How to put together an editorial calendar for content marketing success

How to put together an editorial calendar for content marketing success

What’s the point of publishing content that’s out of date, poorly targeted and repetitive? Well… there isn’t one. This is where a content calendar is crucial to keeping your content marketing on track. Sure, it might seem like a lot of planning, and planning isn’t necessarily something a creative content writer is about. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In this article, we show you how to put together an editorial calendar for content marketing success.

Table of Contents

What is an editorial calendar in marketing?

What is an editorial calendar in marketing?

An editorial calendar is a schedule that helps you define what non-sales content you are going to publish across your various online platforms. This content could include:

  • blog posts
  • articles
  • reviews, tutorials, buying guides
  • thought leadership pieces
  • white papers
  • social media posts
  • infographics
  • videos
  • other kinds of insightful media

The calendar can be used to plan out the kinds of themes that you’d like to touch on in your content marketing activity throughout the year so it is fairly long-term and big-picture in scope.

What is a content marketing calendar vs editorial calendar?

The two names content calendar and editorial calendar are often used interchangeably; however, some companies may have two separate calendars. In those cases:

  • A content marketing calendar is much more specific in terms of recording the specifics of the content you will release each day and the methods for promoting it.
  • An editorial calendar determines the goals and themes of your content at different times throughout the year. 

Some companies may even strictly say that an editorial calendar only relates to planning out longer-form content which has an editorial slant. This is usually topical, news-based or subject-specific.

However, for the purposes of this article, we’re going to conflate both terms because many companies still do not use any kind of planning system for organising their content marketing. For that reason, we’re going to share what kinds of details to track on any kind of content calendar.

Why do I need to keep a content calendar?

Let’s cycle back to the intro. Do you want visitors to your site to think: here is a company that understands the wider world and its customers’ pain points, strives to provide value and quality in all that they do and always has something new to share?

Or do you want them to think: here’s a company that only wants to talk about the same thing, is slow to respond to events or posts way too often and has lost touch with what’s important? (Harsh but true if you fail to organise your content output.)

If it’s the latter, you can skip the calendar and just publish content whenever you think about doing it.

But if you want your brand to live up to its full potential and outsmart the competition, then a content calendar is your best friend.

Remember: the aims of content marketing are to get found, create interest, build your brand and generate leads. A content calendar is the vehicle through which you can do all of this much more effectively.

Let’s break these reasons down further:

Stay accountable

Stay accountable

One of the biggest benefits of a content calendar is that by writing down your intention to publish a specific piece of content on a set day, you and your team are more likely to achieve it. That’s because it will help you plan your week so that you factor in realistic time to write and publish.

Avoid duplication

Marketing departments put out content on a regular basis, so it’s easy to forget what’s been posted and potentially risk plagiarising yourself. With a content calendar, you can ensure you’re posting on a range of subjects, both topical and general, and offer a variety of content types that doesn’t inundate or bore your audience, whatever stage of their buyer’s journey they’re at.

Tie your marketing together

Of course, knowing what you’re going to publish weeks in advance can also help you to join up the dots of your marketing campaign. It helps you get some perspective and see the bigger picture, organising social media posts and themes in line with seasonal events, launches or awareness campaigns. Once you know how your marketing fits together, you can create useful links between posts, plan out blog posts that belong to a series and create teaser campaigns to drum up interest.

Maintain your reputation

There’s another side to planning your content that can help maintain your reputation, and that’s having a quick record of what content activity you’ve done in case of unexpected circumstances. The last thing you want to do is to let a pre-scheduled light-hearted blog post go live on the day of a national or global tragedy. Doing so could be detrimental to your brand image.

Boost your visibility

On top of all that, SEO guru Neil Patel has cited that companies who blog have up to “434% more indexed pages, and 97% more indexed links”. Publishing fresh content at regular intervals literally helps you get indexed in the search results more often so you’re more easily found online, and a content calendar helps you to do that.

