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I used to think that an editorial calendar was this big undertaking that defined your whole marketing strategy. A marketing business plan, if you will. That was always intimidating for me, so I avoided putting one together for a long time.
That’s when things started to pile up.
At a certain point, I realized that flying by the seat of my pants just wasn’t working out. I started looking into ways to organize all the different types of content I was trying to put out, and I finally decided to give an editorial calendar a try.
You see, an editorial calendar can be as simple as any other type of calendar. It’s just a schedule of your content; when it goes out and where it goes. That means social media accounts, blogs, and other marketing materials. It doesn’t have to be set in stone, in fact, I often make small adjustments to mine as deadlines get closer and extra things pop up on my to-do list. It has been so helpful to me that I decided to put a guide together to help you get started with your own editorial calendar!
So now that we know what an editorial calendar is, it’s time to talk about how you use one.
Remember that an editorial calendar is the big daddy of all your content calendars. It’s helpful for planning themes across your different web presences and keeping track of which things get shared where. It doesn’t have to be some complicated, fancy thing, it’s just there to keep you on track. It’s especially useful for avoiding duplicate content. You want to be delivering helpful information everywhere and you want it to be cohesive, but you don’t want it all to be identical.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “but what if I don’t even have a content calendar system?” Well, there’s no time like the present. You just need to decide what to post, then you can form a plan for getting it delivered to your audience.
Content creation is easiest in the beginning when you’re bursting with ideas and inspiration. Then, after you’ve been putting content out for a while, it may be challenging to consistently deliver fresh material. I use my editorial calendar to decide on some general themes to follow (usually on a monthly basis) and then plan the posts I will make ahead on a more detailed content calendar.
When I add things to my calendar, I use a content bucket system to help me mix things up. Here’s how it works:
To get started, I looked for topics that would interest my target audience. For example, there are holidays and events (think: World Baking Day for food bloggers who specialize in baking) and marketing events like my ebook launch.
On a weekly basis, I have a bucket for each of the six days of the week that I post on Instagram:
Every time I come up with a caption idea or hear of something that I think would interest my readers, I make a note of it. I also take notes of the questions or comments people leave on my IG posts or in my DMs.
I use Pinterest to keep an eye on what’s trending. (Learn more about Pinterest for photographers here.) I listen to business and photography-related podcasts and find a lot of ideas in there. I ask questions in my stories to know what people want to learn about and I pay attention to what is being said in Facebook groups. Finally, if all else fails, I use Quora or the autocomplete functions from Google, Pinterest, or YouTube.
Everyone’s posting schedule will look a little different. You have to base it on what you have time for and which social media platforms work best for your audience. For me, it looks like this:
Content, stripped to its bare bones, is pretty dry. It’s straight information. It might be a topic that interests your audience, but it’s up to you to present it in a way that will really engage them. But you also need to present it in a way that is true to your brand and everything it stands for.
My own voice is casual, friendly, helpful, and a little silly when the occasion calls for it. It’s what my audience responds to but more importantly, it’s just who I am. However, I do adjust my voice slightly depending on which platform I’m speaking from. I cover some pretty technical things on my blog, so I keep that in mind when I write up a post. My IG posts are a little more conversational since I hope to inspire my followers to engage with me in the comments.
Deciding what to post is one thing, keeping all those posts organized is another. I have a workflow for each web presence to keep everything running smoothly.
For Instagram, I keep track of my content with a Trello board. I have a list for each of my content buckets/posting days and keep track of due dates with the calendar view. I create a card every time I have an idea (it’s super easy to do with the app on my phone).
I use Tailwind to plan Pinterest content. It takes about one hour every other week. I talk about that in more detail in my blog post about Pinterest marketing if you’d like to see how that works.
So there you have it. Keeping an editorial calendar has taken so much stress off my plate and now I spend less time agonizing over what to post. I just take note of ideas as they come to me, set aside time to plan out the calendar in batches, and schedule my posts on their respective platforms. Most importantly, I make sure to listen to the feedback from my followers. It’s the best way to stay checked into what they’d like to hear more about.
Speaking of which, do you have any other questions about setting up an editorial calendar? Let’s talk!