Annual Content Planning: How To Kickstart Filling Your Editorial Calendar

Annual Content PlanningAre you back from the holidays facing an empty editorial calendar?

Instead of sitting with your fingers hovering over your keyboard waiting for words to magically appear on your screen, tap into the power of annual content planning.

To get your content marketing on track to succeed, use annual content planned around specific times and events.

Even better, some of this content can be evergreen so you don’t have to keep creating fresh options each year. Just update your existing content and add new visuals.

Use these 5 types of annual content to fill your content marketing plan.


Annual Content Planning: 5 Types To Fill Your Content Editorial Calendar

Here are 5 types of annual content you can use to structure your editorial calendar. The beauty of these options is that they provide a hook and structure making them easier to create.Annual Content Planning


1. Annual Content Planning: Yearly Content

At its core yearly content consists of looking back and looking forward.

Past Year Content Options:

  • Spotlight the top trends in your category or niche. Depending on your audience, you can publish this content as early as September or October to tap into budget season. Include charts and data to add authority to your content.
  • Curate the best articles of the year, either yours or other people’s content. Annual curation isn’t limited to content marketers. The Daily Show culled and reformatted its best segments to fill a week’s worth of content.

New Year Content Options:

  • Look into your crystal ball to predict the future. Based on your expertise, give your predictions for the New Year. Get input from your top executives and influencers. Like the past year’s trends, you can publish this list as early as September or October. For example, Social Media Examiner asked influencers and Contently asked their employees.
    Annual Content Planning

    Annual Content – Predictions from Social Media Examiner

    Annual Content Planning – Get input from your employees

  • List New Year’s resolutions related to your business or niche. Where appropriate include relevant tips, education and upsells.
  • Create an annual plan or checklist. Use this content to highlight your products and services. Include “how to”.  Note: This content can be evergreen.

Publication timing: Once per year

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Reach out to create roundup posts: Tap into the power of influencers, customers or employees. Add value to the content by highlighting the key points.
    Annual Content

    Annual Roundup Post: Uses targeted hook to stand out

  • Test other content formats. For example, LinkedIn’s Sean Callahan created a series of videos by taping influencers at various conferences during the year.

    Annual Content – LinkedIn uses video (taped at conferences!)

  • Guest posts. Broaden your reach by transforming this content into guest posts, columns, and/or Medium or LinkedIn Publishing.


2. Annual Content Planning: Seasonal Content and/or Quarterly Content

Seasonal content marketing is created for products and services that have natural seasons or cadences including spring, summer, fall and winter.

Use seasonal content to spotlight educational and product-specific content. Generally seasonal content marketing works best for consumer-oriented products and services such as fashion, food, pets, homes, gardening, hobbies, kids and travel.

Alternatively, create quarterly content around key business themes. This works well for B2B content marketing. Use conferences and events to determine annual trends. (See Conference and Event Content below.)

Seasonal and Quarterly Content Options:

  • Offer seasonal checklists. Create a comprehensive list that your audience can download and use. This content is evergreen. All you have to do is update it, add current product where appropriate, and repromote it.
  • Produce seasonal calendars. Include events that are relevant to your audience. This content can be curated. For example, the top conferences or events in your field.
  • Spotlight “What’s New” or “What’s Hot”. Help your readers stay abreast of the latest changes in your category or niche. It’s a great way to spotlight your products and other content.

Publication timing: Once per season or quarter

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Report the news. Discuss the latest trends and add your insights and commentary.
  • Tap into image-rich “Show and Tell” lists. Give your readers a peek at the newest or hottest trends.
  • Interview thought leaders about the latest trends. Get other people involved in your content creation especially where trends matter. Use other content formats such as video, audio and live content.


3. Annual Content Planning: Monthly Content

Create at least one month of themed content. The objective is to create a larger set of content.

Create at least one month of themed content to build a larger set of content! #contentmarketingClick To Tweet


Alternatively develop a content theme for each month to add continuity to your overall content offering. This helps direct your content ideation.

