Staying organized is one of the most important aspects of running a business. According to Peter Strack, founder and CEO of The Strack Group, being organized is a habit, not a character trait. Anyone can learn organizational skills, and mastering these skills is critical to succeeding in the business world.
Keeping calendars is one way to stay organized, especially if you're responsible for publishing content or keeping in touch with your clients. Editorial calendars and content calendars can both provide you with a chance to be organized and get a handle on the things you’re going to publish in an upcoming quarter or year. This is important since studies show that content marketing costs up to 41% less than paid searches do.
But what’s the difference between an editorial calendar versus content calendar? Do you need both, or is one enough? Let’s take a look!
What Is an Editorial Calendar vs. Content Calendar?
An editorial calendar gives you a big picture of your overall content strategy. Editorial calendars may be quarterly or even yearly, and outline the broad strokes of your content creation and publication.
Editorial calendars are usually planned months ahead of time. Content strategists often consider points like:
- How often they want to post content
- Which social media channels they want to use
- What media types (such as videos, blog posts, or images) they want to curate
A content calendar, on the other hand, gets into the nuance of day-to-day content creation. Using the editorial calendar as a jumping-off point, the content calendar helps you visualize exactly what you need to get done on a daily basis.
Unlike editorial calendars, which are planned months in advance, content calendars may be regularly updated and adjusted as new content becomes relevant.
Why Do You Need Both an Editorial Calendar and a Content Calendar?
Editorial calendars and content calendars work together to create a content strategy that’s fully fleshed out and easy to keep up with.
Your editorial calendar acts as a foundation. It provides the broad strokes, ensuring that throughout the course of a year, you run the number of campaigns you’re hoping to run, remember to advertise for upcoming events, and create the right amount of content.
Your content calendar provides you with the building blocks to follow the blueprint you’ve laid out. Items listed on a content calendar tend to be more time-sensitive, and content pieces might get moved or back-dated if something more relevant occurs.
Having both an editorial calendar and a content calendar allows you to remain flexible throughout the year while still following a basic schedule in a consistent way. The result is that your content creation is organized and strategic while still feeling organic to your customers.
Planning an Editorial Calendar
Editorial calendars may be created monthly, quarterly, or annually. If you’re just getting started, a quarterly editorial calendar is a good place to begin your journey. Once you’ve made it through a quarter, you can decide whether it makes sense for your business to create your editorial calendars more often or less often.
To create an editorial calendar, the first step is to sit down and iron out the content creation strategy you’ve used in the past. Look at how often you posted content in the past quarter, and outline the types of content you created, including:
- Social media content for each channel
- Blog content
- Marketing content
- Newsletters and other emails
Once you have an understanding of what you’ve done in the past, you can use that as a basis for your strategy going forward.
The next step is to audit your previous content. Conducting a content audit can help you establish goals for future content creation, which is critical to developing a strong editorial calendar.
What Should an Editorial Calendar Include?
Once you have your content strategy established, you can begin creating your editorial calendar. The goal of your editorial calendar is to provide you with a blueprint on which to base future content calendars. This means that your editorial calendar can be vague in places, but needs to provide enough direction that your content creators will know what’s expected of them going forward.
The ideal editorial calendar outlines four major things:
- Deadlines for making decisions about content
- The content channels you plan to use
- Tactics you intend to use for upcoming content
- People with whom you’ll need to collaborate on content in the future
Each of these four elements of an editorial calendar will work together to keep your content cohesive in the future.
Looking at your editorial calendar, your content creators don’t need to know exactly what to publish on which days. But your calendar should include deadlines by when they need to make those decisions.
Consider, for example, a content strategy in which you hope to publish one blog post every week on Fridays. While your editorial calendar would definitely include “blog goes out” every Friday, it might also include “blog topic approved” every Monday and “blog written” every Wednesday.
Including deadlines in your content calendar ensures that nothing sneaks up on your content creators. If they don’t have to scramble for content at the last minute, you don’t have to worry about anything slipping through the cracks or getting done poorly.
The next thing your editorial calendar needs to include is a list of content channels. Although you don’t need to directly manage each post that will go out on each channel this early on, your editorial calendar should at least have a list of the different channels you’ll be using.
This means that every social media platform you use should be listed on your content channel. You might also mention mediums like newsletters, marketing platforms, and blogs.
It’s important that every time your customers come in contact with your brand, they’re met with the same general vibes. Your content tactics section can help you achieve this. It works as a reference guide for content creators to use all quarter long.
