content hacker

Content Hacking: The Future of Content Marketing

If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, you’ve probably heard terms like “hack” and “hacking.”

In the blog-o-sphere, these terms have been used to mean “clever solutions to tricky problems” or “tricks to make your life easier.” If you Google “hacks,” you can see this clearly – the results are all about clever, interesting, or creative solutions to life’s dilemmas. 💡

Hacking is typically a good thing.

Now, what about hacking for marketing? Scary and bad – or good and effective?

The term ‘hacking’ was used in the marketing industry in 2010, when Sean Ellis, co-author of Hacking Growth and CEO of GrowthHackers, coined the term growth hacking in his blog, Find a Growth Hacker for Your Startup. Ellis says: “A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth.”

With content hacking, the definition is just this – hands-on creativity and can-do, growth-focused attitude – but applied to content creation.

True content hacking is about getting tough, heavy content marketing tasks done in a smart way.

Making life easier.

Getting to the rewards faster, without sacrificing quality or principles along the way.

When applied to content, content hacking is about making your content marketing better, using BETTER, smarter methods.

Growth-focused methods.

Join me on an adventure where we dive into the traits, skillsets and brain of a modern-day content hacker. You might relate to a large percentage of these traits yourself. (Let me know in the comments if you do.) Ready?

content hacking

The Content Hacker: Origins of Content Hacking

Full disclosure: I didn’t come up with the term “content hacker” itself.

The hat-tip for that goes to Garrett Moon of CoSchedule.

He coined the phrase by smashing together the concepts of growth hacking and content marketing.

  • As we already mentioned above, growth hacking is a term Sean Ellis, the CEO of GrowthHackers, originated. It’s the process of driving breakout business growth using “a high-velocity testing/learning process.”
  • It’s about being quick, agile, and nimble on your feet. If a process doesn’t work, you need to be able to pivot, adapt, and try something else.
  • At the end of the day, sustainable growth is the bottom line, not quick fixes. You have to learn what works and what doesn’t — fast.

As for content marketing, we all know and love it.

  • Content marketing is the process of creating useful content that builds trust and turns traffic into leads and customers.

Thus, growth hacking + content marketing = content hacker (noun): a growth-focused content marketer.

(No, that doesn’t mean cheap or overnight fast-track tricks.)

Content hackers climb over roadblocks to reach our goals on the content marketing horizon. They don’t add to the noise. They create beauty online. A real brand reputation that relies on content that works.

If you’re on-board for all of the above, then congratulations: You’re a content hacker, too. 👋

Growth hacking + content marketing = content hacker (noun): a growth-focused content marketer. Learn more about a #contenthacker Click To Tweet The term content hacker takes inspiration from the original creator of 'growth hacking', @SeanEllis. #contenthacking 💡 Click To Tweet 'A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth.' - @SeanEllis #contenthacking Click To Tweet Content hackers climb over roadblocks to reach our goals on the content marketing horizon. This is white-hat hacking or growth hacking for content. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet True 'content hacking' is about getting tough, heavy content marketing tasks done in a smart way. @JuliaEMcCoy 🧠💡 #contenthacking Click To Tweet

What a Content Hacker is NOT

Let’s be clear: Content hacking is NOT about “overnight success” or “scary-quick results.”

It’s NOT about fast fixes or putting band-aids on content marketing problems.

Instead, a content hacker is laser-focused on growth – any kind of growth, whether that means converting three new leads to customers, getting 100 more people to visit your blog, or earning 1,000 new email subscribers.

No matter how small, growth is something you can build on. Growth is something you can leverage.

As long as it’s consistent and sustainable…

As long as the process to get there is repeatable…

As long as the content serves the user’s wants/needs/pain points, that’s the kind of growth a content hacker is all about.

Content hacking is NOT about fast fixes or putting band-aids on content marketing problems. More about a growth-driven #contentmarketer Click To Tweet

Why Does Content Hacking Matter Now and in The Future of Content Marketing?

In 2019, content by itself won’t do much. I hate to break it to you.

There’s too much noise out there on the web. You won’t stand out unless you approach content in a radically different way.

Nearly 4 million blog posts are written every day. That means, in a single year, over 1.46 billion individual posts are published.

The internet is bursting at the seams with content. Even worse, much of it is useless.

Worse than that?

