Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last five years, you’ve likely heard about how important content marketing is to your overall marketing efforts. Still, many small business owners who are a one-person operation might find the idea of coming up with new, fresh content ideas, as well as deciding which format the content should be in (blog? article? video? list?) overwhelming, to say the least. The best way to approach small business content marketing is with a plan, and all content marketing plans should include an editorial calendar to help you organize your ideas and keep you on schedule. Below are some ideas on how to use an editorial calendar for content marketing.

Start with a basic 12-month calendar

Regardless of what kind of business you have, the best place to start planning content is on a 12-month calendar. First, identify all the major holidays. Maybe you’ll incorporate those into your writing, maybe you won’t, but start there. Next, break down your calendar into Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4. Now, look at each quarter individually:  any events coming up that should be noted?  Trade shows?  Product launches? Major anniversaries or other events? Plug those in. Any other seasonal events you want to identify like the first day of summer, when monsoon season starts, or perhaps the first day of spring training?  Add those to the calendar too. Now you have a broad idea of some notable events that you may be able to weave into your content. Read on…

Look at those events and consider how they tie into your business

Right now, a few people might be thinking, “Halloween has nothing to do with my business”. OK, you may be right, but stay with me here. If you are a retailer that sells costumes, candy, food or decor, then a holiday like Halloween definitely applies, so let’s start there. If you sell Halloween costumes for example, when should you start creating and distributing content about Halloween? October 1st?  No way; you’re way too late in the game if you’re promoting Halloween in October. To build excitement and interest, you should be looking months earlier to get people’s attention. You should plug in Halloween-related content at least a month or two earlier into your calendar. Maybe you write a blog in August titled, “It’s Never Too Soon to Start Planning Your Halloween Costume” or maybe create a short video on how to piece together a Halloween costume hitting up consignment shops during their summer sale. You need to give yourself a long runway to build up to any of these seasonal or major events.

Now back to those of you who think Halloween has nothing to do with your business. That still doesn’t mean you can’t write content that capitalizes on the holiday. How about an article titled, “Seven Scary Facts You Never Knew About Machines” or “5 Candies Your Kids Should Avoid”? Take advantage of the holidays and seasons even if they don’t directly apply to your business. It’s a creative way to come up with ideas.

Be sure to list out keyword-focused topics

As you start plugging in ideas, think about what keyword phrases you can use to tie the information topically to your website and your business. Maybe you’re a pediatric dentist, so you might take that candy topic above and rename the title to, “5 Candies Pediatric Dentists Say You Should Avoid”. Or you’re a product design firm, so you might take that seven scary facts article and rename it, “Seven Scary Facts You Never Knew About Machines”. Don’t keyword stuff your article for the sake of search engines, but do keep your keyword phrases in mind when you write your blog, article, list, etc.

Consider which format is best for your content

You’ve figured out a few cool titles, and you’ve identified a targeted keyword phrase to leverage in the content. Nice job! Now, you need to get a little more creative and move beyond blog posts. Take a look at the list you just created: anything on there that could be a list instead of a blog post? A video? An infographic?  Maybe a topic that could be used in an interview?  Remember, people consume information in different ways, so if all your content is text-based, you’re selling your marketing short. Take the next step and note a few different formats each topic/title could be.

A few examples of what an editorial calendar looks like

You went from the big picture (a 12-month calendar) and slowly narrowed it down (quarters,  holidays, topics, keyword phrases, titles, and then format). If you’re a one-person company, no need to identify who will create the content (that’s you or a small business marketing professional to do it for you). If you do have staff, you now may want to assign who is responsible to create the content, and what the final due date is. If you can set up and follow an editorial calendar, content marketing can be a bit easier. Always look 60-90 days out.

Ready to see a few examples?  Below are some fantastic tools for planning a content calendar:





Get started now on your content calendar

The fact is, 90% of marketers now use an editorial calendar.  Shouldn’t you?

Patty Hughes
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