Tactics can come in a variety of formats. They might include:
- A mention of the filter you want to be used on Instagram posts
- Words you enjoy having associated with your brands
- Words that you want to avoid using in the content you create
- Repeating content strategies (like “Sunday Quotes” or “Podcast Tuesdays”)
- Examples of previous content that you want to emulate
Your editorial calendar does you no good if the right people don’t see it. In addition to sharing your editorial calendar with the right people, it’s important to outline which collaborators are in charge of which items on your content calendar. You can do this by assigning different tasks to different people or by color-coding items in your content calendar based on who is in charge of each item.
What Are Some Editorial Calendar Ideas?
Editorial calendar templates can be useful if you’re just getting started creating editorial calendars for the first time. These templates can help you understand how to develop an editorial calendar and help you stay organized.
But it’s important to realize that editorial calendars can come in all forms. In fact, the term “calendar” can be pretty loose. Some editorial calendars come in the form of a monthly checklist, while others have a more strict calendar look.
Still, others may be a combination of the two. A company may choose to type up its tactics in a formalized way, and then attach those tactics to a more traditional editorial calendar.
Planning a Content Calendar
Planning your content calendar comes after you create your editorial calendar and breaks content creation down in a much more intimate way. Your content calendar may even include some exact language for short-form social media content.
The goal of a content calendar is to keep everyone on the same page and to ensure that all content gets out at the right time.
What Should a Content Calendar Include?
A great content calendar includes a day-by-day breakdown of exactly what content needs to go out. This includes an outline of when content needs to be created, proofread, edited, and uploaded so that deadlines aren’t missed.
Content calendars may be created once a month or even once a week. They should provide content creators with a checklist of exactly what they need to get done in a day to curate content and make sure it goes out on time.
For example, if you want a video to go out every Friday, it’s not enough to type in the name of the video on Fridays and expect it will get accomplished. It’s also important to put “filming X video” or “editing X video” on your content calendar. This helps content creators budget their time appropriately.
Just like with your editorial calendar, your content calendar should include a list of collaborators, and should clearly outline what each collaborator needs to do.
What Are Some Content Calendar Ideas?
In some ways, creating your content calendar can be more intimidating than creating an editorial calendar. While the editorial calendar requires a content audit, which can be time-consuming, a content calendar involves coming up with precise, interesting ideas for each content channel.
One great strategy is to keep your channels connected. Don’t post about a marathon on Instagram and talk about a protein shake in your blog post. By connecting all the content that goes out in a day, you reap a few benefits:
- Your content becomes carefully curated, providing the same messages across multiple channels for a streamlined look
- You can easily cross-promote similar content, which can help move your audience through your interaction funnel
- Your creative brain doesn’t have to jump from subject to subject
- You cut down on research time by only researching one topic at a time
- You may be able to re-use assets, like pictures, from one piece of content to another, which saves you time on the back end
Another idea is to pay attention to upcoming holidays and consider ways to link those holidays with your brand without coming across as gimmicky. Err on the side of caution here: if you can’t naturally incorporate a holiday, don’t force yourself. But if your brand sells pies, you’d be remiss not to post something exciting on National Pie Day — and you might be able to get away with posting something cheeky on Pi Day as well.
Content can also come from numerous sources. While curating original content is always a great idea, sometimes it makes sense to link to reputable sources on your social media pages, especially if a time-sensitive news story has come up in your industry. You can also look to previously-curated content for ideas for places to link to. Refreshing old content can sometimes be as beneficial as creating brand new content.
Finally, if you’re struggling to find something to post about, take a look at the questions your customers are asking. This is the fourth most-used idea for finding content. There are a number of reasons this makes sense as a content creation strategy. There’s a good chance that if one customer is asking a question, numerous other customers have that same question but haven’t bothered to ask. Creating content around those questions can increase engagement, since your customers will be actively seeking that content, and may also make it easier to trust your brand, which can convert more leads into paying customers.
Stay Organized with Editorial and Content Calendars
Content creation and marketing efforts are two major pillars for growing your business. Having the best editorial calendars and content calendars sets you up for content and marketing success. The more organized you are, the easier it is for everyone on your team to know what their tasks are and when they need to accomplish them. The result is a content creation strategy that flows seamlessly and works for you.
Get started today by performing a content audit on your last quarter’s content. Then, work on an editorial calendar for the upcoming quarter, remembering to include deadlines, content channels, tactics, and collaborators. With a strong, strategic editorial calendar prepared, you’ll be well on your way to curating quality content for your brand.