20 Best Tips for Building the Ultimate Editorial Calendar

From strategy to creation to promotion, there’s a lot that goes into building and maintaining an effective content marketing plan. So how do you manage it all?
Your content hub needs a management hub.
You need one central tool that can be your go-to resource for your complete content marketing strategy. And if you build it correctly, that place could be your editorial calendar.
20 Best Tips for Building the Ultimate Editorial Calendar
Let’s start with the basics. What is an editorial calendar?
I love this description from the content marketing maniacs over at Velocity Partners:

“What an editorial calendar is for (seems obvious enough but here’s how we tend to use them):

  • To give a quick overview of an entire program in one glance. This helps make sure the program is balanced and has a cadence.
  • To guide the marketing production process. And keep everyone running in the same direction.
  • To help optimise your content marketing budget. Instead of shooting from the hip and running out of money before you nail your top priorities.
  • To exploit time-specific opportunities. Like marketing around events.”

Your editorial calendar isn’t just a calendar. It’s a strategy repository. Sure, it should schedule and track your content, but it can also be where you brainstorm new content ideas, review analytics, plan ways to repurpose content and more.

Ready to create (or redo) your own editorial calendar?

Below are the 20 best tips from content marketing, blogging and social media experts on how to create a calendar you’ll actually use and benefit from.
BONUS: We’ve combined expert tips like these with our own experience to create an editorial calendar template we think will revolutionize how you plan your school’s content. Grab it here:

Think Results.

1. “Think like a publisher… First and foremost, a publisher thinks about profit. Not readers, not editorial, not circulation – profit. … The ‘profit’ point here is not so much intended for you to shift your focus to profit (though that is a good focus for anyone) – but to demonstrate that a publisher has a laser focus on their objective, and every decision is guided by that. That’s the take away – have a laser focus on your outcomes; i.e. what do you want to accomplish with your B2B content marketing strategy?” – Jeremy Victor for Content Marketing Institute
2. “Look at your sales cycle… You’d want to identify key demographics in the timeline, such as new leads (the people seeing your online ads), interested prospects (the people who contact you for more info), new customers, returning customers, former customers, etc. These will be the categories to which you allocate topics.” – Shanna Mallon for Content Marketing Institute
3. “Funnel your audience through the buying stages – awareness, learning, comparison, purchase decision, and post-purchase. Your editorial calendar can reflect this process. You can map the types of content to the timing or triggers in a way that maximizes your conversion rates. Your prospects will happily go through the funnel with your more seamless delivery of what they need when they want it.” – Bob Angus
4. “Make sure each piece of content is fueling a specific marketing campaign. Multiple campaigns are often occurring simultaneously, and are ongoing throughout the quarter and year. As you start to calendar all of your initiatives, you may notice there are only a few pieces of content promoting one campaign when there are lots of pieces promoting others. By pre-planning, you’ll be able to shift the calendar around to include more content on relevant topics in that campaign.” – Christine Leas for Kapost Content Marketeer
5. “Decide the weighting of content distribution between [your different audience types]. For example: 75% buyers of product A, 10% buyers of product B, 10% existing customers, 5% potential new employees. You should already know how much content you’re capable of putting out each month/quarter/year. You could divide this up into person-hours or put a monetary value to it. Weighing content production this way will then help you determine exactly how much content you should be aiming to produce for each audience.” – Jamie Griffiths for Convince & Convert

Keep It Simple, Strategist.

6. “Find the simplest way to manage your publication process. Develop your content ahead of time – about 2-5 times your publication frequency (e.g., 3-5 days ahead if you publish daily, to weeks ahead if you publish two times a week). Make repetitive publication tolerable over time.” – Tim Slavin for Owl Hill Media
7.”I would recommend only using fields that are absolutely necessary and stripping out any ‘optional’ categories, as if the spreadsheet is too large or complicated it will simply deter people from using it.” – David Moth for Econsultancy
8. “It’s helpful to have two editorial calendars: a master calendar where you can see everything at a glance and separate calendars for specific activities. I use one spreadsheet with multiple tabs to keep everything together. – Michele Linn for Content Marketing Institute
9. “There are a lot of great tools out there you can choose from, but I’m a big fan of simplicity, and after trying a ton of other free and paid solutions, I found that our team really operated the best with just a simple Google Calendar. This has actually been the longest-running editorial calendar solution our team has ever seen.” – Corey Eridon for Hubspot Inbound Hub
10. “Have separate spreadsheets or tabs for each specific type of content you are creating. For instance, you may have one tab for your blog, another for your newsletter and another for the additional types of content you create, such as eBooks, white papers and case studies. How you break this up will depend on how you manage each of these content types.” – Michele Linn for Content Marketing Institute

Get Creative.

