You’re too busy to create your marketing content yourself, so you sub 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 him 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 you’re familiar with this particular chill down the spine, then you probably need an editorial calendar. List your anticipated needs for content over the coming months or quarters, and then distribute that list among your marketing professionals. 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 submission, graphic design, copywriting, revision and publication. The whole project then comes together with Swiss-watch precision, and your team can roll right onto the next job. For example, a mortgage firm sent me a 12-month editorial calendar in January that showed me quite clearly what marketing pieces I’d be writing come December. As a result, we had a year’s worth of email blasts and direct mail postcards ready to go before Spring had sprung.
Of course there will be times when you need to respond quickly to current events. But that’s okay. You don’t have to give your freelancers 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 a “subject to change” disclaimer. 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 without prior knowledge they may be working on another gig when you need them.
If you’re a marketing firm ghost-blogging 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 you can always fall back on. As publication time draws near, if you can’t get the intake on time, go to Plan B. Your copywriter composes the alternate title, you post it on time, and everybody’s happy.
Editorial calendars can make the difference between a last-minute scramble and a calm, smooth ride for your marketing campaign. Create yours today — and then assign the writing to me!
For more about my writing services and current package deals, check out my website at www.reynoldswriting.com.