What an Editorial Calendar Is and Why You Need One

In content marketing, one of the most helpful tools is the editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is designed to make governing the process of content creation and publishing more organized and less fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. If you don’t already have an editorial calendar, it’s time to consider it.

What is an Editorial Calendar?

An editorial calendar is a timeline that indicates what content you want to publish, on which channels, and when. It can be as complex or simplistic as you need.

Some people limit information on their calendar to title and date, but a truly helpful editorial calendar will dive much deeper. You’ll get the most out of the tool if you include details like:

  • Keywords
  • Target audience
  • Topic summary
  • Metadata
  • Customer journey phase
  • Channels
  • Drip campaign timeline
  • Due date
  • Publishing date
  • Word count
  • Engagement goals

An effective editorial calendar has the details you need to get the job done in an organized and timely manner. Understandably, that means something different to every business, brand, writer, editor, strategist, and marketing agency.

That isn’t to say there aren’t some common traits that editorial calendars share across industries. Editorial calendars go beyond just a content schedule – they allow marketers to get a bird’s eye view of what they will be publishing. This comprehensive look provides the opportunity to create a holistic strategy in which one platform complements and supports another. 

What Are the Benefits of Having an Editorial Calendar?

The content creation and distribution process can be overwhelming. That’s why tools that demystify what you’re creating, who you’re creating it for, and when it will be published relative to everything else in your schedule are so important. Here are some of the primary reasons to include a well thought out editorial calendar in your greater content plan. 

It Provides Structure

Editorial calendars give you a place to plan in a structured way before creation and publication. It’s that place you put all those brilliant brainstorming ideas for blogs, drip campaigns, and other content.

Once you get the idea down, you can use the calendar to plan out the particulars. That way, you have time to:

  • Find out if your favorite writer is available 
  • Flesh out the details you want in the posts
  • Match up the topics with key events like holidays, trade shows, awareness programs, and marketing campaigns

The structure you get for maintaining an editorial calendar could be the difference between a blog being on page 33 of an organic search or popping up at the top of the listing. Mapping out all your content ahead of time ensures you can meet short- and long-term goals.

It Offers Consistency

The more structured you are in planning out your content, the more consistent it will be. And consistency is a critical element for developing and maintaining your brand’s image. It also creates consistency for teams, so everyone is on the same page.

Team members may use editorial calendars to visualize and fulfill common goals and view the material scheduled for the next several months. It allows them to engage in idea development and content creation more effectively.

It Ensures Content Diversity

Diversified content means you are mixing it up to keep readers interested. Having a big picture view of upcoming content gives you a perspective on how to balance out your topics as well as your content types. It also helps you cater to your target audience and see where you might expand into new territory.

Consistent publication of well-rounded content builds trust. That trust can lead to referrals and more traffic to your website.

Content Planning: Editorial Calendar vs. Content Strategy

An editorial calendar and a content strategy are sometimes both referred to as a content plan. While certainly interlinked, they are two distinctly different things.

A content strategy:
  • Starts with an analysis of your website
  • Includes keyword and competitor research
  • Determines the quality level of the content you’ll need
  • Outlines how frequently you should publish
  • Deliver an estimated budget on how much it’s all going to cost
  • Uses an editorial calendar as one of its tools
An editorial calendar builds on the work of the content strategy and outlines:
  • What content to create
  • Where to publish it
  • When to publish it
  • Other details related to each piece of content to make it successful, such as keywords and target audience  

You can check out the WriterAccess Academy to learn more about each of the critical marketing processes. You can learn from the best in the business and even get certified in content strategy.

How To Create an Editorial Calendar

Start by deciding what format you want for your calendar. Are you a spreadsheet-type individual? If you go this route, pick a program like Excel or Google Sheets. Whatever program you use, look for something that will sync with your calendar apps and other content management tools.

If you want something less hands-on, consider a project management system, a content calendar app, or a planner. Hootsuite’s Content Calendar is a good example of a social media calendar that could be incorporated into your greater editorial schedule. It provides a visual resource that you can use for planning.

Tips to Keep Your Editorial Calendar Updated

There are different approaches to keeping your calendar updated, depending on how it’s organized. However, there are common sense practices that work no matter what style you use. These practices include: 

  • Audit the calendar on a schedule: It could be once a year or once a quarter, whatever works for you. An audit gives you a chance to avoid duplicating topics and possibly give your calendar a makeover.
  • Make keywords a pivot point: Keywords can help to inspire content topics. Use them as a reference point for topic ideation. This will help you stay relevant to your target audience and branch out when possible to include videos, webinars, and podcasts.
  • Don’t go overboard with details: Too many details make maintaining the calendar a time suck. You can either keep the details to a minimum or do them in stages. Once you lay out a few keywords, build from there.

An editorial calendar is a tool that will help you stay on track with your content production. WriterAccess is another tool you can use to ensure your content is top-notch. So why not start your free trial today to see how we can improve your content creation.

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