What should be included in an editorial calendar?
How familiar do these sound?
“We have a glittering editorial calendar but we can’t just figure out what to include.”
“We were better without one.”
“Urgh! There are no solid posts online showing the elements of a good editorial calendar.”
It’s one thing to put together an editorial calendar, but to know the exact things you’re supposed to include in it? Now that’s a whole different beast.
Every aspect of your content strategy hinges on a thorough, well-expounded editorial calendar. Get it wrong, and you risk losing sight of every piece of content in your pipeline (and your content marketing efforts in general). Get it right, and your chances of acing your marketing goals increase tenfold.
Of course, you’re focused on the latter, right? Stick around, and we’ll show you exactly what to include in your editorial calendar. No fluff, just meaty, well-hashed-out details.
Editorial Calendar: The Ultimate Pacesetter In Your Content Marketing Journey
First, forget every myth you’ve ever heard about editorial calendars. It’s 2021, for heaven’s sake.
An editorial calendar does not go into the finer details around the day-to-day management of your content creation workflow and publishing schedule.
That would be a content calendar.
Neither does it provide a 3000-foot overview of your upcoming social media posts.
That would be a social media calendar.
An editorial calendar is a high-level part of your content marketing strategy where you choose tactics, channels, deadlines, and collaborators.
It can be organized in the form of an interactive dashboard (if you’re using a content management app), an Excel spreadsheet, a Google sheet, or a Google calendar.
Think of an editorial calendar as the pacesetter for achieving your content marketing goals. In a relay race, an editorial calendar would be the first runner, giving the rest of the team a glimpse of the track, the running intensity, and the rivals.
Lame comparison? Alright, picture your favorite magazine. You’ll probably notice issues often have permeating themes.
Sometimes it’s explicit—fashion month, the food and drink issue, etc.—and sometimes you may not even realize the thread exists. Either way, there’s a cohesive content plan driving the content decisions for each edition.
Publications keep an editorial calendar to plan ahead (now you get why we called it a pacesetter, right?). They use it to conceptualize stories and assign the writers, editors, and photographers who prepare each piece for publication.
Often, editorial calendars are scheduled yearly, monthly, or quarterly, which means the general outline and broad themes are established well in advance. The details are only filled out when the due date for publishing edges closer.
Got it? Perfect!
Now let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of an editorial calendar—the what and the whatnot.
Elements of a Kickass Editorial Calendar: The 7 Must-Haves
Not every editorial calendar is created equal. Some are worth their weight in gold, others are meh, and others are outright bad.
If you want to create a truly outstanding editorial calendar, these seven things are a no-brainer:
1. A Single Source of Truth
The first element might be a bit unorthodox, but it’s downright important: a single source of truth (SSOT).
A single source of truth is a way of making data available to everyone across your marketing team from a single data point.
Think of it as the fuel that ignites your editorial calendar engine. Without it, that engine will not roar up at all.
Select one editorial calendar platform, and stick with it. Ideally, an editorial calendar tool can only act as a single source of truth if it is:
- Loaded with features and functionality: Only choose a platform that’s preloaded with editorial calendar templates and features that are more or less plug-and-play. Your content team should find it easy to work with it, not scratch their heads and waste time figuring what to enter where.
- Easy to integrate with other platforms: It doesn’t matter what bells and whistles it has—it doesn’t even matter if it’s functionality-laden. If it doesn’t integrate with other platforms, it’s not going to work as a single source of truth. Ideally, it should work with SEO tools, content management plugins, content planning software, and so on.
- All-in-one: Get an all-in-one editorial calendar tool, and you’ve pretty much nailed the whole aspect of a “single source of truth.” Other than being affordable, an all-in-one platform like Welcome could help consolidate your project management, content production, keyword research, and other content marketing essentials.
2. A 12-Month, High-Level Plan
One of the gravest mistakes content creators make is brainstorming content ideas on the fly. Say, for example, there’s a deadline on January 31st. Most bloggers will brainstorm ideas on the 30th.
