How to Build a Comprehensive Editorial Calendar Template with Gryffin

Content is king, right? Which makes every marketer out there his dedicated subject. From the smallest dental practice to the largest multinational corporation, every marketing team is working diligently to create tantalizing content to improve their traffic from Google.  So what can you do to stay focused, strategic, and ahead of the curve?

In this article, we’ll take you through a step by step approach to create an editorial strategy that is focused on your audience’s purchase journey, capitalizes on opportunity gaps, and is both systematic and methodical.

Before You Start: Get Organized!

Attempting a multi-channel strategy without the right tools is akin to jumping out of a plane without a parachute. It simply won’t end well for you.

To create a comprehensive editorial strategy, you need a tool that will help you at every stage of the content creation process. Say hello to Gryffin.

Start by creating an account at Gryffin and setting up your company. Invite any writers, designers, animators, editors, or any other team members you will be working with.

Once you’re up and running, go to Admin > Template Library, and search for a template called Content Marketing.

Editorial Calendar Template

Click on Use Group on the top right hand of the template.  This will install a Workspace Group called “Content Marketing” with 5 workspaces:

We’ll come back to how you’ll use each of these as we go through the planning process for your content strategy.  Now that you have the right infrastructure, it’s time to start the ideation stage of your editorial strategy!

Editorial Calendar Template

Persona Research

Who is your target audience? What moves them? And most importantly, what are their pain points?  If you don’t understand who your target audience is, how can you create content that interests them and, most importantly, moves them to becoming your customer?

Editorial Calendar Template

In the image above, you can see an example of persona research for a project management software company.  Listing the pain points is essential as these will be integral in the research process and in the content creation topics.

In Gryffin, go to your Persona Research workspace and create a project for each persona archetype, where you can add your personas and any data/research on them: a description, demographics, pain points, and most importantly, their buyer journey

Buyer’s Journey

Understanding the buyer journey is invaluable; it’s the path your persona takes to make a purchase—a path a smarter marketer can take advantage of.

What kind of information do they research before they arrive at a decision?  What types of content do they consumer, and where?

Editorial Calendar Template

In this example, you can see a buyer’s journey for the persona, “The Small Business Owner.”  There are 3 main stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. As this particular persona goes through these stages, the information that they look for and the content that attracts them varies.

At awareness, this persona may not be interested in price comparisons between project management tools. Instead, he may be interested in productivity tips or ways of improving efficiency.  At consideration, they may be looking at the possibility of switching project management software, and at decision, comparing prices and reviews. The content created will be vastly different at each stage.

Competitor Research

Now that you have a clear understanding of your audience, buying stages, and buyer’s journey, you can take a moment to understand your competitors and their editorial strategy.

SEMrush is a very powerful tool for competitor research.  Using SEMrush, you can quickly surface your top competitors and get an idea for how many keywords they rank for, how much traffic they may be getting from Google, and the links they’ve attracted to build their authority and traffic.

In SEMrush, start by going to the Keyword Analytics > Overview, and type in one of your main keywords.

Editorial Calendar Template

From there, you’ll see the top organic and paid rankings.

Editorial Calendar Template

You can do the same for your top 5-10 keywords, and add all of the sites that show up in a list.

Then, go back to SEMrush and click on Domain Analytics > Overview.

Editorial Calendar Template

From here, you can see the list of keywords that this competitor is ranking for by clicking on Positions.

Editorial Calendar Template

You’ll also want to create a project under Link Building using your top competitors.  This report will aggregate all of your competitor’s backlinks, and add them to a list for you to use when link building.

Editorial Calendar Template

Not only does this help with keyword research, but it will also give you an idea of the types of content your competitors are using to earn links.  Remember, not only are you creating a content strategy to bring consumers to purchase, you also have to think of public relations and blogger outreach and create content that will attract links and mentions!

Finally, check out your competitors’ most popular pages.  In SEMrush, under Domain Analytics > Organic Research, click on Pages.

Editorial Calendar Template

This will give you a list of your competitor’s top pages, and help you understand how many keywords they are ranking for, and what those keywords are.

You can export and save all of this data to be used in your final keyword list.

