By Roger C. Parker published August 7, 2012

A 2-Step Editorial Calendar Template that Can Boost Your Content Marketing Productivity

Looking to increase your content marketing productivity? To get yourself started, try using this two-step approach to creating an editorial calendar:

  • Step 1. Use the Monthly Editorial Calendar work sheet (below) to choose 12 monthly topics, or themes, for the upcoming year. This creates a basic structure for your content marketing success.
  • Step 2. Once a quarter, use the Weekly Editorial Calendar work sheet (below) to flesh out each of the monthly topics, identifying and scheduling specific projects for the next 3 months.

Benefits

This two-step approach simplifies decision-making, helping you identify relevant, practical topics and schedule tasks far enough in advance to allow timely production and editing. Benefits include:

  • Perspective: The Monthly Editorial Calendar template creates a birds-eye, big picture view of your editorial calendar, helping you focus attention on your prospects’ key goals and objectives.
  • Easier decision-making: Focusing on 12 monthly themes at the beginning of your content development process helps reduce the number of decisions needed and increase the likelihood of getting a consensus on your ideas — which is particularly essential when multiple shareholders are involved. The monthly themes also make it easier to identify appropriate topics in advance of content creation.
  • Consistency: Multiple projects that address different aspects of each month’s theme reinforces your firm’s key messages on a regular, ongoing basis.
  • Scalability: The two-step approach to creating an editorial calendar is efficient enough for small firms and self-employed professionals, yet can be upgraded to create robust applications for larger corporations.
  • Efficiency: Identifying overarching themes that can be reinforced on a weekly basis also simplifies your efforts to reformat, repurpose, or recycle your key messages across multiple media channels.

(Click on image above to download both blank and filled-in versions of this editorial calendar template.)

Step 1: Choosing monthly topics

Start by choosing a topic, or theme, for each month, using the Monthly Editorial Calendar work sheet (click to download full-sized PDF version).

Success in this part of the process will depend on satisfying three key criteria:

  1. Relevance: Choose topics related to your prospect’s primary goals and the challenges they’re interested in addressing.
  2. Depth: Select topics that are broad enough to be approached from several different perspectives, which will permit a variety of approaches (i.e., articles, tutorials, examples, case studies, pros and cons, profiles, best practices, warnings, etc.). (See the sample Monthly Editorial work sheet.)
  3. Significance: Focus on topics that also reflect your firm’s strongest areas of competence and competitive superiority.

Note that the Monthly Editorial Calendar template sample starts in July, but you can begin using the work sheet at any time during the year.

When selecting monthly topics, look for ones you could return to during the same month each year (e.g., holiday-related themes for December; or themes that coincide with major conferences in your industry). Repetition builds familiarity and comfort. It also makes it easier for you to schedule future promotions around your planned content marketing efforts.

The right-hand column of the work sheet provides space for you to track the results of each monthly topic, helping you quickly identify topics that you might wish to repeat in the future.

(Click on image above to download both blank and filled-in versions of this editorial calendar template.)

Step 2: Choosing weekly topics

Next, use the Weekly Editorial Calendar (click to download full-sized version) work sheet once a quarter to plan your weekly content marketing topics for the next 3 months.

Identify topics that provide implementation ideas, and provide details to support each monthly topic. In each case, list the street date (the day your market will encounter your message) and the necessary deadlines for completing each project in time for launch. In addition, include the content marketing channel, or media, (blogs, guest posts, article directories, etc.) where you will share your message.

Try to fill out the Weekly Editorial Calendar at least 2 weeks prior to the end of the previous quarter, which will give you time to get started on the initial projects.

Remember: The weekly planner is not a strait jacket; it does not limit your ability to respond to time-sensitive issues. It simply specifies the minimum amount of content you’ll need to produce for each week.

Tips & best practices

Here are some implementation ideas for working with these two work sheets:

  • Working with the PDF versions: You can print out PDF versions and fill them out by hand, which is useful if you’re traveling or have a few spare minutes to work during or in between meetings. To schedule additional projects, divide the rows in half (if you’re willing to write smaller in order to fit more in).
  • Format options: If you’re working with the Word version of the Weekly Editorial Calendar, you can insert rows to accommodate additional projects each month. By switching to a landscape (wide) format, you could insert more columns, permitting you to delegate responsibility for each project to specific team members.
  • Filtering and exporting options: You can also recreate the work sheets using spreadsheet or mind mapping software, allowing you to filter your calendar — hiding completed projects, for example, or displaying only the upcoming projects that are due in the next few weeks. You can then export these upcoming events to Microsoft Outlook, online calendars like Google’s, or project management software programs that you use.
  • Links and clouds: Creating specific software-based versions of these work sheets can also simplify file management and enhance collaboration. For example, you and your team could link to the latest drafts saved on your firm’s network servers or online (i.e., cloud file-sharing services like Dropbox).

Above all, make sure you frequently review your weekly and monthly editorial calendars so that you are prepared if updates or changes are needed. Consider printing and hanging them on the wall near your computer monitor.

Would this two-step planning structure work for you? Do you have any comments or suggestions for improving the Monthly Editorial Calendar or the Weekly Editorial Calendar? Share your favorite editorial calendar productivity shortcut or tips.

Want more content marketing inspiration? Download our ultimate eBook with 100 content marketing examples.

