How to build an editorial calendar (for a meaningful life)

I’ve been a terrible marketer.

One of the most important elements of building a platform, and creating deep relationships with your community is to create valuable content. Consistently.

Well, I’ve been slacking. I haven’t posted a new article for over 4 months now, and my “publishing anxiety” level finally met my procrastination level.

The problem wasn’t that I had writer’s block, or that I somehow became illiterate since then. The problem was that I didn’t feel confident about my writing, and how that writing would serve my greater purpose.

So, I went back to the cave (newly renovated home office), and dug in. Fuelled by copious amounts of caffeine, lack of sleep and a driving desire to deliver value for my readers and listeners — I came up with a solution. And I’d like share it with you.

 

Build an editorial calendar in 5 steps

Earlier in 2015, I built a content marketing course. One of the cornerstones of the course is developing an editorial calendar. There are as many ways to build one, as there are marketers. But I found most of them to be too impractical or complicated.

So… here’s how you build a simple and effective content / editorial calendar:

  1. Choose 2 – 3 words you wish to define your brand (more on this). For example: Subaru could be represented by the words Outdoor & Adventure.
  2. Come up with as many topics and themes around those two words as you can. You should have at least 25. They may look something like this:

    – family road-trips
    – how to pack for a back-country adventure
    – best spots to car-camp in Canada, etc.
  3. Out of those, pick 12 absolute favourites. Ones you will actually feel excited writing about.
  4. Assign a theme to each month of the year, starting next calendar month.
  5. Come up with 4 specific content ideas for each theme. For example, if the theme is family road-trips, these could be:

    – a checklist on how to pack for your first family road-trip
    – 5 old school road trip games to keep your kids entertained
    – 10 items to check on your Subaru before a summer trip
    – getting the most mileage out of all-season tires.

And you’re DONE. You have a year’s worth of content planned, with specific weekly content ideas. You’re also miles ahead of marketers who create useless branded drivel, just to check off a line that says “content marketing” in their budget.

To get you started, here is a FREE editorial calendar template we included as a bonus in the Content Marketing Code course.

Take it. Fill it. Share it. Tell me what you think about it.

TL;DR: Come up with 12 themes to create content around. Pick one theme per month. Create 4 specific ideas for each theme.

 

Building an editorial calendar for a meaningful life

Now, let’s swing this in a completely different direction! The other day, I saw a really interesting TED talk by Matt Cutts . In it, he asks: “Is there something you’ve always meant to do, wanted to do, but just … haven’t?”.

His solution: Try it for 30 days.

Here’s a radical idea — use an editorial calendar to build an interesting, meaningful life for yourself! Get focused and intentional about the kind of life you want to lead with the time you have left.

Learn how to paint, write a short novel, get active with your family, start learning Japanese… whatever floats your boat. And you only have to do it for 30 days. No commitments or contracts necessary :)

Too often, we live our lives in reverse — observing things after they happen, and reacting to whatever stimuli our circumstances throw at us. Well, I’d like us to turn around and start looking forward. Plan a little. Think about what you would like to accomplish, build or create in the next year.

Pick a theme for the next month! For me, it’s going to be writing for 30 minutes, every day. What about you? E-mail me and let me know what your theme is. I’d love to know!

 

What happens if you fail

Nobody’s perfect. I haven’t listened to my own advice for years, and have paid for it by losing readers, listeners and business momentum.

Sometimes even the best laid plans will derail. And that’s ok. If you can, do a little today to move toward your theme, or your goals. If not, you always have tomorrow to dust off and try again. In fact, you have over 32 million times to try again.

Let me explain.

In Buddhism there is a unit of measure of time called a ksana. It represents one moment — which is approximately one seventy-fifth of one second. According to buddhist teachings all beings in the universe appear and disappear in a moment. So, if you’re willing to stretch your concept of time a bit, you have 32,820,000 new beginnings every day!

It is literally never too late to start anew.

 
For more on building a meaningful life, check out my 26k podcast :)

Thank you for reading.

– ernest

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