How to Create an Editorial Calendar

Before your writers start creating dynamic content and your graphic designers mock up ads or infographics, the team needs to understand the goals of the messaging. Who’s the audience? Who are you trying to influence? And what’s the call to action?  And just as importantly, what are the steps required to get your asset completed within the designated time frame?

Maybe there isn’t a call to action, because the content is meant for the top of the buying funnel—the stage where potential buyers are simply researching options.  Or perhaps the article is very focused on comparing features and pricing and is meant to help close a potential sale.

A marketing campaign needs a well-defined plan, a road map of sorts. And this is the purpose of the editorial calendar. Your team or agency probably has communications planned out for client blogs or guest articles.  Maybe there is a designated spreadsheet that lists all the story ideas and influencers.

This isn’t an editorial calendar…it’s just a spreadsheet full of ideas!

How do you create a proper editorial calendar?

Before you just start listing blog topics, landing pages, and other data, step back. Here’s what you really need to hone in on for a concise calendar that meets the needs of your campaign:

  • Know your message. What’s the point of content? Are you trying to get the reader to make a purchase? Or do you just hope to be a part of their product research quest? Knowing the buying stage of your campaign allows you to create great content that makes the right impact.
  • Understand your audience. Have you researched your core audience? Effective messaging requires writers to know their audience. If you’re trying to sell jewelry to a young Generation Z, the messaging can’t be filled with jargon and weighed down with industry lingo!
  • Have a direction for content. Where will it be published? A blog article for a client’s own site will be written differently than a guest article for an outside site or blog.
  • Include keywords that are targeted for the persona and buying stage. Your messages will get lost in the depths of cyberspace if you don’t optimize! Use SEMRush and other tools to research effective keywords that leverage content for the best rankings.

How do I Create a Digital Calendar

Great, so I know what the calendar needs to include…so how does my agency build it?

This is where great marketing project management software enters the picture…or, rather, the calendar. Software can’t really research your audience or know what sites you need to pursue, but a comprehensive platform can help you take all that info and build a customized editorial calendar for each of your clients.

Using Data for your Calendar

Start by using any actual data available to your company.  What are some of the keywords that you’re already ranking for that you might be able to rank better for? What are the keywords competitors are ranking for that you could target?  What pages are showing movement in your Google Search Console?

When you are able to use data from Google Analytics, Google Search Console, or other tools like Semrush, the process of creating a great editorial calendar becomes so much more effective. Identify opportunities using data from these sources, add those to your database of target keywords or topics, and then drag and drop those into your visual calendar.

From your calendar, you can set target publication dates, deadlines for writers and designers, and even add additional steps for manager or client reviews.

Always have a Focus Keyword

Always have a Focus Keyword!

Regardless of the objective of the article/webinar/podcast, always identify potential target keywords.  You can identify these keywords from SEMrush or Google Search Console. Not using keywords in content pieces may result in wasted efforts that won’t show a decent ROI.  Pulling in the right keywords will help boost rankings and drive traffic.

Every content piece in your editorial calendar also has to keep in mind the buying stage, and the content’s audience has to be understood as well. Some agencies (or teams) use the type of content in their calendar to convey both content tone (e.g. buying stage) and audience; so if a task is designated as a guest article, the writers may understand the article should be more educational. A blog task could indicate the content is meant for the client’s own site and needs to be written in the client’s unique voice…and drive readers to hit the buy button!

Should an Editorial Calendar Include Media Contacts?

When pitching sites for possible guest blog contributions on behalf of a client, understanding a site’s ranking and authority is important to ensure that it’s the best fit for your company or a client. Your outreach list should be well researched to include sites that are on-brand for the content you plan to pitch as well as the client’s needs and goals.

That being said, your outreach list (or editorial pitch list) is usually a different beast than the editorial calendar. Tasks and topics outlined in the calendar will likely include the target site, though.

So what’s the best software to build the most comprehensive editorial calendar? Gryffin, of course! Interested in creating the most comprehensive editorial calendar for your client or agency? Try Gryffin for free today.