Gini Dietrich

An Editorial Calendar Equals Lots of Content from One Idea

By: Gini Dietrich | January 13, 2015 | 
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Editorial CalendarBy Gini Dietrich

I have a confession to make. I write without an editorial calendar.

Every, single day, I sit down at 5 a.m. and think, “What should I write about today?”

In some cases, I have blog posts percolating in my head for several days, as I research and learn more.

In other cases, when I sit down at my computer, I have no idea what is going to make it onto the page.

It’s silly. I know. The rest of Spin Sucks runs on an editorial calendar. Lindsay Bell keeps things moving beautifully, from that perspective.

For instance, our theme for January is measurement. I love measurement and data and metrics, but there is no way I could write about it every day for an entire month.

I’d be bored, which means you’d most definitely be bored.

That’s why, when I give you some advice, I do so with a large grain of salt.

Create an Editorial Calendar

Create an editorial calendar.

This will help you avoid that “what to write now” panic and keep you on track.

In other words, don’t slack like I do nearly every day.

An editorial calendar is simply a schedule of content topics that ensure you always have a supply written, visual, and auditory content.

But, there is a better way to plan your content, which is actually what I do at least once a month to give blog posts lots of legs. Think of your content as a millipede. It has a body—the main topic—and it has up to 200 subtopics.

Create your millipede—or content map—by drawing a series of circles.

Start with one large circle in the middle of the page. This is your main topic.

From that circle, try drawing six or more medium-sized circles. These are your sub-topics.

From those circles, you’ll draw several small circles on each, which will serve as your supportive base.

Dietrich Content Map

 

For my speech at Content Marketing World last October (and I’m speaking again this year so come hang out!), I created a content map using a blog post I wrote on how to produce content that gets read and shared.

“Writing blog posts,” then, becomes the main topic.

The sub-theme is more refined, such as “tricks to writing popular blog posts” and “generate blog post ideas.”

These go into your medium-sized circles.

Then, the small circles surrounding that one circle is content you can produce on that one topic.

For instance, create a debate between someone in your office and an industry influencer (Paul Sutton and I like to do this once or twice a year) or talk about trends around the topic or interview an industry influencer (Heidi Cohen does this really well).

These go into the small circles.

Continue that until you’ve exhausted all of your ideas.

Now, after doing this for the example, you have your main topic, six sub-topics, and four pieces of content as your supportive base.

You now have 11 pieces of content that help extend your main piece and begin to showcase your expertise.

An Editorial Calendar Helps Search

This also helps with your search rankings (which Andy Crestodina is going to talk more about during our webinar on Thursday; register here).

Staying with the same “writing blog posts” topic as the example above, the goal is to create expertise around blogging and the types of content one would create to encourage people not to just to read it, but to share it.

That main piece of content lives on your website or blog and the sub-topics and supportive base all link to it.

Now, no matter where your other content lives—on your website, on your blog, on the LinkedIn publishing platform, on other social networks, or you’ve guest written for another blog or publication—Google knows you are the authority on this topic.

It also tells human beings who see your content that you have expertise on this topic and it’s highly likely they’ll click over and read your main piece.

Don’t be lazy like me. Create an editorial calendar. I promise it’s well worth the few minutes of time it’ll take to draw your circles and fill them in.

image credit: Andy Crestodina again. I can’t escape him!

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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63 Comments on "An Editorial Calendar Equals Lots of Content from One Idea"

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Howie Goldfarb
1 year 6 months ago

I wing it too! And when I have the rare post that gets a lot of hits I can say I successfully wung it!

Word Ninja
1 year 6 months ago

I’m a winger, too. I used these cluster diagrams in my writing classes as a student and (much) later as a professor…but never for my blog. Silly me.

annelizhannan
1 year 6 months ago

It surprises me a bit that so far (in the comments) bloggers are working on a wing and a prayer 😉 Expecting the opposite might just put me in the category with the flightless dodo bird 😉

allpointspr100
allpointspr100
1 year 6 months ago

An editorial calendar helps so much! I tend to put themes for days instead of actual topics for the days since I know there might be something that happens that day or day before that I REALLY want to write about.

