How to Create an Editorial Calendar
Do you have an editorial calendar? Or, do you typically think of an idea and then write about it—without a purpose?
Whether you genuinely use an editorial calendar or not, it’s important to understand how an editorial calendar can help you succeed with your content marketing.
A well-designed editorial calendar will help keep your content strategy on target. An editorial calendar is your organized workflow process, from content creation to publishing. It keeps everyone on the same page and holds everyone accountable for their tasks to complete content.
What is an Editorial Calendar?
Think of your editorial calendar as your conductor. A conductor keeps all the performers aligned, sets the tempo, executes an evident preparation, controls the interpretation and pace of the music. The conductor organizes everything and makes the music work together for a seamless performance. Your editorial calendar does the same.
An editorial calendar keeps all departments aligned (creative, editorial, marketing, sales, customer success, etc…). An editorial calendar keeps the tone and voice aligned, and organizes a robust workflow to make sure the content is produced, published and promoted seamlessly. It’s the organizational tool to be deliberate and intentional about how you reach and build trust with your audience.
What are the Steps to Design an Editorial Calendar?
The first step to designing an editorial calendar: Have fun!
Designing your editorial calendar is a great team building exercise that usually brings out a great deal of laughter. Yes, developing your schedule can be tedious, but enjoy the creativity.
Step 1: Have fun!
Step 2: Bring research and SEO keywords to the meeting
Step 3: Brainstorm and whiteboard all your ideas
Step 4: From your thoughts, create overall monthly themes
Step 5: From your brainstorm, generate article ideas, titles and content types for weekly publishing
Set aside a few hours to tackle your editorial calendar and make sure your ideas adhere to your content strategy.
What Are the Best Practices to Build an Editorial Calendar?
Keep these best practices in mind when building an editorial calendar. The five best practices can make your production process more efficient.
Create a Workflow Process
Assign one team member to manage the editorial calendar. This person is responsible for making sure content is turned in on the due date, editors are working on the assigned piece, and the material is published on the publish date. If things need to be moved around, this person is responsible for making the change. Essentially this person is the captain of the editorial calendar.
Use Real-Time Synchronization
When building your editorial calendar, use a tool that allows multi-user, real-time synchronization. This tool will enable multiple people to work on the calendar at the same time, and everyone sees any updates made. Google Calendar or Google Sheets is easy to use for small teams—and its free! CoSchedule is another useful tool.
Track Operational Tasks
Make sure you put on the calendar who does what, the status of where the material is, whether something has published, metrics and more. (Keep reading for more on operational tasks).
Use a Well-Designed Calendar
Design a calendar with must-have items for seamless tracking and publication. The more clean and easy-to-use, the easier it is to keep all lines of communication across multiple teams aligned.
Your editorial calendar is ever-changing. You’ll want to plan your calendar a year out, but visit it each day. Make changes as needed to adhere to your content strategy.
What Should You Include on Your Editorial Calendar?
For a high-level editorial calendar, have three tabs: Monthly overview, weekly overview and an idea bank.
A Monthly Overview is a calendar with high-level monthly themes that sales can use to sell to sponsors or partners. It also lets designers, newsletter teams, and other departments know what themes are pushed out each month.
A Weekly Overview is a more detailed calendar of what’s precisely published each week.
The Idea Bank is an ongoing spreadsheet of great ideas that you may have had to move because something else took high priority. Don’t throw away good ideas. If you have one, throw it in the idea bank and when you need a new article, just go in there to get your creative juices flowing.
What to Include in Your Weekly Editorial Calendar?
A well-detailed weekly editorial calendar will help keep everyone aligned and help you understand metrics when digging into analytics.
Use the following items in your editorial calendar:
- Due date
- Publish Date
- Content Type (video, article/blog, infographic, gallery, original, syndicated/partner, re-purposed piece, etc…)
- Call to action
- Links to use
- Published channel (blog, site, social, partnership, newsletter, syndication)
- Promotional time frame
- Distribution (newsletter, social, partnerships/syndication, internal, external…)
- Published link