An editorial calendar is the best way to plan your content marketing strategy. You’ll be prepared to execute great campaigns on-time, without a mad rush to meet deadlines. Better yet, a good editorial calendar can help take your audience engagement and sales to the next level.
You just need an editorial calendar template to help make your job easy.
Use this free editorial calendar template as a starting point for your content marketing plan.
Download the updated Microsoft Excel or Google Docs version here.Updated: September 5, 2017
I use this template for my integrated campaigns. It’s a tremendous help. I can quickly plan and track what I need to create well before my deadlines.
Please customize this free editorial calendar template for your marketing activities. You can easily modify it to schedule content programs like blogs, social media, email campaigns, newsletters, ad campaigns, PR, and product launches.
Soon you’ll be expertly publishing the right type of content at the right time.
This is The Ultimate Editorial Calendar Template. So this post also shares:
- The elements of an editorial calendar template
- Why use an editorial calendar
- How to create an editorial calendar
Let’s take a look at the key elements of a good editorial calendar.
Editorial Calendar Template – 2017 Update
The editorial calendar template now includes four key sections:
1. Editorial Roadmap
The Editorial Roadmap section provides an at-a-glance list of key activities, events, promotions that are important to you and your audience.
This monthly view gives you a roadmap to base your content scheduling. Use this section to map out the most important happenings and opportunities you want to plan for in your marketing schedule.
The editorial roadmap I track includes:
- Product launches
- Events/Trade Shows
- Marketing Campaigns
- Key Milestones
2. Editorial Calendar
This section is the meat of the template. It provides a master list of deliverables and key status and creative information for each piece of content.
This template is particularly designed for integrated marketing content including press releases, blog posts, white papers/guides, case studies, emails/notifications, newsletters, videos, advertisements, images/infographics, or anything you regularly create.
The information that I track includes:
- Content Type
- Assets Complete Due Date
- Publish Live Date
- NEW! Status: Red/Yellow/Green at-a-glance
- NEW! Social Media Channels: Use for social media editorial calendar needs
- Call to Action
- NEW! Destination Link
- NEW! Meta Description: Use specifically for SEO and blog editorial calendar
3. Idea Tracker
I like to have a “parking lot” for content that I would like to create, but that is not on the schedule.
The Idea Tracker tab is perfect for jotting down ideas quickly, capturing new requests, or mind-mapping on a topic.
If you are ever in need of a new deliverable or have writer’s block, just pull from your idea list.
4. NEW! Completed Content
The completed content tab provides you with quick access to a history of your best work.
I now track completed projects, campaigns, content, and creative assets as a part of my editorial calendar template.
This section comes in very handy for two big time-saving uses:
Reuse your best work
Your completed content can easily be reused again or re-published in different formats. This template can store it all for you in one spot. Your own work is the best stuff for your swipe file!
Proof of your work
Someone is always wanting to know a recap of what you’ve produced and examples. It’s important that you constantly keep your managers, stakeholders and your peers updated on what you’ve accomplished. But it’s a time-consuming chore to do so, unless you keep this tab updated with your finished work. Perfect for your year-end annual performance review!
What Makes This The Best Editorial Calendar Template
The benefits of creating an editorial calendar go way beyond just scheduling your content creation tasks.
There are many valuable reasons why you need to use an editorial calendar.
Sure you’ve got an unruly mess of blogs posts, newsletters, email blasts, social media posts, press releases, ad copy, and heavy duty white papers you need to write.
And you’re always delivering right up against deadlines.
So yes, this editorial calendar template is the easiest way to control your chaos. You can quickly plan and track your content marketing schedule in a single Excel spreadsheet.
But what makes this the best template is one critical thing.
I’ve designed the editorial calendar template with that bigger results impact in mind.
You can achieve breakthrough improvements to your subscription rates, social shares and, most importantly, sales.
You get a clearer picture of what will wow your audience. And you streamline your processes for awesome production velocity at the same time.
