You realize that it is time to publish your newsletter or that your website hasn’t been updated in months, and the dread sweeps over you. “What are we going to write about this time?” you wonder.
You can take much of the anxiety out of the publishing process by creating an editorial calendar for each of your publications. You can use them for newsletters, websites, blogs and anything else that you publish regularly. An editorial calendar can also help you stay focused on your audience and your goals for the publication. As an editorial project manager for several clients and for my own publications, I simply can’t live without this tool.
It’s easy to create an editorial calendar. Create a table in a Word or Excel document. Across the top of the first row, list your newsletter publication dates. For websites, if you wanted to shoot for monthly updates, list each month. For a more frequent publication schedule (e.g. for blogs), you could list each week.
In the first column, list the categories of articles you include in each edition of your newsletter. For a website, you could list the various sections. For your blog, you can list the main categories or tags that you use.
Then start filling in the grid with a few notes on the article topics.
Here is a sample editorial calendar for a local animal shelter newsletter. I’ve only listed two issues here, but I would normally try to work on four to five issues at a time.
|Article Category||Spring 2007||Summer 2007|
|Program Success||Spay/Neuter campaign results||How we increased our cat adoption rate|
|Donor or Volunteer Profile||Bill Miller – How he brokered the deal for the free dog food||Jane Smith – role in getting teenagers to volunteer at shelter|
|Adoption Profile||TBD- recent dog adoption||TBD – recent cat adoption|
|Pet Tips||Preparing pets for a new baby||Hot weather tips for outdoor pets|
|How You Can Help||Dogwalking program||Invite us to speak to your community group|
In Every Issue: Pets Available for Adoption, In-Kind Donations Wish List, List of Donors Since Last Issue
You don’t need all the details worked out in advance. Notice for example how I list TBD – to be decided – in the Adoption Profile section. This would give me the flexibility to pick which family I wanted to highlight when I started to write the newsletter, while reminding me that I needed to alternate between a dog and cat adoption.
Some sections of your newsletter may be repeated with some quick and easy updates that don’t require much research or writing, so you can list those at the bottom of the chart as I have with the “In Every Issue” heading.
Charting your articles like this will also help you see where shifts are needed. For example, I can see that the Spring issue is currently “dog” heavy. I might decide to switch the order of the Adoption Profile or the Donor Profile to make it more balanced. This kind of juggling is much easier to do with an editorial calendar in front of you.