The benefits of an editorial calendar
Ever had trouble keeping track of all those inspiring content ideas? Do you sometimes struggle to meet your blog post deadlines or find it difficult to keep your different writers and editors on the loop? If these challenges sound familiar, then it might be time to consider using an editorial calendar. Editorial calendars are a handy tool that can help you organize and manage your content production efforts and keep them in line with your content strategy. At Peecho, we’ve found that an editorial calendar helps us keep our content marketing efforts structured and aligned. Everyone in our marketing team has access to the calendar and knows when a specific content item will be published. Editorial calendars are useful for any brand, but they’ve also been a longtime friend of publishers. Let’s examine why.
The benefits for bloggers and publishers
An editorial calendar can help you:
- Gain and retain control over your publishing process: when you use and editorial calendar you don’t have to worry about not knowing what content will be published next, who is responsible for what and gathering the right ideas. If used correctly, you can gain more control over what you will publish and keep your goals in sight.
- Attract the content submissions you want: an editorial calendar is also useful for attracting the right kind of content submissions. If potential contributors know what you will be covering on a given month, they can submit more relevant articles. You don’t need to publish your entire calendar. Releasing a quarterly or bi-monthly list of the subjects you will be covering is just enough.
- Attract the advertisers you want: advertisers are interested in reaching the right audience and partnering with publishers that cover topics that are relevant to their brand. Make a section of your editorial calendar public for advertisers so they can see when the best advertising opportunities will arise.
- Keep track of great ideas: an editorial calendar can also be handy to collect great content ideas internally. Share the calendar with your team and allocate a separate section for content suggestions. Ask everyone to contribute, that way you’ll never forget them!
How to create your own editorial calendar
The format of your editorial calendar will vary according to your needs. To get started, you might want to look around and see what other publishers do and how they structure their own. This example, from Publisher’s Weekly, dated 2015, is quite good. People Magazine also has an interesting one you can look at for guidance, you can view it here. These are, of course, meant for external purposes. Internally, these publishers probably have a more in-depth version assigning specific topics to team members, clear deadlines, and such. For internal purposes, an editorial calendar typically has the following sections:
- A Section to track story ideas of inspiration
- A calendar section that includes:
- Overarching topics/themes per month or quarter
- Each story Title
- Assigned author
- Publication Date
- Media (will it be published in your print magazine, blog or website?)
- Status (Done, In progress, Delayed, Cancelled)
- A section where you can track each article’s performance. Think for instance of social media shares or unique pageviews.
You can use Excel to set up your content calendar or you can use an off-the-shelf tool or plugin that focuses on offering the functionalities you need. Check out this link from Crackerjack Marketing to download an Excel template. If your site runs on WordPress, you might want to consider one of these plugins to manage your editorial calendar:
- Editorial Calendar: this simple plugin has a drag and drop interface that lets you manage your blog post schedule and drafts and keep track of your post status.
- Edit flow: this plugin is a bit more robust than Editorial Calendar above. It helps you manage a calendar and refine your editorial workflow. You can organize users by department or function, manage your editorial budget and more.
- CoSchedule: CoSchedule is typically used for content marketing. It’s a paid, all-in-one solution that helps you manage both your editorial calendar and your social media posts. You can assign tasks to people in your team, visually schedule blog posts and automate your social media updates.
Know any other solution to manage an editorial calendar? Got additional tips for fellow publishers? Share them with us in the comments!