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Tools for Creating Editorial Calendars

John Doherty —  May 3, 2012
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We’re all realizing the value of content and content marketing when it comes to SEO and earning rankings, especially with all the algorithm updates from the past year and the recent Penguin update as well. Content is more important than ever, and even the most skeptical are coming around to see that the time for content marketing is now.

All of that is well and good, but it does us no good if we don’t know how to create an editorial calendar for content creation. So let’s examine some tools that can help us do that. Just like a lot of processes that we think “Man, I wish I had a tool for that”, sometimes you need to try a few to figure out which one works best for you. These should get you started.

Shared Google Calendar

One of the easiest way to have an editorial calendar is simply with a shared calender in your Google Apps account. We do this with Distilled and call it out “Content Publishing Calendar”. Here’s how it looks (told you super simple is okay!)

Seriously, it’s that simple. All I do is email out the schedule for that week and the next each Monday, so that people have a couple weeks of heads-up on when they have a post due. We can also put bigger pieces of content on here (such as guides like the Linkbait Guide).  Also, every person in the company can see this at any time by adding it to their calendar.

I would be remiss to not mention Rob Ousbey’s post about creating a content calendar for marketing, wherein he lists out a lot of holidays that you should put on the calendar ahead of time and plan for (in case you can create content around them).

Pro tip – I think you can do this in Outlook as well. If you’re on Lotus Notes…well, you need a new email program.

Excel

If you’re a one-person shop, or you need a relatively easy way to keep track of the editorial calendar for each of your clients, you could try using Excel. Michael Hyatt has created an annual time block (go to that link to download the sheet) calendar that he uses to block off certain days, such as holidays or when not to travel. You could easily take this and make it an editorial calendar to use for days that you are to publish posts, complete with the blog post title. If you include all the important holidays from Rob’s post, you can use it for planning good timely content relatively far out!

Here’s a screenshot of how I’ve edited his sheet:

EditFlow

I’ve mentioned EditFlow before, and I will mention it again because it is an awesome workflow management tool for WordPress installs where you have multiple users writing and you also want to keep editorial control (which you should to keep content quality high).

You should also know that EditFlow has a calendar that you can use for planning out your content publication schedule. Once again, you can choose who can see and edit the calendar, thus keeping its integrity intact.

Other Tools

Like I said, there are many other tools out there that can help you manage your editorial workflow. You could use Basecamp, a shared spreadsheet in Google Docs, a tool like Producteev, or a task manager like Asana. Just find what works for you and the size of your team.

Additional Resources

I want to point you to a few more resources that I recommend reading when creating an editorial calendar for the first time.

First, this post from ContentMarketingInstitute about managing an editorial calendar does a phenomenal job of both helping you create the calendar as well as helping you think about what resources you need to make content creation happen.

Second, read this post on ProBlogger where he not only gets into organization, but also idea generation.

Finally, you should read Rob’s creating a content calendar and Tom’s the time for content marketing is now if you have not already.


I’d love to hear how you manage your editorial calendar, or if you have any ideas about how I could manage mine better. I try to blog twice a week, and I think that consistency is important. In fact, when you look at my blog traffic, the days my traffic is highest is the days that I publish content (not a surprise). Check it out:

What are you waiting for? Go create an editorial calendar now!

John Doherty

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I'm the new (as of October 2013) Online Marketing Manager of Hotpads.com, soon to be based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, explore new and interesting food in New York, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

17 responses to Tools for Creating Editorial Calendars

  1. Great post here, and yes, let’s put an end to Lotus Notes!

    At CP, we use gCal to organize our content publishing calendar. It’s simple and all authors have access to it. What’s nice and useful would be to set reminders in case someone forgets when their turn is up.

  2. If you pay for Contently, they offer integrated software that includes an excellent editorial calendar.

  3. Sandeep Gulati May 4, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Another great post John, I am in the process of making the content calendar for the launch of my new website. Please can you advice what is the best frequency of blogging – every day, 2 post/week, 3 post/week, 4 post/week etc. The freshness update will definitely help to improve the rankings, indexation, send quality signals to SE etc

    Also do you have any Google Doc’s or Excel Tool which you can refer for Content Generation and Content Development.

  4. Thorough post John! I hope this doesn’t sound like a plug for our own tool, but we were a content marketing agency that said those very words…”I wish we had a tool for that”. After trying (and failing) with most of the tools you mentioned above, we decided to get some funding and build a robust editorial planning and production tool that fills that need.

    Check out http://www.DivvyHQ.com when you get a chance. There’s a free 30-day trial, so you can try it out with no strings attached.

    Thanks John!

  5. John, great article. Have you checked our Kapost? Seems pretty robust..Going to pro con Kapost with Edit Flow.. thanks for this post!
    Jason

  6. Great article. The most useful were the links to other posts I could dig into to get myself more kin on the subject.

  7. I’m against using an Excel file, as is it limiting in the number of ways you can present the calendar and has basically zero workflow features – also cannot be simultaneously edited.

    I used a Google doc for 2012, but am now looking for something a bit better. I already have too many Google calendars, so don’t want to use that.

    Might experiment with the Edit Flow WordPress plugin, but at a bit of a loss really.

    Anyone know the best way I can:
    1/ Have at least two tracks: editorial programmes/events and blog posts, ideally video content too
    2/ Switch views between monthly, weekly etc
    3/ Assign users to each piece
    4/ Easily share it with members of the sales and AM teams

    Help appreciated

  8. I’m just starting blogging and this article was ultra helpful. Thanks for the insight!

  9. Thumbs up for Asana.. :D I use it and it works like a charm, they also updated graphics today

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