Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Blog Stockpiles: We All Need Them!

Have you ever missed a scheduled blog post? Confession time: I have, and more than once. A variety of problems can interfere with your usual blog posting routine, from simple user error to major personal or professional setbacks that make "business as usual" anything but.

What do you do when you suddenly realize that you're facing a blog article deadline without a blog article? Well, you could whip up something resembling an article on the spur of the moment, if you're really great at that sort of thing. Or you might just wait and post the following week as if nothing had happened (which is technically true; something didn't happen), whistling to yourself and avoiding eye contact with studied nonchalance. "Blog? What blog? By the way, here's this week's article."

Unfortunately, neither of those responses are likely to make you look very good to your target audience. What's the big deal? First of all, each new blog post represents fresh, relevant content. Google loves fresh, relevant content. Second, every post you publish allows you to include links to your various networks, forums, previous posts, or specific parts of your website. Those links often boost incoming online traffic, especially if they lead to well-traveled, highly-visible sites. So every blog post you skip represents a wasted opportunity to connect with new followers.

Here's another thing to remember: An irregular blog won't sustain a regular audience. I know business owners who blog maybe once a quarter, twice a year, or on other infrequent schedules, if they follow any schedule at all. You can't maintain a readership when you offer nothing new to read. Even if you do post occasionally, how can your audience possibly guess when the next post will come out? They can't, so they don't try. Any new blogs that do get posted then play to the sound of crickets chirping. Regular readership comes from regular posts -- once a day, once a week, once a month, whatever. You have to train your audience to come back for more, which means that you must make it obvious when they should expect new content from you.

That's why you, and I, and everyone who blogs can benefit from keeping a blog stockpile. An extra article here and there, held back in case of emergency, can make all the difference in the consistency and professionalism of your blog management and your blog's effectiveness. I'm working on mine, and I hope you're working on yours. If you can't find the time or energy to build up your stockpile, contact me and I'll keep you in fresh content for a long time to come!

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Why You Need an Editorial Calendar

You're too busy to create your marketing content yourself, so you contract that task out to a freelance copywriter. Problem solved right? Well, up to a point. Your copywriter can work wonders to keep your blog posts, newsletter articles and other content fresh and up to date -- but have you told that person what you want far enough ahead of time to ensure that it gets done? It's all too easy to bury yourself in other work and assume that your writer is fulfilling assignments you never assigned. Then one February 14th you sit bolt upright with the horrified realization that you forgot to request that special Valentine's Day article. 

If that chill down the spine is a familiar sensation to you, then you probably need to block those assignments out with an editorial calendar. It doesn't actually have to take the form of a calendar, of course. But you need to list your anticipated needs for content over the coming months or quarters and then distribute that list among your marketing professionals.

This calendar can prove incredibly beneficial for all concerned. Your creative folks will always know which assignments are coming up and when, and you'll have eliminated the "Oops, I forget to tell you" factor on your end. In fact, it's smart to have multi-stage editorial calendars for collaborative pieces such as direct mail postcards or newsletters, with separate schedules for idea submissions, graphic design, copywriting and revisions. The whole piece then comes together with Swiss-watch precision, and your team can roll right onto the next job. I once received a 12-month editorial calendar from a mortgage firm in January that showed me quite clearly what I'd be writing come December. As a result, we had a year's worth of direct mail ready to go before Spring had sprung.

Of course there will be times when you need to respond to or take advantage of a recent event. But that's okay. You don't have to give your content creators license to bull ahead with a year's worth of stuff. Just ask them to keep an eye on the upcoming month or quarter with the knowledge that things could always change. It's much easier to change something that exists than something that doesn't, and if you have no editorial calendar in place everyone's just operating on the fly. This can hurt you if your freelancers are non-exclusive, because they haven't pre-booked the necessary time in their work schedules and may not be available when you need them.

If you're a marketing firm that includes blogging among the services you provide for multiple clients, then you face another obvious challenge. How can you prepare articles months in advance if you can't always get your clients to send you the necessary background information in a timely manner? Here's where you hedge your bets by adding alternate titles to the mix -- pre-approved, evergreen topics that will work pretty much anytime. As publication time draws near, if you can't get the intake for a particular topic on time, go with a tried-and-true alternative. Your copywriter can go ahead and write, you can post on time, and everybody's happy.

Editorial calendars can make the difference between a last-minute scramble and a clam, smooth ride for your marketing campaign. Create yours today -- and then assign the writing to me!