Culture

Why We Have an Editorial Calendar, And How We Use it

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For almost twelve centuries, Rome ruled the world. What started as a small town as early as the 8th century BC, expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world with contiguous territories throughout Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, housing roughly 20 percent of the world’s population and covering 6.5 million square kilometers.

It was so large that the Latin phrase imperium sine fine (or “empire without end“) was often used to describe Ancient Rome.

Historians attribute Rome’s success to a number of different reasons, but the key to their rapid expansion was its highly organized military institution.

It was partitioned on a number of different divisions of their basic unit, the legion. Each legion had about 5,500 men. The legion was subdivided into ten units called cohorts. Nine of these cohorts had 480 soldiers. The cohorts were subdivided into six centuries, of about 80 men each. Each century was commanded by a centurion.

The first cohort was different. It had about 800 men, and only five centuries. Many of the extra men in the first cohort were specialists, such as blacksmiths or builders. The centurion of the first cohort’s first century was the primus pilus , or “first spear,” and was the highest ranking centurion in the legion.

Legion Structure

This organization allowed them maneuverability, speed, flexibility, which were the keys to rapid expansion towards new territories. In fact, organization and structure was the secret of other important military leaders, from Alexander the Great to José de San Martín.

Nowadays, those same principles can be translated to rapid growing organizations, and Piktochart is no exception. Everyday, we follow processes and use different tools to grow the business one step at a time.

One of the main avenues of growth is our blog. Approximately 60 percent of Piktochart new users join the service because they’ve read about it, so we need to pay special attention to it.

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This is one of the reasons why we strive to create valuable content on a consistent basis. However, creating, editing, and keeping track of a content strategy isn’t easy. After all, our content team is formed by six people, in five countries, across four different timezones!

We found our solution in the form of something simple, yet essential: the humble content marketing calendar. A content marketing calendar gives you and your team a plan of attack for understanding, motivating, and making a connection with your audience.

But why use a calendar?

Most of us are familiar with using a traditional editorial calendar to visualize content publishing on a calendar-like interface. According to Buffer, this allows you to take a bird’s-eye view of your content and fill in any gaps, as well as ensure plenty of prep time to get content ready to be published.

However, it does more than that:

  • It helps the team stay on the same page, and gives accountability to each team member.
  • It allows writers to organize content around key events, dates, and launches and helps those responsible for social media channels schedule outgoing content  
  • It provides a place to generate post ideas and key topics, and acts as a communication hub for the content team.
  • It visualizes and share your marketing strategy in an easy-to-grasp way.
  • It creates a schedule that allows the team to be consistent.

The process of organizing our blog calendar

As mentioned above, at Piktochart, content is our most successful channel yet.

For this, we’ve developed a sleek process involving different team members. Of course, this process is always changing as we experiment and try new things, but these are the things that we found worked so far.

The entire process starts with brainstorming. For that, we simply jump on Slack, our go-to communication tool. It’s like a chat room, but on steroids (when we found out that Nasa used Slack to put a robot on Mars, we had to use it).

In it, we have a dedicated channel called #content-magicians, where we discuss the general strategy for the month or the week.

Piktochart's #content-magicians Slack channel

Looking forward to 2016, our topics will fall under three main pillars:

  • Inspirational posts, in which we post tips and examples with the aim of inspiring the greater community of creative people out there
  • Educational posts, in which we teach our readers they can become better designers
  • Piktochart-specific posts, in which we open the curtain and show the world how Piktochart works, as well as share our lessons as a growing startup.

Once we agree on the strategy, we start brainstorming each individual piece of content. For that, we use Trello, an online project management tool that allows teams to collaborate and keep track of different projects.

Piktochart's Trello Board

Our PiktoContent board has a list called “Ideas” in which any team member is free to add any article ideas, and label it under one of our three pillars.

In addition to that, we use Google Spreadsheets to get a monthly overview of our content calendar. In it, we track what’s coming next, who owns each blogpost, and important metrics related to each post.

You can see an example of it here. Feel free to make a copy and use it with your own team!

After that, there is only one thing left: the actual writing. For that, we use Google Docs. This fantastic Google service allows us to write, edit, comment, and organize content in a collaborative way.

For instance, I can write a post, and then share it with the team, who will in turn, comment and suggest edits right there on the doc. Then I can accept or reject those edits with a single click!

Organize Blog Calendar Want to create an infographic just like this? Here’s the template we used: FlowChart Guide.

Images via Unsplash, Piktochart.

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