An editorial calendar provides you and your team with a clear and easy-to-follow plan for content publishing. What requires a concerted effort in the beginning can have a long-lasting impact as you can better navigate changing circumstances and new input with a robust schedule in place.
We’ve rounded up the four best free editorial calendar templates your team can start using today. Read on to discover editorial calendar best practices and try Wrike’s creative project management software for free today.
Why you need an editorial calendar
An editorial calendar is to a marketer what a project plan is to a project manager: a blueprint for what’s to come.
It’s a useful aid for projecting future content production, so you can put all the pieces and resources together ahead of schedule.
It provides you with a clear roadmap for your:
- Social media account
- Video streaming platform
Once the editorial calendar is in place, all that’s left to do is gather any necessary resources such as digital assets or contractors, assign the work, and put each piece of content through your production process until it’s ready for publication.
In many cases, consistency is key when it comes to creating and executing an effective content marketing strategy. As such, it’s imperative that you know exactly what you’re going to post each day, week, or month. After there’s a plan, you have the freedom to adapt on the fly if you need to address current events.
You also make collaboration easier with a schedule, since you can be transparent with would-be collaborators by showing them how your calendar looks. Without a calendar, you’ll always be on the back foot. If you skip over the planning phase, you can stumble into issues such as:
- A lack of coordination across content platforms
- Staggered content publishing
- Lackluster ideation
By forgoing an editorial calendar, you deny yourself the breathing room to come up with a coherent strategy and populate the coming weeks with well-thought-out ideas for content.
Content calendar vs. editorial calendar
The editorial calendar vs. content calendar debate raises several questions. While there may be some overlap between the two, there are some key differences.
First, let’s take a broad view of each.
The content calendar deals with the minutiae of the content production process such as titles, deadlines, and assignees while the editorial calendar addresses overarching questions such as:
- What topics are we covering in the first quarter?
- What’s necessary in terms of resources to execute for each month or quarter?
- What are the main themes that take us towards the goals our topics will tie into?
In an ideal world, you would have your editorial calendar set up before you draw up a content calendar.
Because it will give you and your team a clear indication of what the main themes and topics will be for each upcoming period. It allows you to zoom out and capture the direction you’ll take for the following few months, quarters, or years.
Then, the content calendar can fill in the gaps with details, outlining how you’re going to execute on a day-to-day basis regarding personnel and resource allocation.
What should always be included in an editorial calendar?
There are several core elements you must include in your editorial calendar. These elements are what will guide your content strategy and inform how you’ll fill out your content calendar.
The first task when creating an editorial calendar should be to identify the marketing channels you plan on using.
Are you going to post articles to your website blog or your company’s LinkedIn page? Will you post short clips on TikTok or lengthy videos on YouTube?
Once you’ve determined the type of content that will help you hit your company’s KPIs, you can find the right distribution channel that will help you get your message across.
It’s important to include this information in a social media editorial calendar since your team members will produce content differently based on the platform it will be published on. For example, Twitter posts will have a different character limit to Facebook posts, and the latter might benefit more from multimedia to grab the attention of people scrolling.
The second element present in every effective editorial calendar is the publishing frequency.
Whether you want to be granular and identify the exact time of day you want a post to go out, or simply identify the day or week, you should do so in your editorial calendar.
When you’ve identified the right time to release your content, you can start putting the gears of your content production process into motion. With a solid idea of deadlines, team members can start collecting any resources they need and creating the content ready for the publishing date.
Publishing frequency can be flexible, too. If there’s a hot-button issue you want to cover with your content one week, you can move the publishing dates around for your evergreen content to fit this in.
Topics and subtopics
The topics and subtopics you want to cover in your editorial calendar will largely dictate how you create a content calendar.
Different teams prefer to go about this in different ways. While some prefer to pin down a concrete topic for each quarter, such as entrepreneurship and business-building, others may adopt a month-by-month approach.
By creating your editorial calendar, you can ensure you cover every topic necessary to achieve your KPIs. These may include:
- Improving your subscriber count
- Boosting brand trust
- Creating an online presence
Editorial calendar templates
Coming up with an outline for your own editorial calendar from scratch is a daunting proposition. It’s challenging enough to identify what topics you want to cover to achieve your goals, so the prospect of creating the skeleton of an editorial calendar on top of that may seem intimidating.