Kimberly Crossland
Kimberly Crossland
1 year 6 months ago

Great tip! I’m like you – I avoid creating an editorial calendar and then sit down in front of the computer thinking, “what questions have I been asked recently that need to be answered in front of a wider audience?” It’s effective to a point but it’d be leaps and bounds more effective if I planned a better, more long-term approach. Plus, it’d save time and stress, which is always a good thing!

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

Kimberly Crossland Totally, totally yes. We must do this. LOL!

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

allpointspr100 That’s a good point, too. There is something happening in Canada that I’m watching carefully because I’ll write about it soon. And an editorial calendar wouldn’t allow me to do that!

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

annelizhannan It’s because so many of us started out long before you needed to do any of this. Trust me, this will make your life easier.

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

Word Ninja Yay! I taught you something! Yay!

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

Howie Goldfarb It’s not hard for you to wing it. You’re the Ernest Hemingway of blogging.

Word Ninja
1 year 6 months ago

ginidietrich Fine. But don’t start calling me “Grasshopper.”

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

Word Ninja Bwahahahaha!

Todd Lyden
1 year 6 months ago

You have a calendar, its the content that is questionable… im sure you have everyone tap dancing wondering what the heck YOUR slotted post is going to say… something akin to the way South Park is written now… apparently they have some in their back pocket but tend to wait until the week before hand… which is SCARY when you think about the advancements in tech

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

Todd Lyden HAHAH! That’s totally true. In my slot, it just says, “Gini.” They probably do have a heart attack while they wait for me to decide.

Todd Lyden
1 year 6 months ago

Of  course, I must recommend that it say “Gert” – calendar minions, get on this immediately!

bradmarley
1 year 6 months ago

That graphic reminds me of the Google Wonder Wheel (RIP) that used to be a great tool for finding topics to write about, as well as subtopics to those topics. 

But I digress. 

Editorial calendars are a must. Aside from helping to plan out content in advance, they give you the peace of mind to get some sleep at night because you’re not fretting over what you’ll write the next day.

Danny Brown
1 year 6 months ago

I think it depends. A comms company like AD, for example, is perfect for a content calendar. 
An off-the-cuff company (fun start-up, irreverent news site) may be better off just running off-the-cuff with something that happens that day, that is relevant for their audience.
Then you have the solo bloggers that write better because they’re not forced into creating content they may not have a passion for at that particular time.
So, calendar for some – yes; as you go for others, also yes. 🙂

KristenDaukas
1 year 6 months ago

I do both an editorial calendar and a mind/content map. My editorial calendar is a “cheat” in that I loosely assign a theme to each day. For my parenting site it could be Mom Monday (parenting topic), Teach me Tuesday (blogging, social media topics,etc.) and so on. If I end up with a brain freeze, worse case scenario I know an over-arching topic and then I can from there. What I’m doing differently this year is keeping track of all my posts IN my calendar spreadsheet.

jennimacdonald
1 year 6 months ago

Can I please interrupt this great broadcast to ask for help with my Spin Sucks account. I want to register for Thursday’s webinar and I’ve tried resetting my password multiple times but I’m having no luck.

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

jennimacdonald Oh belllindsay! Help poor Jen!

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

bradmarley I didn’t know the Google Wonder Wheel, but that sounds amazing. We should revive it.

belllindsay
1 year 6 months ago

ginidietrich jennimacdonald Hi Jen, drop me an email at lbell@armentdietrich.com and we’ll sort something out!

belllindsay
1 year 6 months ago

ginidietrich bradmarley I want to see the Google Wonder Wheel!!!

belllindsay
1 year 6 months ago

ginidietrich Todd Lyden I tap dance for no one. 😉

belllindsay
1 year 6 months ago

ginidietrich allpointspr100 Go Canada!! More scandals!!

Howie Goldfarb
1 year 6 months ago

ginidietrich hopefully with a better ending?

bradmarley
1 year 6 months ago

belllindsay ginidietrich Sadly there’s no way to see it unless you do a search for it in Google Images. 

