Constantly searching for new content ideas can be overwhelming. We’ve spoken to the experts and gotten their best strategies for finding valuable, SEO-worthy story ideas to fill your editorial calendar.
Do you use an editorial calendar or a publishing schedule to plan out your content? It’s an incredibly effective way to manage ideas, plan upcoming articles, and keep your staff on the same page. Committing to publishing articles, and other types of digital content, at regular intervals is part of what makes you a professional publisher.
The best editorial calendars are accessible, not just to a publication’s reporters and editors, but also to its sales and marketing departments. Knowing what’s coming down the pipeline gives salespeople the opportunity to create more effective pitches to clients and even come up with sponsorship opportunities that tie into the content that’s being published.
You might be wondering what’s holding back some digital publications from creating their own editorial calendars. The No. 1 reason why more publishers don’t have editorial calendars is because they’re not sure what to fill them with. Coming up with story ideas and engaging topics isn’t always easy. That’s especially the case when you’re coming up with ideas weeks or months in advance.
We’ve already covered the Top Social Media Calendars for Digital Publishers and How to Develop an Editorial Workflow in previous blog posts. In this post, we’re going deep on the best techniques to fill an editorial content with the kind of relevant, engaging topics that people actually want to read. We’ve condensed the best strategies from publishers into one all-inclusive list. Here we go!
The Best Ways to Fill an Editorial Calendar
1. Consider your publication’s goals.
Not only should an editorial calendar help you deliver content at regular intervals, but it should also help you hone in on your publication’s “bread and butter” topics. Once you’ve identified who your target audience is, based primarily on your niche, think about how you hope to serve those readers and how the articles you publish could improve their lives.
2. Think about what your readers want to learn.
What brings people to your website? What information are they hoping to find? The best way to put together an effective editorial calendar is by honing in on what your readers want to learn and then planning out content that’s focused on those topics.
3. Look for holes in your current coverage.
Scroll back through the past year or two of articles on your website. What do you notice? Are there any topics or areas of coverage that you’ve accidentally ignored? Make a plan to include more articles about those topics on your calendar for the upcoming year.
4. Check out the competition to see what topics they’re exploring.
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. What topics are they covering? How are they framing articles in new ways to maximize engagement? You don’t have to be a complete copycat, but the articles your competitors are publishing could be a good jumping off point for your own exploration.
5. Use analytics to see what keywords people are searching for.
Google Analytics is your friend. So are the dozens of other content analytics tools, platforms, and plugins that are available for publishers to use. Try out these tools to figure out which articles are generating the most traffic and the most engagement, and then fill your publishing schedule with more articles on these topics.
6. Look at community calendars or industry calendars to see what’s going on.
What’s going on in your local community, or in the communities you cover? Events, conferences, and other pre-planned activities are low hanging fruit, providing you with an easy way to round out your editorial calendar.
7. Get ideas from experts in your industry.
Asking for help is never a bad idea. Pick up the telephone or send out a few friendly emails asking industry leaders what topics they’re interested in right now and whether they see any holes in your coverage.
8. Look outside your editorial staff for ideas.
Reporters and editors aren’t the only members of your team who have content suggestions. Ask around the office and make sure to solicit story ideas from the members of your sales and marketing departments, as well.
9. Lean into evergreen content.
Evergreen content doesn’t have to be tied to a current event. It’s content that remains relevant in perpetuity, and that makes it easily discoverable in Google search. Think outside the box and try to publish at least one or two pieces of evergreen content each month.
10. Look for an article that could be expanded into a series.
Don’t let go of a really great story idea. Rather than taking a one-and-done approach, consider expanding a great article topic into a complete series.
11. Go ahead and ask your subscribers directly.
Take advantage of the email database you’ve built. Send out an email once or twice a year inviting readers to share the topics and stories they’re interested in learning more about.
12. Look through your comments.
The comments section on a blog or news website can be a treasure trove of story ideas. Use the suggestions and comments posted by readers to come up with additional areas or topics to explore.
13. Get ideas from Google Trends.
What do you know about Google Trends? The website analyzes the popularity of top search queries across multiple languages and regions. It’s a great resource that all digital publishers should use more frequently.
14. Search through forums and online communities that serve your niche.
Online communities, forums, and even websites like Quora can reveal a lot about the topics people are interested in. Use these types of websites to figure out what questions people have, and then do some brainstorming to come up with story ideas that address those questions head on.
15. Launch a guest posting program.
If you don’t have a guest posting program yet, now is the time to develop one. Send an email to your subscribers asking them to submit their articles and essays for possible inclusion on your website, and then make space on your editorial calendar to publish at least one guest post each week.
There you have it – 15 ways to fill your editorial calendar. We hope you’re brimming with ideas and ready to get started filling in the blanks on your publishing schedule. We’re interested to hear how these strategies work for you, so reach out and let’s connect!