To ease your burden and make things simpler for you and your team, it’s worth downloading a free online editorial calendar template. That way, all you have to do is plug in the relevant information and share it with your team.
Here are four editorial calendar templates you can use today:
1. Wrike’s editorial calendar template
The Wrike editorial content calendar template can help you set up your content pipeline and map out your upcoming schedule.
One of the best features of this template is the customization it offers.
A rigid editorial calendar — one that you can’t change easily — is only effective if nothing ever changes. Since you know that content marketing requires keeping your ears to the ground and adapting in real time, the last thing you want is an unresponsive calendar.
Wrike overcomes this issue by giving you the ability to track and modify information on the fly. You can stay on top of all the content you have planned according to themes, topics, assignees, and more.
Plus, Wrike’s online proofing software makes information sharing easy. Keep internal stakeholders up to date and invite their input with digital brief intake forms, and give the same option to external stakeholders with the visual markup tool.
You can even use the editorial calendar template alongside the creative brief template to automate your entire project planning process from the outset and set yourself up for long-term success.
Categorizing all of your content into different folders and projects in Wrike makes tracking progress on specific campaigns straightforward. You can also monitor progress through tailor-made content calendars that draw upon the information you add to your editorial calendar.
2. HubSpot’s editorial calendar templates
With editorial calendar templates for Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, and Google Calendar, marketing software HubSpot has various options to help you kick-start your content strategy.
Each editorial calendar is designed for planning out future blog content and includes all the core columns necessary for creating an effective plan, such as:
- Target personas
With a heavy focus on SEO (search engine optimization) blog content, HubSpot’s templates allow you to plot out details such as the keywords you’ll include, your ideal buyer personas, and strategic CTAs (call to action) for each piece of content.
Start on the left-hand side with your estimated publish date for each piece and work your way across, filling out all the necessary information for upcoming blog posts. These templates provide a straightforward plan for the next few months or quarters of blog content and can be easily interpreted by external stakeholders or contractors.
3. CMI’s editorial calendar template
This editorial calendar template by Content Marketing Institute provides a framework for setting up an effective blog content plan.
A simple Google Sheets template, this blog post pipeline includes columns for general information about upcoming content.
What makes this template unique is the emphasis on a moving pipeline complete with status updates. As a Sheets template, there are three individual sheets contained within the template:
- Scheduled: In the Scheduled sheet, you have standard columns such as ‘author’ and ‘category’ as well as ‘notes’ and ‘headline.’ This is where you’ll do your preliminary planning work.
- Ideas: In the Ideas sheet, you will identify topics, possible authors, and target publishing dates as you solidify your ideas.
- In Progress: In the In Progress sheet, you can systematize progress and monitor pieces of content with spaces to add when the draft is submitted, any editor updates, and the publication date.
With a clear system for sending content through a pipeline, you can streamline progress for you and your team moving forward.
4. CoSchedule’s editorial calendar template
The editorial calendar template from CoSchedule offers a detailed, color-coded approach to mapping out future content.
With the advanced template, you can monitor the status of every piece of content, add URLs to briefs and working drafts, and even link useful documents such as style guides or login pages for project management or CMS tools.
The template provides a separate section for plotting monthly themes and content campaigns for the year, and then a month-by-month schedule. This plan offers a comprehensive view of all your content and everything that needs to be done along the way.
There are separate columns for:
- Team members
Under each column, there are a series of pertinent factors that you can use to flesh out your content plan, such as CTA inclusion, authors, and the keywords you’ll target, along with their difficulty rating.
Streamline your creative projects with Wrike
Ready to streamline your creative processes across teams and channels? Visualize your editorial efforts, track progress, and collaborate on edits in one place with Wrike’s creative project management software.
With Wrike’s templates, you can manage every aspect of your projects, from planning to execution. For example, you can schedule upcoming content and assign to-do list items effortlessly with the action plan template while developing multimedia campaigns with the creative asset proofing and approval template.
Finally, Wrike’s cross-tagging workflow software enables teams to improve department visibility. Put the days of cross-functional collaboration struggles behind you and embrace a more transparent future for your project management in which teams can communicate quickly and effectively.