For many content teams, building an editorial calendar seems like nothing more than an idealistic dream.

You know you should do it – but what usually happens is a content planning process that is random at best.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to the actual use of an editorial calendar is its usefulness.

Of course it is one Get an editorial calendar template and add some placeholders for tentatively planned content.

It is completely different Useful information should be added to these placeholders to guide the creation of content that is relevant and useful to your marketing efforts.

Before you completely give up organizing your content marketing efforts with an editorial calendar, consider this robust process.

1. Start with an editorial calendar template

The main reason for having time on an editorial calendar is to create an actionable system for coordinating various content marketing efforts.

If you plan ahead and organize various initiatives, you are less likely to forget about them. You may be missing out on the opportunity to develop relationships with followers.

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If you push your content creation efforts forward, the process will be a success too amount less stressful. This is especially important when you are coordinating the efforts of multiple parties;

  • A content writer.
  • A graphic designer.
  • An SEO strategist.
  • An editor.

If everyone knows their roles (and the relevant due dates), the process is more likely to stay on track.

As mentioned above, creating the organization and structure also means less stress for everyone involved as everyone can meet the deadlines set – instead of last minute requirements.

When you coordinate efforts with multiple parties, part of this process can best be carried out in a project management tool that your team is already using.

That said, you still want a separate tool to manage your large editorial calendar so you can see what's coming your way at a glance.

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You need to start with an editorial calendar template.

HubSpot's social media calendar template provides a great foundation for coordinating all of your company's content marketing efforts.

Screenshot of the editorial calendar

Bonus points?

It's free to use and comes as a Google Sheets file – great for collaborating with your team in real time!

Using Google Drive and Comments, you can link to relevant content items for access and retrieval right from this interface.

The Search Engine Journal has created its own version of it – with instructions for public holidays to plan content.

You can also follow the lead of top content creators like Sprout Social and Kinsta, who use Trello as their preferred tool for editorial calendar template.

Trello makes it easy to work with large numbers of employees and to visually display content in different publish states (ideas, in progress, editing, publishing, etc.):

Trello editorial calendar

If you manage content creation in WordPress, there are also several WordPress plugins that you can use to aid your content planning efforts.

CoSchedule is a highest paid solution:

How to create an editorial calendar for content marketing in 5 easy steps

The editorial calendar is a simple but non-functional solution:

How to create an editorial calendar for content marketing in 5 easy steps

Both offer functions similar to the editorial content templates mentioned earlier.

2. Determine your blog categories (if you haven't already)

An important part of content planning is making sure you cover a wide range of topics to get readers excited about more.

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Should you try to be everything to everyone on your blog?

No, that's a recipe for disaster.

It is absolutely ideal to operate in a well-defined niche. The more specific, the better.

You just want to report in a targeted manner.

When planning overarching blog categories, it's important to think about things like your sales funnel and your search intent.

The first time someone interacts with your brand, they may not be ready to convert.

By creating content that fits your prospects right where they are on the buyer's journey, you create the opportunity to build a relationship that makes that happen finally leads to a sale.

Two main types of search intent that coincide with important parts of the sales process include information intent and transactional.

  • The information intent reflects the discovery and viewing stages of the sales funnel. People aren't ready to buy just yet, but they are pondering what options they have and looking for more information. You want to optimize for keyword phrases that contain "how to".
  • Transactional intent, on the other hand, means someone using keyword phrases that contain words such as "reviews", "discount", or "pricing". You are now ready to buy.

Your editorial calendar needs to reflect the different levels of purchase willingness people have and the information they need to make that decision.

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It must also Take into account your audience's attention span and their need for a variety of content to get them up the sales funnel.

Think of this aspect of content planning this way: if you post the same thing on your social channels every day, people will eventually ignore it.

If what you post every day (or week, month, etc) is not different, there will be no curiosity for readers to click through and read (and then convert) your content.

Before attempting to define individual blog topics, you must first define parent blog categories.

Even if you've already set up a few pre-determined categories and are already revising your editorial calendar process, this is the perfect time to review your existing blog categories.

3. Do your keyword research

While an editorial calendar can aid you in your multiple digital marketing media endeavors, the focus is usually on blog content.