That’s no way to approach a content strategy roadmap, least of all a content strategy that’s the heart and soul of your content marketing efforts.
To ace your marketing goals, you need clarity, confidence, and cadence. But to get all of those, you need a plan, a high-level plan that leaves no stone unturned.
An editorial calendar provides the perfect opportunity to lock in this plan.
Ideally, a high-level plan for an editorial calendar should be hashed out 12 months in advance and should be laid out to answer these key questions:
- What are the major upcoming content themes?
- Where will each piece of content be delivered and published?
- When are the deadlines and publishing schedules for each type of content?
- Who is responsible for ideating, creating, and distributing the content?
For the average content marketer, this sounds like a lot of work.
Of course, you could use colors on your calendar to visualize what’s coming up and when, but you’ll still be left with the “where” and “who” of your content creation journey to deal with. Even for a marketer of your caliber, that’s an uphill battle.
For the “where” and “who” of your content production plan, Welcome’s calendar features should come in handy:
- Saved filters: Filter your calendar to reveal specific publishing channels, individual campaigns, contributors, or any mix of custom data.
- Team calendars: Track the execution of all content activities—both planned and published—and provide 360-degree visibility across teams.
Want to know what’s common among the most successful marketing teams in the world? No, they don’t all drink Pepsi for breakfast. That’s a good try, though.
What unities these marketers is they use editorial calendars to visualize their marketing tactics. They are not distracted by shiny object syndrome. Rather, they create content that aligns with their overarching content themes and marketing campaigns, not the other way round.
That’s exactly what your editorial calendar should include—a set of pre-defined tactics that align each piece of content with its big-picture goal, theme, or campaign.
Here are a few marketing tactics you could consider for your editorial calendar:
- Social media marketing strategy: Do all of your social media posts cut through the noise and actually deliver on overarching business goals?
- SEO strategy: Is your published content SEO optimized so that it tops SERP rankings?
- Content marketing strategy: Do all of your white papers, blogs, and eBooks align to an umbrella marketing campaign?
- Content production tactics: How often do you publish new content, and what is the probability that each type of content supports a specific campaign?
You might have carved out the perfect high-level plan, but for it to work, you still need to drill down to specifics.
One of those is a set of predetermined deadlines, and it answers an important question in the editorial process: when is the content due?
For each piece of editorial content, assign a due date and stick to it. This date should be reasonable enough for your content team to complete their work. It should also be a few days away from the publishing date to avoid last-minute requests and relapses. Striking a balance between the two is key.
Assuming you’ve commissioned some new content for December, here’s where you could place your deadlines:
- 12/2: Research and brainstorm content
- 12/3: Write and edit the first draft
- 12/5: Write the post
- 12/7: Edit post
- 12/9: Design graphics
- 12/15: Write social media posts
- 12/17: First due date
- 12/18: Second due date
- 12/25 and 12/26: Publishing dates
This step is crucial. Don’t skip it! Echoing the words of the great Benjamin Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
With Welcome’s marketing calendar, you can easily filter in order of due dates, campaign, assignee, and status. That way, you’ll have a front-row view of who’s supposed to deliver what content and by when.
5. Posting Cadence
If you take a look at the biggest publications in the world (think: Forbes, The New York Times, etc.), you’ll notice that they don’t post content haphazardly. Not at all.
Rather, they follow a specific publishing schedule that they stick to no matter what (yup, even when it’s rained cats and dogs the previous night and editors can’t show up for work).
Perhaps content marketers could borrow a leaf from such publications.
The bottom line?
If you don’t include a strict, well-ideated posting schedule in your editorial calendar, you’re basically neglecting your target audience and putting them on the backbench.
A predetermined posting cadence portrays authority and reliability—two trails that are a hallmark of every successful brand. Whether monthly, biweekly, or weekly, make sure your posting schedule appears in your editorial calendar. You might even want it to be in all caps, bold, and underlined.
