Content Marketing is SEO these days. Sure, SEO is technically anything that improves your website to increase the traffic the site receives from search engines. And there are still lots of really great tips and tricks for gaining favor among the search engines crawling your website. However, major search engines such as Google are giving preference to websites that have consistent high-quality content. That is how your website will be found and place well in SERPs.
Today I want to give you one the easiest ways to get your content marketing plan going in the right direction. This will give you a central strategy point for your content marketing efforts, force you to provide consistent and well thought out content, and help you give your audience what they need to become loyal to you and your brand.
I am talking about using a content marketing editorial calendar.
What is a Content Marketing Editorial Calendar?
An editorial calendar in its simplest form is a calendar scheduling when content is to be published. It usually includes the title of a post and is designated to a specific calendar date so that you will know on that day what is expected to be published. However when examined closely, one will notice that a content marketing editorial calendar is much more complex than a simple calendar of due dates.
Content marketing comes in many forms. It can include news articles, videos, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides and tutorials, FAQs, and much more. In fact any content that is published, no matter the format, can be considered content marketing material so long as its creation is for acquiring customers. The point of content marketing is to expand your content to a wide audience across many platforms, establish your company as an authority to be relied upon amongst your competitors, and of course build traffic back to your website to create revenue for your business.
This form of marketing is highly strategic in nature and must come with a working knowledge of your targeted audience, including what motivates them, what they want to hear from you about your company’s products or services, and what will encourage them to make a strong connection to your brand. It also includes a fair amount of planning.
In short, a content marketing editorial calendar is a simple tool that allows you to make your content marketing efforts count. It gives you a way to organize your content marketing plan and helps you follow through with all of your intended actions. It will not only lay out when content is to be published but help to create a solid foundation of strategies that you are following to make your business stand out.
This type of calendar can come in three distinct forms: a traditional pen and paper calendar, an online calendar you access separate from your website such as Google Calendar, Basecamp, or any other number of project management tools, or as a software downloaded right onto your website for easy access such as a WordPress plugin.
Why Use a Content Marketing Calendar?
Editorial calendars, especially when applied to your content marketing campaigns, are great for a number of reasons:
• They provide a central place for you to organize you post ideas, inspiration, and keywords.
• If you work with a team they allow you to assign tasks to each member.
• You can create a publishing schedule to maintain consistent content creation.
• There is a visual feel to your content marketing plan that allows you to fill in the gaps where necessary and adjust content types if need be.
• They create a better flow of topics to avoid publishing random posts that may have nothing in common.
• The layout of all of your ideas can spur re-purposing ideas for your social media platforms.
The Case for a WordPress Editorial Plugin
Each of the different types of editorial calendars have their pros and cons. I for instance have always been a traditional pen and paper type gal. But honestly, as my clients increase along with my workload, my need for something more flexible has never been more apparent. There is nothing worse than outlining your entire month’s assignments on a paper calendar and then gaining a new client or project that shifts all of your already set deadlines. I am then either left to scratch dates out and re-write them elsewhere (which can become confusing quickly, especially if the deadlines are ever-changing), or I am forced to re-write an entirely new calendar. Can you say time suck?
Using an online project management software, external to your actual website, can help improve the above-mentioned issues I have with my pen and paper calendar. However, by utilizing this type of editorial calendar, I am forced to login to a separate website every time I want to view the status of my content. This can become annoying if you are constantly having to go back and forth between your website and a project management site.
So the solution seems simple enough: a WordPress editorial calendar plugin.
The reason I am increasingly drawn to using a WordPress editorial plugin is because I often push my own website’s content to the side as more writing assignments pop up. After all, I am getting paid to write for others, whereas my own posts are simply to keep content going on my website.
Therein lies my problem. I have failed to recognize up until now that it is my website that helps me to gain those additional clients, writing assignments, and paydays.
I have never utilized a solid content marketing plan on any level and it is time I start doing so. That’s where my evaluation of the available editorial calendar plugins comes in to play. I figure if I can become more organized about my own website’s content, while maintaining my client workload, I will become even more successful than I already am.
Editorial Calendar Plugins
As anyone familiar with WordPress will tell you, the sheer number of free WordPress plugins is astounding. And I am only referring to the ones in the WordPress Repository. If we started considering all of the premium third-party plugins out there, we would surely become overwhelmed. Luckily, there are not that many editorial calendar options out there. This made it a whole lot easier for me to narrow down which one I wanted to use on my own website.
Let’s take a look and see if you can’t find one that suits your needs as well.
This simple editorial plugin comes highly recommended for those who work solo or have a small team. In fact, this is the one I went with for my own blog. This popular WordPress plugin is rated highly amongst users and is downloaded more each day, and for good reason.
