What Is an Editorial Calendar and How Do I Make One?
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
Looking to up your content game? Editorial calendars are an essential part of any content marketing strategy. They’ll help take you from a “we’re doing this content marketing thing by the seat of our pants” strategy to a well-oiled content machine.
Not sure how to implement one?
That’s what this post is about. We’ll take you through the basics, explain how to set up an editorial calendar, and leave you with some tools to get you started.
What is an editorial calendar?
Why use an editorial calendar?
What goes in my editorial calendar?
How do I decide what content I should post?
How often should I make one?
How do I organize it?
Any other tips?
1. What is an editorial calendar?
It is basically a plan of the content that you will create and publish over a period of time. It’s often literally a calendar with your content on it. Sometimes, it’s just an excel sheet. The essential feature is just that it organizes your publication over a period of time.
An editorial calendar can be used for any and all kinds of content you publish. It can include your social media, blogs, email campaigns, videos, and so on.
2. Why use an editorial calendar
It’s useful because it helps your marketing team set goals, deadlines, keep ideas, ensure your content is consistent with your overall strategy, and ensure that your content is created and published effectively. It also helps you conduct an evaluation of your strategy.
Editorial calendars are right for you if you are planning to have a long-term, sustainable blog. A content calendar helps ensure that you publish regularly and that the content is high quality and aimed at your customer. It also helps organize and coordinate a team to ensure you’re working together towards shared goals. It’s a system to make your content production more efficient and effective.
You want a content calendar for the following reasons.
To get a big picture view of your content. It helps take you out of the details and see the big picture. This way you can ensure that your content is helping you meet your overall marketing objectives.
To ensure you don’t miss big dates. The content calendar helps you keep track of important events in your field. 5th company anniversary coming up? Put it in your calendar. Sell earrings? Make sure you’re prepared for Mother’s day. The calendar helps you ensure you’re prepared for special occasions that are relevant for your audience.
To help you get your content ready in time. Not only does it help you think about big events that are relevant for your audience, but it makes sure you are prepared for them. A good content strategy takes some time; your calendar helps you stay ahead so you are not scrambling.
3. What goes in my editorial calendar?
A basic editorial calendar should tell you what, who, when, where, and why.
What content will you create? Your calendar should include a list of content that you are planning to create—either new content that you still need to make, or content that you’ve already developed.
Who will create it? Ensure that your calendar includes a clear indication of who is responsible for the creation of the content and publishing it. Think about everyone in the process: writers, editors, graphic designers, videographers, social media managers, and so on.
When are the deadlines? List the dates when the content will be created and also when it will be published. If you are running a large, sophisticated content operation, or if you just want to be a little extra, you include fact-checking, proofreading, and so on.
Where will it be published? Specify the channels you will use: your blog, on Twitter, Pinterest, and so on.
Why that piece of content? This won’t necessarily be written anywhere, but when you are choosing a piece of content to go in your calendar, you’ll want to answer this question. Is it contributing to your overall strategy? Being intentional about what you create and publish is the point here.
A next-level content calendar might also include:
Calls to action. Clear calls to action are an important part of your content strategy. You can use your calendar to plan your calls to action to ensure they’re appropriate for the content and that it is consistent with your content strategy.
How you will optimize your content. So you’ve scheduled your blog post. Now make sure you plan for the mail campaign to advertise, the 7 twitter posts, the Instagram post, and the Facebook post that will let your community know about it. Or, is this post going to be part of an ebook? Note that.
Offers. Are you including any promotions? Include it in your calendar.
Categories. Do you have several kinds of posts? Maybe it’s important to note that.
Media. You can include any media you’re going to put in your post, including images, audio, video, and so on.
Length. Is this a short article? A long article? A pillar post? A casual update post? You can include that in your article.
Source. Is your team creating this? Is it a guest post? Is it a listicle that you’ve aggregated from others? Note it in your calendar.
Advertisements. Do you have a timeline for ads for your content? Include them.
4. How do I decide what content I should post?
You want to make sure that your content serves your overall marketing strategy.
Think about quantity. How much content do you need for your cycle? If you’re a small, local business operating a physical store, digital content marketing might not play a huge role in your strategy. If you’re a tech start-up trying to build your authority in your industry, it might be much more central. Post more or less.
Think about your buyer personas. Buyer personas are fictitious individuals that may use your service. You build these personas by imagining your audience target. They help you more clearly think about what your audience is looking for.
If your buyer persona is Jimbo the gym junkie who is obsessed with his #fitfam, maybe you’ll want to emphasize shorter articles and Instagram. If your buyer persona is Lily, director of procurement for the federal government, maybe ebooks and longer articles are the way to go. Think about your audience.
Think about production. Are you creating these posts or are you outsourcing? Use your understanding of the resources you have available to help you decide what to post. If you don’t know anything about bitcoin, and you are the one writing the content, don’t post about it.
5. How often should I make one?
It depends. Some people make weekly calendars, some monthly, some quarterly, some even for the whole year.
If you’re not sure, a good starting point would be to think yearly, plan monthly:
Sit down and think about the year as a whole, brainstorming ideas, and making sure you don’t miss any important dates for your audience (for example, make sure you hit Christmas and Mother’s day if you sell Homemade cards on etsy).collect ideas as you go.
Collect ideas as you go
Then sit down every month and put your ideas into a monthly calendar.
6. How do I organize it?
Cool, so you get it about what an editorial calendar is, what should go in it, and how to think about the content.
But how do you put it together? And ideally, how can you make it look pretty?
There are lots of tools. Check out this review to see if some make more sense for you. Here at Crisp Text, we use a combination of Google Sheets and Trello.
We use Google Sheets to keep a quarterly schedule and keep track of our ideas for new posts.
It looks like this:
You can see that we keep track of the date, who will write the post, what kind of post it is, its purpose (which corresponds to goals we have in our marketing strategy), and the headline. For this calendar, we only have our blog posts. We use a different system for our social media posts because we find that works better for us.
Then we use Trello for our monthly post schedule. We like Trello because it allows us to easily keep track of individual projects, assign writers, keep notes and files in one place, and keep track of due dates. It also lets you have two views.
Our workflow view keeps track of the status of each post:
Then we can switch to the calendar view to see it in terms of posting schedule:
Again, we’ve adopted this system based on a bunch of trial and error. It works for us!
7. Any other tips?
If you’ve made it this far, you should have a good basic idea about what an editorial calendar is, what you would put in it, and some tools you could use to create it. Here are some last tips as you get organized:
Be flexible and adapt as new ideas or opportunities come up
Make your calendar accessible to everyone who needs it
Assign one person to be responsible for updating and following up
Reflect, evaluate, and revise periodically
That’s it! Let us know how it went for you.
Having trouble getting this calendar going? Crisp Text can solve your content problems. Give us a shout and we’ll give you a push in the right direction.