One of the best ways to make sure that your content strategy is running like clockwork is by creating a content marketing editorial calendar.
As the saying goes. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It took a lot of time, effort, and a lot of planning to make it what it is today; and the same goes for your content marketing strategy.
In today’s blog, we’re going to show you what a content marketing editorial calendar is, why you need it, and how to create one at no cost. Let’s get started!
What is a Content Marketing Editorial Calendar (and Why Do I Need One)?
Simply put, a content marketing editorial calendar is a central repository where you can view your content marketing planning all in one place.
While it may seem like annoying paperwork, especially to those working by themselves at the moment, the truth of the matter is that a pillar of your content marketing strategy is your ability to pull things off on time, and strategically.
To drive the point home, a recent study found that 72% of marketers said that having a good content strategy was a major key to their success in 2018 – and that number has only grown since then.
For those working in teams, it also allows your entire organization to know at a glance what their objectives are, and how it ties into your overall company marketing efforts. This sort of collaboration is only more essential for those working remotely (which is becoming more and more popular as time goes on.
While creating and maintaining a content marketing calendar seems strenuous, the reality is that there are a variety of ways to do so – ranging from simple and manual to detailed and automated, and everything in-between.
To get started, we’ll list a few ways to create a content marketing calendar the easy way (with free resources like Google Calendar and Google Sheets) and then move onto examples of how to automate your processes with paid (but cheap!) software.
How to Manually Create a Content Marketing Calendar
For those of you who are on a bootstrap budget or are working by yourself, creating a manual content calendar could be a great way to save on budget during your startup phase. One of the easiest ways to do this will be with your own Google Calendar.
To get started, just head over to your Google Calendar and select ‘Create new calendar’ from under the Other calendars dropdown.
On the next page, name your calendar type. In this case, we’re going to create a calendar just for our blogs.
You can repeat the same steps above for each type of content. For example, email newsletters and social media posts.
After that, you can change the colors of your calendar types and use them just as you would set a normal meeting and add your blog details in the meeting description. This method allows you to get a nice visual overview of what’s going on and when – and it’s color-coded to boot!
For those who are working within small teams or who would prefer to add even more details, you can also use a simple spreadsheet program (Google Sheets, Excel, etc) and a template that makes sense for your business. You can add a few tabs for things like target keyword, publication date, assignee (if applicable), and article details.
If you want to go above and beyond, you can include a separate tab that also covers your social media content calendar as well, so you can ensure everything is
There are some great templates online for this type of work that you can use to start out with if you’re not sure what to do. If you’re looking for something simple to start with, you can try out Hubspot’s Editorial Calendar Template.
The best part of this layout is indeed its simplicity. If you just need to outline your blogging schedule for yourself and one or two others, this easy to use template gives you all the basics you need like author, title, keywords, personas, and any offers pitched in the article.
Another great feature of this template is that it’s possible to import it into Google Calendar so you can get a more visual representation of your content marketing calendar integrated right into your daily agenda as we saw above.
If you need something a bit more involved, CoSchedule has its own version of a content marketing editorial calendar you can use as well.
CoSchedule goes into a bit more detail than what you can find in HubSpot’s version. Not only does it break things down into a yearly overview in the first tab, but each month is added to a separate tab with additional fields for images, status, and even priority.
Content Marketing Editorial Calendar Tools
While the above method can seem easy, over time it can become a hassle to constantly update a spreadsheet or maintain a Google Calendar by yourself – not to mention all the publishing still has to be done on different platforms.
As you continue to scale your content marketing team, you may find yourself wishing for a bit more automation and an approval process as well -something a simple spreadsheet can’t provide.
This is where content marketing editorial calendar apps come into play. With this type of software, you can typically create, schedule, assign, and publish your content across various channels all in one place.
While each app has it’s own features, pricing, and abilities, we’ll cover a few options that are great for startups and small teams.
Content Marketing Calendar Tool #1 – Asana
While Asana isn’t *technically* a content marketing calendar focused tool, it is handy for those looking for a way to collaborate on projects (including marketing activities) in one place.