Keyword Research

Now that you know who your competitors are, you can use your top competitors to perform some keyword research and gap analysis.

Head on back to SEMrush and go to the Gap Analysis > Keyword Gap report.  Pick your top 5 competitors, and enter in their domain names.

Editorial Calendar Template

From this report, you’ll get a list of the keywords that your top competitors are ranking for.  Now this data isn’t terribly useful as you don’t want to compete with sites that have too much authority, or keywords that are too difficult to rank for.

Where this report can truly help is if you use the filters and find keywords with good volume that have low competition.  Maybe just one of your competitors is ranking, or maybe the volume is relatively low, or maybe your top competitors are not in the top 10.  These are the “keywords gaps” that you want to look for and use to start building out your keyword research. Here’s an example of one such filter:

Editorial Calendar Template

Next, you’ll want to head over to SEMrush’s Keyword Magic tool, which is, truly, magical.

Add your main keywords, and the Keyword Magic tool will give you a plethora of keywords that you can use, grouped similarly by keyword roots.

Editorial Calendar Template

In this example, you can see that the keywords are grouped based on roots such as software, jobs, system, construct, and many  more. Most importantly, you can see the volume and KD, or keyword difficulty. The lower the KD, the easier it is to rank for that keyword.

One of my favorite aspects of this tool is the fact that you can filter the list by Questions and use those questions in your editorial strategy.

Editorial Calendar Template

By clicking on Questions on the top left, you’ll see what your target audience searches for related to your target keywords.   You can also use the Advanced Filter to further refine your list, such as looking for keywords with featured snippets, or keywords with low KD.

You can add relevant keywords with good volume and low KD to your Keyword Analyzer list. When you’re ready, click on the top right to go to your Keyword Analyzer list, which you can use as the foundation for your target keyword list.

Editorial Calendar Template

Finally, grab all of your keyword data from your competitors, keyword gap, and keyword magic research into one list to create your final list of keywords.

Segment your Keywords by Buying Stage

At this point, you may have a sizable list of keywords.  How can you match these keywords to your persona, buying stage, and pain points?

Editorial Calendar Template

By adding a column to your keyword spreadsheet called Buying Stage and Persona you can map out every stage of the buying funnel and persona to potential article topics.

Channel Gap Analysis

Next, you’ll want to find out what channels present an opportunity.  Even within Google, you can allocate content to different content types, for example…

  • Featured Snippets
  • People Also Ask
  • Knowledge Graph
  • Map Carousel
  • Videos
  • Images
  • and more.

Maybe there are question keywords that can be added as a video to youtube?  Or maybe you can create a presentation and upload it to slideshare and rank using the slideshare presentation with the keyword as the title?  Maybe you can create an FAQ section of your site to answer frequently asked questions, and optimize those pages for featured snippet rankings?

Your channel gap analysis might then look something like this:

Editorial Calendar Template

In Gryffin, you can go to your Visual Content Assets workspace and start planning visual assets, such as infographics and presentations, that you can create as assets for your content strategy.

Here’s an example of what an asset project might look like:

Editorial Calendar Template

Next, you’ll want to put all this together.

Map the Buyer’s Journey to the Buying Stage to the Channels

The final step is to map channels, persona, journey, competition level, content type, and more.  By putting all the data together in one place, you can focus on capitalizing from the greatest opportunities.

Editorial Calendar Template

Identify Trending Topics and Themes

What about newsjacking? By keeping up with the media and using trending stories, you can gain an opportunity for share of voice, links, and publicity.

In this example, TeenSafe, a teen monitoring software, capitalized on the discussion about vault apps to earn a mention in The New York Times:

Editorial Calendar Template

How can you find these trending topics? Buzzsumo is a great tool for monitoring the news and staying up to date with what’s relevant and current for your audience personas.

Editorial Calendar Template

In the image above, we surfaced articles around “Blockchain project management” and can identify trending stories, shares, news sources and writers.

Go over to your Content Ideas workspace in Gryffin, where you can create a project for each of these articles:

Editorial Calendar Template

By adding your ideas to Gryffin, you can have a database of potential ideas to use in the ideation process.

