By Michele Linn published August 16, 2010

How to Put Together an Editorial Calendar for Content Marketing

editorial-calendar-templateEditor’s note: We’ve published a newer post on this popular topic, which includes bonus tips and information. Read it now!

As a content marketer, you have no doubt heard that marketers need to “think like publishers,” but how exactly does that translate into action?  (If you are asking yourself this question, read Jeremy Victor’s fantastic post on this very topic.)

Next to developing buyer personas, I think the most useful exercise to help you think like a publisher is creating an editorial calendar. A lot has been written about the need for an editorial calendar, and you can certainly find online magazines that publish their editorial calendar, but I haven’t found many calendars that are geared towards the marketer. 

Regardless of where you are in your content marketing efforts, it’s important to have an editorial calendar to keep your content consistent and relevant. It also helps keep your marketing team on the same page and is a great reference for your management.

While a basic editorial calendar that simply tracks the date and content topics you are planning (like the example we offer here) is a fantastic start, the editorial calendar I like to use tracks additional details to help you see connections in your content, generate ideas on what content to create (or what you can repurpose), and ensure you are including key information, such as SEO.

UPDATE: Some readers asked for the template. You can see a sample below or download the blank Excel spreadsheet of the CMI editorial calendar template

A few notes on editorial calendars:

  • Your editorial calendar is going to differ depending on the type of content you produce and what is important for you to track.
  • The program you use to track this information will likely depend on your organization and its requirements. For instance, while some people like to use Google spreadsheets, some companies don’t allow access to this program. Other companies require that you use a proprietary program. Personally, I use Excel.

As Joe mentions in his post on managing the content marketing process, it’s helpful to have two editorial calendars: a master calendar where you can see everything at a glance and separate calendars for specific activities. I use one spreadsheet with multiple tabs to keep everything together.

Have a master editorial calendar to view all content at a glance

The master editorial calendar provides an overview of all content that is planned by day and by week:

  • Track key dates such as events, holidays or other things that may impact which content you want to share when. If you have an international audience, include holidays in the various countries you serve as well.
  • Include a brief overview of all of the content that is planned by content type.

Here’s a snapshot of the template for a master editorial calendar:


(click to enlarge)

Looking at all of your key dates and planned topics can give you ideas for topics and help you think about how you can repurpose content in multiple sources.

For instance, if you have a new white paper or case study planned, you can plan one or a series of blog posts around that. Or, if you have an event, you can plan to develop an eBook based on the top 30 takeaways from the event. Seeing the calendar at a glance helps these connections jump out more easily — and helps you remember which dates to avoid.

Need help setting up your editorial calendar or other key processes for content creation management? Download our step-by-step workbook, Launch Your Own Content Marketing Program.

Have separate editorial calendars to track specifics of all other content types

Have separate spreadsheets or tabs for each specific type of content you are creating. For instance, you may have one tab for your blog, another for your newsletter and another for the additional types of content you create, such as eBooks, white papers and case studies. How you break this up will depend on how you manage each of these content types.

Each of the separate tabs includes more specifics about all of the content activities you have planned and will vary based on what you offer.

For instance, if you have a blog, you may want a specific tab that tracks all of the info for each post, such as:

  • Post date
  • Author
  • Tentative title
  • Keywords
  • Categories
  • Tags
  • Call to action
  • Status

Tracking more than topic and date helps you make sure to include the key elements you need for SEO, digital optimization, and conversion.

Use your editorial calendar to track content ideas

While outside the technical scope of an editorial calendar, I also like to track a few other types of content in separate tabs:

  • Existing content I can use as a call to action
  • Ideas for content I can repurpose
  • Ideas for new content (I have an additional tab that I use to track blog post ideas)
  • Content I can curate

Use an editorial calendar to help with complex buying cycles

On a final note, if you are a B2B marketer who is helping customers progress through a complex buying cycle, Ardath Albee has a must-read post on editorial calendars, where she suggests that you track additional details such as the following:

  • Cliffhanger: In what way have you created anticipation for future engagement? (e.g., coming next month we’ll share… Or, sign up for our series on X)
  • Buying stage: Status Quo, Priority, Research, Options, Step Back, Validation, Choice
  • Distribution: website, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blog, nurture email send, syndication, etc. This will also include notes about linkages to other content on the calendar (e.g., this blog post links to the registration page for that webinar)
  • Accompaniments: Includes messaging for related emails in the case of nurture sends, associated Tweets, landing page content for white papers, webinar invitation text and registration page content, etc.

