I’m sure anyone that works in a creative space has experienced this at one time or another: knowing you have to get something out the door but you haven’t quite nailed down your concept. You brainstorm for a while and come up with a couple really solid ideas. The problem is, none of them are quick wins. They may be ideas that require further research, long-form content, a promotional strategy, or complementary assets. On one hand this is great; truly inspired content concepts take real effort to develop and even more to execute on. On the other hand, there’s a big difference between ideas and actions. You needed a blog post for tonight, not a list of blog post ideas.

I decided that instead of finding a quick wins topic for the blog post tonight (Day 20 of the 30 Day Challenge) I would use it as an opportunity to reflect on the creative process. That is, in fact, the reason I was pushing so hard to get a post out tonight. The 30 Day Challenge was designed to better understand creativity and how to sustain it over an extended period of time. If we go even broader, I started this blog in the first place to “appreciate the struggles and roadblocks that come from maintaining a regular website presence.” Tonight, I learned to appreciate the value of an editorial calendar for sustaining creativity.

Maintaining a content marketing strategy requires dedication, prioritization, and attention. The process has two distinct elements: coming up with ideas and fulfilling them. Despite what we tell ourselves, these are very difficult skills to multitask. The mind cannot simultaneously focus on one thing (a blog post) and all things (a brainstorm); they are in direct conflict with one another. They require an entirely different mindset and the best writers understand how to use this dichotomy to sustain creativity over time.

Tonight started out as a writing night but ended up as a brainstorm night. I hadn’t intended that to be the case but it’s hard to ignore the creative rush, unpredictable as it may be. I’ve got enough content ideas to take me through the rest of the 30 Day Challenge, another 10 posts. I’m also extremely pleased with the quality of the ideas:

  • Framework for A Dude’s Guide to Wedding Planning series where I’ll share some of the planning and organization docs I put together for our wedding
  • Outline for my 7-part Honeymoon series (to be completed this month)
  • How to Live with an Introvert (as an Extrovert)
  • Structure for the opening blog post of a new project I’m announcing in a few weeks

As my mind tends to wander, I also set some new goals for myself:

  • Get involved in Villanova Alumni Association (cheers to Alex Merola for the inspiration here)
  • Set a more regulated exercise schedule. I’ve wanted to check out the Title Boxing Gym that just opened around the corner but I haven’t followed through. Even if it’s just running outside, I need to set a plan and stick to it.
  • Find a way to be more productive in the evening hours. Right now, I’m averaging 2+ hours of TV a night. I have some lofty goals in the coming months and to accomplish them I have to be more productive with this time, even if it’s something more freeform like brainstorming.

If I tried to flesh out any of these concepts tonight, the result would be embarrassing. I believe you have a finite amount of productive energy and recognizing when you’re out of it is an important skill. The reality is it takes time to recharge that energy so you need to build that into your schedule. There needs to be a division of labor established to optimize your time and mental resources.

So, I’m done for tonight. However, the first thing I will be doing tomorrow is putting together a more formal editorial calendar for the rest of the 30 Day Challenge. Hell, I’ll make that tomorrow’s post! Rather than just write about the importance of the editorial calendar, I’ll share the one for the last 10 posts of the 30 Day challenge. If you’re someone publishing once a week, which is still a very respectable publish rate, 10 posts will get you 2.5 months of content scheduled. To come up with that many ideas takes a night dedicated to brainstorming followed by a morning of organization. Take the time to do this right; you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to punch out your weekly blog post when you don’t have the generate the ideas on the spot.

Up to this point, an editorial calendar was always this intangible thing that I understood logically was valuable but couldn’t mentally get behind it. It was a quintessential best practice. After years of reading about content marketing, it finally made sense to me. Tomorrow I’ll share an example to help anyone else with a mental block against editorial calendars get the ball rolling. Until then, it’s time for a cold beer and an episode of Silicon Valley to recharge that creative energy. Cheers!

 

One Response to Why an Editorial Calendar is an Absolute Necessity in Content Marketing

  1. Evan says:

    Absolutely agree!

    Coming up with an idea and executing it in one session puts an enormous amount of pressure on you. And that’s probably fine for you and me on our personal blogs, because if we fail — who cares?

    But when it comes to content marketing, you really have to be at your best. Flying by the seat of your pants is a good way to, as you say, end up settling for “quick wins”. You’ll never get to the meatier pieces if you don’t plan ahead.

    Plus, I think the calendar you suggested in the following post is awesome because it makes you think about promotion and helps you grab a toe hold on the idea. Nothing worse than coming back to your ed cal a few weeks after building it out and having no idea what you intended to say about a topic you came up with.

    Great post!

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