Most of the content that IS useful is same-old, same-old. (How many times have you seen this headline: ‘# Ways to Start a Blog’?)

So, we’re left looking at a big, stinking pile of crap content. Let’s call it “Crap Content Mountain.”

If this scenario makes you feel bleak, here’s a ray of light.

Crappy, same-old, ugly content is exactly what a content hacker rails against.

Content hackers don’t create useless content. They don’t create content because it’s the “thing to do.”

Instead, they are always locked-in on their audience and hell-bent on producing content that those people will gobble up.

They’re constantly researching their audience, researching topics and keywords, testing new ideas, updating their knowledge, and trying new content marketing tactics.

Content hackers are the future of content marketing because, in the end, they are the ones working to make the internet better. Content hackers STOP producing more crap to add to the content trash pile.

We’re on a mission to create content that matters to users, and builds trust and connections between audiences and brands.

💥Content hackers are the ones AGAINST adding more crap to add to the content trash pile. They're on a mission to create content that matters to users and builds trust and connection. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

In fact, this has been my goal with content from the very beginning, back in 2011 when I started Express Writers. Needless to say, it works. Our numbers prove that: 90,000 visitors/month in organic traffic, and 14-16% of those visitors convert through our content.

Analysis of a Modern-Day Content Hacker

To be called a true content hacker, you need a certain set of skills. You don’t necessarily have to be the James Bond of content marketing, but a little creativity, agility, and ingenuity in your wheelhouse won’t hurt.

If we must whittle down the ideal content hacker to a few traits, we think these are the most important ones. If you want to hack your way to mega-growth with content, take note – here we see the average specimen as they might look in the wild.

content hacker

See an analysis and the leading traits of of today's smart, growth-focused content marketer in @JuliaEMcCoy's #contenthacker guide 👨🏼‍🎤👩‍🎤 Click To Tweet

Mind: Tactical, Growth-Minded Thinker

A content hacker intrinsically understands content marketing’s worth. By 2021, the industry is expected to reach $412.88 billion. The content hacker is at the forefront of this valuable industry, the one brainstorming ways to tap into that growth for their own niche, and searching for new tactics to make it happen.

Ears: Constantly Listening/Learning

A good content hacker always has their ears open. They’re constantly listening, measuring results, learning what works and what doesn’t, and pivoting as needed to stay on the path of content marketing growth.

Mouth: Clever Communicator

Communication is key for the content hacker. They use every form of it – words, videos, social media, email, and more – on the right platforms, from Instagram Stories to Facebook Live and beyond, to speak to the heart of the matter. They customize communication to the brand they’re creating content for, and exist where their audience lives.

Feet: Agile and Flexible

Watch out – a content hacker is fast. They learn quickly, rebound from mistakes, and are ready to try another strategy, tactic, or idea within the next minute. If one road or method isn’t working, they’ll cut through the brush to find another path that will help their brand grow.

Heart: Audience-Focused

Above all, the users matter most to a content hacker. Understanding the user’s needs, wants, desires, and problems (not the brand or client’s) is pivotal to producing useful content that converts.

Cardiovascular: Patience & Strong Work Ethic

Patience is a must for the content hacker. Most content marketing ROI doesn’t come in until 12-24 months after as a matter of fact. Without a strong work ethic and the patience to see their content tactics and growth hacks through to the finish line, a content hacker would never get anywhere.

Veins: Storytelling and Writing Chops

Most content hackers find their way to the field through their love of storytelling. The ideal content hacker understands the value of stories and knows how to write. They spend much of their time telling them through amazing content creation. Plenty of marketers are catching on, too. Content creation spend has seen the highest increase over the last 12 months over any other content marketing area, according to CMI’s Budgets, Benchmarks, and Trends report.

Blood: Caffeinated

Let’s face it: The content hacker needs a daily dose of joe (or tea) to fuel those early mornings and late nights of content hacking – or to power through the dreaded 3 p.m. slump.

Tools: Skilled Researcher

Researching is an essential skill for the content hacker. They’re always researching and looking for useful data, whether that means finding out everything they can about their audience or discovering profitable keywords that tie to user search intent. Tools today’s content hacker uses include Moz, Ahrefs, SEMrush, Mangools’ KWFinder, and BuzzSumo.

