If you are a local marketing agency, content marketing should be a key piece of your service offering to enhance the value you deliver to clients, improve revenue and retention. Content marketing is a cost effective way to build an audience by providing helpful articles and information time and time again. Content marketing establishes you and your client as an expert in your field and a vital resource while building customer loyalty and brand awareness.
As the Content Manager at MarketMeSuite, I understand the difficulties in keeping up with content marketing and have found some tricks to navigate an editorial calendar and stay on top of it so when you have a thousand things on your plate, worrying about content for your blog doesn’t have to be one of them.
Before you even think about when you want to post, how often, who’s contributing or even how it will fit into your schedule, consider what you will post that will resonate with your target audience.
What are some changing aspects in your field? What is different about what you offer? What are potential clients searching for that you want to show up as a leader? What event are you next attending or just return from?
Start jotting down the what distinguishes you or your client, the frequently asked questions from clients and new things going on in your field or office. These are the topics you can easily write about. But there’s so much more beyond your office.
Invictus, a local San Diego gym dedicated to Crossfit has an extremely active blog that posts almost every weekday, covering a variety of topics such as how to do an exercise correctly, success stories from the gym and foods that affect workouts. While they post about things that are directly going on with their gym, such as having a group of members travel to Hawaii for a Crossfit competition, they don’t limit their blog to just local, internal content. They post articles that anyone interested in Crossfit, a healthy diet and staying motivated to exercise would be interested in reading. By doing this, they have an expanse of topics they can write about and that pulls in a bigger audience.
One last bit about content. Don’t think that each article needs to be a meaty piece that’s 700 words or more. People can easily get overwhelmed with long content or just not have the time to digest it. Feel free to take larger topics and break them into bite size (snackable) chunks or post a short announcement, such as an event you’re sponsoring or curating content from around the web that you like or events in the area. Small things can go a long way if they are valuable.
Create a Rough Content Marketing Schedule
The key word here is “rough.” You are just starting to get your content game under control, you don’t need the added pressure of having an inflated content calendar that you may or may not continually put off.
Start slow and make goals in your schedule. The first month in your calendar, plan for one article a week, the next month two, the following three and so forth until you find a comfortable frequency.
You’ll want to provide the most beneficial content to your audience, so focus on quality over quantity. If you can muster one blog article a week that is written well, then that’s great. Don’t forget to challenge yourself to offer more to your audience, but know your limits.
The other part of your schedule needs to focus on article topics. It’s going to be easier to keep up with your schedule if you have topics chosen in advance (like we hashed out above). For each month, come up with the topics for each article and include them in your editorial calendar.
Have the calendar available as a Google Doc, Evernote or other shared doc so that when you have an idea, you can access it immediately, even from your mobile device.
You start with topics and build them into a rough schedule for a reason, so you can set goals. But to reach them you need to write.
Don’t be dissuaded if you stumble a bit and miss a scheduled post every once in a while, just don’t let it become a habit. Content marketing takes time to show its results and it also takes time to make it a part of your daily or weekly routine. You should see results improving over the first 60 days, including better search rankings, more people reading your content and a growing email list. If these are not improving, re-evaluate what your are publishing and the frequency.
Start taking a half an hour every morning or before you head out for the evening to just write and focus on your calendar. Write the next article you want to post, edit an article, schedule an article to post or think of new topics to write about. Save this small, but important, piece of time just for content work.
Rinse and Repeat
Get in the habit of thinking of topics, making a schedule, writing and setting a half hour aside to do these tasks everyday.
Don’t worry about minute details. Just start off with the basics and keep repeating every month. Each step will get easier the more you do them. You’ll start noting different topic ideas throughout the month, create your schedule for the next month before the current one is over and have articles prepared well in advance so slip-ups don’t occur.
Keep Track of it All
Two words: Editorial Calendar.
In my editorial calendar, I not only have the schedule of the articles for the month, but I also have who is writing them, when they are due and when I plan to publish. I keep some other things in there that help when I put the articles into WordPress (MarketMeSuite’s blog host). These are things like blog categories, tags and suggested social posts for the article that I can send along to our Community Manager, Allison, to use.
I recently added a new feature to our calendar because we often get busy with other tasks and leave the articles waiting. I looked into using Zapier to send columns from the editorial calendar spreadsheet (in Google Drive) to our Google Calendar. This way we get notifications when drafts are due or when articles are slotted to be published.
This little reminder makes it easier for me to manage the editorial calendar day to day from my personal calendar and keep contributor’s in the loop.
Get your own editorial calendar started by using one of the templates below (based off the one we use at MarketMeSuite). There are two options, one that is ready for you to create zaps to your Google Calendar and one that does not have this extra reminder.
Editorial calendars are meant to work for you, so personalize it to be exactly what you want to see, we just want to provide some framework for you. In your own content marketing, what do you need to include in your editorial calendar?