With 2015 just around the corner, I’d like to share an Editorial Calendar Planner mind map that can make a huge difference in simplifying and driving your 2015 content marketing and productivity success. It’s based on ideas that have worked for me as well as hundreds of others.
The 2015 Editorial Calendar Planner, available for download here, is built upon a few key concepts that have proven themselves over and over again. These include:
- Consolidating all aspects of your marketing planning in one place. This combines a big picture view of the marketing messages you’re going to deliver over the year, with a micro view of how you’re going to use social media to promote. It can also show how you’re going to repurpose your messages during the course of the year.
- Using your editorial calendar to manage your time. Not only will the Editorial Calendar Planner help you avoid the stress of last-minute “deadline madness,” but it will help you co-ordinate the various tasks involved in bringing a message to light and efficiently sharing it with your market.
- Focusing on one task at a time. Unlike spreadsheet-based editorial calendars, my MindManager-based Editorial Calendar mind map template encourages you to focus your attention on what needs to be accomplished at each step.
Step 1: Choose a Year’s Worth of Monthly Themes
The biggest departure of my 2015 MindManager Editorial Calendar Planner from other planners that I’ve seen is its emphasis on starting by choosing monthly content themes.
Choosing your monthly content themes is the easiest way you can create a framework for your week-to-week content marketing. It’s a once-a-year task that only requires 12 decisions!
Once you have selected a theme for each month, you’ll find it easy to create, or delegate, the topics needed to maintain your visibility and enhance your firm’s image as the go-to experts in your field.
Your monthly themes should be broad enough to be addressed from a variety of perspectives. They should be based on the market’s information needs, as described in your marketing personas.
As you’re choosing your monthly themes, be guided by the changes that your market is looking for:
- Problems to be solved. What are your market’s biggest challenges, frustrations, and problems? What keeps them up at night worrying? Choose a theme for each month based on solving a different problem. The bigger the problem, the greater the urgency!
- Goals to be achieved. What are your market’s biggest goals? What do they want that you can help them achieve? Each month, devote your editorial calendar to helping them achieve a different goal.
Monthly themes are similar to the sections of a nonfiction book. Only, in this case, instead of developing the themes into chapters of a book, you’ll use them as the basis of individual articles, blog posts, podcasts, or guest posts.
As shown in the above example, I encourage you to use MindManager’s Notes feature to brainstorm the topics you could build around the monthly themes. These could include exploring the relevance of the theme to your market, the pros and cons of different approaches, case studies, tutorials, or even tools like checklists and worksheets.
Once you have identified 12 monthly themes for your marketing, you’ve created a strong framework, or structure, for your 2015 success.
Note: consider the 12 monthly themes the basis of your marketing goals, but don’t consider them the total extent of your marketing plan. The monthly themes are guides, not limitations. Certainly, there may be times when you’ll want to insert additional articles and blog posts about timely topics when the appropriate opportunities occur.
Step 2: Identify Weekly Topics, Deadlines, and Promotion
The next step involves selecting topics that support your monthly theme, assigning MindManager’s Start Dates and Due Dates to each project, and indicating how you will promote — i.e., drive traffic — to each article, blog post, podcast, or webinar.
Start by identifying how many topics you’re going to need each month. This will be determined by how frequently you will publish new topic. You need to ask yourself questions like:
- “How many articles or blog posts containing fresh content can my staff and I realistically and consistently produce each month?”
- “When do I want to publish fresh content to appear?”
It’s better to be conservative than over ambitious. And, it’s better to under-promise than over-promise, and fall behind schedule.
If you’re starting out, or your resources are limited, it’s better to schedule two posts a month; one appearing during the first week of every month, the other appearing during the third week of every month. Note that, following this conservative strategy, you only need to select 24 topics to create blog posts for an entire year!
To support the twice-a-month strategy, you can use social media to promote your recent articles and blog posts, and adapt them to new formats. For example, during the last week of the month, you can prepare an end-of-month podcast summarizing the two posts. You could also prepare a short email newsletter linking to the two posts, and previewing the theme you’ll be addressing in the upcoming month.
The key to success at this point is to assign Start Dates and Due Dates to each project, including the email newsletter where you will refer to your latest blog posts and upcoming events, as well as the social media you’ll use to promote each topic in the days following its publication.
Scheduling and Delegating
Choosing topics, by themselves, is not enough, however. It’s essential that you accompany each project with firm Start Dates and Due Dates. Dates are commitments that turn intention into action. Adding Start Dates and Due Dates also permits you to Filter your Editorial Calendar, so it displays only current projects and upcoming deadlines.
If others, like editors or graphic designers, are going to be involved with your projects, break each project down into specific tasks, with their own Start Dates and Due Dates. In addition, use Mindjet’s Resource Markers to indicate who is responsible for editing and creating the graphics that will accompany each post.
Note, in the above example, I have added Start Dates and Due Dates planning sessions to add the topics and dates for converting February and March themes into published and promoted content. (Alternately, you might want to schedule a single planning session each quarter.)
Step 3: Build on Your Success
Once you begin working with a MindManager Editorial Calendar, you’ll undoubtedly discover additional uses for it. For example,
- Use the Notes feature to add new ideas. As you identify upcoming monthly themes and weekly topics, take a moment to add ideas or examples. Then, frequently review the Notes. Each time you return, new ideas are likely to appear. This is because; having engaged your brain with a theme or topic, your brain will be on the lookout for relevant ideas and making new connections.
- Track the comments, likes, and Tweets associated with each topic. Use MindManager’s Notes feature to add relevant comments, or insert the number of shares generated by each topic.
- Include multiple links. After your post your content online, be sure to add links to the published articles, blog posts, and podcasts. This will make it easier to share the links in your email signature or email newsletters. Likewise, always provide links to the word-processed and graphics associated with each project. This will save time expanding or reformatting your ideas.
Adopt a Long-Range View
When choosing monthly themes and weekly topics, be guided by the end result you’re looking for. Consider ways to build upon your marketing content and use it as the basis for future income-generating projects, like:
- Monthly special reports or coaching programs that expands on the topics you covered during the previous month, and offers additional resources such as case studies, interviews templates, worksheets, or videos.
- Quarterly eBook or eBook report based on the articles, blog posts, and podcasts you published during the previous three months. Again, don’t just reprint what you’ve published, but build upon it and add value—which can include your personal assistance.
- Published book or a “Year-at-a-glance” eBook that appears at the end of the year. Many experts publish books that originated as blog posts. They’ve discovered that their followers would prefer to have their ideas presented to them in a book or eBook format, even if they are available on their website. Packaging your ideas as a book available from Amazon.com greatly enhances your credibility and visibility.
Customizing Your Editorial Calendar
It’s hard to over-estimate the benefits of a MindManager Editorial Calendar mind map linked to your Mindjet Dashboard, particularly in terms of improving the quality and consistency of your content marketing.
Without an Editorial Calendar, you’re likely to be constantly fighting deadlines and, as a result, sacrificing the consistency that’s crucial for content marketing success.
Hopefully, the idea of organizing your content marketing around monthly themes will inspire you to use the Editorial Calendar to plan your 2015 marketing. If you do, please share your comments, experiences, and questions below!