[How To] Build a Successful Editorial Calendar for Your Blog

By , January 1st, 2013 in Content Marketing | 33 comments
Start Your Blog Editorial Calendar Today

It pays to be organized with your company blog, and the best way to do this is with an editorial calendar. Whatcha waiting for? (image source)

Welcome to 2013, the year you’re dedicated to finally organizing your company blog into something both manageable and a quality content machine, right? What a smart marketer you are. What better day than today?

An editorial calendar is a virtual “To Do” list. It help you be accountable to dates and concepts that you decide in advance – often in a content brainstorm. It’s a micro-managers dream come true. (Can you imagine showing your manager exactly what you’re working on three months in advance?)

Before creating your editorial calendar it’s best to have developed a Content Strategy, so you know you’re focusing your content choices in the right direction – basically having a plan for your plan.

Chances are you have some sort of editorial calendar in place already without even realizing it. Usually a random smattering of ideas you don’t want to forget, on napkins, post-it notes and emails sent to yourself in the middle of the night when inspiration strikes.

How in depth you go, depends on you and your goals, but the more detailed it is the more efficient it can become.

Day Planner vs. WordPress vs. Good ‘ol Spreadsheets

If you’re old school, which some of us are, a good, detailed day planner dedicated as your editorial calendar can be an effective tool, however you will be limited to space due to the very nature of the physical calendar.

But, for the majority of those working in the digital age, a virtual calendar using Microsoft Excel or Outlook, Google or WordPress (or any other platform for that matter) lets you organize your thoughts, send you alerts for looming deadlines and unlimited space for notes, ideas, resources and insights (using a cloud-based tool is best as you can access it from anywhere).

WordPress Plugins

If you’re using WordPress there are a few plugins that help organize posts to be published on the platform, check out:

Editorial Calendar WP
WordPress plugin Stresslimit Editorial Calendar helps organize posts to be published

Keep in mind though, if you’re weary of bogging your site down with plugins which can lower page speed (and hurt conversions) you’ll want to use an external spreadsheet.

Google Docs to the Rescue

Enter the good ‘ol spreadsheet. With unlimited space, multiple tabs, and even some color, you can build a creative (and easily shareable) platform that allows you to establish themes or focal points for your work. So, if it’s important to remember that March is the month of the Sweet Potato, including it on your calendar will help you develop content ideas around sweet potatoes. (Oli: I hate sweet potatoes).

Some things to include in your calendar:

  • Post Date
  • Author (if you’re not the sole author)
  • Working Title (or at least a descriptive idea to the content)
  • Publication location (is this a post for your blog, a guest blog, etc.)
  • Status
  • Category
  • Tags
  • Keywords
  • Call to Action (Is there a specific and measurable action you want to see from this topic)
  • Notes
Crackerjack Marketing Editorial Calendar
A Crackerjack Marketing contributor shared her editorial calendar which she keeps active on Google Docs.

By including more than just the topic and post date, you create a more effective tool which helps to remind you of the integral components of SEO and content marketing.

Share, Share, Share

For teams of writers this can be a great avenue for collaboration. By sharing the calendar, you are able to utilize each other’s networks and ideas. If a team member sees you’re working on a post about A/B Testing and he just happens to have a relationship with the marketing mavens at Unbounce or has recently conducted a test, he can share his contacts or perspectives to help provide you with more relevant content. It’s also a great way to ensure you’re not duplicating material by haphazardly publishing posts from various authors.

In addition, editorial calendars can become a vital asset when working in conjunction with advertisers or coordinating promotional opportunities for your own business. The calendar provides a comprehensive guide to when and where your work will fit into campaigns and promotions or vice versa. For example, if you are working in partnership with the American Cancer Society and know their annual Relay for Life is approaching in May, your work leading up to the event can revolve around non-profit, healthcare, cancer awareness and related topics.

When working with multiple clients, this provides a detailed description of the who, what, when, where and why, optimizing your efforts, your time and perhaps even your sanity. It can be used in coordination with standard tools to show what you’ve done and where you’re going. It’s also a fantastic tool to use to close a deal when proposing your services. Imagine being able to show a perspective client exactly what you had in mind for them over the next quarter?

Work Smarter, Not Harder

It should go without saying, but once your posts are complete, mark it on the calendar. Not unlike crossing a task off a traditional to-do list, it’ll create a sense of accomplishment and as we all know, some days that’s what we need to keep us going.

Keep your editorial calendar updated
The sense of accomplishment is always greater when you can visualize it. (image source)

Be Flexible

It’s also important to remember not to lock yourself into the calendar. After all, it is designed to be a living document. If you have a post scheduled to publish tomorrow, yet there is an important news event to take advantage of, so be it. If something is going on in your respective industry that demands your attention and ultimately that of your customers, go for it.

So, what’s on your calendar today?

– Angela Stringfellow


About The Author

Photo of Angela Stringfellow

Angela Stringfellow has spent the last few years of corporate life working in marketing management in the healthcare industry before transitioning her real-world marketing experience to the web. For the past several years, Angela has worked as a consultant with businesses small and large to build comprehensive social media campaigns, blogging and editorial strategies and enhance overall brand reputation and media presence, with a primary focus on Web 2.0 technologies and content marketing.
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Comments

  1. Angela, thanks for a great article showcasing a few options on how to stay organized. I’m personally managing my editorial using WP plugin you mention and I’m pretty happy with that. I highly recommend it to anyone running a WP based site. Thanks again!