To sum up the skillsets and traits of a successful content hacker…

  • They’re agile, independent thinkers whose major focus is brand growth through the creation of user-satisfying content.
  • They’re ready to hack through the internet jungle at moment’s notice to reach the growth and results they crave.
  • If one way is blocked, they’re experts at finding a clear path to ROI.

These smart, strategic content marketers have a wide playing field open to them.

Question: Why put all the trouble into making sure you learn the skill sets involved in content hacking?

Well, according to a study by Fractl and Moz, content marketing job growth increased by nearly 350% between 2011 – 2015.

content strategy job growth

This is a trend that has continued into 2019. That’s pretty epic.

And I think we can continue to see this increasing in the future, as the industry of content marketing rises as a whole. – Launching Soon!

As you can tell, my heart is invested in this topic 1000%.

That’s why I’m moving forward and launching a brand this June that is wholly dedicated to growth-focused content marketers. You guessed it — it’s called Content Hacker.

content hacker

This will be my personal brand, but it will also serve as a resource center, education platform, and publication for every single person who believes in the content hacker way of life.

Because anything short of growth and results (both for us AND our real, living, human audience) would be cruddy, am I right?

I’m super excited to share this new venture with you.

And, chances are, if you’ve read this far, you’re interested in joining me as this new launch happens. To stay up-to-date on all things content hacking, sign up for the list.

See you soon, fellow content hackers!

content shop

E37 garrett moon coschedule write podcast

The Write Podcast, E37: Building a Content Marketing Empire and the 10% vs 10x Framework with Garrett Moon of CoSchedule

Today on The Write Podcast, the CEO of CoSchedule, Garrett Moon, joins me to talk about how he’s grown a massive content marketing empire with CoSchedule, and a framework for prioritizing opportunities that equal major business growth: he calls this the 10% versus 10x framework.

I’ve long been an avid reader, listener, and subscriber to CoSchedule. Their brand is close to my own heart, and their incredible success proves that they know content marketing. Currently, CoSchedule is the fastest-growing startup in North Dakota and the #1 scheduling tool for marketers. This marketing calendar software also has an impressive 8,000 customers and 225,000 blog subscribers, and they even host their own Academy with training courses, as well as a podcast, the Actionable Marketing Podcast.

(I’ve been honored to have been a guest on their podcast, as well as on a recent live CoSchedule webinar.)

There are so many great insights shared during this episode.

Sit down and listen to our chat, and be prepared to learn!

(P.S. Quick sidenote. My apologies for the former inconveniences with the Spreaker audio stream above. We figured out how to turn off those annoying ads that played right away. Whew! So sorry again that was happening – I wasn’t aware till a few episodes ago.)

E37 garrett moon coschedule write podcast

The Write Podcast, E37: Building a Content Marketing Empire with Garrett Moon of CoSchedule

