How to Create an Effective Editorial Calendar in 7 Steps [2023]

What is an editorial calendar?

An editorial calendar is a visual workflow that helps a team of content creators schedule their work on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Editorial calendars can help you track content types, promotional channels, authors, and most importantly, publish dates.

Without a mutually agreed-upon system for planning, writing, and scheduling content every week, you can find yourself in a pile of missed deadlines, unedited blog posts, and a fair amount of team tension.

There's no such thing as a perfect editorial calendar — it all depends on the needs of your team. Nonetheless, there are several questions you should ask yourself to determine what your editorial calendar should look like. These include:

  • How frequently are you publishing content? Do you have stuff going live every day? Once a week? Perhaps multiple times a day? Find out how often you publish to figure out the best way to visualize your editorial calendar.
  • Do you create more than one type of content? If you upload as many videos to YouTube as you publish articles to your company blog, your editorial calendar will need to distinguish between the two.
  • How many people will use this editorial calendar? The best editorial calendars allow multiple people to brainstorm, collaborate, and offer feedback on assignments in real time — directly on the calendar.
  • What are the various stages content goes through before it's published? How complex is your content pipeline? Is there a substantial review or approval process that each piece of content goes through? Make sure your calendar can distinguish between two similar assignments that are in different stages of creation.
  • What format will you use to organize this calendar? You'll want to choose the system that best aligns with your goals and your team's workflows. 

Editorial Calendar Benefits

While an editorial calendar can take time to organize and put in place, this strategy can make a huge impact on your content marketing.

Improves content quality and consistency.

Planning content in advance makes it easier for you to create consistent content your audience can rely on.

Plus, an editorial calendar gives you a structure for creating batches of content. This lets you focus on ideation and content creation separately, giving you more energy and focus to create quality content.

More chances to innovate.

Change is the only constant in marketing strategy. With an editorial calendar, you have a clear view of what content aligns with your new strategy and where to innovate.

This approach also gives you time and space to think of creative angles for each piece of content.

Supports accountability.

Content marketing has a lot of details. Not everyone needs to know what blog or hashtag gets posted when, but an editorial calendar can help every member of your team stay accountable for their pieces in the puzzle.

Streamlines processes.

As your business grows, you might find some processes will also grow more complicated. HubSpot research says that marketers spend an average of 5 hours a day on admin and operational tasks.

But an editorial calendar can simplify these processes. It can give your team an easy overview of an entire project, quarter, or campaign from start to finish. This helps different departments and teams coordinate and streamline their efforts.

Better teamwork.

18% of marketers have a hard time finding top talent and 17% struggle with team training.

Simplified processes and better accountability mean that your team can work better together. This lets each member of your team spend more time using their unique abilities to create great content for your business. It also simplifies training and retaining your best employees.

Improves your team experience.

According to 2022 research, 76.6% of surveyed marketers say more time for focused work would resolve their burnout.

An editorial calendar creates a consistent plan and a better employee experience. This reduces the stress and uncertainty that can lead to burnout in marketing teams.

Offers clearer data insights.

Editorial calendars offer a clear record of:

  • Content types
  • Assets to include in published content
  • When to publish

This record makes it easier to track content performance. With this tracking in place, your team will be set to optimize and improve your content to meet your goals.

How to Create an Editorial Calendar

A successful editorial calendar is a living project that your business will change as you grow and scale your social media and content strategy. To start the process of creating your own, we have some resources to simplify the process.

With all the different types of calendars you can create, we’ll discuss the types you can choose, and how to plan the rollout of your content.

1. Define your target audience and content themes.

Before you begin plugging content into your editorial calendar, be sure to review your content strategy. Scan for content topics, buyer persona needs, and training your team might need to create winning content.

These details can help you schedule the right content at the right time.

Your task:

  • Review your buyer personas. Highlight their goals, challenges, reasons to purchase, and any other key information. If you don’t have buyer personas, you can start building them.
  • Analyze your competitors to get a better idea of what is trending among your audiences.
  • This will later help you filter the content in your calendar by different personas.

Step 2: Scheduling Content

Now that you have a deeper understanding of your resources and goals, you can move to building a specific publishing schedule.