  2. [...] [How To] Build a Successful Editorial Calendar for Your Blog, unbounce.com [...]

  3. Mike Usry says:

    We love using Trello. It is much more workflow friendly vs Google Spreadsheets and it is not platform centric. . . after all not all sites are WordPress :)

  4. Mark says:

    Thanks for the tips about the wordpress plugins. I always try to write a lot of posts at once and schedule them but it’s tough with their standard layout to space them appropriately.

  5. [...] Stringfellow of Unbounce suggests using WordPress plugins Stresslimit Editorial Calendar, Edit Flow, and Future Posts Calendar in order to organize blogging and plan it [...]

  6. [...] Stringfellow of Unbounce suggests using WordPress plugins Stresslimit Editorial Calendar, Edit Flow, and Future Posts Calendar in order to organize blogging and plan it [...]

  7. [...] post: Build a Successful Editorial Calendar for Your Blog – Unbounce This entry was posted in WordPress Guide and tagged action, calendar, conversion, digital, [...]

  8. [...] Angela Stringfellow posts “[How To] Build a Successful Editorial Calendar for Your Blog” at Unbounce. [...]

  9. Timely! Building out an editorial calendar at work right now, looking for all the tips and examples I can get my hands on!

    Sometimes organizing blog content can feel like herding cats…

  10. [...] 6. How to Build a Successful Editorial Calendar for Your Blog [...]

  11. [...] 6. How to Build a Successful Editorial Calendar for Your Blog [...]

  12. [...] you’ve set these goals, show your boss you’re serious by producing a sample editorial calendar with creative measures for meeting these goals, as well as a mean of measurement along the way. Do [...]

  13. [...] you’ve set these goals, show your boss you’re serious by producing a sample editorial calendar with creative measures for meeting these goals, as well as a mean of measurement along the way. Do [...]

  14. Ryan Key says:

    Having an editorial calendar set up will help keep you on track for marketing efforts. We use Trello for keeping up with everything.

  15. [...] Some of David’s most useful advice was to create an editorial calendar. Here are some posts I found that elaborate on that idea: From CrackerJack marketing, Tips on creating an editorial calendar And another, from Unbounce: An editorial calendar for blogging [...]

  16. Great advice. It’s important to be organized no matter what you’re doing, but when it comes to regularly publishing content this is a huge help. Great for generating new ideas as well.

  17. Krista Low says:

    This is a great resource! I need to have everything in one place or I’m sure I will forget something. I have been meaning to get a calendar put together and with your little push I will do it this week. It’s on my calendar :) Krista @ A Handful of Everything

  18. [...] [How To] Build a Successful Editorial Calendar for Your Blog by Angela [...]

  19. [...] 20. [How To] Build a Successful Editorial Calendar for Your Blogby Angela Stringfellow [...]

  20. Thanks Angela :-)… for the folks who want to get serious about their blog posting schedule.

  21. [...] the conversation going. Once you start blogging, you have to keep your blog regularly updated. Create a content calendar to help plan when you’ll have new content to post. Once you have it planned, be sure to [...]

  22. Chances are you have some sort of editorial calendar in place already without even realizing it. Usually a random smattering of ideas you don’t want to forget, on napkins

  23. [...] How to Build a Successful Editorial Calendar for Your Blog [...]

  24. [...] calendar can also help you integrate blog content with your marketing strategy. Unbounce provides a useful introduction to editorial calendars and Hubspot has an editorial calendar template available for [...]

  25. pornos says:

    Great advice. It’s important to be organized no matter what you’re doing, but when it comes to regularly publishing content this is a huge help.

  26. […] 20. [How To] Build a Successful Editorial Calendar for Your Blog by Angela Stringfellow […]

  27. Rick Noel says:

    Excellent post Angela . I love “utility posts” like this one with real world examples and templates that can be downloaded and used right away to create value right away.

    In my view, all serious bloggers can benefit from creating and managing to an editorial calendar and your post will help them do that.

    An editorial calendar can help online marketers and bloggers ensure that posts are aligned with customer personas and over time, ensure that posts are providing adequate coverage of the relevant topics of interest for each.

    I couldn’t agree more about the need to stay flexible to take advantage of emerging blogging opportunities that were not visible when creating the editorial calendar.

    Thanks for sharing :)

  28. Josh says:

    Great advice. We have a bit of trouble with this when it comes to news pieces, but we have a lot of informational content that we publish too. It was really easy to schedule those types of posts, but news posts are often so last minute that its rather difficult.

  29. Garrett Moon says:

    Hey, great post, but I want to suggest another plugin for this post.

    If you are a WordPress blogger you might want to check out CoSchedule (http://coschedule.com/). It is a built-in social media editorial calendar for WordPress that also lets you schedule social media on your editorial calendar. Disclaimer: I work for the company. Thanks for the post!

  30. […] 6. How to Build a Successful Editorial Calendar for Your Blog […]

  31. Wow, great tips,

    I am a blogger for 4 years but – it’s sad but true – I never done any guest posts on other blogs. I am a member of Ann’s My Blog Guest, and I benefit greatly from the guest posts provided by other members.

    Maybe it’s time for me to kickstart my guest blogging journey.

    Here’s what I think: Guest blogging trend will grow significantly, especially after (the darned) Google algorithm updates called Panda and Penguin (among others). As Google continues to penalize innocent blogs, bloggers should look to guest blogging as a great way to drive traffic and build quality link to your site.

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