Perhaps the biggest challenge plaguing the modern marketer and business owner is the ability to create quality content on a consistent basis.
Obviously this poses quite the conundrum, as consumers are searching for more and more content on a daily basis, needing an average of 10.4 pieces of content in order to make a purchase decision. (Source: Google)
Like many seemingly complicated problems, the solution is actually quite simple. Creating a blog editorial calendar not only helps you stay organized, but it actually helps in the idea generation process, allowing you to create the overall structure of an article prior to sitting down to write.
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Before we go any further, I'd like to preface this entire article by saying we use a free application called Trello, an incredibly diverse project management app that allows us to create a more interactive, detailed blog editorial calendar than any Excel document or Google Spreadsheet could ever promise.
Below I'll detail how we utilize this app to both stay organized and keep the ideas flowing.
Getting Started with Your Blog Editorial Calendar
Once you create your free account with Trello, you'll have the ability to create as many boards – think of them as separate projects or calendars – as you see fit.
Below is what your first board will look like upon logging in. (Click to enlarge.)
Along the top, you have what are called "lists." These are customizable, and you can create as many – or as little – as you'd like.
Within each list, you can create "cards" with the titles of upcoming, completed, or published blog posts.
For this section, I'll give you a little peak of our own blog editorial calendar in order provide reasoning behind why we created each list (and why you should do the same.)
Idea Pipeline – One of my favorite things about Trello is their mobile functionality. Download the app on any device, and you can update it with ideas whenever they may hit. With the mobile app, I'm able to record my ideas wherever I am, and more importantly, access them on the desktop the next day.
In Production – Here's where all the ideas go once they're picked up by a writer. Once they structure has been fleshed out, the right persona is targeted, and a writer begins work on it, we can more accurately forecast a potential publish date.
Completed – Once a post is completed, the card is moved here (just click and drag a card to another list to move it.) Now our content marketing manager will have all completed posts to both edit and publish.
Archived – When a blog post goes live, I'd suggest keeping an "Archived" column in order to have easy access to older posts. This is great for social media purposes, as you won't have to go digging through older posts to find one you're looking to share.
Guest Posts – Guest posting has been an extremely valuable asset for our company, so we try to accurately plan ahead as to not miss opportunities to stay visible and increase our reach.
So...what should you include on your cards?
On Trello, cards have two sides. The front side should simply contain the title of your blog post. Keep it simply and easy to digest. Once you click on a card however, it flips to a backside of which you have far more options to include all relevant information.
Here's an example of what's included on the back of one of our cards:
As you can see, the author includes a brief description of what the post will cover, as well as the final URL so our marketing team can easily share the post once it goes live.
Notice the sidebar, where you have a plethora of other options in order to further detail the organization of your post. Among them:
Due date – Great for managers. Assign a due date to the assigned writer in order to have an accurate forecast.
Attach file – Attach any relevant documents or images in order for the writer to have everything they need.
Move – If you have multiple Trello boards, you can move specific cards to other boards as well.
Subscribe – This is great for both the writer and the manager, as you can subscribe to a specific card in order to stay current on all updates.
Vote – All members of the board can vote on topics.
Users can also comment on cards for further direction or to announce changes in direction or due date. Much like Twitter, just mention other users by @TheirName and they'll instantly be notified that there's an update.
Why it's More Effective
There's a very simple reason why using an interactive app like Trello is far more effective than using a static Excel sheet: it's a more enjoyable user experience.
What good is an editorial calendar if you're too uninspired to even keep up with it?
The ability to engage in real time will not only allow for more productive blogging, but also ease the burden of staring at a blank page with a blinking cursor.