First, use your editorial calendar to start really engaging your customers and prospects.
Your audience will love you if you do your content planning right. This template helps you:
Be ready for the hot story
You know most big events before the happen. The next iPhone launch. The Super Bowl. The presidential election. Have your content ready so you can ride the wave of increased eyeballs.
Create weekly or monthly themes
Build a concentration of related content based on a single topic or theme. Multiple pieces of content around one major subject builds critical mass. And your readers come to you how and when they are most ready to engage.
Map content to buying stages
Funnel your audience through the primary buying stages – awareness, learning, comparison, purchase decision, and post-purchase. In your editorial calendar, map the different content to the timing or triggers in a way that maximizes your conversion rates at each stage.
Build a rhythm
Regular daily, weekly or monthly content creates a rhythm. You develop patterns of behavior for your audience. That heartbeat generates anticipation, builds expectations, and creates commitment. The result is you create more enthusiastic fans who take action.
You also win by improving your performance.
The template speeds up your editorial calendar processes in ways that you’ll love. Specifically you will:
- Increase production velocity
- Get organized faster
- Identify content gaps that are costing you results
Your customers will love your content more. You will love the better, faster results.
Now you just need the steps to build your own editorial calendar.
Here is how to quickly get started.
How to Get the Most From Creating An Editorial Calendar
The editorial calendar template is more than a simple calendar with a task and due date.
There are four key sections that I’ve successfully use to plan my content marketing campaigns at work and on my own blog.
Here’s step-by-step overview of how you can create your editorial calendar.
1. Anticipate Opportunities with a Roadmap
First, you need to include the long view.
Anticipate the most important activities, events, and big news in the next 6-12 months.
If you pay attention to what’s coming up, you can tailor you editorial plan to take advantage of these critical opportunities.
Use the Editorial Roadmap section to create monthly at-a-glance calendar of the following activities:
Launches – List products, apps, books, or any big cornerstone assets that you are launching.
Events/Trade Shows – What are big events that impact you and your audience? Write down the industry-specific shows that you will be attending or your readers follow. Also, list major events that millions of people are interested that you can tie in you content. For example, the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics, or Mardi Gras.
Marketing Campaigns/Promotions – Do you have a big Buy One, Get One spring sale in April? Or free shipping promotion during the holidays? Put all of your promotion plans on your editorial calendar. Then you can get ahead of the email and social media content you will need to create.
Holidays – Holidays are the big dates. Identify the holidays that you want to build content themes. Get creative too. Check out this list of national and regional holidays to hyper relevant or just fun for your audience.
Key Milestones – Celebrate your key milestones with your audience. You can plan ahead with a campaign when you hit major customer, social follower, or anniversary goals. It’s fun. And it reinforces to your readers that you’re successful.
2. Build your weekly or monthly editorial calendar
Now you are ready to create the editorial schedule. This master list organizes deliverables, due dates, and the critical information for each piece of content.
This template is designed to track all of your integrated marketing content – press releases, blog posts, white papers/guides, case studies, emails/notifications, newsletters, videos, advertisements, and images/infographics. Schedule anything you create.
The information you editorial calendar tracks includes:
Name/Title – Name the deliverable you are creating.
Content Type – What type of content is it? For example, blog post, newsletter, how-to video, etc. There are many types that apply. Use the list included in the template to help guide you.
Owner/Author – Who is the writer or person ultimately responsible for the deliverable?
Priority – Give your deliverable a High, Medium, or Low priority. This simple priority approach helps you quickly identify if you are working on the highest priority content. I don’t recommend that you stack rank all of your deliverables – though you easily can if you want.
Assets Complete Due Date – I like to track two dates. The first date sets when a content asset is due to be complete. Again, I recommend not tracking all of your draft, review, and sub-task dates in an editorial calendar.
Publish Live Date – The second date to track is when that finished asset is scheduled to be published live to you audience.
