My working background before I lucked into the internet was in a publishing company so traditional we heated up wax in order to stick typeset galley proofs onto cardboard to layout our magazines, complete with photocopied prints sized and cropped with scissors to fit in the layout.
While the methods were different, the processes to support the publishing of complex magazines involving multiple authors, editors, typesetters, designers, printers and distribution were very robust, and deadlines were rarely missed.
This background came in extremely useful when it came to organising online projects, as back in 1995 there wasn’t an established way of planning and managing online change and development. One thing that has often been overlooked in my experience is the ongoing amount of effort needed to keep a website fresh and interesting for customers and prospects.
This focus on the everyday generation of content gets neglected while wireframes, designs and technical specifications get the attention; but after a site launches it will stand or fall on the aspects that change most often, as this changing content will be what sustains interest over time.
Especially with the addition of social media channels, so much content is needed to keep an online estate fresh, you had better be sure you invest time in planning the what where and when you are going to say.
This is where the editorial or content calendar comes in, and this is an often underrated critical tool for your website management – it drives your ability to publish the right level of content to the right channel in the right style, tone and voice at the right time.
By presenting an overview of your content you are able to develop content ahead of time, balance the content you are offering and streamlining the processes wherever you can allows you to scale your activity and to do more with less.
The tool you use for the job isn’t important, as with all these things it is your methodology and your actual planning that make the process of ongoing publishing as easy as it can be, allowing you to focus on the content you are providing rather than the mechanisms for providing it.
I’m still old-fashioned, though in this context that now means I like to use a spreadsheet for content planning; this allows me to both see at a glance major topics and content slots that need to be filled, alongside a more detailed drill-down view which can get as granular as needed to support the complexities of your own online estate.
So invest some time in planning out what you are going say, where you are saying it and who you are addressing, and then track it all on the editorial calendar that will become your new best friend.
How do you plan and track your editorial changes? I would love to hear any tips you have, leave a comment below.