Improve Content Strategy with an Editorial Calendar: 14 Free Downloads

by 42 10/18/2013

If you need a tool that helps with strategy, organization and project management, then an editorial calendar is probably right for you.

When working as editor of a monthly trade magazine, our annual editorial calendar helped us define the overarching themes we would be covering each month. And our paper-based monthly calendar (hey, it was a long time ago) broke that down into actual content that we planned to publish.

We wrote in pencil so we could easily shuffle content around. Today’s content marketers face the same content management challenges; that’s why using an editorial calendar to make sure your content strategy actually happens is a no-brainer.

Improve Content Strategy with an Editorial Calendar

What an Editorial Calendar Can Do For You

For marketers, an editorial calendar comes in handy for:

  • Scheduling your own blog posts.
  • Scheduling blog post contributions by guest authors.
  • Scheduling the creation and deployment of other content such as ebooks, presentations, infographics and more.
  • Tracking events that can generate content, such as conferences and holidays.
  • Gathering ideas that lead to content.
  • Managing and scheduling social media posts.

Done right, an editorial calendar gives you peace of mind because you never have to panic about what you will be writing about or sharing socially—you will always know in advance.

How an Editorial Calendar Works

Every editorial calendar is slightly different, but from a content marketer’s viewpoint, a good one will include:

  • Details of who is writing content.
  • What type of content you are publishing.
  • Where you plan to publish it.
  • What you hope to achieve and how you will measure it (KPIs).

You can even build in tracking by inputting data from your chosen analytics tools to see how successful your content has been.

Ideally, your calendar will also be able to track inspiration—ideas you know you want to build content around but haven’t yet decided how to execute. As Gloria Rand says, an editorial calendar can be a great counter to writer’s block.

The best way to get started with editorial calendars is to look at others for inspiration, seeing what works and discarding what doesn’t. We’ve rounded up some free editorial calendars to get you started.

Always know your editorial schedule

WordPress Editorial Calendars

Since a lot of marketers work primarily with WordPress, it seems a good place to get started. Here are three WordPress editorial calendar plugins to help you.

  1. EditFlow combines a calendar with the ability to make editorial comments and keep track of your content budget. Some writers have even used it to organize their external content development as well.
  2. Editorial Calendar gives you an overview of scheduled posts, which you can move via drag and drop and makes it easy to track post status. You can also create and manage drafts easily. MakeUseOf has a great guide to using this plugin.
  3. CoSchedule is one of the tools I’m most excited about in the WordPress editorial calendar space. That’s because it’s supposed to take the functionality of other editorial calendar plugins and makes it even better. Check this video to see what’s coming.

By the time this post is published it should be in open beta. In the meantime, closed beta testers are using it to schedule social media posts—something it does very well.

Online Editorial Calendars

Some people have shared their editorial calendars via Google Docs. Here are two examples.

  1. CrackerJack Marketing’s Stephanie Schwab has a Google Docs template aimed mainly at bloggers, which covers content, platforms and audience. You’ll have to opt in to get access.
  2. The MuseyRoom site shares the template used by the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, providing some context in this post.

Content planning

9 Free Downloadable Editorial Calendars

In addition to those based on Google Docs, which you can download to Excel if you want to use them offline, there are several editorial calendars already in Excel and ready to download. Here are some of them:

  1. Web Search Social has a free (opt-in) Excel spreadsheet that details types of content, key delivery methods and main channels. It allows you to craft social media statuses up front and then copy them into your delivery mechanism, such as Hootsuite or Buffer.
  2. The free calendar from Bob Angus incorporates product launches, events, marketing campaigns, promotions and key milestones. It includes several content types and has an idea tracker too.
  3. Janet Aronica offers a year-long calendar on the Shareaholic blog (opt-in) which incorporates post due dates and published dates, topic, keywords, call to action and events. It also has fields for tracking social shares.
  4. The CMI spreadsheet has sheets for blog posts, ideas, and existing content. The first for blog posts include topic, keywords, call to action, category and tags, as well as the post author.
  5. My Marketing Café has a simple template with some pre-filled data to guide you.
  6. Pam Moore has an editorial calendar template (opt-in) which covers monthly and weekly themes, post titles, authors and editors, key target audiences, the targeted purchase cycle, supporting media, syndication and conversion to white papers.
  7. Vertical Measures has an in-depth template which covers business goals and selling cycles in addition to some of the information covered by others. A full explanation is in this post on Marketing Land.
  8. Brandeo’s editorial calendar is marketing focused with emphasis on goals for each period.
  9. MarketingSavant’s template is a social media content planner that includes a mindmapping section.

Use these 14 editorial calendar templates as a starting point for creating your own. Be sure to come back and share when you do!

Image credits: Oschene/Ontario Wanderer/Simon Doggett

About 

Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 20 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer and ghost writer. Connect with Sharon on her website.

