The secret to a successful blog? An editorial calendar.

As one of the co-managers of The Phil—Hodges’ online publication that focuses on local philanthropy — I often encounter a set of challenges not unlike others who are tasked with managing a team’s creative output. Chief among those hurdles is organizing an engaging and comprehensive editorial calendar. When you have a rotating group of writers, all with their own areas of expertise and ideas, the process can begin to feel a bit overwhelming. Herding cats comes to mind.

Yet blogs are worth the effort. HubSpot tells us that half of the top 200 Fortune 500 companies have a corporate blog – among 600 million blogs in the world – and companies with blogs have 13 times the ROI than those that don’t. With so many folks involved in producing blog content, how do you keep the trains running on time and the quality of the writing consistently high? Here are some steps to create a blog you’re proud of without sacrificing your sanity.

Consider your team

Who is writing your content? That should be one of the first questions you ask yourself when laying the foundation for a strong blog.

Because most of your writers have other responsibilities within the organization, you need to be realistic about their availability and bandwidth. Talk to them up front not only about specific blog ideas but about what a reasonable timetable or deadline is for their blogs.  

Spread things out for maximum impact

Editorial calendars also need to factor in the number of writers and the amount of content you can realistically anticipate. Set up a cadence that gives your audience time to read and engage with your posts. That also gives your creative team the breathing room to design a custom graphic or pick the right photo to make a story really pop. It also gives you more time to maximize SEO and social media exposure.

And while we’re on the subject, take into consideration the different audiences (we call them personas) who are reading your blog. As you plan your calendar, make sure you are spacing your content so that your blogs are hitting all your personas on a regular basis.

Ideas bring more ideas

If you are mapping out an editorial calendar for the next month, it’s inevitable that you’ll hit a creative rut. That’s the perfect time to reach out to your larger blogging team. Set up a Zoom call with the team, brainstorm topic ideas or discuss the latest trends in your industry.

Another way to get the gears turning is to reach out to third parties who can offer a fresh perspective. For example, if you are a nonprofit with the goal of fighting poverty, then look for other organizations in your area or circle that have similar objectives. Try asking a writer on their team to contribute some ideas or stories to your blog and they may ask you to return the favor.

Communication is key

A fully functioning blog or news outlet can have a lot of moving parts. In order to keep things on track, schedule regular meetings, conversations and check-ins. Your staff should know what to expect from you and vice versa. Meetings are a good opportunity to hammer out details and make small tweaks. Your fellow writers need to know when they are doing a good job and that their contributions are valued. Create a positive feedback loop, an important factor for getting the next blog back to you on time.

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