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A Quickstart Guide on How to Create an Editorial Calendar

Toe-testing the content-marketing water wasn’t ever an option for your team. Together, you took the plunge—fully committing to rolling out content that will connect with your customers while expanding your marketing reach. 

Yet since diving in, you may be feeling in over your head. Who should take on this topic? When should we publish this piece? How often should we be writing? If you’re wrestling with these questions, you need an editorial calendar.

We’ll show you how to create an editorial calendar to get your team in the right lane. No idea what that is, much less where to begin? Our guide will walk you through everything you need to build a customized editorial calendar that works.

What you need to know to create an editorial calendar of your own

What is an editorial calendar?

Sometimes called a “content calendar,” an editorial calendar is a must-have for your content creators. It’s a centralized content-planning tool that will keep your team on track about who’s writing, what they’re writing about, and when their assignments are due. 

Think of an editorial calendar tool as the content organizer you never knew you needed. It’s a visual, living representation of all things relevant to your content pipeline that you can evaluate on a daily, weekly, or monthly rotation.

How can an editorial calendar be formatted?

An editorial calendar can come in many shapes and sizes. What works for some teams may not work for yours. 

The most common layouts for editorial calendars include:

  • A standard calendar
  • Project management tools
  • Spreadsheet

While you can certainly go for a run-of-the-mill calendar, like Google Calendar or Calendly, these are more geared toward creating schedules for your team. There’s not a lot in the way of assigning members of your team to tasks or showing progression.

Project management tools offer the most features and flexibility, including a lot of ways to automate tasks and create workflows. Their interfaces are appealing and simple, making collaboration between your team a breeze. Plus, you can easily adjust items in case you need to move things around. 

Can’t afford that? Go for a spreadsheet. It’s free and a great way to get your editorial calendar started!

What are the best editorial calendar tools?

With countless varieties out there, you need to whittle down the playing field. To do this, you’ve got to know what features to look for. Regardless of the size of your team or who your target audience is, the bare bones of any editorial calendar tool should allow you to:

  • Assign projects to team members
  • Track the progress of your content through to publication.
  • Set and monitor due dates with ease.
  • Allows for comments or notes on items.

Now that you know what to look for in an editorial calendar tool, here are some great tools when it comes to usability, intuitive organization features, and more:

  • Monday (This is what we use at Ranq!)
  • Semrush
  • Trello
  • Asana
  • Loomly

No time or desire to learn and manage yet another tool or program? Why not outsource the process to a group of experts who know content strategy like the back of their hand? 

Here’s how it works at Ranq. We build an editorial calendar for each of our clients. This way, they don’t have to worry about carving out time to get their content calendar off the ground. We take care of the entire content creation process, and you have full insight every step of the way with your very own project plans.

How to create an editorial calendar for a blog

So you’ve decided to take your business down the blogging trail. If you want to create a successful blog for your business, your editorial calendar should include a few essentials, starting with your content pipeline.

Build out a content pipeline

The last thing you want to do is start rolling out content without an action plan. A content pipeline is a framework for content creation, the bones of your editorial calendar. It should lead you every step of the way, from outlining to publishing.

Before you begin, you should have a solid content strategy nailed down. This reduces a lot of the prep work needed to build the pipeline, like audience personas, keyword research, and topics that fit your business niche. 

Next, production. For this, we need to keep three essentials in mind:

  • What: What are you creating? What is its purpose? What are your titles and headings, and how are they optimized for search engines? What unique insights are you offering?
  • Who: Who’s in charge of conceptualizing your content? Who’s in charge of creating it? Who is in charge of delivering and publishing content? Do you have the team to support content creation, or should you let a digital marketing team take it off your plate?
  • When: How often will you post content? When are consistent delivery and publication dates? How often will you evaluate published content?

Last, you need to figure out your process for publication. You need to think about what channels you want to take advantage of. You should also figure out your process for meta descriptions, alt text for images, and who will have access to your website backend.

Once this is all set, you can start organizing your calendar based on the pipeline.

Establish a team workflow

Teamwork makes the content dream work!

The sooner you establish a team workflow, the better. Start by creating a section on your editorial calendar devoted to designating each task to a specific team member. This keeps things accountable since everyone will know what they need to be doing and when.

A project management tool equipped with automation—such as Monday—will simplify this process. You can set it up so that when an item is finished from one member of the team, it is then assigned to whoever handles the next task, and so on.

Include columns to update statuses

Content creation happens in stages—from idea to outline to writing, revising, and publication. Your editorial calendar should reflect the status of each piece of content. How this happens depends on the editorial calendar tool you’re using.

You may find your editorial calendar tool offers a dropdown menu where you can customize different statuses for each phase your content goes through (i.e., “Building,” “Outlining,” “Assigned,” and more). You should color-code these status updates to make evaluating the content lifecycle as simple as a glance. 

Get real-time access to your very own editorial calendar from Ranq

Creating an editorial calendar isn’t a one-time project. It will evolve as your team figures out what you want to write about and when you want to send that content into the world. Our guide for how to create an editorial calendar includes everything you need to get your content ball rolling.

With Ranq by your side, we’ll build an editorial calendar that will set up your content strategy for long-term success. Our in-house SEO experts and diligent content team will get to work planning your content pipeline and even generating that content for you—freeing you to focus on other areas of your business.

Contact Ranq today to see how having the right editorial calendar can help you reach your target audience on time, every time.

Author avatar
Ben Stopka
Ben Stopka is a Chicago-based writer/editor and Head of Content Strategy at Ranq. He also has a background in education and youth social work. He is a proud Cancer Sun and Moon, and he spends his free time thinking of monsters for his Dungeons and Dragons game.

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