In regards to how often you should post on each platform, here are some research-backed suggestions:
- Blog: 11-16 posts a month
- LinkedIn: 4-8 posts a month
- Facebook: 1-2 posts a day, or 28-56 a month
- Twitter: 2-3 posts a day, or 56-84 a month
- Pinterest: 3-10 posts a day
Ultimately, how often you choose to post new content is up to you. The one thing that’s undebatable is your publishing schedule’s inclusion in the editorial calendar.
Just do it, will you?
Next up in creating your editorial calendar is catering to the people you’ll be collaborating with to create quality content.
Will you hire copywriters to craft your November social media posts? Maybe you’ll invite C-level executives to contribute to your January podcast episode? Perhaps you’ll just utilize in-house creatives to flesh out the nitty-gritty of your upcoming eBook?
Include every single content collaborator in your editorial calendar. Better yet, list out their names against the exact piece of content they’re contributing to.
Well, it’s easy if you’re doing it on a platform. With Welcome, you can get all of your content collaborators’ information on a single, do-it-all dashboard. Not only can you see the editorial process in full swing, but you can also see your team’s real-time progress, budget, and capacity.
7. Key Distribution Channels
Lastly, but certainly not the least, you need to answer the question “where?” Once you have a clear answer to this question, go ahead and include it in your editorial calendar.
Where exactly do you plan to share, publish, and promote new content? Is it via email where 23.8% of messages are opened within the first hour of delivery? Or maybe it’s through Facebook, where there are more than 2.89 billion content-hungry monthly users?
You might have hinted at this aspect in your high-level plan, but you still need to delve into the finer details to avoid ambiguity and vagueness.
Here are some distribution platforms to consider:
- Infographics: With 93% of all human communication done via visual content, infographics could work wonders for your content marketing efforts.
- Video: With 90% of internet users watching videos online each month, you don’t need a reminder that videos are a marketing goldmine.
- Webinar: 57% of marketers run at least 50 webinars per year. What’s preventing you from adding to this statistic?
- Email newsletters: 81% of marketers say their most used form of content marketing is email newsletters. What are you waiting for? Get on the email newsletters bandwagon, and reap the fruits of successful content.
The Perfect Editorial Calendar Catapults You to Marketing Stardom
All said and done, an editorial calendar is to your marketing team as a pen is to a student or milk is to Frosted Flakes. Yup, it’s that important, and for good reason. The perfect editorial calendar:
- Allows you to control the publication of content across different media
- Enables you to strategize content like a pro (you don’t want to be part of the 46% of marketers who don’t have a documented content strategy, do you?)
- Streamlines your work by removing publishing delays, duplicative marketing efforts, and redundant content creation tasks
- Helps align content themes with the overarching content marketing strategy
Now that you know how important an editorial calendar is, how about you create an editorial calendar that will put all the existing editorial calendars to shame?
Say hello to Welcome.
Create the Perfect Editorial Calendar (and Much More) With Welcome
Deep down, you might be thinking that creating a paperless editorial calendar is the stuff of dreams.
Well, it’s not.
Type the term “editorial calendar template” into Google right now, and you’ll be blown away. There are a staggering number of tools that can help you create an editorial calendar.
But let’s face it, do you really need another separate, siloed solution in your marketing stack? Do you really need to swap between innumerable tabs just to access your editorial calendar?
Thankfully, you’ve got Welcome, your one-stop shop for all things marketing. We can help you create a kickass editorial calendar with all the added niceties—timeline and Gantt views, activity rollups, campaign popovers, saved filters, customizable metadata, and more.
But you know what else we can do? Unite an editorial calendar with a content calendar, social media calendar, resource management, marketing communications, creative services, and so much more into one easy-to-use platform.
Enough with the words. Why don’t you give Welcome a free test run and see for yourself? Get started with a free account today!