Here are the 9 things you need to ensure your brand is producing consistent and captivating content.

Building an editorial calendar from scratch might seem like a daunting task, but it can actually be very simple and straightforward — especially if you follow in the footsteps of content marketing aficionados.

With that in mind, here are 9 things you need to build a smart, efficient, and effective calendar that will help you produce premium content.

1. Established Basics

When it comes to organizing content, the most important first step is figuring out who is doing what. Therefore, when you’re building out your calendar, it’s important to start with the basics: the working title of the piece, the author, deadline, editor, estimated publication date, etc. Categorizing based on content type will also help you track projects — after all, an ebook and a blog post have very different timelines from nuts to bolts.

2. Resource for Ideas

Whether you have a team of one or a hundred, it’s critical to always keep a running list of potential ideas. These ideas don’t have to be full-blown articles: they could be as simple as 2-3 keywords, links to an interesting story you read, or a simply sketched outline. That way, whenever you or another editorial team member says “I need a story,” you’ll already have a lead.

3. Status Updates

Is this week’s content on track? Does your writer need an extension to complete an article? Keeping track of deadlines is a critical aspect of any airtight publishing schedule. Be sure to take note of any anticipated delays, and schedule consistent check-ins so you always know where your projects stand.

4. A Target Audience

Before you think about publishing, ask yourself: are you targeting this project to a specific audience? The answer, of course, should be yes. Whether you’re trying to reach other industry professionals, consumers familiar with your brand, or a new demographic of potential customers, consider how best to tailor your message to reflect the interests and narratives of your consumers.

5. Social Amplification

Tracking the status of articles shouldn’t end upon publication. If you want to improve your content marketing strategy in the long run, it’s essential to track if/how much an article has been promoted across your social channels.

6. A Call-To-Action

Seamlessly hyperlinking to your brand’s service pages is always an important consideration when it comes to content marketing. With that in mind, be sure to communicate to your writers how often you expect them to link back to your website, and to other existing related articles. Clear communication means a better product, and with any luck, will help you improve your click-through rate.

7. Long-Term Plans

Although tracking short-term deadlines is essential, it’s equally essential to track important dates year-round — like special events and holidays — so you can schedule content initiatives around them. For example, if Google is important to your publication, you might want to note its birthday in September, so you can have an article or social media post prepared in its honor. Fun or obscure holidays, such as Star Wars day or Talk Like a Pirate day, can also be a good opportunity to put your brand name out there in an engaging and wide-reaching fashion.

8. Shareability

When you’re building out your calendar, you want your deadlines to be enforceable — and that’s only possible if everyone is on board. Make sure all relevant departments have access to your calendar, and encourage different departments (i.e. sales, PR, marketing) to collaborate and create new projects.

9. Flexibility

Finally, although you want your deadlines to be enforceable, you also want them to be flexible. Calendars are constantly in flux, so try not to sweat the small stuff, and don’t be too rigid! Instead of pushing to meet your original publishing date, give writers the time they need (within reason) to produce truly unforgettable content.

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer content marketing services and strategies to transform your company blog into an authoritative trade publication. Click to learn more about how to produce great content and prove ROI on your marketing efforts.