How to create an editorial calendar: Best practices and tools

The editorial calendar is an efficient tool for organizing and planning content. Having it is essential to organize the workflow, manage the team and ensure consistency in content publication across all the channels that make up our communication ecosystem. In this article, we explain exactly why it is important to have an editorial calendar and how to create it, also with the help of some useful tools.

In our articles we have often highlighted how today’s digital scenario is saturated with content and how this makes it increasingly difficult to get noticed by our audience.

The decline in organic reach as well as in the overall engagement makes it more necessary than ever to carefully plan the content to be published: quality is not enough if improvisation and disorganization reign supreme.

It is precisely in this context that a tool as simple as it is fundamental (and often underestimated) comes to our aid: the editorial calendar.

As the word itself suggests, the editorial calendar is nothing more than a daily planner of what needs to be published. It can take on different guises and be more or less specific, what matters is that it fulfils the function of organizing and timing the publication of our content.

It is not to be confused (as it often happens) with the editorial plan, a document that instead summarizes our marketing strategy in terms of target, objectives, topics, post types and publication times, and which must be drafted before creating any calendar.

What is the editorial calendar for?

We said that the editorial calendar is very important to organize our marketing strategy in a practical way, but let’s see exactly how it can be useful.

Organizing the work

Like with any other calendar, adopting an editorial calendar for our content will help us plan our work in an organized and functional way over time, based on the objectives we have set ourselves and the specific needs of our audience.

It will also help us to have an overview of everything we need to do, allowing us to think and prepare posts and articles in time, especially if we usually link part of our content to certain dates and anniversaries.

Managing the team

If we work in a team, having a shared calendar will ensure that everyone is up-to-date on what needs to be done and who should do what, and by when. We will thus be able to minimize the risk of overlaps or oversights, collaborating to create a smoother workflow and monitoring the timing of posts and articles creation.

Monitoring the content planning and distribution strategy

It is very likely that our communication strategy includes different topics and different types of posts on different channels. The editorial calendar will help us to give the right visibility to all the topics, to balance the contents across each channel and to adjust the shot if we notice that certain contents work better than others.

The best practices to create an editorial calendar

The tools to create an editorial calendar are many (and we will see them shortly). But before choosing the tool, we will first have to establish the information to be included in the calendar – a factor that can vary according to individual needs. In fact, there are calendars that list a series of items like in a spreadsheet, others that go into the specifics of creating the post, and others that include graphics and copywriting.

There is no right or wrong solution, the important thing is to set up a calendar that is functional for our work and that of the team.

Generally speaking, an editorial calendar to be defined as such should include our channel ecosystem (social media, website, blog, newsletter, press releases, etc.), the posts planned for each channel on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, the author of these posts (therefore who will actually take care of creating them) and any further specification on how to present the chosen topic or on how to set up the graphics.

Having said that, and given that we will be able to set up our editorial calendar as we like, here is a series of best practices to further optimize our calendar.

1. Remember to be consistent

The editorial calendar is useful not only to establish the frequency of publication but also to create a certain consistency in the delivery of content across all platforms. In fact, although the number of posts to be published must always be defined by examining one’s own business and audience, publishing sporadically would be counterproductive in terms of engagement and in doing so we would hardly be able to achieve our communication objectives. Similarly, overwhelming our audience with a lot of low-value content could lead to the same result. In fact, let us remember that quantity ≠ quality. Our job when we communicate is to always provide information that is useful and relevant to our audience.

This is why creating a calendar can help us set the pace of publication across all channels, without the risk of overexposure or of being M.I.A for too long.

2. Adapt the content to the platform

As we often like to remind, you don’t have to be present on every platform. Communication channels, especially when it comes to social networks, should be chosen based on the actual presence of our target and only if the format required to be part of it matches the type of communication chosen by our business.

Having said that, it’s likely that every company has at least two social channels, a website with a blog and perhaps a program for sending newsletters. If our ecosystem has more than one channel, we must remember to adapt the content to the medium, thus adjusting the topic to the native format of each platform.

3. Find the ideal content mix

We recently talked about how to create an effective content marketing strategy, mentioning the importance of creating the right content mix, that is, the right balance between internal and external content and between promotional and useful content.

The distribution of content in our editorial calendar must therefore respect the content mix we have chosen.

There are two main rules for making this choice:

  • The rule of thirds, which entails 1/3 of content aimed at promoting the business; 1/3 coming from external sources and 1/3 aimed at interacting directly with the audience.
  • The 80/20 rule, which calculates a 20% of content aimed at sales and the remaining 80% dedicated to the creation of useful content.

4. Don’t miss important dates

The year is full of events, World Days, anniversaries and other important dates to remember. If our marketing strategy provides for an ad hoc communication for some occurrences, it is good to include these in our calendar in order to create thematic posts in time.

This is even more true when it comes to specific campaigns for events such as Black Friday or Christmas, which require a careful and timely planning.

5. Stay flexible

Although we are talking about an editorial calendar and therefore a precise and organized tool, we must not think of it as something written in stone. Part of its usefulness is, in fact, to make it easier for us to reorganize the distribution of content if the need arises.

Whether we follow a planning that doesn’t take into account current events or, on the contrary, we deal with content strongly linked to the latest trends, contingent events can happen at any time. And we would need to consequently revise what we had planned. So, let’s get ready to face such a situation and to reshape our calendar on the basis of the most current needs. If we have set the calendar in a functional and organized way, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Tools to create an editorial calendar

Finally, as promised, here is a roundup of tools that can help us create our editorial calendar.

Excel

The good old Excel remains one of the simplest, fastest and most immediate tools to create an editorial calendar, especially if our team is made up of a few people and if we don’t have the need to also include graphics.

Google Sheets

The Google Sheets tool is another simple and intuitive way to build an editorial calendar as a spreadsheet. It can be particularly useful if the team works remotely as the program is in cloud.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar is another free tool that we can use to set up our editorial calendar. We can use different colours to identify topics and objectives, assign tasks to various team members and add a description.

Trello

Trello is an online tool through which you can collaborate with your team and manage a Kanban-style calendar, that is, a visual map made of vertical columns under which the various tasks are organized and can be customized  according to your needs. It has a free version and a more complete paid version.

Airtable

Airtable is another collaboration tool that allows you to manage different projects, also by using existing templates. By choosing the editorial calendar template, the team can collaborate in real time, managing objectives, graphics, descriptions and other features. There’s a free version and paid plans.

Asana

Another very good tool for managing the editorial calendar is Asana. Like other tools already mentioned, Asana allows you to create personalized editorial calendars that can be viewed as a list, a Kanban board or a calendar. It also allows to assign tasks to the team and to manage the post creation process, including graphics. This time around, as well, there is a free version and paid plans.

Todoist

Todoist is a task manager that offers, among other options, the possibility of creating a content calendar and to share the project with the team, assigning the different tasks and organizing them according to deadlines. Todoist has a free version, for up to a maximum of 5 collaborators per project, and paid plans.

Now it’s your turn!

Are you ready to create an editorial calendar to manage your content? If you found this article useful, keep following us on the blog and contact us to learn more about our marketing and communication services.

Published by

Barbara

After graduating in Languages at the Università degli Studi di Milano, my interest and curiosity towards the digital world led me to pursue a career in this field and to get a Specializing Master in Digital Marketing. Today, I am responsible for the definition and application of marketing and communication strategies for both EOS and the ipcm® magazines. In my free time I travel, I read a lot and I binge-watch TV series. A place to visit at least once in your life: Oman. Must read: Lehman Trilogy by Stefano Massini. What you should binge-watch next: Mr. Robot.

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