With Asana, you can create different workspaces (for example different departments like IT or Marketing) and collaborate on tasks within it. For example, you could schedule out tasks like blog posts and newsletters and assign them to others within your organization.
Asana also has a built-in response system, so you can collaborate with other team members on the same task instead of having to check email, private messages, or other chat apps for replies and instructions.
After you’ve created and assigned tasks, you’re able to see things in a calendar view, much like we could with our Google Calendar method mentioned earlier. Asana can also integrate with Google Calendar if you need it as well.
Asana’s pricing is (as of this publication date) $10.99/seat per month. If you have a small team and need to manage multiple departments, this could be a great way to organize not only your content calendar but all the projects you have across your organization at a relatively cheap price point.
On the other hand, Asana may not be the answer for those who are focused on content marketing only, need approval workflows, or those that need a component to help distribute the content across multiple channels in a more effective way.
(P.S If you’re looking for tips on how to effectively distribute content, check out our article here)
For those of you who are in any of those situations, take a look at the following two examples – CoSchedule and StoryChief.
Content Marketing Calendar Tool #2 – StoryChief
StoryChief’s best perk is its no-nonsense design From a management perspective, it has all the components a content marketing manager would need to operate a team and coordinate duties efficiently.
StoryChief allows users to create not only blog posts but social media content in one place, as well as publish them all out at once, in addition to having collaboration and approval features. Let’s take a look at a real-world example.
You can assign a particular blog post to a team member, due on a specific day and time in the calendar section of the platform.
The assignee can then go into the Stories section of the platform and create the post (with the help of a built-in SEO tool).
After they’re finished, they can add additional SEO parameters on the next page if needed (such as the meta description and slug).
On the audience page, they can assign what channels this should be spread to – including WordPress, email marketing software (like Mailchimp) and even posts on your various social media channels.
After they’ve selected everything needed, they can request approval to you or any other approved admin for one last check before everything goes live. All of the posts will be added to your content calendar so you can view everything at a glance.
StoryChief’s pricing is comparable to Asana, and at the time of this publication, the plans can range anywhere from $0-$65 per user per month, depending on what features you need.
While StoryChief is great for those who have the basic stack of software (Mailchimp, Facebook, Twitter, etc) and have a pretty simple workflow, others may need a software that has more integrations and options available.
Content Marketing Calendar Tool #3 – CoSchedule
One of the biggest differences between CoSchedule and StoryChief is best summed up by one word – interconnectivity. A main selling point of CoSchedule is the ability to create projects from nearly every source – for example, you can turn a text, slack message, or an email right into a project without ever having to log into CoSchedule.
For those content managers on the go who are constantly fielding messages from every possible channel, this is a welcomed feature for sure.
When you log into CoSchedule, you have the ability to schedule and assign things like Projects, Social Posts, or Articles directly from the dashboard.
In this case, we’ll select a WordPress article. On the next page, you can assign things like categories, and the author. Unfortunately, you still need to do all of the article writing on WordPress itself.
On the right-hand side of the page, you’ll also note that there is an additional task bar that you can use to assign things to other users in addition to a chatbox to collaborate with your team directly.
At the bottom, you also have the ability to set post-publication actions, like social media posts.
In addition to what we’ve seen above, you can also bulk-upload social media posts, plan out your email marketing, and use it for general task/project management like Asana.
All in all, there’s a lot more bells and whistles that can be found on CoSchedule, so if you find yourself needing a combination of project management and content marketing management software, CoSchedule would be the perfect option for you. All of these options do come with a price, as the cheapest plan for CoSchedule is $19/seat per month and only contains some basic features we mentioned here today.
As we’ve seen here, there are about as many ways to create and manage a content marketing calendar as there are seconds in a year. The real question you need to ask yourself before creating a management system is what exactly you need to get out of our calendar, and how you envision the process for you and your team.
If you have another content marketing calendar strategy or use another software not mentioned here today, let us know in the comments below!