Most of us have big dreams for our company communications. We spend time and money creating a shiny design for the blog, eBook template, or brochure. We think we'll create content all the time. We have stories to share, projects to showcase, opinions to spout. We have great intentions.
The problem is, we don't follow through. Six months from launch, most blogs lie vacant.
This is a huge problem. Here's why:
- Regular content creation helps you build a following of loyal fans, customers and potential customers alike.
- Google ranks your site (in part) on the frequency of content updates.
- Communicating intentionally with your customers can showcase your expertise, creativity, or brilliance.
- The discipline of communicating regularly is good for you. Writing is a deep thinking exercise, it will help you discover new and clearer ways to talk about your work.
So, what should you do if you need to get consistent? We recommend editorial planning; the discipline of creating a blueprint for the content you'll create on your site. Creating a plan will keep you on track. Here are 3 simple tips to get started.
Three Steps To Start Editorial Planning
Step 1: Set A Date For Your First Meeting
Clients often start freaking out before before they even get started. We get it. It's hard to imagine how you could get things on a single schedule when you've been running around without editorial planning for so long.
- How are we going to get everything on schedule?
- What about the random thing that is bound to come up on Thursday?
- What if someone doesn't like the new process?
These are legitimate questions. They are also questions that will paralyze you.
My advice for these clients: set a date.
That's right, choose a time when all (or most - don't let a scheduling problem give you an out and push this out for another 3 months) of the people involved in content creation can get together, talk goals, and start putting stuff down on paper. Once you start, any real problems will come to light, and you can deal with them.
Want to start blogging consistently this month? Why don't you meet April 30 to put some topics down on paper and create a simple schedule. You won't regret it.
Step 2: Make a Simple Calendar
It's not enough to write down topics. You need a tool that will keep people on track, remind them when their content is due, and take the guesswork out of creating content. Enter the editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar takes the crazy out of your content creation. It operates on the principle that saying you'll get to something tomorrow will never happen. You need to clarify a few things to make sure it's actually going to get done:
- When Will The Content Be Published? Like it or not, most of us operate on deadlines. Putting one to paper will increase motivation. Adding some consequence for missing the date works even better.
- Who's Responsible For What? Defining who will create the content, who will review it, and who will publish it is pretty important for an editorial calendar. Having a name assigned to each task skyrockets its likelihood of being completed.
- What Tool Works Best For your Team? There are a ton of tools out there. We like Gather Content and DivvyHQ, but the truth is that your team might work best with a spreadsheet or a Basecamp todo list. The key is to find something that you and your team will use. Don't overcomplicate it. Just get started with something, you can upgrade later.
Remember, nothing is set in stone. you can change as you go. That's the beauty of this process.
Key 3: Focus On High-Impact Content That Requires The Least Effort
We all tend towards overkill when we start writing a blog, creating an eBook, or whatever it is we're doing. It doesn't matter that we haven't been creating content for months. We think of the most complicated content and then choose to pursue that.
Don't make this mistake.
What I advise people to do is think through the type of content that they can create naturally. This type of content will help you get rolling, then you can move on to the more complicated stuff once you have momentum.
Here's a helpful tool we use with our clients:
<<insert four square diagram>>
Here's how we use it. You'll probably find this beneficial.
What Are You Waiting For?
It's time to get rolling with editorial planning. What are you waiting for? It's time for you to start writing. Fill the world with the value that only you can provide. Your people will love you for it.