Besides estimating how much content you need to reach your objectives, take into account the length of your sales cycle and other specifics of your customers’ buying behavior. 

Your task:

  • Review your existing content marketing budget and your goals.
  • Determine where your content will be sourced from and which resources will be needed. For example, who are your copywriters, and who will help with design?
  • Estimate the time and resources needed for each content type/piece.
  • With your team, decide how many content pieces you need to produce monthly to meet your goals. You should also consider the posting frequency that will be optimal for both your production cycles and your customers

Step 3: List Your Ideas, Categorize Them, and Come Up with Content Topics

As we’ve already mentioned, content ideas can come from many different parts of the organization. 

  • Talk to your sales, customer service, and product teams. They’ll help you uncover common customer questions, doubts, or challenges. 
  • Go back to your customer research and buyer personas to analyze the high-level topics they are interested in. 
  • Analyze forums like Quora, Reddit, and social media groups and industry publications. 
  • Use tools like Organic Research and Keyword Gap to analyze your competitors and find specific keywords they already rank for.

To expand your list of topics, use our free Title Generator tool. Simply enter your seed topic and get a list of headline ideas and related content ideas to include in your calendar.

The tool will come up with headline ideas for your content plan, provide related topic ideas and generate a quick summary for each idea you've selected

Example: Finding High-Performing Topics

The Barbauld Agency used the Semrush Topic Research tool to generate content ideas. These ideas helped their client increase organic traffic by 133%. ​​

For example, they used the tool to find an idea for one of their most successful blog posts—a guide to correctly placing letterman jacket patches and pins. It now ranks #1 in search. 

To find the blog idea, they typed in the “chenille patches” keyword phrase. Then they drilled down to the related questions. 

Running the Keyword Research and Creating Topic Clusters 

Do you have all your lists of potential themes and topics ready? Use the second calendar in our free template. 

It includes all key steps to run keyword research and create keyword lists organized into content hubs.

  1. Start with creating a generic list of keywords based on your previous research. Then put everything you have collected so far together in one place.

  1. Break them down into transactional and informational keywords. 

Pro tip: Use the new feature in the Keyword Magic Tool that automatically shows intent for each of your keywords.

  1. Prioritize your keywords by their search volume and keyword difficulty (KD%), leaving out those that don’t seem to be promising. 

You might want to remove a keyword if the search volume seems to be too low. The same is true if the keyword difficulty is too high.

You can sort your data by search volume. Also, if needed, add a filter to exclude keywords with a KD% higher than a certain number. You can also filter out keywords directly in the Keyword Magic Tool.

  1. Categorize your informational keywords. Each topic might match with a content hub you’ll be creating. 

For example, a “content marketing strategy” keyword phrase could be part of the “content marketing” cluster, while “sales funnel stages” could be part of the “sales funnel” cluster. 

  1. Decide which of the keywords to add to your calendar first. Then turn them into content headlines.

There are multiple ways to prioritize topics and keywords. 

For instance, you might want to focus on building your content hubs one by one. In this case, you would create cluster and pillar pages for each of them. 

Or, you might start designing several clusters at the same time. You will also want to plan your editorial calendar with campaigns and product releases planned for the next 12 months.

Pro tip: Remember that besides running keyword analysis, it’s important to involve the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). They can help you be sure your content planning is heading in the right direction.

Your task:

  • With your team, mind-map the content topics you want to focus on. You will soon turn these into specific titles and formats.
  • Run keyword research to create a list of keywords divided into thematic clusters.
  • Add other ideas. Not every content idea in your calendar will be coming from keyword research. Most likely, the actual calendar will have a combination of content ideas based on your conversations with Sales (e.g., webinar ideas), keyword research (e.g., blog posts), industry trends (e.g., ebooks), and so on.

Step 4: Pick Formats to Suit Your Audience

Who you are targeting and what they need to achieve will help you decide how to deliver your content.

That means you should now be thinking about how your editorial calendar can help you plan content formats.

Formats can include blog posts, social media posts, and video content. 

Be sure to target each piece of content to specific readers or buyers. It should also map to their buyer’s journey. 

When speaking to a B2B audience, note that buyer personas are often complex and buying decisions are more process-oriented. 

