It’s no secret that sending out an ezine can be one of the simplest but most effective marketing strategies entrepreneurs can implement in their business. Whether you send your ezine out weekly or monthly, this marketing tool can help keep your services and products in the forefront of the minds of your prospects and clients, and is a way to share relevant information that can position you as a credible source in your industry.
However, as many of us know, one of the hardest parts about implementing an ezine or email marketing campaign can be coming up with a consistent flow of content week after week, month after month. If you’ve ever sat and stared at a blank screen wondering “what should I say?” you know it can be an overwhelming feeling. If you’re not prepared and don’t have a plan, you can waste precious hours wracking your brain trying to come up with topics and ideas to write about. My advice is to take a cue from the larger publications and create a publication calendar.
A publication calendar (also called an editorial calendar) is a carefully thought out snapshot of future topics, tips, strategies, and products you wish to share, laid out in a weekly (or monthly) format. By creating this “road map” for your content (as much as a year in advance) you’ll avoid having to scramble for last minute ideas for your email marketing campaigns, ezine, blog, and even your website. Your publication calendar can be as simple as a theme-of-the month, or as complex as what social networking comments are to be posted and where.
What can you use for a publication calendar? Entrepreneurs have used something as simple as adding hand-written notes to a paper calendar or keeping track of your topics in a project management system like Basecamp, to something as complex as a program like Cision. Another effective publication calendar tool is a basic Excel spreadsheet that can be fine-tuned and customized to suit your needs and your business. For those of you using WordPress, there is also a really cool editorial calendar plugin you can use to keep track of your content.
Publication Calendar TIP: When planning your content for the month, grab a regular calendar and jot down things like, the time of year, trending topics, and recognized holidays to help you come with some great ideas. You can even create “recurring themes” your readers can look forward to like Monday Motivation or Hot Tip of The Week/Month.
The important thing to remember when using a publication calendar is to stick to your plan. Special (and unplanned) topics, ideas, or products may come up from time-to-time, but if you’re heading in a specific direction or following a specific content strategy, once you veer off path, you risk losing sight of your goal and ending up back in the same boat you were in before. Maintaining the same format and style for each issue will help you be consistent and enable you to be more creative as well.
Remember, creating a successful ezine campaign is not about just pumping information out to your list; it’s also about providing content your readers want to read.