3 Things You Must Know About Editorial Calendars

Welcome to episode 275 of Hit the Mic with The Stacey Harris.

Episode 275 and today we are going to talk about editorial calendars, also known as the magic key to consistent content. I’m your host The Stacey Harris, social media strategist and trainer for online entrepreneurs looking to build epic communities online.

I love editorial calendars in a next level way. We’re going to talk about three things you need to know about editorial calendars today. We’re going to talk about why they’re so impactful. We’re going to talk about how to build them, like how to know what to put on there so that you never have to wonder what you’re creating again. Also I’m going to talk about some of the tools I use to manage my editorial calendar, and also why it should be written in pencil or whatever the electronic equivalent is. It’s not permanent.

That’s what we’re going to cover today. Are you ready? I’m ready, so I’m going to get started, because I’m currently the only one in the room even though you’re listening to this in another room, or outside, or wherever. It’s going to be one of those shows, guys.

I want to talk first about why I call this the magic key to consistency, and that’s because if you fast forward back to January of 2013, I had been in business about a year and a half. I had been creating content for a year and a half, but I had never been able to consistently create content. I had tried blogging once per month, I had tried to committing to I was going to do a weekly, which never actually happened. It was just impossible for me to stay consistent.

In January of 2013 I decided that I was going to be consistent with my content. I was still blogging, it was before this show launched, but I was going to be consistent. I was going to have a weekly blog post that went out. Well, when I actually made the decision in December of 2012, I actually built an editorial calendar. I did the steps we’re going to talk about today to get all of the content ideas together.

I had an editorial calendar on a physical calendar, which we’ll talk about in a little bit too, that I wrote down all of the blog posts for the week, for each week, for an entire year. I did that in late December early January, and starting in January of 2013 I have had content that went out at least once per week every week since January 2013.

A lot of that came from when it came time to sit down and create content, I didn’t have to figure out what to write. I didn’t have the excuse of, “Well, I don’t know what to write so I’ll worry about it later. I knew what was coming, I knew what needed to be done, and I could do it. It also is really helpful for me when I batch create content, which is the other way I stay consistent, because I don’t have to think of 14 things to talk about on this show, I have an editorial calendar that has all 14 things I’m going to talk about and I just create those episodes.

It really has been the key to consistency, because it takes all of the questions out of creating content. It takes all of the excuses, you know, I’m not inspired, out of it. I know exactly what I’m going to be producing, I know it’s going to serve my community, and I can just produce it and get it out. That’s incredibly important for me, as somebody who is masterful at making excuses not to do something.

When it comes to creating content, I want there to be no barrier to entry, and an editorial calendar is really what does that for me. Because I’m able to look really quickly and see exactly what I’m doing now, what I’m doing in the future, and it makes it really easy for me to support what’s going on in my business.

The other key to this is not only is this content really easy for me to create because I know what I’m talking about, but because I know what’s coming up in my business, we know what we’re launching or what I’m promoting or kind of what’s happening behind the scenes, I can get ahead. I can focus topics to support something I’m going to be promoting. I can make space and get ahead so that I have time to create something new or go on vacation or help somebody else with a project or work with a side hustle or whatever it is, because I know that’s there. I know exactly what’s happening and it’s all laid out, and that’s really impactful for me.

I would even challenge you if you’re somebody who says, “Well, I am only creating content when I’m called to create, when I’m inspired to create.” Still having a list of ideas, having a calendar of what’s going to go out, allows you to move into that creativity and power through what needs to get done when you’re in that creative space. Instead of having just enough creativity to come up with what you’re going to say, and then maybe get something done, and then you have to try and do that all over again next week or next month or whatever.

Again, for me consistency lives and dies with my editorial calendar. We’re now three and a half years in, I switched from blogging to podcasting, we had Hit the Mic TV for a year, year and a half. All of that was in an editorial calendar. It’s certainly the only way I am able to create the quantity or the quality of content I’m able to create is because I know exactly what I’m talking about episode after episode, blog post after blog post.