Monthly Content Options:

  • Tap into existing monthly themes such as Black History Month, Women’s Studies Month, or Breast Cancer Month. These monthly tie-ins may provide related promotional or advertising opportunities. For example, Spin Sucks celebrates the 12 Days of Christmas with content that counts down like the carol.
    Monthly Content

    Monthly Themed Content – The 12 Days Of Christmas via Spin Sucks

  • Develop a month of content around a business focus. For example, Unbounce’s Oli Gardner has taken over their blog for 30 posts in 2018 for what they’ve dubbed Product Marketing Month.
    Monthly Content Plan

    Create a plan for monthly content by day – Unbounce example

Publication timing: 4+ times per month

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Invite a guest blogger to take over your blog. Let someone special take over your blog. It’s a great way to cover for vacations. Alternatively, use a variety of voices unified through a theme.
  • Create a “How to” series. This is one way to develop more targeted content to help prospects who are further along your purchase process.
  • Test a new product or content offering. Use your month of content as the basis for a book or other offering.


4. Annual Content Planning: Holiday Content

Use holidays as hooks for content and promotions. Often, this content is evergreen so that you can use it year after year. For most businesses, there are sufficient holidays to have one per month. But avoid making a holiday connection that doesn’t make sense to your audience.Holiday celebration marketing

I’ve used holidays as fun content that Jason Miller and Hubspot call chocolate cake content. I wrote a fun piece using Cinco De Mayo as a hook. (Do you like my hat?)

Holiday Content Options:

For many businesses, holidays may naturally have accompanying merchandise and sales.

  • January: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February: Super Bowl (aka: The Big Game), Groundhog’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, Presidents’ Day
  • March: St. Patrick’s Day
  • April: April Fool’s Day, Tax Day, Easter, Passover
  • May: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day
  • June: Graduation, Father’s Day
  • July: Independence Day, Canada Day, Bastille Day (France), Christmas In July
  • August: Back-To-School
  • September: Labor Day
  • October: Halloween
  • November: Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving
  • December: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa

Don’t overlook the opportunity to celebrate your business’s founding. I’ve worked with clients who have moved this date to a quiet period to boost sales.

Alternatively, you can find lots of other opportunities to celebrate unusual holidays relevant to your offering. 

Publication timing: Once per month

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Tap into the power of user generated content. Collect and spotlight input and photos from your audience and customers.
  • Create useful, evergreen “how to” content. Include recipes and patterns.
  • Use appropriate quotes and reading lists. This type of content is useful for distributing across social media.


5. Annual Content Planning: Conference and Event Content

From a content perspective, annual conferences and events provide great hooks.

At a minimum, use conference agendas to determine the top influencers and trends in your category.

At a minimum, use conference agendas to determine the top influencers and trends in your category. #contentmarketingClick To Tweet


Depending on your business and focus, these include the following:

  • Industry and category conferences. Every major business vertical has at least one conference. Additionally, there may be regional events. Conferences aren’t just B2B! For example, there’s the Auto Show and ComicCon.
  • Major events. Include both B2C and B2B events. Consider pop culture options such as books, movies and television. Big events include the Super Bowl (aka: The Big Game), the Olympics (every other year), Oscars and movie openings, Spring and Fall Fashion Previews and the Grammys.
  • Business-related events. Are more focused on audiences interested in a local happening, category interest or business specific event.

Conference and Event Content Options:

  • Live blog presentations.  Liveblogging has evolved beyond Done well, it requires curation and insights.
  • Develop roundup posts. Take advantage of the influencers attending an event to get their input live. This content can appear before, during or after an event. The key to stand out content is to keep your question short and unusual. The best examples are Lee Odden’s pre-conference ebooks and Andy Crestodina’s Content marketing World Yearbook. (I dubbed this epic curated content.)P2P Content - Crestodina CMW YearbookEpic Conference contentEpic Content for Content Marketing World 2015- Includes Heidi Cohen
  • Help attendees with location specific content. Provide guides to other attractions and restaurants.
  • Give attendees event-related information. Help attendees to get the most out of their event attendance. Spotlight sessions, parties and sponsors. Top Rank’s Joshua Nite spotlighted 10 sessions worth seeing at Content Marketing World.

    Help your audience find the best sessions at a conference

  • Interview attendees and presenters. Fill your editorial calendar with content when people are available.

Publication timing: Once per year

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Maximize focused attention on conferences and events. Create content before, during, and after event.
  • Extend the life of conference and event content. Transform content into webinars and videos. Sell virtual conference content.
  • Leverage the power of social media around your event. Use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to build community around your events.


Annual Content Planning Conclusion

The annual content planning bottom line is that you can fill and structure your editorial calendar with easy-to-create content.

Using annual content options ensures that your content marketing encompasses the major trends and supports your business offering.

Even better, using a mix of annual content options provides at least 2 pieces of content per month.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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