Stop Making Excuses, You Need An Editorial Calendar

Editorial calendar

I think editorial calendars are almost as fun as regular calendars (see previous post on my love of calendars). So I am excited to be working on this blog’s calendar for the second half of the year.

Why? Because it gets my thoughts on paper. It allows me to look at the big picture and see holes in my content, or to identify content that doesn’t fit the purpose of this blog. Even with those benefits, putting together a calendar requires a little bit of thought and work. I find that people like to make up excuses for not thinking and not working, don’t you?

Excuse #1: I like to be spontaneous and post fresh each day  Awesome – you should do that. And if you want to create some quality content with substance, you should also have an editorial calendar. I’m not saying that you need to plan each post out in advance or with a lot of detail. Think big picture – quarterly even. List events that you know will likely happen in that quarter or things that you would like to cover, even if you aren’t sure. You have plenty of space to post spontaneous content, but you’ll also ensure that you address the big stuff – giving your social media outreach some structure and a foundation that supports your brand.

Excuse #2: Editorial calendars are too much work  I would counter that coming up with content each day, week or month also requires work… plus it can be stressful. Investing some time up front where you can put your thoughts down on paper will take away a lot of that stress. That up front time ultimately requires less work than rushing to make sure you have content at the last minute.

Excuse #3: The client didn’t ask for one  This is my favorite excuse. Did the client hire you to do their social media or web content? Are the words “content marketing” in your proposal? Then you need an editorial calendar of some kind, even if you never show it to your client. Let them believe that you come up with all of your great, cohesive, brand-supporting ideas without an editorial calendar if you want to. But your work will suffer if you don’t have a plan in place.

Convinced? I hope you are at least a little bit. Unless you are running an actual print publication, there are no rules for coming up with an editorial calendar for yourself. It can be as loose as big picture thoughts listed by quarter, or as specific as individual posts scheduled by the hour. The goal is to have a plan to keep your content on track. Dustin Stout has a really detailed post about building a calendar from scratch if you need more guidance.

Personally, I just keep a rough excel file for my own use. But there are some great resources out there, here is another one of my favorites:

Share your thoughts and resources with me on Twitter @RachelLColello!
And speaking of our editorial calendar for the rest of the year – what kind of posts would you like to see? More of the same or more of a specific type of post? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to DM me if you are shy 😉

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This Podcast Will Make You Happier

I wrote the headline for this post very carefully. Note that I didn’t say, “this podcast can help you to be happier,” or “will teach you to be happier,” or even “can make you happier.” I am pretty convinced that listening to the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast will make you happier even if you don’t actively try anything they suggest.

Haven’t heard of Gretchen yet?  Gretchen Rubin is the author of several books, including the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, Better Than BeforeThe Happiness Project and Happier at Home She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

On her weekly podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin, she discusses good habits and happiness with her sister Elizabeth Craft. Elizabeth is a television writer based in Los Angeles. She is the perfect night-loving, slightly-sarcastic foil for her morning-loving, happiness-researching sister.

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Getting Better at Asking for Help

ask for help

I am horrible at asking for help. Garbage. According to my family, I have been this way for my entire life. In grade school, I think this served me well. If I couldn’t figure out a homework assignment, I’d grind on it until I taught myself the material. If I struggled with something in dance class, I’d work on it in the corner until I figured it out (as best I could) before showing my teacher again. My tendency to want to figure things out on my own was a learning strategy and it boosted my confidence each time I succeeded.

I have found that in the professional world, this tendency actually holds me back, more than it helps. Too much self-reliance is not always a good thing. When you don’t ask for help at work, you:

Answer the wrong question – So often, if you are struggling with an issue or a project, it may be because you are trying to answer the wrong question. When you ask for help right away, the other person can redirect you, so that your efforts are not wasted working towards the wrong goal.

Reinvent the wheel – Unless you are literally inventing something or maybe working in a lab, someone has probably done what you are doing before. By insisting on doing everything yourself and not asking for help, you are ignoring all of their progress and findings. Yes, you will teach yourself some “good lessons,” but that is not what you are being paid to do. The smarter move is to skip that step and ask for as much help as possible. Continue reading

Three Questions to Ask Before You Schedule Social Media Posts

Most of the time, when I help a client to launch a corporate website, we would also refresh the company’s blog and social media accounts. Inevitably, the client asks the million-dollar question, “How often should we post?”

As always, the answer is “it depends.” There are literally hundreds of infographics out there with answers to this question. I have included some of the ones that I agree with below. But before we look at those, let’s consider a few more important questions:

Which social media channels are your target customers passionate about? This is an easy question for some. If you are in fashion for instance, Instagram and Pinterest are no-brainers. But what if you are a B2B technology solution? Your customers are getting online and doing research somewhere. Maybe Facebook isn’t for you, but is there a LinkedIn group that most of your top targets belong to? Identify what matters to your target audience and skip the rest.

How often do your target customers want you to post? If you are marketing to 20-somethings, more may be better. If you are marketing to 50-somethings who prefer to read lengthier content, more posts may be a turn off. Stop asking what the industry benchmarks are and start asking how often your target customers would prefer to hear from you. Continue reading

Why I Want to be Julia Child When I Grow Up

Julia Child
Source: “Julia Child at KUHT” by KUHT – http://digital.lib.uh.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/p15195coll38&CISOPTR=262. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

I admire women with balls. When I have grandchildren, I hope they remember me as being more than a sweet old lady. I’d rather be remembered a little more like Julia Child.

It is a running joke in our household that if Julie and Julia is playing and I am within 10 feet of the television, I will have it on. That movie is comfort food to me – I am drawn to it every time. So this summer, I finally made it a point to read Julia Child’s autobiography, My Life in France. I hadn’t planned to write about it on the blog, because it isn’t directly related to marketing, productivity, or any of the topics we typically discuss. But I think Julia would have disagreed… over the course of her life, as told in her own words, she learned lessons that apply to any professional undertaking.

“Just speak very loudly and quickly, and state your position with utter conviction, as the French do, and you’ll have a marvelous time!”

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How Do Your Clients Make Money? Save this Business Model Cheat Sheet

business revenue

Whenever you come into contact with a new company, be it a new customer or a new client, it is critical that you immediately gain a clear understanding of how that company makes money.  This is NOT the same thing as asking “What do they do?”  Google is a perfect example – Google does online search, but it generates revenue by delivering online advertising. Once you learn some basic business models it becomes much easier to spot them in real life.

I recently came across a great cheat sheet, brought to us by the geniuses at Dummies.com.

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