I’d love to hear how you organize your editorial calendar. What tools do you use? What data do you track? Please share your experiences—or questions—in the comments below.

For a comprehensive guide on working with editorial calendars, check out A Content Marketer’s Checklist: Editorial Calendar Essentials

Cover image by Viktor Hanacek via

Author: Michele Linn

Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

Other posts by Michele Linn

  • Katie McCaskey

    Thanks, Michele. These are very practical, actionable suggestions. Another marketing consideration? Map the “mood” you want from a particular piece in the calendar too. Conveying a brand “personality” requires materials that span a certain spectrum.

    Example: For George Bowers Grocery, a specialty grocery, we introduce a weekly event. The graphics vary in mood but work together to form a particular brand message. We reuse these graphics into a section called “What You Missed” to have them working for us in the long tail, too.

    Another reason to consider mood in your editorial/marketing calendar? It keeps the material fresh for the audience.

  • samuraiwriter

    The spreadsheet(s) are a great idea.

    However, your post reminded me of a great piece of software I purchased from Reel Logix a few years ago which may be worth dusting off.

  • globalcopywrite

    Hi Michele,

    I'm getting ready to launch a crowd-sourced blog for a professional organization staffed entirely with volunteers. As the only writer on the management committee, I've been worried I'm going to end up writing all the posts. Your article has gone a long way in helping me get organized to prevent that happening. Thanks so much.


  • CJ


    Thanks for covering this, and especially for putting your insightful context on it. Very useful! We'll be implementing your suggestions on


  • Michele Linn

    What a great idea to track/map the mood of each piece, too. Similar to the editorial calendar that Ardath mapped out for the longer buying cycle, I love the idea of using an editorial calendar to make sure you stay on track with your marketing, whatever your objectives may be.

  • Michele Linn

    I'll have to check out that tool – thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  • Michele Linn

    With a group blog like the one you describe, an editorial calendar is key. Getting organized is half the battle! For another blog I work on that is group-managed, we use a Google spreadsheet so anyone can access and update it at anytime. It works fantastic in theory, but I have been having technical issues where I am often locked out – which is why I don't use it for CMI. Good luck with your new blog!

  • Michele Linn

    Glad this will work for your site! I like how you can evolve the editorial calendar based on your needs. Let me know how it goes.

  • nateriggs

    This is great stuff Michele! I like the way you've organized the spreadsheet. One thing I would add is that for a collaborative approach, we will often will include an addendum to the sheet with topic areas of focus. This is more for admins and editors as the contributors typically will have a good sense of what their core content areas are. At any rate, it including the punch list with the calendar helps keep things moving n the right direction.

  • Michele Linn

    What a great suggestion, Nate. I'm definitely going to include that in my calendar!

  • Janice King

    Your list of columns for tracking the info needed for a blog post is also a great start for any type of content. But even for blog posts, it may be appropriate to add columns for:

    Writer (may be different from the named author)

  • Michele Linn

    Great additions. I especially love the idea of adding a column to track the visuals for the post.

  • Romana Lilic

    that’s a great post indeed. i actually created my first editorial calendar yesterday (in Excell) for an on-line portal i’m editing – in addition to your template it includes topics/categories as well, but your post and following comments gave me some great ideas to upgrade it. i do believe using an editorial calendar is pretty much a necessity for anyone seriously into the business of online publishing. it is so easy to lose focus and course of conversation you want to share with your readers. Thank you!

  • Michele Linn

    Romana – So glad this was helpful! And, I couldn’t agree more – an editorial calendar is key for online publishing!

  • Joakim Ditlev

    I’m in favor of organizing before executing and your post just brought some valuable input on how to do this better. On the other hand – can you do too much planning? In some cases the actual planning is more valuable than having the plan executed as intended.