You can easily see a full view of what is to be published and when on the calendar that displays once you click on the calendar option in your posts menu.
Adding a new post to be scheduled is as simple as clicking ‘New Post’ on the day you wish to schedule it and filling in the appropriate information to help you finish the task that is at hand. This includes the title of your piece, notes regarding the chosen topic (or even the entire post itself), the status of the post (whether it is a draft, pending review, or is scheduled), and the time should you have a specific deadline or time you wish to publish the post.
The neat thing about this plugin for me is that not only can I schedule my own website’s posts, but I can add my external assignments as well to gain perspective on what is coming up, where I have some extra free time to dedicate to my own blog, and where I might need to scale back and work on smaller content marketing strategies. I also add reminders to myself so that I stay on track with all aspects of my writing business. To do this, I simply keep the post status of my clients as ‘Draft’ so that it is not scheduled to go on my own website. This is a great way to keep everything in one organized place.
Here are some of the other features this editorial calendar plugin offers:
• Drag and drop your posts easily for adjustments to the publishing schedule.
• Quick edit post titles, contents, and times.
• Manage posts for multiple authors.
• Always see what the status of each post is.
Some of the downsides to this plugin are its limited functionality and the fact that it is not retroactive. Posts published previous to the installation of the plugin will not show and you cannot apply any scheduling to pages either. However, this plugin is being offered as an easy to use and no frills kind of tool and will surely get the job done.
Edit Flow is another great (and free!) WordPress editorial calendar plugin that is designed more for larger companies with many authors. This plugin has more functionality than WordPress Editorial Calendar and has features such as:
• Bird’s eye view of calendar with customization options to determine how far ahead it displays.
• Editorial commenting ability.
• Communication via the WordPress dashboard organizing conversations and keeping them in one place.
• Custom status options so every team member knows where in the workflow each post is.
• Editorial Metadata to keep track of important details such as word counts, interview details, required sources, and more.
• Story budget view to get a clear look at content details (great for work meetings!).
• User Groups to send out mass notifications when working on large projects.
This premium WordPress plugin comes packed with features that are, much like Edit Flow, perfect for multiple author involvement. The one thing that sets this plugin apart from the above-mentioned two is the ability to create and schedule social media posts to be published at the same time as your website’s content. Integrating with social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Buffer, and Tumblr, CoSchedule allows you to plan your social media strategies easily.
Boasting that this is the first WordPress social media editorial calendar, this feature makes this plugin a true content marketing editorial calendar because it takes into consideration other aspects of content marketing besides just content creation.
In addition to being a social media planner, CoSchedule also:
• Includes access to Google Docs and Evernote.
• Allows for HTML and PDF downloads to export directly to WordPress.
• Creates custom workflows with easy communication so everyone stay on track.
• Color codes or allows for icon designation to organize different projects.
• Incorporates easy to use drag and drop ability for easy adjustments.
To take advantage of this plugin’s unique features you will first have to sign up for an account at CoSchedule. You can then select one of their monthly plans which range from $15 per month for solo calendars up to $600 or more for customized calendars and extra support.
COST: VARIES (depending on features)
Another free editorial calendar found at WordPress.org is WP Content Calendar Lite. With only approximately 100 downloads and no star ratings yet, it is uncertain just how effective this plugin is. However if you are curious about it and even want to give it a try, here is what you can look forward to:
• Overview of all blog posts and when each will be published.
• Drag and drop ability to manage changes.
• Edit posts directly in the calendar itself.
• Create new posts with one click.
• Easy to see statuses of all scheduled posts.
Oasis Workflow is a powerful and feature rich plugin that relies on a simple and intuitive graphical interface so that you can automatically manage your entire website’s content. It includes three task templates including Assignment, Review, and Publish so all procedures are consistent from project to project. More so, Oasis Workflow offers a visual workflow design, an inbox for users to view current assignments and the ability to sign off when completed, process history for retracing steps, the choice to reassign tasks to others more suited for the job, and due date email reminders to keep everyone on point.
There is also a Pro version of Oasis Workflow that adds a downloadable history report, email notifications to authors upon publication of their post, multi-abort functionality, and much more.
COST: FREE (with premium version available)
At the end of the day keeping up with your website’s content, regardless of other work you have been assigned, is essential to maintaining a presence in this highly competitive world we call the Internet. Now more than ever having a content marketing strategy is considered the key to success and by using a content marketing editorial calendar you can get your business moving in the right direction.
By planning ahead of time, strategically placing content marketing strategies, and following through on those plans with the help of an editorial calendar you will go a long way in terms of engaging in your audience and growing your loyal subscriber base.
Have you ever used a content marketing editorial calendar? How did it help you in terms of growing your business? Are there any tips you would like to share with us regarding keeping up with your own website’s content creation? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!
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