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How to put together an editorial calendar for content marketing success

by Wendy Woodhead on

What’s the point of publishing content that’s out of date, poorly targeted and repetitive? 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 intricate. In this article, we show you how to put together an editorial calendar for content marketing success.

Table of contents

  1. What is an editorial calendar?
  2. Why do I need to keep a content calendar?
  3. How to put together an editorial calendar for content marketing
    1. List the criteria that needs including
    2. Decide on a format
    3. Work out your workflow and publishing schedule
    4. Create the calendar
    5. Share, start writing, stay accountable
  4. Tips for creating an effective content calendar

What is a content calendar?

A content calendar is a record that shows you what you are going to publish across your various online platforms – from blog posts to social media platforms. It can be used to plan out content marketing activity in line with your goals across a week, several months or even a year.

Content calendar vs editorial content calendar

An editorial content calendar is much more focused and usually relates to longer-form content which has an editorial slant. This is usually topical, news-based or subject-specific.

Editorial content includes:

  • Blog posts
  • How-to guides and tutorials
  • Thought-leadership articles
  • Reviews and buying guide

For it to actively help you in your day-to-day work, a content calendar should detail the most important aspects of your publishing schedule such as the date, publishing platform, content type and topic.

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 make a simple content calendar and provide a free editorial content calendar template to download.

Closeup on an open planner - How to put together an editorial calendar for content marketing - Copify blog

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 reality? 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

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.

Someone putting post-its on a corkboard- How to put together an editorial calendar for content marketing - Copify blog

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

Here are some steps to help you create your content calendar:

1. List the criteria to include

Some of the most important information includes:

  • Date and time of publishing
  • Author
  • Publisher
  • Content type
  • Post topic/title
  • Platform (e.g. your blog, LinkedIn, Medium…)
  • Tags, hashtags or categories it will be posted under
  • Additional media that will accompany it
  • Stage of development

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.

Screenshot of the Copify content calendar - How to put together an editorial calendar for content marketing - Copify blog

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

Overhead view of people on laptops - How to put together an editorial calendar for content marketing - Copify blog

Here are some general tips to bear in mind when using a content calendar:

  • 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.

Armed with a clear and concise content calendar you can keep your content marketing on-point and on-brand!

Struggle to create fresh, insightful content? Why not try a blog package from Copify.

We deliver posts to you automatically each month at regular intervals, making planning your content so much easier. We can even offer SEO strategy. Find out more here.

Header image: Icons8 Team

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

Wendy Woodhead

Wendy Woodhead