    How much room do you leave for flexibility in your calendar? There’s always something happening in the industry you need to be responsive too, but you can’t tell what and when at the time you are doing the plan. Would like to hear your thoughts on that.

  • Michele Linn


    Great question. First, I outline the content we need, and I stick to the consistency that we have committed to. For instance, we do a blog post every weekday on CMI. I am very Type-A about posting a blog post every day, so that’s not flexible.

    However, I do have quite a bit of flexibility in terms of the topics we present (as long as they are consistent with our focus). As you say, new things come up, and I would want to accommodate covering things that make sense. Of course, I also like to evaluate what is well-received, and then I plan more posts around those topics. My editorial calendar is constantly evolving!


    • Joakim Ditlev

      Thanks for clarifying. It makes sense. Looks like that editorial calendar is an always-opened spreadsheet.

  • Michele Linn

    Hi Jen,

    First off, I just found your comment inadvertently in our commenting system’s spam filter, so my apologies for the very delayed reply.

    Kudos to you for thinking about customer-centric and company-centric info separately – this is one issue that a lot of marketers face. Truth be told, my editorial calendar is always evolving, as I add new information to it. Personally, I like to keep everything in one spot so I see how both company-centric and customer-centric ideas fit together, but depending on how your company is organized, it could make sense to break these out if certain groups only care about certain things.

    I’d love to hear how your editorial calendar is going!

  • Prasant Naidu

    Amazing Michele, we at LHI have started evangelizing insights in Social Media and keeping a spreadsheet integrated with your calendar is really amazing. will do it now 🙂


    • Michele Linn

      Prasant – I like your idea on integrating your calendar with social media!

  • Fiona Hutcheson

    I recently created an editorial calendar too. I need to include everything from blog posts to videos to articles, keep track of multiple authors and creators, and categorize everything by product and target audience. After a lot of work, I have a sheet that works. Or so I thought. The dates on my calendar tend to shift around a lot, and I have to keep emailing it to everyone in my department. Different people need to see different things and be updated at different times. I really want a solution that can be accessed at anytime by everyone in my department. Any tips?

    • Michele Linn

      Hi Fiona,

      I know what you mean! I keep my calendar in Excel and share it with people via Dropbox. This way, I can continually make updates (which I do) and people can see it whenever they need to. You can also use a Google spreadsheet that is shared with the team, which is what we do for another blog I am involved in. Would either of those ideas work for your situation?

      • Ivan Walsh

        Hi Michele, 

        I use Google Docs. One thing I also do is to color code critical post and/or add status column (draft, review, finished)

        Hope that helps. 


    • Emma

      Google docs. thats really what it’s built to solve, if you’re looking for something on a basic level 🙂  it will track revisions and supports multiple users and sharing. it’s v intuitive.

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  • Emma

    Hello – as someone with more digital/design experience and less marketing/content publishing experience, it would be very insightful to see an example of how this is actually filled out. it’s a little vague to me why you have “event” written in a column heading i assumed was indicative of a content type being put here instead.
    For example you have Blog Post in col next to it, i assumed perhaps this column would say something like Video or Webinar or Screencast, with the actual content title underneath… I don’t understand how an event or happening is part of content, other than as an inspiration for content creation or a category of what the content relates to..

    “Important Dates” I would assume detailed and included actual events and happenings that may spark creation of content around topics/provide a basis on which to put out content relevant to current happenings..

    So it would be really useful to have this clarified .

    Thanks – this is so far the most insightful blog post ive read on the topic so far 🙂

    • Michele Linn

      Hi Emma,
      Great questions. I’ve been thinking about updating this post, and this is great feedback. In the next revision of this post, I’ll fill out the template. In the meantime, here’s a better idea of what each of the columns means:

      * Important dates: This is anything going on within the company that may impact editorial. For instance,  this could be a a press release you’re sending out, a new product release, etc. This obviously isn’t content you need to create, but it’s good to have all dates in one place.

      * Blog posts: These are the blog posts you’d publish. CMI has a daily blog, which is why I beak this out by day. For your situation, the master calendar may make sense to look content by week instead of by day.

