How an editorial calendar can help you be more user-focused

How an editorial calendar can help you be more user-focused

3 minute read

How an editorial calendar can help you be more user-focused

3 minute read

How an editorial calendar can help you be more user-focused

Lauren Pope

Content Strategy and Digital Transformation Consultant

The role of an editorial content calendar is simple, right? It’s just to show what you’re going to publish and when. Well yes. But they can do a lot more than that. Done right, an editorial calendar can help you get organised, spot opportunities, be more user-focused, and bridge organisational silos.

In this post I’ll explain how a simple editorial calendar can do all those things and share a template you can use to create one of your own.

Get (and stay) organised

It goes without saying that an editorial calendar will help you get organised and stay on track with the content you need to write, and when and where you are publishing. It’s worth having a calendar even if you’re a team of one - keeping all that information in your head will take up valuable brain capacity you could use for something else. If you’re part of a bigger team with multiple people publishing content, it’s even more important to have somewhere where you can look at everything together.

Get sight of your planning horizon

Your planning horizon is how far out you start to think about your future content. In my experience, most content teams plan three months in advance - at most. I’d argue that you should start to plan some of your content as far as 18 months in advance. 

18 months out, your planning can be as simple as just noting down important dates, events, deadlines and campaigns. But as the date gets closer, you can add more detail. For example, if it’s relevant to your organisation and users, you might add the next Olympics to the horizon now, so you can factor the event into your long-term plans. Six months out, you could do user and competitor research to inform a detailed plan. Three months out, you’d start creating your content. 

This way important dates won’t creep up on you without warning and you can gradually lengthen your lead times. The content calendar template we’ve created includes an 18-month planning horizon sheet for you to use.

Take a holistic view of channels

Your editorial calendar should show you what you’re publishing on each channel or location on a day-to-day basis. This is important for two reasons. First, to make sure you’re not over-publishing on one channel and ignoring another, and to highlight any potential scheduling clashes. Second, it will help you join up user journeys across channels - for example, if you have a TV ad running it’s likely to push some traffic to your homepage, so it would make sense to make sure the messaging matches on both channels.  

Spot gaps and opportunities

As well as a day-to-day view, I’d also suggest that your editorial calendar has a separate sheet with detailed information about your content. For example, the audience or persona the content’s aimed at, what user need it meets, the goal, what stage of the user journey it comes at etc. 

Seeing all this information laid out in a table makes it much easier to identify where the gaps in your calendar are. For example, if you spot that in Q3 you’ve aimed all your content at Persona A, you can take action and add something for Personas B, C and D too. Or if you notice that all your content is in the ‘buy’ phase of the journey, you’ll be able to plan some content to create awareness, encourage evaluation and get your user to the stage in their journey where they’re ready for that ‘buy.’

Bridge silos and get people on the strategy train

One of the most surprising things an editorial calendar can help you with is bridging the silos between teams in your organisation and getting people on board with your strategy. 

If you’re working in an organisation where there are lots of teams all working on content or asking you for content, a calendar is a great tool for showing the wider picture. Open it up to as many people as possible so they can see it, add their content, and understand the wider ecosystem that their work fits into. 

Your calendar can be a useful strategic tool too - asking people to provide information about their content like the audience it’s intended for, the goal it’s aiming to achieve, and what user need it should meet can help people reflect more deeply on their content and strengthen their concept.

Support operations and governance

Your calendar can also help to support good content operations and governance. You can make your content production process part of the calendar and use it to keep track of your progress towards publication. This can be helpful if you’re responsible for a large volume of content and sometimes find that things get lost, or if sometimes people lose site of the process and miss out important step.

It can also help to make content ownership and roles clear. The detailed information sheet I mentioned earlier is a great place to set out who the content owner, author, subject matter expert is, or whatever other set of roles you use.

Want an editorial calendar of your own?

If any - or all - of this sounds good to you, you can download an editorial calendar template here. It has an 18-month planning horizon, a day-to-day content stream and channel calendar, and information and progress tracker.

The role of an editorial content calendar is simple, right? It’s just to show what you’re going to publish and when. Well yes. But they can do a lot more than that. Done right, an editorial calendar can help you get organised, spot opportunities, be more user-focused, and bridge organisational silos.

