Getting Started With An Editorial Calendar
Last week we covered the many benefits in working with an Editorial Calendar when managing an online community. In this article I will explain how to actually develop this calendar, provide examples of what you could add to it and offer a special bonus – your very own print-and-keep sample editorial calendar.
So, let’s get started…
The first step is to figure out how frequent you want to be creating regular events or editorial initiatives for your members to participate in.
Then you need to decide how far into the future your editorial calendar is going to go – a month? 3 months? A year? I personally operate on a 3-month basis as it fits with other business calendars running quarterly, and makes it easier to leverage those for ideas.
Now it’s time to brainstorm ideas on what your initiatives are going to be. Cross-reference any other departmental schedules and see whether you can link up with them. Scope out cultural events you could use as a launchpad for a themed week. Think about what your membership would be interested in. Even better, ask them!
Building The Calendar Itself
There are probably a few tools you could use to do this, but I find myself always returning to Excel for the planning, and Google Calendar (or your work’s calendaring system) for timely reminders of what events are coming up.
For the sake of this article I’ll stick to Excel. Label the first columns by days or weeks, depending on how granular you want it, and the top row with your calendar categories. We will use the basic layout of “Type”, “Name”, “Assets”, and “Dependencies”.
- Type will be the sort of initiative it will be. These are essentially publishing events. It can be a webchat, blog post, survey, contest, etc.
- Name is the actual name of the event like the “Christmas iPad Giveaway”
- Assets covers any images, videos, or other information you need to build or run the event, which you need to acquire or are relying on someone else to provide.
- Dependencies provide any link to other events either on the calendar, or run by other people or teams. If the dependency doesn’t go ahead, you might want to reconsider running your event. For instance if you have a blog post scheduled as a recap of an interview, the blog post is dependent on your interview.
Now start adding the ideas you brainstormed earlier, filling in each cell. You’ll probably get more ideas as you do this, either for new events or extra ones to pad around your main ones.
Other possible categories for your editorial calendar could be author, due date, links, copy, status, etc. Make it fit your needs.
Some Ideas Of What To Include
There are all sorts of initiatives you can come up with for your online community, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Webchats with a celebrity or expert in their field
- Interviews or your community members or people they look up to
- Competitions to win some swag
- Points to debate around current events or issues relevant to your community
- A community awards or loyalty program
- Great content from the community
- Book, music, film clubs
- Friday photo
- Link roundup
Those are just a few more obvious examples, but there are plenty more possibilities and each of the above can be tweaked – for example: post a photo a week and ask your community to provide a funny caption for it?
Give people a reason to check back in on a regular basis, and importantly look or ask for feedback so you know the events you organise are interesting!
Finally, to save you time and give you a basic example, here’s a sample editorial calendar to download. This one is based on a single platform, say a blog, and has daily singly content: