right for you.
- Determine the steps needed to realize your content marketing goals.
- Work backwards to ensure that your goals are met in a timeframe that works for the entire content marketing team. After all, if your job is to write and someone else is responsible for publishing, then you need to give your teammate a chance to succeed at their own tasks.
Keep Your Editorial Calendar Simple And Compatible
For the visual readers out there, a sample calendar snippet might be easiest to best understand how to create an editorial calendar. Let’s assume that the following editorial calendar is for a writer who needs to create five blog posts a week, but isn’t responsible for final publication. Let’s also assume that blog posts are created the week before they are actually published, which means that the writer needs to be finished with her tasks (revisions included) by Friday at 5:00pm.
- Monday — 5:00pm first draft of Blogs 1, 2, and 3 due.
- Tuesday — 12:00pm review, edit, and finalize Blogs 1, 2, and 3 before sending to team manager. 5:00pm first draft of Blogs 4 and 5 due.
- Wednesday — 12:00pm review, edit, and finalize Blogs 4 and 5 before sending to team manager. 5:00pm check back in with team manager regarding Blogs 1, 2, and 3, and the possibility of revisions. If revision requests are sent, begin making changes.
- Thursday — 9:00am new content pitches due to content team manager for next week’s blog posts. 12:00pm confirm that no revisions are needed for Blogs 1, 2, and 3. If revisions are needed (or have already been sent), finalize changes and send back to team manager by 5:00pm. 5:00pm check back in with team manager regarding Blogs 3 and 4, and the possibility of revisions. If revision requests are sent, begin making changes.
- Friday — 9:00am confirm that no revisions are needed for Blogs 3 and 4. If revisions are needed (or have already been sent), finalize changes and send back to team manager by 5:00pm. 12:00pm confirm that the pitches are approved for next week’s blog posts.
As seen in the above calendar, clear goals are set and there is a bit of leeway between deadlines (life happens, it is better to be prepared than to constantly be stressed). Finally, the team manager’s time has also been carefully considered, so that both individuals can seamlessly achieve their respective tasks, ideally before that magical 5:00pm hour occurs.
The Bottom Line: Practice Makes Perfect, Don’t Ignore Your Editorial Calendar
While it is tempting to hit the snooze button on a calendar event, don’t fall victim to that terrible habit. Practice does make perfect, and when you create your editorial calendar for you and no one else, you will be surprised at how easy it is to meet your deadlines. For any newbies out there, take it from someone who practically spent her earnings in coffee in desperate attempts to meet editorial calendar deadlines, don’t over commit before you are ready. It is far better to take on fewer tasks and enjoy the satisfaction of meeting all of your goals on time, than it is to see a bunch of deadlines that you can’t possibly meet.
Remember your editorial calendar is for you; so throw away the snooze button and overstuffed calendar, they are deadline making Kryptonite. If you play your cards right you just might turn into a super writing force who always meets deadlines without relying on coffee-induced speed typing.
Laura P has written 4,000+ articles, blog posts, product reviews, press releases, and website content for a multitude of clients. In the past 7 years, she has developed written, marketing, video, and web content for clients in the real estate, information technology, restaurant, auto, retail, equine sales, oil and gas, and public relations industries. Laura is highly proficient in SEO optimization, particularly in real estate and retail industries. She ghost wrote IT white papers, government contract task orders, RFIs, and RFPs that resulted in millions of dollars won. She has 7-years of experience working with and interviewing olympic athletes, small-business owners, CEOs, SMEs, and entrepreneurs on complex topics. As a professional writer, Laura strives to create content that is both meaningful and relatable to her readers.