The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Editorial Calendar

Wtitten by NewsCred - June 21, 2016

Buying Cycle + Content Types

Buying cycle and content marketing types

Erin Scottberg Editorial Calendar Quote

Selecting Your Editorial Calendar

So, what are the distinct elements of an editorial calendar? There are several standards fields, such as content type, title, assigned author, due date and publish date, and CTA, which are consistent for all editorial calendars. However, it’s not one-size-fits all. The fields in your calendar should be customized to fit your brand, resources, and business objectives. For instance, you could manage your content with a robust CMS, or track your projects in a simple Google spreadsheet.

An editorial calendar streamlines workflow from ideation to publication, helping you to:

  • Manage the production, publication, and distribution of content across multiple mediums
  • Clearly define content by category and topic
  • Align teams with a single, central calendar and drive team accountability
  • Set clear goals and track performance
  • Assess resources and explore methods to fill gaps in your content strategy

To give you a better sense of how to structure your calendar for different editorial needs, here are three popular content calendar types:

A. Blog Editorial Calendar

B. Premium Content Editorial Calendar

C. Social Editorial Calendar

 

A. Blog Editorial Calendar

For a high traffic blog, you’ll want to publish frequently. Focus your blog posts around your bestselling products, relevant areas for thought leadership, brand culture, and key customer concerns. You’ll want your blog to be the #1 information resource for your audience. The best blogs often involve multiple contributors to provide audiences with a variety of opinions and insights, so consider a calendar that allows for multiple users with read and write permissions.

Sample blog editorial calendar

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B. Premium Content Editorial Calendar

Investing in “gated” or “premium” content, which requires viewers to fill out a contact information form, requires thorough planning. You’ll have multiple contributors creating your final product, whether that’s an eBook, whitepaper, or webinar. Consider assigning specific tasks in the workflow to your contributors. You’ll likely want to track contributor assignments, deliverables, status or time to publication, budget, and KPIs.

Premium Content Editorial Calendar

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C. Social Editorial Calendar

A strong social editorial calendar will cover more than just what to post on any given day of the week. You’ll want to track publishing schedules for multiple social channels, as well as any social advertising spend and KPIs. Before posting, you must consider what elements of the post could compel someone to share. Is it visually interesting? Is the copy clever? Does it have a theme? Key elements should include: publication timing, channel, copy, link and CTA, target audience, as well as any budget and performance metrics. Due to the frequency of publishing, many social CMS options have built in calendaring and scheduled publishing features. If that’s not available to you, Google Spreadsheets are easy to use and provide visibility between content stakeholders.

Example Social Editorial Calendar

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Maintaining Your Calendar

Perform a content audit

What is your ideal ratio of licensed and original content? The “Rule of Thirds,” first coined by Betsy Morgan, former CEO of the Hu”ngton Post, is one route. The Rule of Thirds means that one-third of all content distributed should be original, one-third should be user-generated or crowdsourced, and the remaining third should be licensed from other sources.

While it’s a great place to start, there’s no magic trick to determine the perfect content ratio for your audience. In order to grow tra”c and garner leads, track how each type of content performs so that you can adjust to your audience’s response. Altimeter Group Analyst Rebecca Lieb identified successful content campaigns as “an amalgam of licensed content, curated content, third-party content, and original content.” The ideal mix, she said, will depend on the goals, resources, and budget of the marketer.

Make room for SEO

Duane Forrester, senior product manager of Bing, said, “SEO is a marketing function for sure, but it needs to be baked into a product, not slapped on like icing after the cake is baked.” He’s right.

To create a sustainable content strategy, you need to track SEO keywords and phrases on your calendar. After you determine keywords and phrases, list them on the calendar itself to keep your whole team focused on usage. Other than the obvious terms associated with your brand pillars, Ubersuggest, Google AdWords Keyword Planner, and Bing Keyword Research Tool will generate keywords.

Plan ahead, but prepare to be reactive

Milestones, holidays, and company events provide seasonal (and fun!) content opportunities. Map content to events that are relevant to your brand and its audience. Cynthia Manolo of Time Content Solutions said, “a little bit of seasonality is good. We build on what we know is coming our way, and then populate key events, themes, and holidays throughout the rest of the year.” Having weekly themes can work well for brands. For instance, running promotions consistently on Mondays will train your audience to look for your content, whereas “Fun Friday” could create an opportunity to engage with your audience on a casual, personal level.

While it’s never a good idea to fly blind, the onslaught of commentary and breaking news from business, politics, pop culture is 24-7. While some events can be planned, marketers need to be agile and reactive to breaking stories. Just as in journalism, being the first to break a story will result in more views and improved credibility.

Insider’s Tip

As they are well-versed in the questions from your customers, your sales team can be a great resource for suggesting powerful SEO keywords and phrases.

Building your content team

Performing a talent audit is just as important as a content audit. As you develop your content calendar, you might find that there is enough work to keep everyone productive — or that you need additional help. If you do require additional resources, it’s important to ensure that the contributors understand your brand and have the expertise to bring your projects to completion. A centralized content calendar helps coordinate both in-house staff and freelance content creators on projects. Creating and sharing a clear and concise style guide for both in-house and freelance contributors can help avoid dilution and reduce the amount of time spent editing. As a general rule, always ask for writing samples and portfolios before hiring external contributors.

For a lean and efficient content team, we recommend the following key players. Depending on your business goals, you may need fewer or more contributors on your team.

To keep your content calendar organized and on-schedule, provide your contributors with these supporting materials:

  • Editorial voice, style, and structural guidelines
  • Workflow
  • Publication standards
  • SEO tips and keywords
  • Examples of successful content

Key Teammates

Build your content marketing team

 

Conclusion

It’s not just a calendar. When used correctly, it can transform your content marketing strategy. You can delight and inform your audience while also generating leads. It’ll make your job a breeze too.