Build your Editorial Strategy & Calendar

You’re nearly there!

The final step in the planning stage is to create your Style Guides. For marketing agencies, this can be used as a library for assets: style guides, brand books, etc.provided to you by clients.  If you’re creating content for your own brand, this is where you can brainstorm your own style:

  • What kind of imagery do you want to add to your content?
  • What kind of voice should your authors use?
  • What color palette should be used when creating visual content?
  • What types of citations and references should your writers use?

In Gryffin, add the details to your Style Guides workspace, making sure to use these as a reference when ordering content.

And now, on to the final stage.  You’ve put in all the hard work and spent dozens of hours researching, now it’s finally time to put it all together and create your editorial strategy.

At Gryffin, we use our Editorial Calendar Add-On to frame the calendar based on keywords, personas, use cases, and themes.

Editorial Calendar Template

All of the data that got us to this place can be dragged and dropped into each editorial project to make sure we are targeting keywords, audiences, buying stages and channels appropriately.

Editorial Calendar Template

In the example above, notice the target keyword is “what is legal project management”.  The theme for this article is “Project Management” with “Legal” as the Use Case. Using these elements, we can build a title called “What is Legal Project Management” to target both a featured snippet keyword, a legal persona researching a project management software, and more.  It is here, in this editorial stage, where everything comes together.

Your content cadence can help you determine what elements you use and how often.  If you are publishing daily or multiple times a day, you can address all of your opportunity gaps faster than if you’re only publishing once a week or once a month.  The idea is to be very strategic in the content that you do publish so it is focused on keyword gaps, your most devoted personas at their most advantageous stage in the buyer’s journey.

Having all the research handy can make your editorial calendar creation as simple as drag and drop!  When all of the elements are properly “framed,” it’s pretty easy to create appealing titles and to give your writers detailed descriptions to work with.

Creating Optimized Content

Now that you have your calendar and strategy, how do you track the process to make sure each and every article is followed from conception to completion?

This is where you can use Gryffin’s Editorial Calendar workspace, and where Gryffin truly shines.

Your editorial calendar workspace should include the following fields:

  • Title
  • Writer
  • Writer Due Date
  • Scheduled to Publish Date
  • Editor
  • Client/Team/Campaign
  • Word Count
  • Content Type
  • Article Description

Your project might look something like this:

Editorial Calendar Template

By using Gryffin’s automated workflows, you can automatically track the article as it goes through the different editorial stages.

Some of these stages might include:

  • Ordered
  • Editor Review
  • Author Edits
  • Needs Images
  • Ready to Publish
  • Published

With the dynamic elements of your project template and your workflows, you can have the system automatically create tasks as each article goes through all of these stages.

For example, when you create a content project, and change the status to “Ordered”, the workflows can grab the user in the “Writer” field and assign a task to that user to “Please Write”, using the “Writer’s Due Date” as the task due date.

When the writer marks their task as done, then the status will automatically progress to “Editor Review” and create a task for the person assigned to as “editor” to “Please Edit”.  Once the editor reviews and approves the task, it can then move on to the design stage where a designer gets a task to “Create Images” and the status is changed to “Needs Images.”

Here’s an example of what your workflow might look like:

Editorial Calendar Template

Using Gryffin’s integration with Google Drive, you can set the system to auto-create documents used by your writers to submit the content, making sure you can track edits and collaborate remotely with other team members regardless of where in the world they are.

Whether you have 10 or 1000 articles in process, it’s easy to keep track if you are using these dynamic fields and your team is simply tracking their tasks and marking them done as they complete them.

You can audit all of your articles using your workspace table, sorting/filtering by writer, client/campaign, status, due date, or more:

Editorial Calendar Template

Finally, if you are using freelance writers or designers, you can use the Billing widget to approve projects for billing and to track payments to remote team members.

Voila! Now Go Forth and Create!

Any content creator out there can share the pain of tracking so many moving pieces and keeping them all together.  If you’ve failed at this enough, you may be ready to change your piece-meal, disjointed, disorganized approach to a cohesive, synergistic, synchronized approach to content creation for digital strategies.

Bye bye chaos, hello Gryffin!