Let’s talk about how we actually fill in an editorial calendar. Where do we get the ideas? Editorial calendars are great, until you sit down to create one and you can’t think of anything to even put on the editorial calendar, much less actually create. I love to have a brain dump doc in Google drive. It’s a living document, meaning it changes all of the time, and I add to this all of the time.

Whenever I’m on client calls or I’m consulting with a client or I’m answering questions at a Facebook group or I’m doing a Facebook live or a Periscope or I’m doing a Q&A on Snapchat or any time, I’m noting down the questions I get. I’m making a note and I’m starring what’s coming up over and over again. Because what you’ll find is that will happen, you’ll get the same questions over and over again.

Because I know, I know know know without a doubt, that those are the things I need to prioritize. Those are the things I really need to make sure I hit, because that’s going to be really popular. It’s because the questions are coming up for a lot of people. I take that and I have a notepad that sits right next to me on my desk, and so that gets scribbled in when I have these ideas and then from time to time I go in to Google drive and I put them in there, or I’ll go into my editorial calendar and just add them to my editorial calender. Sometimes I’ll skip the document altogether if I have the space to do that.

Remember to take inspiration from the questions you’re already getting, the experiences you’re already having with your clients, with your listeners, with your readers, with your viewers. Whatever they are, however they’re consuming your content, make sure that you are using that information they’re giving you in the form of their questions to fill out that editorial calendar.

If you’re not at a point where you’re doing that yet, and you want to just get started right now, you want to take action, you’re all fired up by this podcast episode. Sit down with a pen and a paper or in a Google doc or a Word doc or a note in your iPhone or whatever it is that works for you, and just brain dump the stuff that you’ve answered over and over again. In the last seven days, 14 days, 30 days, three months, whatever it is and brain dump that.

Don’t filter, don’t worry if something is, “Well, this kind of looks like this, so I won’t say that.” No, write down everything. All of the questions you get over and over again, all of the advice you give over and over again. The most common problems people are running into, that’s where you start with content and that’s where you start with the editorial calendar, and that’s where you start filling stuff in.

Again, in this document, in this brainstorm, don’t filter. Don’t worry about, “Oh well, these are very similar,” or, “Can I do this as well?” Don’t worry about that right now. Worry about that when it comes time to actually create the calendar. For me, I do really well if I can get inspired by my audience. If I can do a Q&A or I can go in and search my Facebook groups.

I’ll seriously go in a group and search the group for Facebook question, or social media help, or how do I Periscope? Snapchat? Do you use Snapchat? Periscope? Twitter? I’ll use these combinations of words in my Facebook groups or in my LinkedIn groups and I’ll just look for those questions. I’ll often answer them if the post itself isn’t too old, but also it goes down on that list. It goes into that document.

Once you have that document created, then start looking at actually putting them on your calendar. We’re going to talk in a second about what format to use. Spoiler alert, it’s whatever one you’re going to actually use. Lay out exactly when those posts go live on your calendar. If you create content once per month, then once per month I need, this month I’m doing a blog post on blah-blah-blah. This month I’m doing a blog post on XYZ, and whatever that is, it’s really helpful.

Just as a side note, having an editorial calendar, knowing what you’re going to be talking about month after month, it becomes exponentially more powerful when you talk about now you can focus everything you do on that blog post. If you’re somebody who blogs once per month, it is your job for the rest of the month to drive epic amounts of traffic to that blog post, because that’s what you’ve got. That’s what you’re working with.

It needs to be one epic blog post per month, that’s great. I have no problem with that, but be generating traffic to that all month long. I don’t mean you’re generating traffic by saying, “I’ve got a new blog post about Facebook live, read it here.” That’s not driving traffic, it’s telling me you have a blog post, which is not the same thing. Instead, be doing Facebook lives, or Snapchat stories, or a Periscope, or tweeting takeaways, or repurposing it and giving a little bit of the information out in a LinkedIn pulse post that drives traffic back to that blog post on your site.