In this post I’ll explain how a simple editorial calendar can do all those things and share a template you can use to create one of your own.

Get (and stay) organised

It goes without saying that an editorial calendar will help you get organised and stay on track with the content you need to write, and when and where you are publishing. It’s worth having a calendar even if you’re a team of one - keeping all that information in your head will take up valuable brain capacity you could use for something else. If you’re part of a bigger team with multiple people publishing content, it’s even more important to have somewhere where you can look at everything together.

Get sight of your planning horizon

Your planning horizon is how far out you start to think about your future content. In my experience, most content teams plan three months in advance - at most. I’d argue that you should start to plan some of your content as far as 18 months in advance. 

18 months out, your planning can be as simple as just noting down important dates, events, deadlines and campaigns. But as the date gets closer, you can add more detail. For example, if it’s relevant to your organisation and users, you might add the next Olympics to the horizon now, so you can factor the event into your long-term plans. Six months out, you could do user and competitor research to inform a detailed plan. Three months out, you’d start creating your content. 

This way important dates won’t creep up on you without warning and you can gradually lengthen your lead times. The content calendar template we’ve created includes an 18-month planning horizon sheet for you to use.

Take a holistic view of channels

Your editorial calendar should show you what you’re publishing on each channel or location on a day-to-day basis. This is important for two reasons. First, to make sure you’re not over-publishing on one channel and ignoring another, and to highlight any potential scheduling clashes. Second, it will help you join up user journeys across channels - for example, if you have a TV ad running it’s likely to push some traffic to your homepage, so it would make sense to make sure the messaging matches on both channels.  

Spot gaps and opportunities

As well as a day-to-day view, I’d also suggest that your editorial calendar has a separate sheet with detailed information about your content. For example, the audience or persona the content’s aimed at, what user need it meets, the goal, what stage of the user journey it comes at etc. 

Seeing all this information laid out in a table makes it much easier to identify where the gaps in your calendar are. For example, if you spot that in Q3 you’ve aimed all your content at Persona A, you can take action and add something for Personas B, C and D too. Or if you notice that all your content is in the ‘buy’ phase of the journey, you’ll be able to plan some content to create awareness, encourage evaluation and get your user to the stage in their journey where they’re ready for that ‘buy.’

Bridge silos and get people on the strategy train

One of the most surprising things an editorial calendar can help you with is bridging the silos between teams in your organisation and getting people on board with your strategy. 

If you’re working in an organisation where there are lots of teams all working on content or asking you for content, a calendar is a great tool for showing the wider picture. Open it up to as many people as possible so they can see it, add their content, and understand the wider ecosystem that their work fits into. 

Your calendar can be a useful strategic tool too - asking people to provide information about their content like the audience it’s intended for, the goal it’s aiming to achieve, and what user need it should meet can help people reflect more deeply on their content and strengthen their concept.

Support operations and governance

Your calendar can also help to support good content operations and governance. You can make your content production process part of the calendar and use it to keep track of your progress towards publication. This can be helpful if you’re responsible for a large volume of content and sometimes find that things get lost, or if sometimes people lose site of the process and miss out important step.

It can also help to make content ownership and roles clear. The detailed information sheet I mentioned earlier is a great place to set out who the content owner, author, subject matter expert is, or whatever other set of roles you use.

Want an editorial calendar of your own?

If any - or all - of this sounds good to you, you can download an editorial calendar template here. It has an 18-month planning horizon, a day-to-day content stream and channel calendar, and information and progress tracker.

Spreadsheet

Editorial Calendar Template

A template to help you get organised, spot opportunities, be more user-focused, and bridge organisational silos.

No items found.

About the author

Lauren Pope

Lauren is a freelance content strategy and digital transformation consultant, working with organisations that make the world a better, fairer, more beautiful place.

Lauren has been working in content and digital since way back in 2007 and since then has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands, including adidas, American Express, Microsoft and Tetra Pak.  

She lives in Brighton, and loves the Downs, the sea, dystopian fiction and bold lipstick.


Related posts you might like