One of the biggest challenges of content development is being consistent at it. Many business owners realize the value of content, but they suffer the challenges of producing it. However, content development isn’t complicated; it just needs to be treated tactically. To ensure you publish consistently and strategically, you simply need to get on board with an editorial calendar.

Incorporating an editorial calendar lets you plan ahead and offer your content increased structure. Looking at the big picture, whether it’s a month or a quarter ahead of time, lets you grasp any weaknesses in your content development. Perhaps you’re focusing too much on one subject and not enough on another, or maybe you’re looking to cover several different issues monthly. Either way, you’ll know your strengths and pitfalls from incorporating a calendar system. Writers, publishers and marketers also find that keeping up with this practice helps ensure a continued content stream.

Before you get started, there are some things to consider. Ask yourself how often you want to publish, what you want to publish on and what reaction or response you want from your readers. Having the answers to these three questions will help you better frame your editorial calendar.

Types of Editorial Calendars

Everyone has their own preferences for what their editorial calendars will look like. Chances are, you probably already compile a list. Whether it’s a mental list, a check list or even a collection of scattered post-it notes – the point is you’ve got some idea.

It’s always a good idea to keep one central place where you keep your editorial calendar. Use a conventional calendar, an excel sheet or some more advanced systems. If you’re on WordPress, you should consider the Stresslimit editorial calendar. It’s a WordPress plugin that appears in your blog’s dashboard, offering a “bird’s eye view” of your overall blog strategy. Content managers and bloggers with several different WordPress destinations will find that using this approach per blog makes life just a little bit simpler.

If you’re not a WordPress user, you can also consider Google Docs or even an excel sheet. A spreadsheet system allows for unlimited (and adjustable) space, multiple tabs and color options. Google Docs is preferred over standard excel sheets since it allows for shared users and can be accessed remotely.

What to Include in Your Editorial Calendar

The most basic calendar will simply have a post title under the designated date. However, you’ll have to bump it up a notch if you’re looking to create a powerful content management and marketing strategy.

For more advanced needs, opt for the Google Docs route with fields that include the date, author (for shared platforms), title, publication source, status, category, tags, keywords, call to action/conversion and notes.

This is a great option if you’re looking to guest blog or develop a link building/marketing strategy through guest blogging by allowing users to better evaluate sources of publication and evaluate for diversity and frequency. Including a status or an anticipated publication date lets you keep track of multiple submissions, while categories also help ensure you’re on theme.

Most editorial calendars for more serial bloggers (including corporate blogging attempts) completely leave out the tags, keywords and call to action. However, if you’re serious about your business, you’ll take the time to make sure these sections get included. They allow for more targeted SEO inclusion and help keep you on track for the overall goal of content – which is often converting readers into customers. You can take it a step further and go back to your editorial calendar with analytics in hand to see if the post generated increased traffic, sales, downloads and other desired conversions.