      * Content type/Event #1: I do things a bit differently now and don’t even include these columns (hence the need for an updated post). But in these columns you can track what other content you are releasing or events such as webcasts that are going on.

      Let me know what other questions you have!

  • Rabbi Arie Chark

    Your post was really helpful. Thank you, MIchelle. My background is broadcasting, so I use a 4 or 5 week calendar depending on the month. Our journal editorial calendar uses 14 sheets — one for ea month, one for the type of content suitable for ea day, and one for the beats we cover. Some beats are useful for more than one journal, others not. 

  • Rabbi Arie Chark

    Your post was really helpful. Thank you, MIchelle. My background is broadcasting, so I use a 4 or 5 week calendar depending on the month. Our journal editorial calendar uses 14 sheets — one for ea month, one for the type of content suitable for ea day, and one for the beats we cover. Some beats are useful for more than one journal, others not. 

    • Michele Linn

      Hi Rabbi – I love the idea of having sheet for each beat! I’m sure it helps you make sure you’re covering various aspects of the topic. Appreciate you adding to the conversation!

  • José Antonio Sánchez

    This post is amazing, really helpful and detailed. I just set up my own editorial calendar for the company that I work for. I have a background in journalism/publishing and that probably helped, but thanks anyway! 🙂

    • Michele Linn

      Glad this was helpful. Considering your background, is there anything you would add or change to make the calendar more effective? 

  • Carl Friesen

    One aspect I find missing from this is what’s going on in the customer/prospect’s life. In the B2C world, much of the sales cycle is built around the seasons — everything from sunscreen to snow shovels. Of course, you need to time it correctly — much as monthly magazines are working several months in advance of the seasons. In the B2B world, much of the customer/prospect’s world revolves around events such as trade shows and conferences. If a company exhibits at these events, or is making a presentation, this is something that the CM and social media program needs to acknowledge.

    • Michele Linn

      Really great point, Carl. Thanks for the addition!

  • Lisa Hutt

    Any chance you did the updated version of this post and it’s somewhere else on the site? If so, could you provide a link?

    Thanks so much for a great post.

    • Michele Linn

      Hi Lisa,
      I haven’t done an updated version yet, but your comment is a great reminder. Is there anything specific I can help you with?

  • Stacy Guidice

    I am trying to read this page but the programming is messed up.  The copy and buttons are all on top of each other.  Help!?

    • Michele Linn

      Our web person is looking into this and will solve ASAP!

    • Social Tract

      Hi –  we are trouble shooting this, Stacy, but so far are unable to duplicate what you describe.  What browser and operating system are you using?

  • Al Silva

    Thanks a million! Excellent post, has me working OT.

    • Michele Linn

      You’re welcome. Hope the planning goes well!

  • Georgina Liew

    Great post Michele! It’s really helped me to gather my thoughts around our content marketing schedule.

    • Michele Linn

      Glad this was helpful!

  • Sarah Suhail

    Awesome information. With so much input on Editorial Calendars, it was refreshing to read something new!
    I’ve just started making mine. Good old Excel!

    • Michele Linn

      I love Excel and Google docs!

  • Ashish Shukul

    Very useful Sarah. Been looking for this guidance for quite some time, never found something so simple yet effective. Thanks a lot.

  • Katy Schamberger

    Great, great post, Michele! I consider our editorial calendar to be an ongoing work in progress, so it’s always nice to hear tips and to read about how others create and maintain their calendars. Personally, I’m a fan of Google spreadsheets because they can be viewed by multiple team members – plus, those who have permission can edit/update as needed, ensuring that the doc we’re using is the most current version. Thanks again for the valuable information!

  • Lindsey Schober

    I’m tackling this now and so appreciate how comprehensive this post is. I’m an excel girl myself, but will look into Google spreadsheets now too. Thank you x 1 million. Excellent post.  

  • Valerie Leroyer

    Great information with so much details! A great help for me as a beginner.
    Thank you!

  • Sarah

    Loved it, bookmarked it ^^ Thank you!

