Today’s post is written by Lisa Gerber.

Last week Marijean Jaggers invited me to guest blog about A Day in the Life of a Chief Content Officer. I mentioned our editorial calendar spreadsheet which is pivotal to any content marketing strategy, and thus, my job. It drew a lot of questions, the most popular being, “Can I see your spreadsheet?”

Well, every situation is different, so showing you our Excel spreadsheet won’t necessarily help, but let’s talk about how to develop your editorial calendar.

Let me preface this by saying that there may be better technology out there for managing your editorial calendar. For example, Ardath Albee recommends Mindjet, and WordPress has an editorial calendar plug-in.

We haven’t taken the time to play around with them, and Excel has met our needs quite well. We use this for Spin Sucks Pro, not Spin Sucks. We are building out an entire curriculum in digital marketing so our needs are fairly complex.

Let’s organize your content in Excel, shall we?

  1. Establish your infrastructure. Build out the architecture of your content by creating lists of categories. This is the most important step and it’s the first one so do give it your best strategic thinking.  You can go back, and you likely will, to get it right.
    • Broad topics: Can your subject matter be broken down into a handful (maybe five to 10 or even more) broad topics within which will fall many of your topics?
    • Progressional: I made this term up. Is there a progress in a linear timeline that can be followed? Perhaps it represents a time in your sales funnel, a place in your client process, or a place in the lifecycle of a product, or a customer?
    • Type: Content type can be divided into How-to’s, case studies, opinion pieces, interviews, guest blog contributions, testimonials, and more. Don’t confuse this with format. We’ll get to that in a minute. We all have different ways of learning. Some of us want to be held by the hand (how-to) while other’s want to know who else is doing it well or wrong (case study). And then of course, we all love to share our opinion on the matter!
    • Channels: Blog, guest blogs, YouTube Channel etc.
  2. Build out the spreadsheet. This will take some playing around, depending on what works for your particular situation. We’ve created tabs for each of the broad topics because we have hundreds of articles that will go within each broad topic. Within each broad topic, the columns represent the progressional factors. Each of those columns will have three or four subs-columns where I include publish date (this gets filled in later), deadline for completion, name of person to complete, format (video, article, podcast), channel and title.
  3. Fill in the spreadsheet. Now start adding topic titles as they come to you. Keep it open all day, and as ideas come, you can put them in the right spot. Sometimes new ideas may force you to rearrange things, so it’s constantly being fine-tuned. Keep a notebook everywhere; in the car, by your bed, heck, in the bathroom! So that you never lose an idea.
  4. Schedule it. This is where it starts to get fun. Now you can start to schedule when your content will run. Ask subject matter experts or staff to contribute pieces. You can actually appear to have your act together by release content in blocks with a theme by the week or the month– maybe you have a case study, a how-to article and video on a similar topic. Perhaps you wrap it all up with a webinar You can use guest blog opportunities to push tentacles out further. Look ahead for three months and identify any holidays, or events that are taking place that can tie into what you are doing.You can get super geeked out on it by color coding. I have different colors for content when is complete, content in draft form that needs work, and for guest-authored content that has been submitted but not yet edited.
  5. Cross promote and re-purpose. This is a separate post in itself. But I’ll wrap up by showing you how we cross promote and re-purpose:

For more information on content, read Four Content Ideas for Driving Inbound Leads, which Gini Dietrich re-purposed from a webinar that we held in July. You can purchase the archive of that webinar here for $50.

And lastly, if you’d like to learn how to develop content that closes sales from Marcus Sheridan and Gini Dietrich, then please join our webinar tomorrow (Thursday) at 11 am central time. $50 register here.

What do you think? Have you used an editorial calendar tool that you like?