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When it comes to implementing your content strategy, having a well-thought-out yearly plan can save a lot of resources and time in the long run. Creating an editorial calendar is the best way to ensure that you are prepared with relevant topics and adequate resources to maintain a steady output. These five steps help ease the content planning process for a smooth and simple delivery.

1. Hold a brainstorming session

Gather together your writers, visionaries, marketing team and anyone else involved. Get everyone together for 60-90 minutes to brainstorm topics that your company is knowledgable about, topics your prospects are searching for and keywords and phrases you want to rank for. Be sure to not only include content generators, but people who know what keeps your audience up at night. They’ll bring relevant topics and a unique perspective to the table. Have a note taker to write down each and every idea that is discussed (the bad or unrealistic ones can be discarded at a later step).

2. Organize your notes

It’s likely that your note taker will have a hard time organizing everyone’s thoughts while trying to write or type all of the ideas. After the brainstorming session, designate a person to organize the notes from the meeting and organize them into a relevant sequence or series of groups. This will give you a clear sense of how and where each piece of the puzzle fits.

3. Pare down your notes

This is where you get rid of the ideas that aren’t logical, realistic or relevant. Show the notes to key decision makers to help remove topics that might not make sense or to add something that didn’t come up in brainstorming to the notes. After step three, your notes should only include winning topics that are most relevant and useful to your target audience.

4. Calendarize 

Now that your notes include only the best topics for your content, it’s finally time to put them all in a calendar. Think about what makes sense for your brand. Are more people looking for what you have to offer in a specific season? Perhaps it’s around the holidays. Whatever cycle your prospects buy on, plan your calendar wisely to make content relevant to the time of year.

5. Leave some wiggle room

When calendarizing, stay away from setting hard dates and deadlines months in advance and opt for a monthly or weekly outline of the year. This will give you and your content creators time to balance out workload, address new or upcoming trends and deal with uncontrollable factors.

This five step process helps streamline the project that is creating an editorial calendar. Try them out as you plan for 2015. To learn more about strategies and tactics behind effective content, read the white paper How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy.