Editorial Calendars: 10 Things to Know Before Creating One

Editorial calendars are the key to organizing your content marketing, whether you’re a small business with just a blog or a larger business with a strong social and content marketing setup.

Below is a list of things you should know before creating your editorial calendar or giving up on one. If you have 30 minutes though, check out part one of the webcast Carla Wilson, Jeff Tincher and I did on editorial calendar creation:

10 Facts about Editorial Calendars

1. Editorial calendars are NOT one size fits all!

Looking at what your peers create can be a terrific resource that informs your calendar creation plan. However, keep in mind that just because something works for them doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Design your calendar based on your content marketing needs and your team structure.

2. Your first month will suck.

Building an editorial calendar takes work and often much trial and error. This first month of more intensive work is where most marketers abandon their efforts. Know this: as you incorporate your editorial calendar into your daily marketing tasks, the time you spend on it will decrease. Be ready for complaints from your team and keep the end goal in mind.

3. Your calendar doesn’t have to do everything all at once.

Start simple. Know what you could most use your editorial calendar for and begin by mapping that out. If applicable, test using this tool with internal communications only and then add external marketing efforts to it. Your editorial calendar can be as encompassing or as minimal as you need or want it to be.

4. The structure and features of your editorial calendar will change–that’s a good thing.

What you begin with will probably not be what you end with, and that’s okay. Especially when working with a marketing team (instead of just your own personal editorial calendar), understand up front that as you use your editorial calendar, you’ll see ways to adapt it and make it more useful.

5. You don’t have to spend money.

If you’re budget conscious–and who isn’t these days–you may be hesitant to add yet another paid service to your marketing budget. Good news! You don’t have to pay if you already have Microsoft Excel. I highly suggest starting with Excel anyway, so you can figure out what options you prefer before looking into a paid service. Google “editorial calendar template” and check out all the different ways companies use Excel to organize their content marketing efforts.

6. If you have money to spend, great online editorial calendar options exist.

Kapost, DivvyHQ, Percolate and Coschedule are just some options for cloud-based online services you can use. You can also view a list of 7 Editorial Calendar Tools from SproutContent or try Trello, which isn’t advertised as an editorial calendar but can certainly be used as one.

7. Forget perfection–you don’t have to stick to your calendar like glue.

No editorial calendar is going to be perfect, especially not for everyone on your team. But, don’t use that as a reason to give up on it. If a crisis hits or you’re getting feedback from customers on an important topic you should address, postpone what you have already scheduled and put more relevant content in its place. The editorial calendar is meant as a guide, an organizational tool that helps you manage all your content marketing efforts. It’s not law.

8. Involve your team when creating it.

Buy-in is crucial. Let your team know the value of the editorial calendar, the goals and the reasons for it before you create it. Then, involve them in the creation. Everyone who produces or distributes content should give feedback on what should be included and how the calendar is set up. Once you begin using the editorial calendar, set up a system for feedback so you can quickly adapt to what’s working and what’s not. Trial and error is key to developing a fantastic system.

9. Your team will hate your editorial calendar.

Some people may be on board right away, but you’ll also have team members who hate the idea, seeing it as more work for them to do. Remember the “first month” rule listed above. Prepare everyone for a more work-intensive first month, and remind them of the value and the end goal. The more you focus on number 8, the fewer complaints you should have.

10. Your team will love your editorial calendar.

Okay, maybe “love” is a strong word, but everyone should come around to liking it and seeing the value it creates. After all, your content marketing efforts should become more efficient with this tool in place.

If you have questions or need help creating an editorial calendar, leave a comment below or contact me directly.