  • 2:37 – The Story Behind CoSchedule. Garrett talks about how CoSchedule started. He and his co-founder were marketers who essentially “fell out of love” with the widespread tools they were using to plan and publish their content. There had to be a better way to pull all the various pieces together.
  • 5:38 – What Is the 10x vs. 10% Rule? (Hint: It’s A Major Growth Factor for CoSchedule). Garrett explains the framework they use at CoSchedule that helps them decide which content marketing projects are worth the time and effort.
  • 7:00 – Which Projects Fall into the 10% Category? Every action you take for your business can be categorized as either 10% or 10x. 10% projects increase your growth, but only incrementally. They’re good ideas, but take time to show results. There’s no huge impact once you implement them.
  • 7:48 – The 10x Category (The Big Guns). In contrast to 10% projects, 10x opportunities are ones that explode your growth. Garrett gives us an example: 10% opportunities may net you 100 clicks, while 10x opportunities will get 10x those results – 1,000 clicks.
  • 8:30 – Doing a Few Things with Great Results vs. Doing a Lot of Things with Lackluster Results. We discuss how having your hands in too many pots can add up to 10% results in everything. If you scale back, you will be able to put more time and effort into fewer things with BETTER results.
  • 10:07 – The 10x Marketing Formula. Garrett’s book dives into this topic in far more detail. Check out the “Links Mentioned” section to find where you can snag your copy (I highly recommend Garrett’s book).
  • 10:53 – How JOMO (“Joy of Missing Out”) Ties In. #JOMO strikes again! Trying to do “100 things 10% good” can hurt your business. FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out”) can fuel this. Instead, try the antithesis to FOMO and embrace JOMO, and only shoot for what will rocket you to 10x growth.
  • 11:42 – Sometimes, a 10x Opportunity for Others Is a 10% Idea for You. Garrett talks about why CoSchedule decided not to jump on the video bandwagon a few years ago – a 10x opportunity for plenty of others, but not for them as a company.
  • 13:47 – The Framework for “Competition-Free” Content: Look, Research, Strategize. The content you publish is competing with other content. The marketing sea is a crowded place. To stand out and produce content that stands alone, Garrett talks about the three things you need to do (look, research, and strategize) and how that framework worked for CoSchedule.
  • 23:10 – Two Content Traps (The Traffic Trap and Promotional Trap) and How to Avoid Them by Focusing on a Content Core. Garrett talks about two common content pitfalls: Getting traffic that engages but doesn’t convert, and focusing too much on self-promotion, plus how to avoid both.
  • 26:10 – The Traffic Trap: How Do You Fix Blogs That Bring in Traffic, but Not Sales? Often, rewriting old content that falls into the traffic trap is a good way to refocus the traffic you may be getting from SEO into your sales funnel.
  • 29:06 – How to Buy The 10x Marketing Formula. Garrett’s book is available on Amazon, and you can read the first chapter on the CoSchedule website. Check “Links Mentioned” to find all the resources to buy this essential marketing read.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

'The 10% vs. 10x framework is a way to look at what types of projects and ideas you should take action on, versus the projects and ideas you leave on the backburner.' @garrett_moon of @coschedule Click To Tweet 'In that start-up phase, if you're not producing results with the work you're doing, you're doing yourself a disservice. Your time is too limited and the risks are too high to be working on things that don't maximize your growth.'… Click To Tweet '10x opportunities are the types that could potentially multiply your results by 10 times. For instance, 100 clicks become 1,000 clicks.' @garrett_moon of @coschedule Click To Tweet 'The challenge is to figure out how to de-prioritize those 10% items and put as much energy and effort as you can into those 10x opportunities.' @garrett_moon of @coschedule Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned

Follow, subscribe, and listen to The Write Podcast


how to create headlines

The Ultimate Guide: How to Create Headlines that Will Go Viral

We’ve all heard it: while 80% of people read headlines, only 20% read body copy.

What does that mean in practice, though?

In other words, how do you create headlines that entice that elusive 20% to keep reading? Or to share, comment, and convert?

The truth is that viral headlines are rare, and they take time, effort, and skill to master.

Fortunately, the content marketers who develop solid headline skills have a better chance of standing out from the crowd. Modern customers are attracted to quality and effort, and a great headline reflects both.

The good news is that headlines like these aren’t out of reach. Here’s your complete guide to creating them.

guide to creating headlines

What Makes a Headline Viral?

If you want to create viral headlines, you must first understand what, exactly, makes them go viral. What are the components they include, and what’s their foundational structure look like?

Here are a few critical elements of every good headline, as laid out by Steve Rayson in a BuzzSumo article:

  • Viral headlines have an emotional element
  • Viral headlines use content elements to their advantage
  • Viral content covers trending topics
  • Viral headlines follow a format
  • Viral headlines promise the reader something

Here’s Rayson’s table, to illustrate:

steve rayson table

According to him, most viral headlines employ not one, not two, but three or four of these elements. This combination allows them to perform in a unique way, and to grab your readers’ attention.

Which Headlines Get Shared?

The good things about learning to write viral headlines is that there’s a lot of information about which headlines get shared and which don’t, and this can help guide your efforts.

For example, in 2014, OkDork published a post that showcased the results of a survey that analyzed more than 1 million headlines. Here’s what they found:

The Most Popular Phrases in Viral Headlines

The OkDork survey found that the most popular words and phrases in headlines were:

creating headlines quote 1

As you can see, list posts top the charts time and time again. And this makes sense – they’re easy to skim, valuable for readers, and ideal for virtually all industries.

Beyond that, the survey also made it clear that people love personalization, and that content that addresses the reader personally (by using the words “you” and “your”) sat at the top of the list, as well.