Status – Highlight a deliverables on-time status. You be able to see at-a-glance whether it is On Track (Green), At Risk (Yellow), or Late (Red). You can’t get simpler than that.
Theme/Categories – I mentioned earlier that you should create weekly or monthly content themes. Put that content theme in this template column. A great theme example is simply plugging an important event, promotion, or milestone from your editorial roadmap.
Audience – Who is the primary target audience for this content? For example, you can audience segments or email lists, like “all subscribers”, “customers only”, “hot prospects”, etc. You don’t need to be too complex by including audience behaviors, characteristics, or needs. Save that valuable information for your creative brief template.
Social Media Channels – Use for social media editorial calendar needs
Call to Action – List the call to action in this column of your editorial calendar template. What do you want your readers to do? Download, subscribe, share, call, reply, and go to webpage/blog post are the most common actions I use.
Destination Link – Then add the destination URL link where that call to action sends readers if they act.
SEO Keywords – List the top keywords that you would like your website content to rank for in search engines. This column mainly applies to blog post, landing pages, and other online content projects.
Meta Description – Another element of search engine optimization you can add to your plan is the meta description. Keep it brief (less than 160 characters) and include the top keyword you would like to rank for in Google and Bing.
Images/Assets – Identify the images, videos, and other assets that you will use in creating your final content. Capturing the list of those resources in advance streamlines the production process downstream. Better yet, you can look across several deliverables and batch the work of compiling stock photos and other assets at one time.
References/Sources – Another production time saver is listing the source material and other references you use in your content. List those references in this column so that you have them at your fingertips. You won’t have to burn cycles hunting for that information later or when you are up against a deadline.
The editorial calendar template helps you capture a lot of valuable information. But there are a lot of different elements here. Download the template and give it a try.
If you find one of the above elements is taking you too much time or isn’t helpful, then definitely don’t fill that part in the spreadsheet. An editorial calendar is a great tool, but it should never get in the way of producing great content.
3. Capture Ideas
Most content marketers limit their editorial calendar templates to the content planner information we just covered.
I recommend that you don’t stop there.
Create a separate tab to your calendar spreadsheet. Label it “Idea Tracker”.
The information you capture is really basic, but helpful later:
- Subject of the idea
- Any reference or source material that spurred the idea
- Timeframe requirements, if any (after all, it’s not quite important enough to be an active content project just yet)
- Lastly, you should leave a big section for helpful notes
It’s all helpful information when you come back later to start work on the idea.
Quickly move the idea info into the active project list in your editorial calendar.
You’re ready to go. And saved a ton of time.
Just download the editorial calendar template. And start creating your content marketing gameplan.
4. Archive Completed Content
The last section of creating your editorial calendar is archiving your completed content projects.
This step is super simple. But often overlooked.
And can cost you valuable time.
You end up spending hours digging through your folders and email archives to build a nice summary.
That’s valuable time taken away your upcoming projects.
How do you save all that time reporting your history?
Simple. Add a “Completed” or “History” tab to your editorial calendar.
Then cut and paste any completed deliverables into the tab for safe keeping.
You will have everything you need at your fingertips. You can report your activities in minutes, not hours.
Your action: Download the Excel version of the editorial calendar template I use. It already has a “Completed Content” tab set up for you.
Now just keep following your content marketing plan and save your great work.
Boost Your Editorial Planning
Launch your content marketing performance to a whole new level. And do so while easily delivering your best creative efforts on-time, without a mad rush to meet deadlines.
Your editorial calendar is a powerful content marketing tool. Make sure to leverage it to its full extent.
Avoid using it just as a task list.
Think strategically. Capture as many opportunities as possible.
Doing so can increase all your content marketing metrics. And save you a ton of time in the process.
Use this plug-and-play editorial calendar template to expertly publish the right content at the right time.
Grab your free copy of The Ultimate Editorial Calendar Template.