editorial calendarHow’s your company blog going? Is it a struggle to publish a post everyday? Every week? Do you burn hours every month, twiddling your thumbs, wondering what am I going to write about next?

If so, then you wouldn’t be much different from the average business owner-turned-self-marketer.

But you want to be different.

You want to be more than “average.”

You just don’t have the tools to make it happen.

Why You Need an Editorial Calendar

If your content strategy seems like it’s going nowhere, then I’d bet that your main problem is lack of an editorial calendar. Editorial calendars aren’t just for nerds, obsessive-compulsive organizers, or marketing guys who don’t have anything better to do.

An editorial calendar is essential to the development and implementation of your content strategy: Facebook posts, tweets, blog posts, etc.

It doesn’t kill spontaneity and it’s not going to suppress your freedom.

An editorial calendar is freedom. It’s about having a plan, a plan that frees you up to do other things and add spontaneous content without having to rely on spontaneity.

Creating an Editorial Calendar: Free or Paid?

Ready to get started? If you have money sitting around to invest in a paid editorial calendar service, great. I’ll be writing a post next week that covers paid editorial calendar platforms. But, as a small firm or business, chances are that you’re either short on cash or not quite ready to jump in feet first.

That being the case, let’s start with free editorial calendars.

When it comes to “free,” few companies do things better than Google. (It’s the least they can do in exchange for all that information they collect about you.) Google Calendar is great because its accessible from any device and cloud-based, making it easy to have multiple users.

Creating a Basic Editorial Calendar With Google Calendar

While there are other perks, I certainly won’t argue that Google Calendars is the best thing since sliced bread. It does go down on occasion and it does cause headaches from time to time. So, there’s your disclaimer. Nevertheless, it’s a great free starting point.

Here are my step-by-step tips for using Google Calendar as an editorial calendar:

#1 Create a Calendar

If you already use Google Calendar, create a new one. You’ll want to have this separate from the rest of your calendar because you’re about to become a strategic publishing machine!

#2 Decide on Frequency

How often are you going to post? Start conservatively. You can always beef up your content strategy later. If three blog posts a week sounds “totally reasonable,” then schedule just two per week. Remember, we’re creating freedom, the freedom to be spontaneous. You can always throw in a third post when you feel like it!

#3 Set Goals

Once you know how frequently you’re going to post, it’s good to know why you’re posting. Blogging for sales is all well and good, but you need to have a tightened, purposeful angle (or multiple angles) that will resonate with your readership.

Take time to decide what your content strategy aims to accomplish. Keep the focus.

#4 Start Brainstorming

Come up with at least your first month’s worth of content, however many blog posts, tweets, or Facebook shares that will be.

#5 Get Organized

Create ‘Events’ in Google Calendar for every day that you’ll be posting some content. The name of the event should have the name of the blog post/content. The description should have links, resources, outlines, or whatever else you will need to write the post.

Color coordinate your calendar events to organize the different types of content and/or goals that are a part of your content strategy. This will allow you to get a clear view of how regularly your message is being delivered.

#6 Write & Publish

The last and most important step is, of course, writing and publishing that content. The most sophisticated editorial calendar in the world won’t help you at all if you don’t actually write and publish.

What About the Paid Calendars?

There are some great paid editorial calendars out there. However, I’m of the opinion that it’s always best to start with a free platform before upgrading to a paid system. When you use a free platform, you get a feel for what kinds of perks and options would be beneficial for you. You actually experience a pain point.

When you jump straight into a new system, loaded with all the bells and whistles, it’s hard to discern actual value from frills. Trust me, you’ll be a better buyer.

That being the case, I encourage you to start building your editorial calendar with Google Calendars, Excel, or some other free platform. Next week, I’ll be covering several paid platforms you can use for developing a more sophisticated editorial calendar.

Do you use an editorial calendar? Why or why not? What tips do you have to share?