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42 COMMENTS

Stephanie Schwab @stephanies

Thanks so much for including my editorial calendar in your post! I love that you also include the WP plugins EditFlow and Editorial Calendar – two other important tools in my own toolbox!

October 18, 2013 Reply

    Sharon Hurley Hall

    Love the template, Stephanie, and interestingly had a version of it from one of my clients sharing his content calendar with me.

    October 18, 2013 Reply

    Elizabeth

    Thank-you for such a great resource! Making an editorial calendar has been difficult for me for some reason! Mainly because I need to focus, and also because I have a bunch of great bloggers I’m working with- all with different topics. It’s been difficult to put all that together but this post really helped give me a head start- thanks!

    Also, Stephanie- I took a look at your calendar first. Thanks for putting something together like that!

    March 4, 2014 Reply

Carol Lynn

Keep meaning to update mine!! Over time you realize there are more things to track and other things you’re over-tracking. It’s always a work in progress. I’m about to download/check out every single one on this list :)

October 18, 2013 Reply

    Sharon Hurley Hall

    It’s unbelievable how many options there are for editorial calendars, Carol Lynn. I’ll look forward to seeing the updated version of yours. :)

    October 18, 2013 Reply

Jo Lynn Deal

Thank you for including our editorial calendar template in your post. We share the blog space with some great templates!

October 19, 2013 Reply

    Sharon Hurley Hall

    And thanks for providing it, Jo Lynn. Looking at all these calendars has given me some great inspiration for content organization.

    October 21, 2013 Reply

Garrett Moon

Thank you for including CoSchedule in your post Sharon! We have since luanched and would love to hear everyones feedback on our new editorial calendar.

October 21, 2013 Reply

    Sharon Hurley Hall

    Really enjoying CoSchedule, Garrett, and planning a more in-depth review soon.

    October 21, 2013 Reply

kristy @ ohksocialmedia

Fun! I love editorial calendars and recommend them highly. I actually created my own simplified version for part of my Be A Blogger series. They’re absolutely essential for being organized (at least in my world!)

October 22, 2013 Reply

Kameel Vohra

Thanks for putting together this collection. It’s really helped us develop our own editorial calendar.

October 25, 2013 Reply

Bre

This is right on time for me. As a new blogger it gets completely overwhelming trying to keep up with posts, what to post, when to post it, how well the post is doing, having others right it for you, posting where it should go and remembering that you did so all on a schedule.

I see several here that I will be trying out right away based on your recommendations.

THANK YOU!!

October 31, 2013 Reply

Gurumantra Khalsa

Thanks so much for your great post on content strategy and an editorial calendar. I’m usually too busy to think that far ahead with content calendars. Insane I know. Since we publish each month there’s no reason to keep suffering from overwhelm. Your resources have me motivated and I’m going to get something implemented before 2014!

November 19, 2013 Reply

Kathryn

Great article. I just shared it on my blog for my students in Strategic Public Relations Communication at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication.

February 9, 2014 Reply

Indrajit

Lovely notes. I liked the content. Would like to use some of the references in my blog too. Thank you.

May 2, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Indrajit, I’m glad you found it helpful. Let us know if you need help with anything.

    May 2, 2014 Reply

    neil

    Indrajit, glad you liked it. You can definitely reference us :)

    May 2, 2014 Reply

Amelia

Great post, Sharon!

A good editorial calendar should be able to publish to social media sites. It should work with Twitter and Facebook because that’s where your customers hang out. Even better, it should combine content curation with content creation. Namely, it should be very easy to curate content, but also very easy to integrate with existing blogging platform like WordPress.

ContentDJ has a good social media calendar(http://bit.ly/1hASXnK). It integrates with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and WordPress. Each social account is color coded. You can drag and drop to schedule posts.

The tool also helps you find the most shareable content to publish.

May 8, 2014 Reply

    neil

    Amelia, thanks for sharing these tips. They are very helpful. Looking forward to hearing more from you :)

    May 9, 2014 Reply

    Sharon Hurley Hall

    Thanks for the tip about ContentDJ, Amelia. I can feel a new review coming on! ;)

    May 9, 2014 Reply

German Calendar

Great! Great post, these tips are so awesome.

Thanks so much for this.

July 26, 2014 Reply

Edward

Hi Sharon, thanks for sharing this post. Proofhub can also be used for editorial calendars. It is an online project management and collaboration tool, which has an intuitive calndar app.

July 31, 2014 Reply

Gaurav Gupta

Here’s another tip Sharon – Try Google Calendar + ClipPod. We’re using it for planning and discussing our editorial and social media calendars and it’s worked out quite well so far.

August 25, 2014 Reply

Jordan

Hellow “Sharon”

Do you think it’s safe to sync my Google clender with this App? i-book-u.
I’m just concered!

Thanks
Jordan

August 29, 2014 Reply


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