Readers also loved any post that promised a better situation or hinted it would teach them to do something. As you can see, using the right words in your headline is essential, and can make all the difference in your readership.

Emotional Headlines

As the web has become more personalized and targeted, there’s been a push toward emotional headlines. These headlines take all forms. They can be shocking, infuriating, laugh-inducing, or curiosity-inspiring. Readers just want to feel something when they read your headline.

This requires the use of power words. Some power words, like freeeasy, and DIY are already included in the list above. There are many others besides these, though. Terms like approved, competitive, unsurpassed, and confidential all inspire strong emotional reactions in readers, and help drive shares for your content.

There’s science to back this up, too.

According to CoSchedule, posts with a higher emotional value earn more shares than posts with little emotional value.

CoSchedule Table

Headlines That Utilize Trigrams

A trigram is a three-word phrase used in a headline.

While the number 3 has significance throughout nature and mythology, it’s also a powerhouse in the world of writing and, specifically, headlines. The rule of three states that things that come in packs of three are funnier, more impactful, and more satisfying than things that don’t and this holds true for a viral title. BuzzSumo reports that certain trigrams within headlines earn more shares and likes than others.

Here are a few to get you started:

  • X Pictures That
  • X Signs You’re
  • How Well Do
  • Can We Guess
  • You Should Never
  • X Things Only
  • The Science Of
  • History Of The
  • The Art Of
  • The Future Of

As you can see, these trigrams are just a skeletal structure that you can apply to any headline in any industry.

Superlative-Rich Headlines

If you’re like most writers, you’ve been taught not to use superlatives in your writing. It’s time to turn that on its head, though. According to BuzzSumo, superlatives can increase the share volume of your headline when used correctly. Because they boost the emotional value of a headline and make it easier for readers to get excited about them, superlatives are ideal for creating viral posts that spread widely across the web.

Here are a few superlatives to get started with:

  • Amazing
  • Inspiring
  • Surprising
  • Successful

Particularly useful for content designed to be shared on social, superlatives can make your headlines more impactful, promising, and exiting for your readers.

Content Formats

There are a few content formats that get shared more often than others, and using them is a great way to make your content more viral. These include lists of ten things, how-to guides, and quizzes. Quizzes are especially exciting since they represent a form of interactive content many marketers aren’t creating. In addition to going viral, interactive content like this also allows you to expand your reach and help you stand out as a leader in your industry.

How to Write Viral Headlines: 5 Tips

Now that you know which types of headlines go viral let’s talk about how to write them for yourself.

1. Evaluate The Headline’s Emotional Impact

Remember: headlines with a high emotional impact get shared more frequently than minimally emotional headlines.

With this in mind, use a tool like the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer from AMI. Designed to evaluate the way your headline’s word groups come together to elicit emotional responses from readers, this tool is free and easy to use.

Here’s an example of what it looks like in action:

headline analyzer

2. Follow a Formula

If you’re just getting started with headlines, and you want to ensure yours perform well, look for ways to include tried-and-true methods in your headline approach. Trigrams like those mentioned by BuzzSumo are always a fantastic jumping-off point.

In addition to making your headlines more impactful, using these trigrams as a structure is an excellent way to get out of a rut and ensure your headlines are performing the way you want them to.

Here are a few examples of what you could do with the trigram structure:

creating headlines quote 2

As you can see, it’s easy to take these headlines and run with them, tweaking them to your preference to ensure they fit your industry and cater to your audience.

3. Choose a Trending Topic

It bears mentioning here that creating viral content is a different animal than creating evergreen content. When you create evergreen content, you want to choose a historically useful topic that will appeal to your readers for years to come. Since evergreen content is meant to attract traffic to a post or page long after its publish date, it wouldn’t make any sense to use a fleeting, trending topic as the foundation.

When it comes to viral headlines, though, the approach is different. Because viral headlines are meant to drive a significant amount of traffic to a site or post in a short period, they thrive on trending topics.

This means anything in global, national, or industry news is fair game.

For example, check out this screenshot of some “trending” topics from Facebook:

Facebook screenshot

You can also use Google Trends to discover trending topics, and build a headline from those. Since it’s Google, the data capabilities behind the trends you can search here are massive!

google seo trends

Be sure you keep the headline ideas from trends relevant to your industry, or else you stand the chance of missing out on the audience-specific traffic your headline could be generating.

