How to Create and Maintain an Editorial Calendar

If you’re looking for content or editorial job opportunities, one of the most common role requirements is that you can create and maintain an editorial or content calendar.

Today I’m looking at why having an editorial content calendar is so important, how to create one, and what to bear in mind as you plan your content creation and publication.

Why do you need an Editorial Calendar for your Content Marketing?

In a nutshell, an editorial or content calendar helps shape your content creation, and brings some strategy and direction to your content. If you’re a solo content marketer, it’s a great way to plan out and organise your content plans. And if you have a bigger team, it’s even more important to map out everyone’s content pieces in one shared calendar, to align you all around your publication schedule and keep your team on the same page.

Rather than just flying by the seat of your pants, you know ahead of time what content you’ll be publishing, when, and why.

Your content calendar will help you to:

  • Plan your content, and take a strategic approach to content topics and ideas.
  • Align your content creation with business priorities and objectives (like new feature launches, industry trends or promotions).
  • Organise your ideas.
  • Manage your time to meet proposed publication deadlines.
  • Keep track of publication schedules for different content types (blog posts, podcasts, videos, infographics, ebooks, etc.)
  • Keep you and your colleagues on the same page: with an up-to-date content calendar to refer to, your colleagues will be able to plan other marketing or promotional activity to fit-in with your content publication schedule.

How to Create an Editorial Calendar

Here are four simple steps to creating your editorial calendar.

1) Start with why

First of all, you need to understand the business goals that are driving your content creation. With that in mind, you should then consider your audience: what do they need to learn from your content, and what value must it provide?

2) Choose your channels

Is your editorial calendar specifically for mapping out your blog content, or does it cover other content channels? Consider including your podcast, videos, and even product updates or product launches in your content calendar to keep everything in one place.

3) Plan Your Content

Keeping your customers’ or audience’s needs in mind, it’s time to start actually planning out your content.

The first thing to consider is how much content – how frequently you want to publish. For example, if you’ve just launched a blog, one post per week might be a good starting point to aim for. Maybe even one every other week. But if you’ve got a large team of content creators, it might be that you’re able to publish 2-3 posts per week.

If you’ve got a podcast, it’s good to aim to publish regularly – for example, a new episode every week or every couple of weeks. A predictable content schedule makes it easier to build an audience compared with publishing sporadically.

You then need to identify key topics to focus on – something that’s aligned with your customers’ needs, your company’s goals, and SEO. This is where your keyword research comes into play:

“Keywords are the foundation of SEO. If nobody is searching for what you’re writing about, you won’t get traffic from Google—no matter how hard you try.”

– Tim Soulo, Ahrefs

You can then start to flesh-out your content calendar: you know how often you will be publishing, and you can start to turn high-level topics into fully-fledged ideas for blog posts, infographics, videos or other types of content.

4) Execute

You’ve said what you’re going to do – now you just have to do it. Easy, right?

Until someone’s off sick, or changes role, or misses a deadline and throws the whole content calendar out of sync…

To ensure the success of your editorial calendar, the most important thing to do is to clearly define who’s doing what – assigning tasks to people, and setting clear deadlines.

Flexibility: the key to a successful editorial calendar

An editorial content calendar can make a real difference to your content marketing strategy. However, it does have one major drawback: once you’ve invested a ton of time and energy creating a detailed content calendar, it can make it difficult to change as business needs and priorities change.

In more mature organisations, it might be possible to plan out a few months worth of content at a time. However, for startups, flexibility is key. In this case, a more agile approach to content planning may be a better fit – for example planning out a detailed editorial calendar for the coming month, then having a backlog of higher-level ideas for the next couple of months’ worth of content. This will enable you to adapt your content to fit in with what your audience is responding to, as well as meeting shifting business priorities.

Essentially, planning out months and months of content may not be the best use of your time – so take some time to experiment with different editorial calendar set-ups, to find something that works for your team and your business.

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