*pours out some of his 40 in memory of the Wonder Wheel*

40deuce
40deuce
1 year 6 months ago

This post couldn’t be better timed. I’m actually working on something very similar and just happened to have caught someone tweeting it.
Thanks for the inspiration ginidietrich! 

Cheers,
Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

40deuce You know what’s weird? You popped into my brain yesterday. Spooky!

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

Howie Goldfarb I would guess so, unless you plan to drink yourself to death.

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

KristenDaukas You’re doing a lot differently this year…and doing a nice job of it. I like it!

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

Danny Brown Sure, if you’re a media site and “reporting” on the news of the day, then an editorial calendar this like doesn’t make sense. But we do this for all of our clients—that range from software as a service and airplane engines to law firms and real estate companies—and it works across the board.

biggreenpen
1 year 6 months ago

Howie Goldfarb wing …. wang …. wung ….

Danny Brown
1 year 6 months ago

biggreenpen Howie Goldfarb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoXu6QmxpJE

biggreenpen
1 year 6 months ago

Danny Brown biggreenpen Howie Goldfarb oh good, because i needed an ear worm …. 😉

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

cloudspark xoxo

SMVermillion
1 year 6 months ago

Hooray for content hubs! Thanks for this helpful piece, Gini. 

One quick, related question: Is there a suggested number of total content pieces you need to develop expertise on the main topic in Google’s eyes?

puranjay
puranjay
1 year 6 months ago

This is one thing you can’t be *too* invested in. Editorial calendars work wonderfully well, but if you start planning them months ahead, they lose their edge.

I’ve seen businesses plan calendars 6-7 months ahead. That gives you no room to be nimble as the market, your business and your own content creation abilities change!

KevinFox
1 year 6 months ago

Gini, 
Great piece. “Duh!” That’s the  highest form of praise. You hit the nail right on the head and presented it so clearly as to be obvious and common sense. Thanks and keep up the great work.
Kevin

ThePaulSutton
1 year 6 months ago

This is probably predictable, @ginidietrich, but I disagree with you. 
I’ve had a half-finished blog post sat in my drafts since the new year asking whether it’s time to bin content calendars. I’ll finish it and post tomorrow. 
But essentially, I question the value of any form of content calendar beyond having a strategy that enables you to have an idea of what you’re producing content around, but continuously pivoting and adjusting as you go. For me it’s about ‘feel’.

Rodriguez247
1 year 6 months ago

Always on point. Now to follow your advice, to not be you; but only on this part, because everyone wants to be Gini.

Digital_DRK
1 year 6 months ago

ginidietrich 40deuce Same here!!, although perhaps it was the Community Manager job posting on Sysomos (I applied for)  that triggered that….

40deuce
40deuce
1 year 6 months ago

ginidietrich I hope for only good reasons! =)

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

KevinFox So good to see you here, Kevin!

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

SMVermillion Sorry for the late reply! No, there isn’t a number of content pieces required. Google wants to see that people share your content and link to your content. So getting sub-topic content on other sites with higher domain authority than your own is super important.

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

puranjay Oh yeah…that would be crazy insane! We can barely plan a month in advance. 🙂

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

ThePaulSutton  OK, for you, sure (and for me, too). But what about the organizations that need to get their teams (subject matter experts) involved?

ginidietrich
1 year 6 months ago

Rodriguez247 LOL!! I wouldn’t go that far.

ThePaulSutton
1 year 6 months ago

ginidietrich Maybe we’re talking slightly different things, but for me a content calendar is something fairly detailed and granular. That’s distinctly different from knowing what’s going on in your organisation and planning accordingly. For me, one is strategic, the other is tactical.
I published the post I mentioned here, which hopefully expands on this a little: http://paulsutton.co/2015/01/16/time-binned-content-calendar/
And there was also a great debate on Facebook about it, here: https://www.facebook.com/thepaulsutton/posts/10205388107078888?pnref=story

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