How to put together an editorial calendar for content marketing

For it to actively help you in your day-to-day work, knowing what to include in a content calendar is key. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive. Believe us – we know that marketers and entrepreneurs operate in a fast-paced world where time is a finite commodity. That’s why we’re going to show you how to create a content marketing calendar and provide a free editorial content calendar template to download:

1. List the criteria to include

1. List the criteria to include

The above screenshot of our content calendar gives you an insight into how you can set out your content. Some of the most important information includes:

  • date and time of publishing
  • author
  • publisher
  • content type
  • post topic/title
  • content channel (e.g. your blog, LinkedIn, Medium…)
  • overarching themes (e.g. Women’s History Month)
  • tags or categories it will be posted under
  • additional media that will accompany it (e.g. photos, video, infographics…)
  • interim deadlines/stages of development
  • promotion on other channels (e.g. Twitter, Instagram, any hashtags etc to accompany it)

2. Decide on a format

There are plenty of tools available to you, and there are free as well as paid-for versions. The best method will depend on your personal preferences and whether you need to share your calendar with a team.

Some options include:

  • A physical calendar in a planner or your Google or Outlook calendar – ideal if you’re a visual planner.
  • A simple Excel spreadsheet or G-Sheet – ideal if you only manage one content platform.
  • A workflow tool such as Trello – ideal if you manage lots of contributors across different locations and platforms, though these are usually paid-for.

If you’re just starting out, we recommend beginning with a free template while you’re still working out your publishing calendar.

Download our free editorial content calendar template.

3. Work out your workflow and publishing schedule

Now you need to jot down all the stages of your workflow. For instance, do you write all the posts yourself, delegate them to your team or use freelancers?

Once you know the workflow, you know what stages and deadlines need to be incorporated into your calendar. It also helps to pin down specific days of the week that you write and/or publish the content.

Neil Patel also notes that:

“sites that publish 16+ articles each month drove 3.5x more traffic than those that only published four or fewer monthly posts. So publish frequently—around every other day or so.”

This is a good figure to aim for if you can, but otherwise posting once a week, consistently, is better than posting sporadically.

4. Create the calendar

The method to set up your calendar depends on the format you use. We recommend setting aside at least a couple of hours to get your calendar set up. Depending on your volume frequency, this can be enough to schedule a month’s worth of content.

5. Share, start writing, stay accountable

Now you have the basis of a content calendar, the important next step is to share the calendar with anyone who works on your content. This can include:

  • contributors
  • blog/website managers
  • social media content creators
  • wider marketing and/or PR team

Make sure the location is available to anyone who needs it and that they have the correct access requirements.

You also need to create a process for updating the calendar. For instance, what do you do with posts that have elapsed so that you still have a record of them? How do you track posts that are in progress? Who is responsible for coming up with the topics and signing off content?

The process of drawing up your content calendar will force many of these questions to the surface, but ensure everyone is on the same page and knows what their responsibilities are.

Tips for creating an effective content calendar

Tips for creating an effective content calendar

Here are some general tips to bear in mind when looking for how to make an editorial calendar work for you:

  • Check in regularly, at least weekly, so you know what is due to be published (and update it to hide old posts).
  • Use SMART goals to set achievable deadlines.
  • Make sure the authors know their interim deadlines and when copy needs to be submitted (it might help to tie this to a calendar notification).
  • Post on the same day(s) of the week to help Google know when to index your site.
  • Use a mix of authors if possible but don’t schedule content for them during time off.
  • Ensure seasonal and/or longer, research-dense pieces have plenty of lead time.
  • Try to post several different content types and a mix of subjects across the week or month.
  • Colour-code your categories.
  • Pay attention to the time of the year and any holidays or awareness days.
  • Make use of scheduling and automation functions in your CMS to write and prepare as much content in advance as possible so you can stay ahead with your publishing.

Now you know how to create an editorial calendar, you’re armed with a key tool to help you keep your content marketing on-point and on-brand.

✏️If you struggle to create fresh content consistently, why not try a blog package from Copify? We also offer SEO strategy to make your content marketing more impactful. 

Header image: Icons8 Team

Embedded images: Eric RothermelJo Szczepanska, Copify content calendar (Google Sheets), CoWomen

Spread the word:

Wendy Woodhead

Wendy Woodhead

Wendy is the Account Director at Copify and a qualified copywriter and proofreader. She has spent six years copy editing and copywriting for B2B and B2C clients and has experience in freelance and in-house arts marketing and digital content creation. Wendy likes to write about language and literature, digital marketing, history, current affairs, and arts and culture. In her spare time she enjoys yoga, reading and writing fiction.