This needs to be reflected in your editorial calendar. It might actually mean your content is more specific and detailed. 

Myeisha Thompson, principal copywriter and content strategist for MPower Content in Arizona, recommends setting aside extra time to talk to B2B audience members. This helps you make sure your content really hits home. 

Your task:

  • Decide which content formats would work for your business. For example, if you are a B2B company, you may wish to run webinars and produce white papers. Or, if you are a B2C ecommerce company, you might like to focus on blogging and Instagram stories. You may have a combination of both, too!
  • This will help you fill the Content Format field in your calendar.

Step 5: Open Your Calendar to Different Teams

Make sure to share your calendar with other teams in your company, from Sales to Social Media. This brings the creative side of your business closer to the planning phase.

It can help position the content team not as a “group of writers and grammar enthusiasts” but as a critical part of the company’s pipeline- and revenue-building engine.

Keeping tabs on your output via your editorial calendar can also help you identify bottlenecks in the production process.

Ultimately, this will create connections with other departments. They will be able to reuse and adapt your lovingly created content. 

It will also give your sales and product departments access and help align your plan with that of the business as a whole.

Your task:

  • Decide which team members or departments need to get involved. 
  • Share your calendars with them. Explain exactly what each calendar is and why you would like their input and collaboration. 

Step 6: Decide How to Repurpose Content and Choose Your Promotional Channels 

Once you have content to publish, you must decide where and when to promote it. 

This can be done across your social media accounts, but you can also push it via a newsletter, influencers, or even through paid search channels. 

Remember that having more early visitors typically leads to more shares, backlinks, and organic traffic down the road.

Later, you must repurpose your content to get the most out of it. Remember it is no use just copy-pasting a blog post and publishing it in an Instagram caption. Make the content native to each platform you use.

You‘ll want to reserve time for reworking content to make it suitable for each channel you want to publish it on. To learn more, explore our guide to repurposing content.

Your task:

  • For every content piece you produce, you must decide which channels would be most effective for promotion.
  • This will help you fill the Promotion field in your calendar.

Step 7: Use Your Editorial Calendar to Measure Productivity 

When you are building your editorial calendar template, include columns that allow you to record snags in production. 

There are red flags that can indicate where delays are not one-off issues, but recurring problems. 

Start by using the editorial calendar to record the average length of time needed to create a piece of content. 

When delays happen and deadlines are missed, record what type of asset the piece fits under. 

Also note which contributor handed in the work late. 

This way, you can begin identifying where problems are happening before working to fix them.

At the same time, ​​you can also use your calendar to track content performance. For example, you can add the target KPIs (metrics) for each content piece in the calendar and check whether it performed well later.

Your task:

  • Fill out the KPI column in your editorial calendar with metrics for each content piece. For example, it could be ranking, traffic, shares, or leads.
  • Go to the results tab in the template to measure your success over time and see which topics, formats, and channels perform best. 
  • Analyze whether content is produced on time and with a planned cost, and if anything needs to be adjusted in the content production cycle.

Using Your Editorial Calendar 

So there you have it—the steps you need to build the ultimate editorial calendar for 2023, as well as for years to come. 

Your calendar can be used to assign resources and schedule when and where you plan on publishing your content.

Remember to list your ideas and categorize them alongside your chosen content topics as the year progresses. 

2. Outline content goals and KPIs.

For effective resource management, use your goals and metrics as a jumping-off point for your editorial calendar. This can simplify reporting and make it easier to quickly gauge the performance of new strategies.

3. Choose a format for organizing your editorial calendar.

Talk to your team about their preferences and work habits before picking a format. Ask each team member:

  • Where they're working from
  • What tools they're using
  • How they organize their content creation
  • Collaboration needs

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Editorial Calendar Formats

An editorial calendar is essentially a planning tool. There's no such thing as a perfect editorial calendar, but some formats will be better than others at helping you solve your team's goals.

Here are some of the different ways to format your editorial calendar, and the pros and cons of each format:

Editorial Calendar Spreadsheet

A spreadsheet is a simple way to organize your content.

