According to a recent survey, 90% of B2B marketers do some form of content marketing already, whether they realize it or not. Traditional marketing’s forward, aggressive style isn’t as consumer trusted as it once was and more marketing budgets are shifting towards inbound marketing tactics like blogging. In fact, 60% of B2B marketers plan to spend more on content marketing in the next 12 months.
Blogging provides the value that customers want before they give their business away. It’s a reason to get someone to your website, a reason to put your brand in front of potential customers. It replaces the outright selling aspect of traditional advertising with the sharable, value-based aspect of storytelling. More and more startups are turning to blogging, but they’ll need to know how to perfect their editorial schedule if they want to really see results.
What is an editorial schedule and why is it important for startups?
An editorial schedule, also known as a blog posting or publishing schedule, is a look ahead at what content you want to publish, a list of topic ideas, what they will be about, who is going to write them, what keywords they will target, and publishing date and time.
Initially, it might seem that writing by the seat of your pants would be easier. Whatever comes to mind that day, you’ll write about. This is a common mistake that bloggers make. An editorial schedule helps solve the time and strategy problem. It has two major benefits (and many minor ones): it’ll save you time and it’ll turn your creativity into strategy.
With an editorial schedule, you’re not worrying about what you’re going to be publishing every week. More importantly, scheduling helps prevent writer’s block. You will always have ideas and a direction, so you won’t be stuck staring at a blank document for an hour. Finally, blogging without a strategy is just not smart. You wouldn’t run an AdWords campaign or do a product launch without a strategy because you wouldn’t maximize your results. The same concept applies to blogging.
How do you perfect a startup editorial schedule?
1. Keep your audience in mind and source keywords.
First and foremost, your blog needs to provide real value. In order to do that, you’ll need to make sure your content is aligned with what your audience wants to read. What is going to attract your target demographic to your blog? Keywords can help you find out. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to search for keywords similar to the ones you’re already working with. Use them reasonably (not excessively) in your blog posts to pull in search engine traffic. Keep in mind that you want low competition, frequently searched keywords.
Tip: Using the Keyword Tool is also a great way to find topic ideas relevant to your segment.
2. Source competitors’ top posts.
Make a list of the top blogs competing for your audience’s attention. Take the time to identify their top posts, whether that means the most viewed, most commented or even most shared. You should have a close eye on what your competition is writing about and what’s working for them.
3. Identify trends.
Between the keyword results and your competitors’ top posts, you have an idea of what type of content will resonate with your audience. Identify any trends in the data. What topics, words or phrases appear multiple times? Are there a lot of casual list style posts or in-depth research-driven posts? Make note.
4. Use trends to create categories and tags.
Your blog is going to need some categories and core tags. Use the trends you identified in the previous step to create specific, relevant categories. For example, an affiliate marketing network startup might have categories like “PPC”, “Hot Offers” and “SEO”. It’s also a good idea to tag your posts using the insights you’ve gained from your research.
5. Brainstorm potential topic ideas.
You want to come up with as many topics as possible at first. Sit down with your keywords, your competitors’ top posts and your trend data to come up with as many blog post ideas as you possibly can. Keep them on point, but don’t limit your creativity. When you have a big enough list, narrow the topics down to the most engaging, the most valuable, the most on brand, etc.
6. Use Excel or Word to create your editorial schedule outline.
An Excel worksheet or a table in Word is enough to setup an editorial schedule. Make note of any holidays or promotions that you’re running that month. Around major holidays and world events, try to come up with creative themed posts. For example, “Why Santa Would Be An Amazing Affiliate Marketer”. Create and populate the “Topic” column of your schedule. Some other columns could include: “Description”, “Notes”, “Keywords”, “Images”, “Writer”, etc. These columns are especially helpful when there are multiple authors working on your blog.
7. Decide on frequency, days of the week and time of day.
Publishing frequency can often be a personal preference, but there are some guidelines. Generally, active blogs are updated two or three times a week. Blogs with quite a few authors are typically updated four or five times a week. According to a recent study, the day and time of day that you publish depends on whether your goal is to drive traffic or social sharing. Thursdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 or 11 a.m. are best for social sharing. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 9 and 10 a.m. are best for page views.
8. Evaluate and iterate.
Within your editorial schedule, whether it’s on a new worksheet or under a new column, you should be measuring some key metrics. Track total individual post views, social shares, conversions, etc. What content worked best for your blog? Did a certain type of content work better on a certain day? Identify trends in your data and make appropriate changes to perfect the schedule.