Raise your hand if this sounds familiar:

Each week, despite your best intentions of getting your scheduled blog post written well in advance of your publish deadline, you scramble at the last minute to come up with a topic and end up frantically writing something that you don’t feel great about.

It happens to the best of us. Consistently generating high quality content isn’t easy, but if you find yourself struggling to figure out what to write week after week, then it’s time to get organized. You need an editorial calendar.

Not only can keeping an editorial calendar help avoid that last minute scramble for topics, but it can also identify any holes or gaps in your process. Perhaps you need to consider hiring more writers in order to meet your content demands. Or, maybe you realize you aren’t producing nearly the volume or quality of blog posts that you’d like to and you need to develop a system for coming up with more relevant and educational topics.

By making your editorial calendar an essential component of your overall content marketing strategy, you can get organized, reduce stress, and produce even better content than before that really resonates with your clients and prospects.

How To Get Started Creating An Editorial Calendar

Include all content components

First thing’s first: editorial calendars aren’t just for blogging. Include all relevant content in your calendar. This could include blog posts, eBooks, guides, white papers, social media posts, webinars or other events, email marketing, and more.

Go step by step

Next, break down milestones for the larger content so you can stay on track throughout the writing process. For instance, if you’re writing a longer content piece, set draft, design, and approval deadlines along the way so you can keep to a schedule. This will also help you to create promotional plans for your content.

Make it physical

While different people prefer different mediums for keeping and sharing their editorial calendar, an actual physical calendar can make due dates easy to see and track for each of your team members.

There are also plenty of free templates available online. Curata has collected some of the top ones here.

Embrace your content strategy

Build your blog post topics from the issues you’ve identified in your content strategy. What problems and concerns do your prospects have? What questions are they asking? Create blog posts based off of these answers.

Leave room for flexibility

Planning ahead is key to an effective editorial calendar. But it’s equally important to avoid rigidity and be flexible with your calendar. This will allow you to respond to the marketplace when new things pop up.

There might be current events or industry news that you can create content and weigh in on. Or you might hear about questions that prospects are asking your business development team that you’ll want to address in a blog post.

4 Ways To Make Creating An Editorial Calendar Easier

1. Repurpose

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel each week. Without even knowing it, you probably already have access to tons of content you can repurpose by turning it into something new and appealing to different audiences.

For instance, if you previously published an eBook, go back through and break down chapters or big topics into individual blog posts. This also works in the reverse—if you have a series of connected blog posts, you can meld them into an eBook or guide and publish a more substantial and cohesive piece of content. You can turn a webinar into a SlideShare presentation or research into an infographic.

2. Look to your archives

Think back to the content you produced last year. Was there a blog post that performed especially well? If so, you may want to consider republishing the post as a “flashback” or updating it with new tips. Perhaps that popular post could be transformed into something new and highly shareable, like a video or an infographic.

3. Be consistent

One of the best ways to create a following is to post consistently. Based on your content capacity, this may mean writing two posts a month or two posts a week.

It’s perfectly acceptable to start small, but do your best to avoid posting content sporadically. Stick to a schedule of publishing posts on the same day and build up the frequency as you fine-tune your system. Creating this predictable rhythm will let readers learn when to expect content from you.

4. Plan ahead

By structuring your editorial calendar about a month in advance, you’ll be able to know well in advance if next month is looking slow. This allows you to take action—whether that means reaching out to another author to contribute or spending some time generating more topics.

If you aren’t already utilizing an editorial calendar to plan out your content each month, make it a key part of your marketing strategy for 2016. You’ll be surprised what a difference a little extra planning and preparation can make.