When you have an editorial calendar, it becomes exponentially easier to do that because now you know what your topic for the month is. The same is true if you have podcasts or blog posts or videos that go out once per week. Your job for the rest of the week is to drive traffic to that, and to drive traffic to the past episodes. You can do that when you have a really focused topic, when you know, “This is what we’re covering.” That’s just a little side note about editorial calendars.

We’re going to fill in our calendar, where are we going to do that at? Now, I know some of you are all in on the digital and you want to put it someplace digital. This year, 2016, I actually moved to a digital editorial calendar. I use Google calendar, I know, it’s fancy. I just have it’s own calendar set up that’s called editorial calendar inside my Google calendar, so I can turn it on and I can turn it off. It’s not generally on unless I am working on content creation and I know on each day what content’s going to post that day. Which, again, is really helpful for me.

It’s also really helpful for my team to have access to that, my team being Charles right now, but as the team expands it’s helpful for your team to have access to what we’re talking about. Especially if you have somebody else managing your social or if you have somebody else booking podcast interviews and things like that, they can be aware of kind of what you’re talking about, that’s really helpful.

I use Google calendar, there are a lot of tools you can use. I highly recommend Google calendar. There’s very little barrier to entry, it’s 100% free, and you’re probably already using it. Yay! The other option and what I did until this year was a paper calendar. Starting in 2013, I had a small printed paper size, what is it, like 8 1/2 x 11 or whatever, desk calendar that each sheet was a month. I had written on there on the day we’re going to post what content was posting that day.

Then I switched over to a planner, I used the Erin Condren planner for a while. Again, on the days that we’re going to post, it was written in there. Then I moved to a day designer planner last year, by Whitney English, and again, on the day it was going to go live, I posted that. This year I moved to the digital and I really, really like it a lot. Like, a lot a lot. I will absolutely keep it.

It all comes down to what are you actually going to use? Are you going to use a paper calendar? Do you prefer to create content not in your office, so maybe having a paper calendar isn’t all that great? Do you want to be able to create content on the fly, wan to be able to write from anywhere? Then an editorial calendar that’s digital is probably going to be a better answer. If you only create in a very specific space and a very specific time, then a paper calender might be perfect for you.

Whatever’s going to work for you, what is going to be what you’re going to use, so use that. Remember, trial and error. One thing I will recommend is to remember that this calendar is not set in stone. If you are inspired to write something or record something; write it, record it, and move the calendar around.

That’s one of the things I really like about having a digital calendar is I can just go to my month view and move things when I get fired up. Maybe something new comes out and I want to record about that, or something is changing in Facebook ads and I want to make sure I get an episode out about that, I can just move it around. This is not permanent.

If you are somebody who’s fueled by being creative and being inspired, this doesn’t make that not possible, it just makes it a little more spacious. On days where you only have enough creativity to actually execute on the idea, you can actually execute on the idea instead of burning that out and trying to think of what the idea is.

Yeah, that’s the three things I want you to know about editorial calendars. If you have questions about actually getting this stuff done, let me know on the Facebook page. Go over to Facebook.com/thestaceyharris you’ll find my Facebook page, post a question there, I’m happy to answer it, I would love to hear from you.

Also, big news, big big big news. I just announced in the VIP community last week, the free Facebook group Hit the Mic VIP is closing because we have Hit the Mic backstage now. We’re getting ready to celebrate our one year anniversary on August 1st, that really is the Facebook group that gets my attention, that gets my time and gets my energy.

The free Facebook group is going away if you’re a member of that, I wanted you to know. On July 1st we’ll be closing the door on that group. The good news is, if you love this show, if you love this content, if you want to be a more involved part of this community, Hit the Mic backstage is why that’s here. That’s the reason for it’s existence, so come join us at HittheMicBackstage.com.

It’s $25 per month, that price is going to be going up on August 1st, but I haven’t officially talked about that a whole lot yet, so just know it’s coming. If you get in while it’s still $25, that’ll of course be your price for life. If you have any questions any time, come on over to TheStaceyHarris.com and let me know. I will see you next time.

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