Despite the fact that creating an editorial calendar can save you time, 46% of marketers don’t have a documented content strategy.
Many have avoided creating a content calendar, as it is an overwhelming task, but we’re going to walk you through the process of how to quickly create an editorial calendar that will give you and your team visibility and structure to help you feel more organized and successful for the year.
Here are the main steps:
- Determine your overall content goals
- Decide which platform to use to build your calendar
- Determine your content workflow
- Determine your content distribution plan
- Assign relevant tasks to relevant people
What’s an editorial calendar and why is it important?
An editorial marketing calendar is a long-term timeline for planning and executing your content marketing strategy. It is closely related to other planning tools like publishing schedules and content calendars.
Here are a few other perks of having a robust editorial calendar:
- Reduces the amount of time spent writing and scheduling content
- Makes it easier to handle unexpected events because you can see the big picture
- Improves collaboration within your marketing team and with other stakeholders
- Provides the vantage point needed to repurpose existing or evergreen content
- Allows you to measure results based on your marketing objectives
What does an effective editorial calendar template look like?
A solid template details how various elements connect to your overall content strategy. It often takes major events or campaigns occurring over the next 12 months and breaks them down into the following categories:
- Tactics and frequency
- Person or department responsible
- Important collaborators
- Key distribution channels
- Publishing deadlines
You can use a variety of tools to make your editorial calendar. Many large marketing teams use content calendar software, but you can also use spreadsheets, traditional calendars, whiteboards with markers and sticky notes, Kanban boards, Figma or other project management tools.
How to create an editorial calendar quickly
In this section, we’ll cover five steps to creating an editorial calendar as fast as possible.
Step 1: Determine your overall content goals
Use the following common content marketing goals as a starting point:
- Building brand awareness
- Educating your audience
- Building credibility and trust with customers and industry peers
- Generating demand and leads
- Nurturing subscribers and leads
- Building loyalty with existing customers
- Driving attendance to events
- Generating sales and/or revenue
- Building a subscriber list
- Supporting the launch of a new product
You may have multiple goals, and that’s okay — in fact, it’s probably the most likely scenario. But it makes it even more important to clearly identify them now, so you take them into account when planning out your calendar.
Step 2: Decide which platform to use to build your own editorial calendar
Once you’ve determined your goals, the next step is to choose a platform to build the actual calendar. So, let’s take a deeper look into the tools we mentioned earlier to figure out what’s best for your team.
Spreadsheets are a favored tool for many content marketers. However, spreadsheets can be a bear to maintain—especially if you have a large content marketing team.
Calendar apps help keep tabs on content deadlines and publishing dates. They’re free and easy to use. The main problem is that there’s a lot more to editorial calendars than just the key dates, and you’ll have to find a separate way to track that information.
Back in the day, editors would use whiteboards to keep track of everything. However, whiteboards are limiting and fall short when it comes to communicating the information on them to anyone else on your team.
Project management tools
Visual Kanban boards, Gantt charts, and other project management tools like Jira and Trello are great for managing your editorial calendar.
But this route is often just another siloed solution — disconnected from your other marketing tools, calendars and communication methods.
Content calendar software
Many teams are switching to content calendar software to create and manage their editorial calendars.
For example, Optimizely’s content calendar software is custom-built for marketing teams, bringing together all the tools you need in one easy-to-use platform. If you’re thinking you probably can’t afford it, even the free version includes the following:
- Spreadsheet planning
- Monthly editorial calendar
- Timeline and Gantt views
- Kanban boards
- Collaborative messaging
- Project management
- Flexible workflows
- Alerts and notifications
For a better idea of how content calendar software can improve your efficiency, consider the case of Orolia.
To date, team productivity at Orolia is up thanks to centralized planning and streamlined collaboration. Plus, 87% of the time previously spent in weekly meetings is now used for productive work.
Step 3: Determine your content workflow
Once you’ve chosen your platform, the next thing to think about is your workflow for content creation. Specifically, how does a piece of content move from the first to the last draft in your organization? What steps does it go through before it’s ready to publish?
Here’s an example of what a workflow may look like:
- Research keywords
- Interview SME from the product development team
- Develop title and outline
- Write article based on research and SME interview
- First round of edits
- First round of changes
- Final round of edits
- Final changes
- Final approval
- Add visuals and graphics
- Publish article and/or send to client for review
Step 4: Determine your content distribution plan
The next thing to consider is the distribution channels you plan to use to get your content in front of your audience. To do this, you’ll want to think about where your target audience usually spends their time online.
For example, if you’re targeting B2B buyers, LinkedIn is going to be one of your best options. If you’re targeting B2C Gen Z buyers, on the other hand, platforms like TikTok and YouTube are typically a better bet.
Step 5: Assign relevant tasks to relevant people
Now that you have a general idea of workflows and channels, you can begin to assign tasks to the appropriate stakeholders.
For example, the editor does the first round of edits whereas the strategist is responsible for the first round of approval.
Editorial calendar FAQs
What does an editorial calendar include?
A 12-month editorial calendar typically includes key elements that connect to your overall content marketing strategy, focusing on the who, what, when and where of content production.
What is editorial calendar management?
Editorial calendar management refers to executing the plan laid forth in the calendar itself. It’s like creating a schedule for the year and then making sure everyone is following it daily.
What’s the difference between an editorial calendar and a content calendar?
In short? Scope. An editorial calendar focuses on the big picture whereas a content calendar gets into the finer details. Another way to think of it is that an editorial calendar is a zoomed out, long-term plan for executing your content strategy. In contrast, a content calendar zooms in, outlining a day-by-day plan for meeting the deadlines in the editorial calendar.
Time to start building
Now you know it's possible to create editorial calendars in a snap. If you're ready to build your own editorial calendar, Optimizely's content marketing platform can help, get started with a free account today.
You can build a calendar for your team in just minutes. Enjoy!