4. Make a Promise

If you’ll remember from above, some of the top-performing headlines included words like “how to” and “DIY.” The reason for this is simple: these headlines make a promise. By telling the audience they’ll teach them something, these headlines get a jump start on providing value and relevance to readers.

To make your headlines more viral, include an element of promise within them. This promise can revolve around revealing a story, telling a secret, or offering insider tips.

No matter what you do, the more exciting you manage to make your headlines, the more likely your readers are to bite.

5. Make it Emotional

Today’s best headlines are highly emotional. In addition to inspiring readers to share, highly emotional headlines also stick with people and promote recall long past the point a customer would typically remember a headline. This allows these headlines to stand out as monsters in their industries, and to be shared widely across the web.

To make your headlines as emotional as possible, include power words that make people want to click. The more of these you can include, the more impactful your headline will be.

Keep in mind that, while a good headline is emotional, it should also be natural. Readers don’t want to feel like a used car salesman is writing their blog headlines.

What Not to Do With Your Headlines

While there are a lot of dos when it comes to writing viral headlines, there are also dozens of don’ts. It’s true that headlines follow a formula and that good ones often have several things in common. You do need to be careful, though, that you’re not getting too formulaic or standardized with your headlines, or else you’ll risk coming off as spammy and untrustworthy.

Here are a few simple don’ts to keep in mind as you work toward the perfect headline.

Don’t Cram Your Headline With Exact Match Keywords

Exact match keywords are, by and large, a thing of the past. While they can be useful to guide your content, they shouldn’t act as its backbone. In addition to the fact that they look spammy, they’re not often very organic, and can cripple an otherwise great headline. Instead of relying on exact match keywords as you work your headline out, look for semantic matches, synonyms, or other phrases that get at your user’s intent but don’t feel artificial or plastic. This will make your headlines more emotional while also ensuring you’re doing a good job of matching the questions, topics, and interests your readers want.

Don’t Make A Promise And Not Deliver

As we mentioned earlier, great headlines make promises to their readers. Whether that promise is to teach a reader to do something or expose an industry secret, promises are compelling and exciting. As such, one of the worst things you can do in your headlines is make a promise and not deliver on it. In addition to being disrespectful to the reader, this also doesn’t do much for your reputation as a trustworthy source, and can harm your readership in the short and long-term. That said, make sure any promise leveraged in your headline is also supported by your body copy.

Don’t Get Too Short With Your Lists

While list posts rule, some are stronger than others. Most research suggests that 25 is the magic number when it comes to list posts and that longer lists may perform better than shorter lists.

With this in mind, don’t sell your readers short with your list posts. Instead of skimming the surface with a list of three or four things, go longer and stretch the list out to include 15 or 20 points.

Don’t Stop With Clickbait

Viral headlines are more durable than pure clickbait. They inform readers while they excite them, and they deliver on their promises. While creating run-of-the-mill clickbait headlines can be enticing, you’ll find these fall short with your readers. Instead of just flashing something shiny before their eyes, go deeper and write headlines that are as informative as they are exciting. What, exactly, will your reader learn from your content? Which questions will you answer? These elements prove your headline has substance and work to make it stand out from the crowd.

Don’t Get Overly Complex

A good headline is simple, precise, and to-the-point. If you get too complex with jargon or lingo, you risk losing readers and making your material harder to relate to or interact with. What’s more, the best headlines are the ones that can spread the furthest, and this is unlikely if you’re only writing for a specific audience. With that in mind, make your headlines appealing to as many people as possible. Not only will your readership balloon, but your headlines will more likely go viral as a result.

Viral Headlines Made Simple

If you’ve been in pursuit of viral headlines, you’re not alone. Luckily, they’re not as challenging to create as you may think. While it’s true that learning to write viral headlines is a process, it’s also entirely attainable and isn’t outside the reach of any moderately talented copywriter. That said, these simple tips are all you’ll need to learn to write viral headlines that resonate with your audience and earn your content the reach it deserves.

When you take the step toward viral headlines, your entire content strategy benefits. Not only do you rise above the sea of so-so, boring content, but you also enter a place that few content marketers know how to access. By mastering the art of the viral headline, you stand to improve your content’s value, drive more traffic to your site, and become a better content marketer, starting right now.