  • Chris Koch

    Hi Michele,

    Just stumbled across this post. Great stuff! One thing we recommend to ITSMA members is to divide content up into practical and aspirational. You want to have a good mix of pieces that tell buyers what to do now and what they should be thinking about for the future.

    • Michele Linn

      Chris — What a great idea! I love how the editorial calendar can evolve. 


  • Noah Davis

    Hi there. Is there a link to a spreadsheet that I am missing? I apologize if I am suffering from “man looking fridge and can’t see the milk in front of his nose” syndrome.

  • Igor Tishkin

    Michele, one question. You shows an examle of Excel-table. Is it strong demand? I mean, is it more useful to make dinamic calendar on Google Calendar for example or on corporative Intranet Calendar? Or you think that the editorial Calendar on Excel-table is better for Analitic work?

    • Michele Linn

      Hi Igor,
      I actually use a Google spreadsheet instead of Excel these days 🙂

    • Whitney

      Where are you form itmark? Dynamic has a Y, so does Analytic.

  • Mar’Lyn B. Atlas

    Thank you so much for the tips.  I now feel like I atleast have some direction to follow.

  • Bryan Espie

    Hi Michele, this is a great post.  Like Emma though, I think I’ll only really get my head round it when I can see a completed version, understood you may want to protect this sort of info but it would be super helpful and very much appreciated.  Hope to see the updated post soon!  Thanks.

  • Norys Trevino

    Hi Michele,

    We use a Google Calendar and it is helpful so that all have access to the latest information.


  • Claire Axelrad

    This is a super helpful post.  Thanks so much for the great template and guidance!

  • Kevin Cain

    This is a great post and very helpful! I would just argue that content marketers really need to have both an editorial calendar and a content creation calendar, which I’ve written about here:

  • Maria Schwarz

    Hi Michele. Great post. We work in a very similar way and we use Google spreadsheets. We’ve looked at other solutions, however found that spreadsheets meets all our needs, because it makes it so easy to collaborate in the content planning process. Maria, Seismonaut

  • Susan Savkov

    Hi Michele, I enjoyed the article and I agree on the editorial calendar spreadsheet one with the overall view and the other for each channel. I tried to find the template but didn’t see it. Has it been removed? I would love to see what you do to track.

  • Sue

    I could not find the template…did I miss it?

  • Shelah

    I followed a link to locate a “template”. Not sure where the template is, all I see is a pretty simple and incomplet spreadsheet…

  • Rebecca Bredholt

    When I do editorial calendars with my clients I start with listing the Events/News first, down the left. Then I determine the date, the location the content needs to be distribution on/through and then a headline or angle. I guess doing the topic first, date second comes from working in the magazine industry for so long and learning that dates change, but once you’ve paid for content, you’re going to use it! 🙂

    • Michele Linn

      Hi Rebecca,
      That is a really good point. I have found myself doing that for certain kinds of content as well. I’ve actually changed the way I work with my editorial calendar since I wrote this post, and I’ll be writing an update soon. I’ll include your suggestion!

  • Kelly Robertson

    Can you provide an example of an editorial calendar using the template above that has a few lines of information filled in? I’d love to see a working example. Thanks!

  • Michele Linn

    Hi everyone,

    I added a link to a blank Excel spreadsheet template that you can customize in the post above. Here’s the direct link:

    Thanks for all of the interest!

    • Anne Miles

      Hi Michele, this is a great post thank you. The links you provided each time simply link to this post page rather than a PDF download. Your tech person needs to update the links to the PDF location.

  • Tilak Kumar

    Very informative post !

  • Edward Chamberlain-Bell

    Editorial calendars are essential for content marketing.
    I especially like using them because of the different ideas I generate while planning
    my content schedule- there are always ideas one may have overlooked had one not
    started planning an editorial calendar.

    For example an article about using strawberry jam in
    recipes creates an idea for an article for strawberry jam recipes (The top 10
    recipes!) which in turn allows me to plan a social media campaign encouraging
    people to submit their recipes (with pictures!) – with even more ideas for
    using strawberries. Just when I thought I was strapped for content  I suddenly find I’m actually strapped for
    time- which is another reason why I think editorial calendars are essential for
    content marketing.