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And if the goal of your blog content is to drive SEO traffic, determining specific topics should be a function of keyword research.

It's helpful to come up with ideas that visitors want to learn more about and then refine those ideas in your favorite keyword research tool.

It's harder to write a blog post without this information. The topic you selected may be difficult to rate or search volume insufficient to warrant its publication if you wait until you've written most of an article.

When finding potential keywords that will lead to blog topics, there are a few things to consider:

  • Keyword Relevance: Be brutally honest with yourself: your target keyword is indeed relevant to your target group? If it's too vague, consider adding word modifiers to be more specific (and giving your keyword a longer tail).
  • Keyword Difficulty: Unless you're a well-known company that has built a lot of authority, relevance, and trust, you should probably stick to the options at the lower end of the Keyword Difficulty. With an SEO tool like Ahrefs, you can easily see how many backlinks you need to get a realistic ranking for a given term.
  • Keyword Intent: Make sure your keyword mix engages readers at different stages of the buyer's journey – and don't focus unevenly on just "how to" queries.
  • Keyword Volume: Keep in mind that getting 10 qualified leads to your website is better than 1,000 random visitors. Everything under 10 monthly searchers can be ignored anything about it It is worth considering trying to rank, especially on a super niche keyword phrase.

4. Put everything together in actionable fonts for each content element

You have found your ideal combination of editorial calendar template and tool, worked out the categories for which you would like to create content on a regular basis, and started the keyword research process.

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Congratulations – you are already busy filling your editorial calendar.

There really is only one more step you can take to ensure your editorial calendar is actually showing second hand: Prepare a detailed briefing for each planned topic.

This step is especially important if it is the person who is creating the editorial calendar Not the person creating the content.

When you have a vision of how a particular piece will play out, it is your responsibility to effectively communicate that vision – or risk a final result that looks Nothing like what you expected.

Here are a few things to add to any content letter you want to include on your editorial calendar:

  • The appropriate blog category: If you are using a visual editorial calendar, you should assign different colors to different categories so that you can quickly see how well you are preparing content for different focus areas.
  • A rough title: your content writer can ship it to something that's ready to ship, but adding the skeleton of a title can certainly help set the direction for content creation.
  • Primary and Secondary Keywords: If you want your author to use certain keywords, let them know in advance. It's easier to write content that sounds natural when you know what to include (rather than trying to add it back in after the fact). Whenever you have suggestions for semantic keywords, add that information to each letter as well.
  • Potential Source Material: How can your author learn more about this topic or use reputable sources for citations and statistics? When you have an idea where to start research, share it with your content writer.
  • A written letter: For some, these are a few sentences. For others, it could be a full breakdown, including the suggested sub-headings. Either way, the point is to provide directions on what to expect in the final article.
  • Articles Wanted to Outperform: If one company (or multiple companies) is dominating search results for your target keyword phrase, add links so your content writer knows the type of content they need to beat for ranking. This can also help your content writer think about the structure of the article.
  • A Feature Picture: Consider This Step As Bonus Points: Get Really before the game. If a graphic designer is creating relevant article images, leave them a direction here (or remind your writer to include a direction as part of the final result).
  • A publishing / promotion checklist: Ideally, there is a process in place for publishing and promoting content. By adding a checklist directly to your editorial calendar, you can ensure that the correct process is followed so that each piece reaches its true potential. While you are still planning, you can also start coordinating creation of Copy, pictures and other relevant content to promote your blog content.

5. Link your marketing efforts to other media

While SEO content is primarily your sole purpose for creating an editorial calendar, it is certainly not the only way to use this tool.

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Let's get real: No marketing efforts like content optimization should be done independently in a silo.

The success of content marketing is based on the coordination of cross-promotion campaigns across different channels.

Some ideas for other content elements to incorporate into your editorial calendar, whether or not they are 100% related to your SEO content creation efforts:

Summary: Here's how to create your content marketing editorial calendar

With the right approach, an editorial calendar can simplify your content marketing process while reducing the stress associated with last minute coordination.

The better your planning, the more predictable and useful your output will be.

Photo credit

Featured image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots made by the author

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