How to Create Them and What to Include

  A businessman and businesswoman brainstorm on a whiteboard in a tech startup office.

Editorial calendars aren’t solely for companies in the publishing industry. They help business owners, social media managers, and others plan and execute their content strategy. — Getty Images/10’000 Hours

An editorial calendar helps marketers, advertisers, and business owners plan the creation, execution, and distribution of content. Often, editorial calendars take the form of virtual workflows that follow a project from inception to completion.

While they are most commonly used in the publishing industry, editorial calendars have become essential tools for social media managers, content creators and digital marketers. While each team’s specific processes will vary, an editorial calendar generally outlines the workflow, content types, promotion plans, and publish dates.

How to create an editorial calendar

Ready to create your own editorial calendar? Follow these five simple steps.

1.Choose the right tool

Choosing the right tool to build your editorial calendar comes down to use, scalability, and team access. A few of the most common tools are spreadsheets, calendars, and project management software — each with its unique advantages and disadvantages.

  • Spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are helpful for organizational purposes but lack the visualization for at-a-glance information.
  • calendars. Calendars provide a visualization with color-coding and calendar layout but lack the ability to drill down for more information.
  • Project management software. While this software can become overwhelming if you only need it for an editorial calendar, it’s the perfect marriage between visualization and information.

[Read more: 8 Best Online Scheduling Tools]

2. Identify your marketing channels

Using first-party data to understand your audience and its demographics, decide what marketing channels will be the most effective vehicle for your message. You may need to tweak the messaging you’ll send out based on the channel’s format, audience, and engagement rate. In your editorial calendar, designate the channels with different colors to differentiate the campaigns on each channel.

3. Set your workflow/publishing schedule

Will you post daily, weekly, or monthly — and to which channels?

Workflows and publishing schedules are different: Your workflow describes your lead time before you want to post or publish something. Your publishing schedule indicates the frequency with which you’ll post. Creating sustainable schedules for each ensures you won’t fall behind and rush to publish subpar content — or miss a post date entirely.

[An editorial calendar] is a great avenue to discover how to repurpose content for other channels as well.

4. Map out your content in advance

The biggest advantage of an editorial calendar is the ability to visualize content at any given moment. By planning ahead, you and your team can ensure assets are ready to post on the intended dates while building flexibility for holidays, major global events, or company updates.

This is a great way to discover how to repurpose content for other channels as well, like editing an old email blast with unique information to read as a Facebook post with an accompanying graphic.

5. Generate content ideas

Planning months or quarters in advance may begin to feel rote, so be sure to involve your team in generating unique content ideas. Mix up the formats you use (like text, video, images, and infographics) while maintaining a consistent voice to build brand awareness and loyalty.

[Read more: 5 Steps to Creating A Marketing Calendar for Your Business]

What to include in your editorial calendar

Business goals and team involvement often drive the creation of editorial calendars. However, nearly any editorial calendar can (and should) include the following:

  • Special dates. National holidays, seasonal and local events, relevant awareness days, and themed months are all examples of special dates to include in your editorial calendar.
  • publishing deadlines. Focus on both workflow and the publishing calendar when considering your deadlines. These dates should include progress points every step of the way, from content topic generation to asset creation to scheduling posts.
  • Content. Include the specific forms of content (eg, social media posts, email newsletters, blog posts, and more) in your editorial calendar to know when and how to share them.
  • Marketing channels. In addition to knowing when and how to share your created content, an editorial calendar should tell your team where to post it. Use your previously conducted research to know the best times to post for each marketing channel.
  • Team members are responsible for associated tasks. Accountability is key when creating an editorial calendar. Assign team member(s) in each project, so you and your team understand who is responsible for a piece of content at any given moment.

[Read more: 3 Emerging Social Media Strategies Businesses Must Know to Grow]

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