Author: Roger C. Parker

A lifelong content marketer, copywriter, and author, Roger enjoys helping clients write books and simplify their content marketing. Follow @RogercParker on LinkedIn at ContentMarketingHelp. Download a free copy of his 4-page 8 Commitments of Content Marketing Success.

Other posts by Roger C. Parker

Join Over 170,000 of your Peers!

Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples FREE!

  • Jennifer

    Any chance you can post PDFs of the worksheets that aren’t already filled out?

    • http://twitter.com/Rogercparker Roger C. Parker

      Dear Jennifer:
      Thank you for a grand idea!

      I have just posted a (no reg required) PDF containing both “empty” and “filled” versions of the Monthly & Weekly worksheets. Here’s the link:
      http://www.publishedandprofitable.com/public/2-Part Editorial Calendar Worksheet.pdf

      Please let me know how they work for you, and if you have any comments or suggestions.

      Best wishes.
      Roger

  • Frank Eriksen

    Are these PDF’s editable? Or do I need additional software. BTW. I use a Macbook and iPad.

    • http://twitter.com/Rogercparker Roger C. Parker

      Dear Frank:
      Great question! Right now, they’re not.

      However, if you want I’ll send you a pair of “empty,” or not filled-in worksheets, if you care to email me at my address in the bio.

      In addition, I’m considering offering Word.doc versions of the worksheets available. Is that something that you’d be interested in?

      Best wishes on your content marketing success.
      Roger

  • Dechay

    I love the simplicity of this approach. It’s easy to get caught up in what tools to use, what information to track and how to keep everything organized. Your two step system keeps the process clean, efficient and simple, especially for smaller organizations just getting started with editorial calendars.

    • http://twitter.com/Rogercparker Roger C. Parker

      Dear Dechay:
      Thank you for your kind words. I love your words “clean, efficient and simple.”

      I appreciate what you say about getting “caught up” in the tools, which is why I like printable worksheets that can be filled out by hand. (There’s often something liberating about handwriting in a computer age.)

      If you would like a pair of “empty” worksheets, simply drop me an e-mail me using the address at the end of my bio.

      Best wishes on your content marketing success!
      Roger

  • samarowais

    As a freelance blogger who regularly creates blog content plans for clients, searching and trying out different editorial calendar templates is an occupational hobby of mine. 

    I’ve often griped about editorial calendars being too complex and have secretly been smug about the simplicity of my own editorial calendar template.

    This is by far the simplest calendar I’ve come across. Roger, this is absolutely brilliant. I’ll definitely be trying it out and pointing my clients to it. 

    • http://blog.publishedandprofitable.com/ Roger C. Parker

      Dear Samar:
      What a nice thing to say…thank you for your very kind words.

      I really appreciate your comments.

      I also invite you to tell me what other types of worksheets you’d like to see!

      Best wishes, Roger

  • Laura Sundquist

    So timely. We are just beginning a content plan. This calendar looks like it will make planning less daunting. Your willingness to share is much appreciated. Thank you.

    • Roger C. Parker

      Dear Laura:
      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share such kind thoughts.

      Thank you.

      Let me know how it works out!
      Best wishes, Roger

  • http://twitter.com/boomergirl50 Boomergirl

    We use a monthly editorial calendar with clients and integrate traditional press releases with blog posts, Facebook and Twitter. Subject matter is generally tied to universal themes and target audiences. This integrated approach works pretty well. I agree that flexibility is important as there are times we will nix a particular subject in favour of something more timely/topical. I love your idea of tracking on the same schedule. We track all the time but tend to organize what we’ve tracked at the end of each quarter. I’m thinking your way may be a better way to organize and less time-consuming. Thanks for sharing. This was a good read.

    • Roger C. Parker

      Thank you, Boomergirl, for sharing your experiences with a monthly editorial calendar integrating press releases and social media.

      I also appreciate your emphasis on flexibility, as you move forward.

      Two questions, though:
      1: Do you use colors in your editorial calendar to indicate clients, themes, or track response?
      2: What is the format you use, spreadsheets, white boards, mind maps, or what?

      Best wishes on your content marketing success!
      Roger

      • http://twitter.com/boomergirl50 Boomergirl

        Oh gosh no. We just use a text editor. I find Excel awkward so we’ve formatted our own spreadsheet. I’ve been meaning to check out WordPress’s Editorial Calendar and Edit Flow. The latter offers collaboration with users.

        • Roger C. Parker

          Thanks for your response.
          Let me know what you think of the WordPress Editorial Calendar!
          Best wishes–
          Roger

  • http://williesha.wordpress.com/ Williesha

    I really like this! I don’t see the Word version, however.

  • DaisyHdez

    Valuable!

    • rogercparker

      Dear Daisy:
      Thank you for your comment. Are they working for you? Do you have any suggestions for improvements?
      Roger

  • Sheryl

    Thank you so much! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Very generous.

    • rogercparker

      Dear Sheryl:
      Thank you for your kind comment. How has the worksheets been working out for you?

      Roger

  • http://www.stuartjdavidson.com/ Stuart Davidson

    I’m liking this Roger, nicely done! Shared on G+

  • Noel Boudreaux

    Yes I am definitely sharing it as well, thank you Roger for all the great info!

  • Pareja_SozoMobi

    Sweet!

  • Dushyant

    Nice post ! I would be looking out for some practical cases in content marketing pan. That would help.