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  • Easy data aggregation and organization
  • Cost-effective
  • Short learning curve and accessible, making collaboration easy
  • Easy to customize
  • Integration with calendar apps and content management tools


  • Hard to visualize your calendar
  • Limited options for collaboration
  • Difficult to get a clear breakdown at a glance
  • Can be clunky for tracking multiple channels

Content Calendar

A content calendar is a more detailed version of the editorial calendar spreadsheet and helps users visualize content timing.


  • Makes it easier to organize content details
  • The most straightforward way to know what's going out and when
  • Can include keywords, color coding, tags, assignments, and content types


  • There's more to project and content management than publishing dates
  • Can be time-consuming to put together
  • A calendar may not always be effective on its own

Project Management Tool

Tools like Trello or Asana can be helpful for complex or multi-channel editorial calendars.

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  • Presents a clear editorial workflow
  • Designed for complex project management
  • Customizable
  • Offer collaboration and visualization like a Kanban board


  • Can be overwhelming
  • Has a steeper learning curve for new team members

Editorial Calendar Applications

Project management tools like or CoSchedule can also offer mobile applications. This on-the-go access can help streamline editorial calendar creation and maintenance.


  • Offers easy access to your editorial calendar
  • Has choices for content creation, planning, and assigning
  • Includes collaboration tools and analytics


  • Can be expensive
  • May be difficult to customize

Choose the best format and decide on how you'll implement it. Pick the tool or platform that offers the features or interface your company needs most.

4. Designate your main marketing channels.

Most businesses will be creating distinct content and messaging for each marketing channel. So, choose carefully. Once you’ve selected your top channels, make thoughtful decisions about how you want to organize this content in your editorial calendar.

Editorial calendars are highly visual tools. If you're not a visual thinker, keep in mind that 65% of people are visual learners, so other people on your team may be.

Make your editorial calendar easier to interpret with visual cues. Differentiating your calendar with a different color for each channel you post on can cut confusion for your team. You can also divide post types or subject matter using visuals to make sure you schedule the right content at the right time.

5. Assign roles and responsibilities.

Roles and responsibilities can seem obvious when a content strategy launches, but this clarity can fade over time. So, be sure to details like writing, editing, publishing, and image creation in your calendar.

This simple step makes processes, roles, and deadlines clear. It also creates accountability for every member of your team.

6. Study your competition’s posting frequency.

Look to other businesses posting in the same industry or niche as yours. Then, study which competitors are successful in capturing attention and how they got to that level of success.

By no means should you copy others’ content subject matter or the exact dates or times they post. Instead, pull inspiration and make your own editorial calendar to grab attention on the days or times competitors aren’t posting. This tactic can also help you find gaps in your content strategy.

7. Plan your posts consistently.

Content planning is an incredibly important component of any strong marketing strategy.

As Carsyn LeClere, Strategist at Blue Frog, told me, "Content planning helps provide a better view of all your marketing initiatives and how they play into each other. It's important to have because it ensures you don't duplicate content efforts, cannibalize a topic, miss any initiatives, or neglect any part of the buyer's journey."

She adds, "Being able to plan content at a high level allows you to focus on content that matters and makes it easier to produce content that's consistent with your brand story."

Organizing your editorial calendar for posting on the same weekly schedule can drive exposure for your content and improve engagement.

Posting on a frequent basis keeps your followers coming back for more. Social media platforms reward profiles that drive this engagement with more visibility. And search engines reward content that searchers love to click. After all, these platforms want to capture and maintain people’s attention too.

When you create a patterned or consistent posting cycle, you’re using each channel in an optimized manner.

For example, if you publish email tips on Tuesdays, your audience will rely on those tips and look for them. If you publish the same useful tips at random, your target audience might miss that content. So, regular posting keeps your audience engaged and builds a stronger connection with them.

Creating a content calendar that has a clear schedule of posts will help you stay consistent and maintain a steady flow of content.

8. Audit and adapt your editorial calendar as necessary.

It may take some time to perfect your editorial calendar.

If you begin with low engagement in the first couple of months, run a content audit and adapt your content calendar to better engage your followers.

Then, schedule regular audits to measure your content performance and use your content calendar to track the value of any strategic changes.

This is how creating an editorial calendar will make your content marketing more streamlined, organized, and effective.


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