    Then everything gets updated through  Schedule-It on Facebook- and I’m back to
    square one thinking about what to write about!

    Great article, Michele. Thank-you! 

  • Ann Smarty

    Timeless article, yet, even two years later.

  • Anne Miles

    Thanks for the link to the template. Much appreciated.

  • Scott Spinola

    Great article… until your web site told me you don’t want me to read it by plopping an ad on top of the page. Nothing screams “GO AWAY NOW” louder than ads overlaid on top of content. Why marketing people and web designers do this is beyond me. It’s like they’re trying to annoy viewers into submission or something. This makes me want to leave and not return.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Scott…I get it, I really do. If you have other recommendations for things to try, we’re open to it. What we know is that most people subscribe immediately when they see the popup (rather than waiting until you scroll to the end). It’s amazing to me. Also, the majority of our subscribers sign up every day through that popup…and subscribers are how our business model works.

      I appreciate the feedback, truly…we are always searching for the best way to directly connect with readers.

      • Barbara Behan

        How interesting! I have never subscribed to anything through popups.

        • Jael James

          We’re in the same club, Barbara. Never…not even once has a popup on a first time visit prompted me to subscribe. Like Angela said, I complete the reason for my visit first, maybe even take a look around and then I either click away or bookmark (if I want to explore more later). If I do eventually subscribe, it’s never through the popup.

      • Angela T.

        I’m surprised to hear that new readers overwhelmingly subscribe upon first impact. I typically- well, always- close those immediately in order to not interrupt my first goal, and read the article first. After this, I bookmark. If I like what I see throughout some of the rest of the site, then I subscribe manually upon the static prompts. This was a great one!

      • John Harris

        Can you share the part of the analytics that speaks to how many bounces result from the pop-ups? Is it possible you have more conversion in the pop-up versus the in-post CTA simply due to bounce-rate limiting follow-through? Personally, I need to sample some content before I am willing to add more feeds to my day. Are you finding any difference in the quality of the conversion between the two opportunities? i.e. do the pop-up subscribers actually read their new content and engage? What is their unsubscribe rate versus those to subscribe via other CTAs? Certainly the goal isn’t to just acquire subscribers – but to get meaningful subscribers – yes?

        • Michele Linn

          Hi John — These are great questions. We don’t yet have answers for all of this, but we are working on ways to measure that we are getting the right kinds of subscribers instead of simply looking at raw numbers. You’re absolutely right that *meaningful* subscribers are the goal.

      • Joshua Monen

        Joe, I’m a reader with a different perspective on the popup. I actually appreciate that you made it so easy to sign up (I just used the popup to subscribe 2 mins ago!). I heard about your book (Epic Content Marketing) from my copywriting mentor and I’m reading it now.. and I love it! It’s the best book I’ve ever read on the subject (and I read a lot).

        I especially appreciate when you say that if your content marketing isn’t helping you accomplish some business goal (like more email subscribers) then you’re not marketing, your just writing content.

        So yes, some will complain about things like popups but any good marketer will look at the numbers and make data-driven decisions based on empirical evidence (not anecdotal comments from a few people who get easily offended). Keep doing what you’re doing!

        • Sarka

          I second that – I just subscribed thanks to the pop-up. And even if I didn’t I would get pretty quickly over this 2 second ‘annoyance’.

    • Joshua Monen

      When I see a popup I hear it saying something else: “Hey you. Yeah, you. The one coming to consume all this great content for free. Do you want more where that came from? Ok, then make a decision right now.”

      • Michele Linn

        Really appreciate your alternate perspective, Joshua!

  • Tiffany Howard

    I’ve never used an editorial calendar before, but this post makes a convincing case for it. Thanks very much Michelle for the template and ideas.

  • SocialSearchMG

    This is the best article I’ve read on editorial calendar. This is an evergreen or a keeper for me! Thanks for the templates!

  • Aoife

    Hi Michele, very useful article. I am completely new to content marketing – could you share an extract of a completed editorial calendar?

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    Very good article