Designing an Effective Editorial Calendar You Can Stick With – Part 2

10 May 2019


In Part 1 of this blog, we shared some strategies and best practices for creating an editorial calendar that you’ll actually want to use. In this installment, we’ll continue the discussion by taking a look at some common stumbling blocks to avoid in the process.

We’ve identified seven common pitfalls that can derail even the most carefully planned editorial calendar – and what you can do to prevent them before they become an issue. 

1. Forgetting the editing and proofreading stages.

Every piece of content, if you want it to be of high-quality and free of errors, needs time set aside for editing and proofreading. Don’t forget to include time for editing and proofing as you create your schedule.

2. Overloading your staff and coworkers.

Unless you are doing everything yourself, from idea generation to the published content, you need to consider others who will be working on the project. Review their workload and how it might impact the project timeline. This information will help ensure that you assign the tasks to the right people so you can stay on target with your set deadlines.

3. Neglecting external deadlines.

If you are creating content for clients or submitting your content to outside publications, you will need to schedule your projects around their editorial calendars, too. Take into consideration their workflow and task due dates and incorporate them with your own calendar. This will help you make sure you can effectively meet deadlines when mixed with all your other projects.

4. Not giving yourself enough wiggle room.

It’s happened to all of us: You look at an assignment and think it will be easier, faster, and less time-consuming than it turns out to be. A few small setbacks (an interviewee has to reschedule at the last minute; your editor gets the flu; your client asks to move the deadline to yesterday) and you’re suddenly rushing to beat the clock. A good rule of thumb is to double the time you think it will take you to do the task.  

5. Providing too much information. Or not enough.

This can be a tricky balance: You don’t want to bog down your editorial calendar with unnecessary information – that just makes it confusing for everyone. At the same time, though, you want to make sure that you’ve given your team enough to work with.  There’s a bit of trial and error involved here – try to keep things simple and ask for feedback from your team.

6. Not sticking with it.

Too often, the tools we create to make our lives easier end up being pushed aside. An editorial calendar is useless if you’re not using it. Commit to using it. Check it daily. Update it as your schedule changes and deadlines shift. Pay attention to what’s working and what’s not – and tweak it to fit the way you work. 

7. Choosing the wrong format for your team or your content.

You may have a colleague who used only spreadsheets for their editorial calendars. Another one might use a fancy, high-priced piece of software. While that may work for them, they also may not work for you. Don’t use these programs simply because someone else does. Use what works best for your content tracking needs. Use programs that not only help you get the most out of your plan but that you are comfortable using and will use.

Six Great Tools For Creating and Managing Your Editorial Calendar

There are many ways you can create and track your editorial calendar. Before you decide on a tool, consider the number of people who will be accessing and using the calendar, the complexities and the number of projects you need to manage, as well as the potential features you will want in your calendar.

Here are six great tools that can help you build and manage your editorial calendar successfully and for the long-term.

  1. Microsoft Office and Google Docs, both of which are easy to use and you probably already have access to, have spreadsheet features. Using a simple and basic spreadsheet might seem a little old school, but it is still a useful tool for creating a decent editorial calendar, especially if you are the only person creating content or if you have only a few types of content projects to manage. Spreadsheets programs, like Excel, allow you to have numerous tabs within each document as you need, unlimited columns and rows, and has highlighting, color, bolding, and other design features to help you organize your content. Many people who regularly create and publish content (like their own business blog) use WordPress content management system (CMS). WordPress had several great plugins that help organize your blog posts to be published on their platform. These include Editorial Calendar; Stresslimit Editorial Calendar; Edit Flow; and Future Posts Calendar. Keep in mind, however, that using plugins can lower your site’s page speed so using an external spreadsheet for your editorial calendar might be a better option.
  2. The HubSpot Editorial Calendar is perfect for beginners new to creating an editorial calendar. They offer a free template and have formats for Excel, Google Sheets, and Google Calendar. They also have social media calendar templates and content editorial calendar templates which include written instructions for easy use. The free template has many of the basic fields you need in an editorial calendar already created so you can get started right away and it’s customizable to expand upon as you grow.
  3. CoSchedule is great for creating and tracking your blog content, but you can create a workflow of your email marketing campaign and social media publishing, allowing you to keep track of all of it in one place. CoSchedule has many features and it easily integrates with other programs such as WordPress and Google Docs.
  4. DivvyHQ is designed for companies that have high volume of content. If you’re to the point where your business or content plan has grown enough that you have trouble keeping up with it, give this software a try. The editorial calendar offers a simple dashboard that lists tasks to be accomplished as well as an unlimited number of shared calendars and workflow management for your whole team.
  5. Trello’s editorial calendar template works whether you have a very simple content process or multiple steps to your workflow. It allows you to map your flow of work and content, set permissions, assign necessary tasks, and track progress all in real time with collaborative features such as boards, lists, and cards.

While it can be time consuming on the front end, designing an easy-to-use, effective editorial calendar isn’t as hard or intimidating as it might first seem. It’s definitely worth the time you put into it to get clear, organized, and stay on track. It will show in the time you save, the number of projects you’ll be able to complete, and even in the quality of your content.

Shelly Spencer 
Shelly Spencer has been a professional writer for the past 25 years with a specialized focus on grant and RFP proposal writing. She has written for small start-up and mid-sized businesses as well as numerous non-profit organizations and also worked at a daily newspaper editing and proofreading display advertisements and real estate articles. Shelly has experience in writing for a variety of industries in all types of copy, including articles, blog posts, e-books, websites, proposals, brochures, press releases, newsletters, and more. Choosing not to go the traditional route, Shelly gained her skills through hands-on experience and by studying direct mail, B2B, and SEO copywriting through various American Writers and Artists Inc. (AWAI) programs. She is an AWAI verified direct response copywriter having completed their Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting and the Master's Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. She has also completed the Secrets to Writing High Performance B2B Copy by Steve Slaunwhite and Dan Kennedy's Writing for Info Marketers, both through AWAI, and The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program by Great Escape Publishing. Shelly is a member of the Professional Writer’s Association (PWA) and the International Travel Writers and Photographers Association (ITWPA).

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