How to Develop Your Editorial Calendar

10 Easy Steps to Support Social Media, Blog & Content Marketing

Whether you’re using social media (including blogging), content marketing, and/or traditional marcom (aka marketing communications,) an editorial calendar is at the heart of your of marketing because, as the saying goes, today, every marketer is a publisher.

Like magazine publishing, an editorial calendar helps you to manage the content creation process regardless of your goals.

As a starting point, it’s important to understand your target reader, especially if they’re your prospects and customers. To this end, consider developing marketing personas before you create your editorial calendar to ensure you’re providing the information they need and search for.

To develop your editorial calendar, here are ten easy steps that will support your social media, content marketing and/or traditional marketing communications.

  1. Develop an overall calendar structure. How does your business and related content mark time in annual increments? Think overarching content structure. Consider whether you’re going to use January through December, school year or other option starting point.
  2. Determine seasonality. Is your business influenced by spring, summer, autumn and winter changes? Is there a more appropriate way to breakout your content that makes sense for your target audience?
  3. Establish holidays and special events. What are the key occasions around which your content will focus? Will you use traditional holidays or do you have events that resonate with your audience and/or product offering? You have a plethora of other options. Just search for special holidays, such as National Ice Cream Day. Don’t overlook special business occasions, birthdays, anniversaries and local celebrations. At a minimum, select one per month. Remember to reference older evergreen content from prior years.
    If you’ve got a B2B business or other focus that doesn’t lend itself to this type of occasion, create an overarching theme for each month as a focal point.
  4. Assess marketing promotions. Will you incorporate marketing promotions in your content? If so, block out your marketing promotions so you can integrate them into your overall editorial calendar. This is important since you need to have relevant content related to your product offering that varies through the season. While it’s a good idea to have at least one special offer each month, consider how you’ll handle special social media and mobile offers and needs that may be timely and/or location specific. Further, you need to have content to support the purchase process.
  5. Create content categories. What major topics are you going to cover and how do they relate to your product offering and/or your marketing personas? The goal is to decide on a manageable number of departments. Starting with your major product areas, choose ten or less topics. You can adjust them later.
  6. Select search keywords. Do you have a list of search keywords around which to develop content? Extend your search marketing strategy to your editorial calendar to ensure that your content creation supports your other efforts. (Here are some other content-related search tips.)
  7. Establish recurring features. What information do your prospects and/or readers want on a regular basis? Create sections that emulate departments in a magazine such as regular columns, a news roundup or reviews. These columns help you plan content and develop new articles.
  8.  Decide on major content offerings. What content do you need to support your business objectives? The goal is to ensure you’re creating key content to drive your business on a regular basis. It’s important to plan these larger projects to ensure they’re completed.
  9. Aggregate the relevant elements into each piece of content. What are the specifics of each piece of content? Here’s where you develop the actual editorial calendar. You can use word or excel. Alternatively, use an option like WordPress’ Editorial Calendar plugin. Among the column heading to include:
    • Title – or current working title
    • Author – who’s writing the article
    • Category – what the article’s about
    • Keyword(s) – the article’s focus
    • Article Type – If the article is a recurring feature, what type is it?
    • Promotion – Is the article associated with a special promotion and/or products? If so, what links are needed?
    • Content Format – What content form is to be used? Think text, image, video, audio, presentation, or other
    • Related Marketing – Will this content require additional marketing?
    • Additional Tracking Dates – Include due date, publication date and other signoffs

    If you find this organization too cumbersome, use sub-calendars for special content such as a blog.  Another aspect of the editorial calendar to consider is whether the information is to be repurposed and how. This should be incorporated into your editorial calendar or related tracking. Another page or tab is useful for managing the ever-elusive potential post titles and/or ideas.

  10. Encourage engagement. Do you want prospects, customers and/or readers to share or comment on content? If so, incorporate the appropriate social sharing buttons with related calls-to-action. Bear in mind your calls-to-action should be contextually relevant.

The goal of an editorial calendar is to help you manage the content creation process. Include those elements that streamline the process, reduce stress on content creators, and facilitate new content idea generation. Remember to regularly update your organization’s content creation process to ensure that it’s as efficient as possible.

Are there any other elements that you’d add to this list? If so, what are they and why would you add them?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Here are some related articles that you may find of interest.

Photo credit:  Bukowsky18 via Flickr

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  • http://www.editorialmom.com/ Editorials

    Any newspaper is a collection of news stories, features, editorial and articles. A news story provides hard news. It provides information in a straightforward manner. A feature appeals to the emotions. It covers all kind of topics and provides the information in an interesting and easy-to-read manner. A feature tries to entertain while informing. Editorial provide the newspapers point of view. Article, on the other hand, provide the point of views of individual writer for Acai.

  • http://twitter.com/DaveThackeray Dave Thackeray

    This is a rock solid guide to creating a content calendar, Heidi. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. Rest assured I’ll be putting this to good use at Talknology.

  • Stacey

    Can you share some details about the type of document you use to manage the editorial calendar? I have tried Word docs, fancy Excel spreadsheets with pull down menus…and I can’t seem to find a good solution?

    • Lucy

      Stacey, check out this calendar template http://bit.ly/11E71pM which has many recurring entries (placeholders) and is modifiable. You can create a new one yourself at teamup.com.

  • Marjaux

    Thank you for sharing Heidi. This is very helpful for I am just starting out to Blog. I will definitely bookmark your site! I have read some of your articles already and saved it for my future reads.

  • http://twitter.com/moniquemallo Gail Monique Mallo

    Love the post. Very informative I had to read twice to make sure I got everything.

  • Chelsea Newton

    awesome post. Thanks for the tips on starting/tweaking an editorial calendar.

  • SocialChirps

    This is info-packed. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.sahilparikh.com/ Sahil Parikh

    Hi Heidi, useful post. I would love for you to check out Brightpod’s editorial calendar – http://blog.brightpod.com/meet-our-new-editorial-calendar/

    • anil

      its a confusing website. I am unable to sign up since the fields have no labels! and there is no pricig info found on rightpod website.

  • Jessica Cox

    Love :)