Hire expert copywriters to help you write viral headlines in our Content Shop!

engagement cta

#ContentWritingChat, editorial calendar

#ContentWritingChat Recap: The Benefits of an Editorial Calendar for Your Content & How to Create One with Nathan Ellering

Editorial calendars are an essential part of any content creator’s life. They keep you organized and allow you to strategically plan your content (whether that’s blog posts, videos, social media content, etc.) for maximum results.

In this week’s #ContentWritingChat, we talked all about the benefits of having an editorial calendar, plus a few tips on how to create one of your own. If you missed the chat, there’s no need to worry because we have a recap that’s filled with amazing tips. Let’s dive in!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: The Benefits of an Editorial Calendar for Your Content & How to Create One with Nathan Ellering

Our guest host this week was Nathan Ellering. Nathan is a strategist, a content marketer, and a blogger. He’s also part of the CoSchedule team, making him a great fit for this week’s chat on editorial calendars. CoSchedule is a go-to app for planning your marketing, blog, and social media content, so we were thrilled to have Nathan with us to share his best tips!

Q1: What is an editorial calendar and why are they beneficial for content creators?

To kick things off, we asked our audience to describe what an editorial calendar is. We also wanted to hear why they felt having an editorial calendar was beneficial to their content creation. Here’s what some of the participants in Tuesday’s chat had to say:

As Nathan said, having an editorial calendar allows you to see all of your planned content in one place. It can help save you time and reduce stress when everything is planned out and displayed in a neat way.

An editorial calendar allows you to plan out your content marketing strategies. You can organize any written content, promotional material that’s going out, etc.

Cristy knows it’s important to create content that helps you reach your overall goals. Having an editorial calendar is very helpful for this because you can take the time to be strategic about the content you’re creating.

You should also use your editorial calendar to map out the campaigns you’re running, as well as any other content you’re creating. As Michelle said, it needs to be accessible by everyone. If you have others on your team who are involved in content, they need access to your calendar.

And when you’ve planned in advance, it eliminates that stress of having to come up with ideas at the last-minute.

Q2: What kinds of content should someone plan using an editorial calendar?

So, now that you know what an editorial calendar is and how it can benefit you, what should you plan? Check out this advice from the chat:

Nathan’s advice is to plan all of your marketing projects with your editorial calendar. He recommends planning out your social media content, blog posts, email newsletters, and more. There’s no reason not to plan all the content you’re creating in order to stay organized.

Savannah encourages you to plan everything with your editorial calendar! We happen to agree with her. It’s the best way to stay on track with all of your content creation.

Mallie knows that it’s essential to use your editorial calendar as an opportunity to create content around events and holidays. These are key times for content creation and you’ll need to plan in advance if you want to share something great.

As Lex mentioned, don’t forget to be flexible when planning. If something comes up at the last minute and you want to create a piece of content around it, that’s fine. Be willing to adapt when it comes to the latest news, feedback from your audience, etc.

Q3: How far in advance would you recommend someone plan their content with an editorial calendar?

Is it possible to plan content too far in advance? Is there a sweet spot for planning? Based on the answers we received, it seems like everyone has their own preference! Check out these responses:

Nathan has a very effective plan in place for his editorial calendar. He recommends planning high-level stuff six months out, plotting ideas three months out, and then aiming to have all of your content completed for one month out. It may sound like a lot, but it’s a great way to organize your entire content creation process.

Sarah from ThinkSEM recommends considering your unique business goals. She also doesn’t advise planning more than six months out and also being flexible for things that come up over time.

Lexie from Netvantage Marketing agrees that having wiggle room is key!

For Kristi, she suggests planning your content quarterly. Another great tip she offered was to review and see what’s working every time you plan. You can make adjustments accordingly so you know what to create more of and what to create less of.

Like Michelle said, some content can actually be planned further out. Things like yearly conferences and content around holidays can be planned much earlier, while you may feel more comfortable planning blog posts closer to their actual publication date.

Cristy suggests considering the type of content you’re creating. When you think about the fact that long-form content and videos may require more planning and creation time, you need to give yourself ample time to bring them to life.

Q4: How is your editorial calendar organized? Tell us your secrets!

