How to Build an Editorial Calendar You’ll Actually Use
You probably already know that content creation is an important part of a digital marketing strategy. Using content to engage, entertain, and educate is a way to attract and keep attention on your brand.
But even if you know you need to create content, it can be a tough job -- unless you have an editorial calendar that can keep you on track.
What Is an Editorial Calendar?
An editorial calendar is an outline that lists upcoming content projects. It's organized with publishing dates so marketers can schedule projects for production and publishing. Editorial calendars are often used to schedule plans for:
- Blog Posts
- Social Posts
- Text Marketing Messages
- Website Landing Pages
Why Do You Need an Editorial Calendar?
When you have an editorial calendar, your content creation process will be more effective and easier on your team. It allows you to:
- Get your team on the same page. Without one primary document that tracks all of your content, it will be practically impossible to get your team on the same page. You may end up with incomplete projects and inconsistent content creation.
- Plan ahead. With a forward-facing editorial calendar, you can look into the future and plan content for upcoming promotions, product releases, marketing campaigns, and holidays. Instead of last-minute planning, you will have a strategy laid out and ready to go.
- Avoid duplicate content production. If you have multiple people on your team creating content, you risk creating duplicate content if you don’t have one master content plan. An editorial calendar puts all of your ideas in one place to ensure that you aren’t wasting resources working on similar projects and topics.
- Create content cross-promotions. When you can see your content laid out in one place, you can identify places to cross-promote content. For example, your social team can see upcoming blog posts and create social posts that lead back to the blogs.
What Should Be Included in an Editorial Calendar?
The purpose of the editorial calendar is to streamline and organize production. It should include all of the information needed to assign, create, and publish the content.
Title / Topic / Theme: Include the exact title of the content if there is one. If the title isn’t set, include the topic or theme to give direction on what the piece should be about.
Keywords (when relevant): If the content is a blog post or landing page for a website, include the target keyword for the page (as well as any targeted secondary keywords).
Type of Content: If the editorial calendar includes multiple types of content, include a column to assign whether the content is a blog post, email, or some other type of content.
Goal: All content should be created with a goal in mind. Include information about the purpose of the content (to drive engagement, to promote a new product, support SEO, etc.) to direct the creator on how to put together the piece of content.
Call-to-Action: Depending on the goal for the content, it may need a specified call-to-action that tells the audience what to do once they read the content.
Link to Resources: Compile all of the resources that can help creators produce the content. Create one file or document with notes and assets, and link to it in the editorial calendar.
Writer: Assign the person responsible for creating the content. If multiple people need to review or work on the content (such as an editor, designer, or quality assurance team member), include a column assigning each of the roles.
Assets Needed: If the content needs special assets outside of the copy (such as custom graphics or a video), include a column that lists the supporting materials needed.
Due Date: Include a due date for the writer, as well as any other involved parties (such as the editor, designer, etc.).
Publish Date: The publish date is when the content needs to go live. When assigning due dates for content, start with the publish date and work backward. Give ample time for production and add extra days in case there is a delay.
Status: Designate one column to show the status of each piece of content. Consider each step of the process and include a status for each phase such as: assigned, needs edited, scheduled, needs design, published, etc.
Link to Draft: Make it easy for each creator to access the content by linking to the draft in the editorial calendar.
Link to Live Content: When the content is live, add a live link to the editorial calendar. This helps you track completion and also builds a library of published content that will make it easier to republish, reuse, and assess your existing content.
Where to Set Up Your Editorial Calendar
Now that you have the details that need to be in your editorial calendar, but you might be wondering about how you can put this together for your team.
There is no one software or solution that is perfect for every team. You can use something as simple as a Google Doc or dive into a project management tool to layout your calendar. To decide what is best for your team, consider the following questions.
- Can you make the calendar easy for everyone involved to access? The easier the calendar is to access, the more it will be used. Choose a platform that everyone involved can easily bookmark and access.
- Does the platform include fields for all needed information? Do you need drop-downs for status columns or calendars for date fields? Choose a platform that can match your input needs.
- Can you set up visual cues? Do you need a spreadsheet view, a calendar view, or both? Do you want to use colors to denote a project status or content type? Consider what visual cues you want on your calendar and look for software that supports your needs.
If you are just getting started, don’t worry about creating an editorial calendar with all of the bells and whistles. Start simple in a spreadsheet, and you’ll quickly learn what features you need, making it easier to choose a more long-term solution for your editorial calendar needs.
Don’t focus on perfect when you begin, just get started.
Put Your Editorial Calendar to Work
Now that you know what an editorial calendar is, why you need one, and the elements you need to create your own, get to work. Use the tips in this post to create an editorial calendar.
Then, use our other resources to help you plan out content ideas for your business that will help you attract new audiences, engage your existing customers, and drive action from readers.
Check out our other guides on:
- Every Business Needs to Create Content & Start Acting Like a Media Company
- Does Your Local Business Need a Blog? Yes. Here's Why
- Social Media Content Ideas: What to Share On Your Brand Pages