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As you’ll soon discover when you start a blog for your company, the first few weeks and months of blogging are the easiest.
When you’re just starting out, the ideas seem to flow freely, the posts come together quickly, and everything seems to run without much effort. You’re still excited about this whole blog thing, and it’s easy for you to build momentum and publish posts.
Then the slump comes along. After a few months, it will seem like you’ve exhausted all your ideas—especially if the team tasked with writing and managing the blog is small. You’ll have a tough time staying on-message and continuing to find new ideas. Anyone who’s managed a blog for an extended period of time can relate to this frustration.
When that happens, you have two options: quit, or fall back on the habits you’ve formed to push forward and keep publishing. Assuming you aren’t a quitter, your best friend for the latter option is an editorial calendar.
Do you need an editorial calendar? Yes—you do. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re building a calendar for your company blog:
Plan one to two months at a time
You can plan for more than two months of content if you have a big team and are confident in your ability to execute, but I wouldn’t recommend writing a calendar much shorter than 4 weeks. Planning one to two months at a time gives you a window that’s small enough to stay manageable, but big enough to relieve concerns about scrambling at the last minute.
Leave room for movement
Though your calendar should be detailed and specific, it shouldn’t be so inflexible so as to limit you. There will be news that will come up that you’ll have to write about quickly, from press releases to product updates. There will likely also be great pieces of content that come out of nowhere that you’ll have to account for. Be sure to leave room for these types of content when you’re planning out your next few months.
Weave your key messages into all your planned content
Again, specificity is the name of the game here. However, if you don’t have the desire or ability to plan out 2 months’ worth of topics in advance, you should at least group pieces into key themes that tie back to the messaging you developed in your strategy. It may not be the best, but a calendar that gives dates for “Strategy 101 post” or “Social media case study” (both rough ideas rather than refined topics) is a heck of a lot better than nothing.
Don’t procrastinate on writing or editing
Physically publishing is easy—in essence, all you have to do these days is copy, paste, and hit publish—but writing and editing take time. If you know a piece has to be published on October 2nd, don’t wait until the evening of the 1st to start writing. You’ll get better at predicting schedules as time goes on, but remember: you’re forming habits here. The whole purpose of the editorial calendar is to plan and streamline the content development process, so don’t throw it all out the window by waiting until the last minute to start writing content.
Make it easy to follow through
Finally, once your calendar is built, you need to make it easy to track and execute. Who’s responsible for making sure posts go out on time? For editing? Who manages the calendar? Do you need a tool to help you in this process? Don’t let your great editorial calendar go to waste. Invest a bit of time sorting out your logistics so that you save time with your calendar rather than waste it.
In my work with clients, I’ve found that it’s not a question of if an editorial calendar is necessary, but of what type of editorial calendar makes the most sense. For companies with more red tape, having a month or more of content planned out down to the date and topic is probably necessary. For smaller companies that can move quickly and have the resources to dedicate to consistently churning out good articles, a few weeks’ worth of rough ideas paired with a clear marketing strategy may suffice.
Whatever you do, remember that planning is the name of the game. When you hit that rough streak and start running out of motivation to keep up on your company blog, you’re going to fall back on habits you’ve formed along the way.
If you have an editorial calendar and a competent team, that rough patch will be just a tiny speed bump. But if you try to “wing it” every week, that small bump in the road can easily turn into an insurmountable obstacle. Don’t let it be the latter.