We asked our chat participants to spill all their secrets behind their own editorial calendars. Here’s what they had to say:

Nathan said the team’s content is fully completed at a minimum of two weeks out, which is very helpful. (There’s no need to stress about getting things done at the last minute!) Ideas are planned a minimum of three months out while strategy is planned about 12 months out.

They also like to color code everything, which makes it clear what everything is and keeps the calendar organized. Social media posts, blog posts, videos, podcasts, and more all are planned on the editorial calendar.

Cristy relies on Google Sheets to keep her content planning organized. She includes the category, the assigned writer, a deadline, and a publish date. She even has a separate document for storing ideas, which is great for keeping everything all in one place.

For Tony, it’s all about a combination of Trello and Google Drive to keep everything in order. He includes copy, images, and links and has content organized by dates.

Q5: What’s your advice for filling an editorial calendar with amazing content your audience will love?

When creating your editorial calendar, it’s important that you fill it with content ideas your audience is going to enjoy consuming. How do you figure out what they want? These tips are guaranteed to help you out:

Nathan recommends having a brainstorming session. Try his strategy for coming up with amazing ideas the next time you’re struggling.

If you really aren’t sure what your audience wants to see, don’t be afraid to ask them. Ask what they’re struggling with and figure out how to create content that solves those problems. They’ll love you for it.

Check your analytics! See what performed well in the past and consider creating more of the same kind of content since you know it has already worked for you.

You can also use the data in your analytics to take that content that has already performed well and repurpose it. Michelle said to repost or update the content you already have. It’s a great way to get new eyes on your content.

It’s important to know and understand what your audience wants. Deliver content that is educational, informative, inspirational, or entertaining.

No matter what, you need to keep this advice from Bill in mind. Don’t just try to fill your editorial calendar with content for the sake of publishing. Everything you create should serve a purpose by providing value to your audience and helping you achieve your end goals.

Q6: In what ways can an editorial calendar help you improve your content marketing strategy?

How exactly can an editorial calendar help you create a winning content marketing strategy? Here are some answers from Tuesday’s chat:

Nathan said editorial calendars force you to publish. Set a deadline for yourself and stick with it because it’s the best way to ensure you’re consistent with your content. Don’t stress about making things perfect. Create your content and unleash it on the world.

Mack said an editorial calendar helps you to make sure the content you create is aligned with your overall content strategy. Ask yourself if you’re hitting your goals. If not, it’s time to make a change.

An editorial calendar helps you focus on your strategies and goals so you can achieve major things with the content you create.

When using an editorial calendar for your blog, it ensures your website is staying updated with new content. (That is, if you’re actually sticking to those self-imposed deadlines!) This is key to staying in front of your customers.

Cristy knows that planning provides much better results than just winging it.

In the end, having an editorial calendar is a great way to hold yourself accountable.

Q7: Do you use any tools to create your editorial calendar? If so, which ones are your favorite?

Whether you’re a fan of pen and paper or a dedicated app, there are plenty of options for creating an effective editorial calendar. Check out what some of our chat participants rely on:

Being part of the CoSchedule team, it’s no surprise Nathan raved about it. It’s a great tool to keep you organized, whether you’re planning blog posts, marketing, or social media.

The Netvantage Marketing team keeps it simple with Google Drive. They’ve also used Basecamp when working with clients and like Sprout Social for social media scheduling.

Trello is a go-to for both Lex and Jessy.

Jeremy relies on a combination of a variety of tools to stay organized. He uses Google Docs, Evernote, and iCal.

Color coding in Google Calendar is a must!

Q8: What are your best strategies for using and maintaining an editorial calendar?

Before you rush off to create your first editorial calendar or to touch up your own, read these final tips from this week’s chat. They’re sure to help you create a calendar that’s effective and helps you to stay organized.

Nathan’s advice is to communicate as a team. If you have multiple people involved in content creation, keep them in the loop and discuss ideas together.

Cristy also knows it’s important to bring the team together. Have a weekly meeting to brainstorm and discuss ideas. Allow everyone on the team to have a voice.

When it comes to creating content, strive to be consistent. Not only does it help keep you on track, but your audience will appreciate it as well.

Cheval agrees that consistency is key!

Sara’s tip to batch your evergreen content is sure to increase your productivity when it comes to the creation process.

Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the time you have. Don’t spread yourself too thin or take on more than you can handle at one time.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!