“I had to educate him that there was no such thing as writer’s block, that writers write when they write, and when they don’t, they don’t.” – Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, funk master, Scar Tissue (2004)
But when you write, it’s not always enough to just pick something interesting and off you blurb. That’s a luxury reserved for rock stars (although even legendary funk masters occasionally write songs that they think people want to hear). Every writer thinks they’re writing about something interesting, but without someone to read it, it’s ultimately just a self-indulgent, cathartic exercise. At the time of writing, a search for ‘content’ in Google News, uploaded in the previous 24 hours, returned 49 pages of results. That’s 490 news articles in 24 hours on one, let’s face it, niche topic.
Don’t write for the search engine abyss. Instead, create and/or work from a strong content calendar and know what you’re doing, when, who for and most importantly why.
For professional copywriters, having something like this to work from is particularly important when writing for clients. No doubt you’ve been employed to help their businesses/brands to communicate with stakeholders in a way that helps them earn more money. Even if the goals are slightly fluffier things like ‘increase brand awareness’, ‘engage potential customers’, or ‘build trust and loyalty’, in business (and sometimes even in charity) all paths lead to profit and growth.
Here’s how a content calendar can help you write good stuff and prove to your clients that it’s all with their bottom line in mind and not to serve your creative ego, or theirs. Ultimately, it’s proof of ROI that’ll keep a client filling up your inbox with writing requests.
No events missed or unprepared for
As a writer, getting to a story late or having to bang something out that you’re actually really interested in within 30 minutes just to get it live is irritating and most probably completely pointless (unless you’re BBC News or other such content giant). Such missed opportunities can largely be mitigated by good planning, like with the aid of a content calendar, which also offers up…
…time for reactive content
You can’t plan for everything – life’s not that dull, thankfully. But the reactive stuff is often the most interesting, it’s what journalists live for and copywriters often dread. But I think the dread only really comes from having no time in a packed schedule to think about how to react to a news story/announcement etc in the most impactful way. Your diary, pared with client content calendars can show you that there’s time for reactive content and let you effectively…
…manage your work load
Understanding when large tranches of content are needed for your clients means you can mentally prepare for the inevitable hectic periods of keyboard bashing, knowing it won’t last forever. This might not be something you point out to a client, but they will benefit from the clarity and organisational skills that come from a steady state of mind. And for you, managing your work load effectively means that for the stories you do cover, there’s…
…time to look at what’s already out there
Luxury! Avoid rehashing the same old stuff. By giving yourself time to find your angle, develop your opinion (if it calls for one), you have much more chance of engagement, so be creative and see what people are likely to read and where. Online/social PR/SEO is no longer just about quantity quantity quantity but relevance and associations. But that’s a whole other article. Instead, it’s about being prolific but with the right content, written in the right way for the channel, and when you work from a structured and robust content calendar, you not only give yourself time to be proactive and reactive, but also to…
…spot content repurposing opportunities easily
Get out of your mind that repurposing content is just rewriting a few sentences here and there and farming it out as unique. What it’s actually about is taking a topic, researching it to death and then creating different styles of content, from different viewpoints, for different channels and even different groups of people. It should really be called research repurposing. You heard it here, first.
And one final, crucial point is how easy working with other contributors is when you’re all tapped into the same content plan and the same client objectives. Bring on that magical feeling of finally being able to concentrate on what you do best. If you’ve got a client who you feel could really benefit from a more structured content plan, here’s a free content calendar template along with a handy guide on how to populate it and use it to meet client KPIs. Bookmark this article and make a note in your own calendar to let us know how you get on in the comments section.