11. “Publishers think about editorial variety – in both topic and type. The topics are selected for their ability to: attract the right readers; serve the needs of the readers in their daily lives; and drive revenue during certain times of the year (when regular events occur, such as trade shows or annual buyer’s guides).” – Jeremy Victor for Content Marketing Institute
12. “Today’s hot news always gets the best response. The good news is you already know in advance most of what’s going to be hot for your audience. The Olympics, Christmas, Black Friday, and New Year’s are all great themes to build into your content. When these big holidays or events are happening that’s what your audience is reading, consuming, clicking and buying. Plan for it. And ride the wave. – Bob Angus
13. “[Consider] the content pillar model: It’s about planning for one big content piece and then using that piece to create a series of related content pieces that drive traffic back into that single, important pillar. … Instead of thinking of each piece of content as a separate project, a separate topic, another item on the to-do list, the content pillar approach means thinking about 10 or 20 or 50 pieces of content that all turn on the same theme and support the same project. And when there are 10 or 50 pieces of content that turn on a single theme and share research and information, the process of creating that content gets easier (not to mention that you’ve just eliminated 9/10ths of the brainstorming process).” – Gigi Griffis for Kapost Content Marketeer 
14. “You could use the calendar to plan weekly or monthly themes. Build a concentration of related content in different delivery formats. This builds critical mass along one major subject but allows readers to enter how and when they are most ready to engage. Once they are in, then they’ll check out your related information. You don’t take the risk of producing one campaign and missing someone for whatever reason.” – Bob Angus
20 Best Tips for Building the Ultimate Editorial Calendar

Steal. Copy. Repurpose.

15. “Create a swipe file. A swipe file is an easy way to capture ideas, thoughts, and inspiration for future blog posts. It can also provide much-needed motivation on those days when you feel less than creative… As you peruse the web, pay attention to blog post titles that make you take notice. Now add that title to your swipe file.” – Rebekah Radice
16. “Take stock of your content assets. It’s usually not necessary to produce all your content from nothing. Most businesses and organizations will have valuable and previously unexploited stocks of content assets just lying around waiting for an ingenious marketer to dust them off.” – Jamie Griffiths for Convince & Convert
17. “Extend the life of every article you write. … See if you have more to say on a topic. As you’re browsing through your archives, be aware of any topics or articles that you might be able to improve on. Perhaps something has changed in the news since a post went live, or maybe you’ve learned new information since the last time you wrote on the topic.” – Kevan Lee for Buffer

Use It. Maintain It.

18. “When content programs fail, it’s usually not because of a lack of high-quality content, but because of poor execution. That’s why a project manager may be your most important asset, even though this person most likely won’t be creating any of the content. The project manager must ensure excellence in every content marketing tactic, including content/editorial.” – Joe Pulizzi via Content Marketing Institute
19. “Keep your editorial calendar up to date. An outdated or irrelevant editorial calendar is a useless editorial calendar. It’s imperative that you have a system in place for reflecting scheduling changes. To set up that system, you must appoint the people responsible for updating the calendar.” – Liz O’Neill for Kapost Content Marketeer
20. “Track only useful publication data. More data is not necessarily better. Evaluate your process every 3-6 months and make changes if/as needed.” – Tim Slavin for Owl Hill Media
Don’t forget: Grab your free editorial calendar template and start using it today.

Comments are closed for this post.
  • Here’s another tip for people using Google Calendar as their editorial calendar – ClipPod for Google Calendar. We’ve been using it for a while and it makes managing editorial calendars quite a breeze.

    Gaurav Gupta - August 13, 2014 at 9:00 am
  • […] a blog editorial calendar so content can be planned and scheduled in […]

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