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How to Create an Editorial Calendar

If you are someone who doesn’t do well with remembering deadlines, you could benefit from an editorial calendar. A lot of content creators and their teams struggle to work together and have positive team cohesion due to deadline issues. Things aren’t submitted on time. Some things are never even written even though perhaps the team discussed it previously. Though there may be communication, the execution of the communicated information can still be lacking. That is where a calendar comes in! 

Rather than bickering over who didn’t submit what at a certain time, or who didn’t have something edited quickly enough, everyone can be on the same page with the calendar. If you are wondering if you really need an editorial calendar, you need not wonder anymore more. The answer is, yes you do! This article is meant to help you understand several things: what an editorial calendar is, whether you should use templates or software, and how to actually set a calendar up.

content marketing editorial calendar

What is an Editorial Calendar?

Imagine a place where specific deadlines are all agreed upon across your organization. These deadlines are set up to keep your publication pipeline, from content creation to publication, organized and clean. Put simply, this is what an editorial calendar (sometimes called a content calendar) is.

A calendar in this respect is meant to make the publication pipeline efficient. It is also meant to keep teams on track to publish content regularly across all kinds of mediums. A calendar doesn’t just have to be used by large teams of publishers, however. It can be just as effective for individual bloggers and writers, and can even extend into video content creation.

More importantly, your calendar is a visualization for your content marketing strategy. For one, it helps you see if you are creating enough content for each medium. Perhaps prior to using a calendar, you thought you were distributing content across all mediums equally. But with a calendar, you might be able to notice that you are publishing far more blogging content than social media content. You can then adjust accordingly without having to worry about accidentally forgetting a deadline and messing up your publication pipeline.

If you are working solo, a pen-and-paper approach to your calendar may be adequate. But unless you have an extremely organized team with incredible communication, you may want to think about making your calendar a bit more intricate.

Should I Use an Editorial Calendar Template?

Using an editorial calendar template is basically just a digitized version of a paper calendar with bells and whistles. Obviously, this provides a place for the entire team to possibly make changes or put a lot of deadlines onto one day. The biggest benefit of using templates, however, is having the organization already set up. You don’t need to figure out what needs to be put where, or what kind of information is needed. It’s all there for you! You just need to punch in a few words onto some deadlines and you have yourself an editorial calendar. They tend to be relatively cheap, if not free. If you or your team is on a budget, then this could be the perfect option.

There are a few downsides when it comes to editorial calendar templates. Templates may be restrictive and only allow so much information. With most templates, it is hard to set restrictions. This would allow for anyone to change the calendar, creating confusion and perhaps requiring a total reworking of the calendar. But if you and your team are disciplined and organized, this could be a great option. 

editorial calendar template

Should I Use Editorial Calendar Software?

The next step up from a template is editorial calendar software. If you decide to go the route of software, this can be a tricky decision. There are a lot of good software options available, and they all claim to be the best. But is software right for you and your team? Or would a simple template suffice?

Software is where you really start getting into the bells and whistles. You can get options for online storage, accessibility through mobile apps, and advanced permission settings. With software, you are almost guaranteed to have your production pipeline working as efficiently as possible. And, with the software doing much of the work, you won’t have to worry much about the calendar at all. Overall, the benefits of software can be summed up in two words: automated efficiency.

But every coin has two sides, and the drawback side for software is mainly pricing. Price differs between editorial calendar software, but it certainly is more expensive than templates. Most software prices depend on the number of people in your organization that will be using it. So, the bigger your organization and the more intricate your calendar needs, the more you will pay. Some programs may be more affordable to successful solo content producers, and worth the cost. Some of the big name software programs include Trello, monday.com, and CoSchedule. There are also a handful of WordPress editorial calendar plug-ins available. But don’t limit yourself to just these if you decide to go this route. Branch out and find out which software works best for you and your team.

editorial calendar software

How to Set Up Your Content Marketing Editorial Calendar

Now that you have an understanding of an editorial calendar and have picked your preferred format, it’s time to organize. This can be broken down into a few steps:

#1: Huddle Up

The first step to being successful is planning. That is the essence of this first step. Whether you are gathered with your whole team or just yourself, you need to take time to sit down and plan out your content. Set aside a time to go through the rest of the steps, because you will end up going through the others on a regular basis. This is also a good time, when you very first begin, to establish roles and make sure each base is covered in the pipeline process. 

#2: Determine Your Output Rate

How much do you actually want to produce? Are you wanting to take it easy and go with one blog post a week? Or are you feeling a bit more ambitious and foresee you and your team cranking out several articles per week? This is something to be discussed with your team (or decided by yourself if you are working alone). Remember to push yourself, but be realistic in your goals. Set goals for how many pieces of content you will publish every month for each type of content you are working with. This will determine how you proceed in the next step.

editorial calendars

#3: Create a Workflow

This step will result in a step-by-step process for your publishing workflow. This is a crucial step because this is where the jobs are created, assigned, and given a chronological value. Make a list of all the necessary steps involved in publishing content, and assign them to a member of your team. Give each step chronological value to keep on schedule and know how long you should spend on a single step. This will be different if you are working solo than if you are working as a team. Remember that you will be more efficient if you are working on multiple projects at once. Completing multiple writing tasks, editing tasks, and publishing tasks per day for example will help you maintain a high output.

#4: Think of Topics

Even before you begin thinking of content for your editorial calendar, you should hopefully have already identified your content core. If not, a lot of your work will not click with your target audience. There are a lot of ways to come up with ideas for your content, so you should go with whatever you think will work best for you or your team. However, you need to make sure you are careful in your content choice. Some groups work best with brainstorming and ranking ideas, using Venn-diagrams, or simply voting on ideas.

#5: Put Topics on the Calendar

You should have narrowed down your best ideas and have a list of topics that are both relevant to your audience, and are unique. There should also be enough to meet your desired output rate. Put the publish dates for each desired topic on the calendar and work backward in the publishing process, adding each step and a deadline to the calendar as well. After that, you should have a full content marketing editorial calendar, complete with deadlines for each step in the publishing process.

editorial calendar

Using Your Editorial Calendar to Stay Organized

Editorial calendars work! They can help you stay organized and keep you on task, and almost guarantee a sustainable output rate. It will help you to keep your workstation from becoming cluttered with sticky notes scribbled with deadlines. It will help your team stay on the same page, and keep everyone working efficiently. 

The first step is determining what is right for you and your team: a template or software? Is the software worth the cost? Or do you prefer a basic paper calendar? Once you have your format, walk through the five steps to set it up. You can repeat these steps every month, quarter, or year depending on how far out you want to plan. You will see higher quality content, a more organized team, and a higher production output if you use a calendar.

FAQs:

  • What is the purpose of an editorial calendar?
  • How can I think of topic ideas for my calendar?
  • What is editorial calendar software?
  • Which editorial calendar format option should I choose?
  • What format options are there for editorial calendars?

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