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Our Free Editorial Content Calendar Template: How To Use It

Have you ever noticed that dreaming up big ideas and setting lofty goals is a lot easier said than done? Us too—especially in regard to content planning.


“I think marketers are very message-focused. They know what they want people to hear. They have to work backward from there to figure out how to make that happen.” - Andy Weir


It’s time for mission-driven organizations to really invest in their content, and figuring out who should be on your content squad is a key step in that process. While you’re building out your team, one of the things you can do right now to invest in your content is to organize it.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of content planning. And there’s no better place to start than with our (free) editorial calendar template!

Your Editorial Content Calendar

Content strategy and content marketing aren’t exactly new kids on the block. Professional communicators have been focused on content creation for over a decade now. And we’ve done a very good job of flooding the internet with content.

With so much content online, now is the time to focus on efficient content marketing through the lens of your overall marketing strategy. Otherwise, every piece of content you put out into the world isn’t working as hard as it could be. Everything you publish should be part of a greater content strategy—from your articles, webinars, and downloads down to your tweets, PDFs, and infographics.

Our free template is an Excel spreadsheet that will keep you on top of important dates and deadlines so you can drive your marketing goals. It’ll help you plan digital marketing and events. It can help you structure your social media marketing. Really, it can organize any type of content that your organization is publishing (or wants to publish).

With detailed and effective content planning, there’s nothing your organization can’t do.

Organizing by Message

The first step in developing your editorial calendar is to devise a monthly editorial message. Your monthly editorial message is more or less a theme for the content you’re going to produce and promote during that particular month, all fitting into your overall content marketing strategy.

Screenshot of Mighty Citizen's editorial content calendar with monthly editorial message

At Mighty Citizen, we plan our content quarterly. You can see our Q1 message was content strategy and content governance. We published blogs like “What Content Governance Is and Why It Matters” and “Higher Education Content Strategy 101: The Fundamentals” to reinforce our messaging.

Screenshot of Mighty Citizen's editorial content calendar with breakdown of blogs published during January

Organizing by Channel

There’s more to a useful content calendar than just dates and topics. The great thing about our content calendar template is that you can build it out in as much detail as your organization needs. This week-by-week calendar includes space for all of your channels including website, email, social media, paid advertising, events, and anywhere else your content lives.

For example, at Mighty Citizen, our calendar is broken out (and color-coded!) into the following channels:

  • Blogs
  • Third-Party Blogs (for partners who publish our content)
  • Resources (guides, templates, and other downloaded materials)
  • Videos (coming soon)
  • Insights Newsletter (our monthly email digest)
  • Email (for other emails like webinar announcements, events, etc)
  • Social Media (organic + paid)
  • Case studies
  • Speaking engagements
  • Conferences/Events

Organizing by Date

We recommend maintaining a yearly editorial content calendar. Thinking about 365 days’ worth of content is enough to make anybody dizzy—that’s why we break down our calendar into quarters, months, and finally weeks using spreadsheet tabs. This will make your big ideas and lofty goals much less overwhelming and much more attainable. Every organization we work with has different content and publishing needs so don’t be afraid to organize it to meet your own requirements.

For us, we put a date in the week that a piece of content will publish.

Organizing by Logistics

This is where you actually put the tires to the road. Arguably, the most important part of creating an editorial calendar is actually following it. When it comes to content governance, we practice what we preach at Mighty Citizen.

Every Monday afternoon, our marketing team meets to maintain and adjust our editorial calendar. We bump deadlines as needed and shift deliverables around. We check in with other members of our team on overdue article drafts or those metrics we need for a case study. And toward the end of each month, we brainstorm content ideas and build out the calendar for the month ahead.

Regular meetings with processes and procedures are essential to accomplishing your content strategy and staying on schedule.

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Our Parting Best Wishes & Best Practices

Consider this free template our content planning gift to you. I mean, the rest of our tools and trainings are free too. We just really want you to have this one.

Before I cut you loose on a content strategy spree, I’d like to give you a few pointers to help you start off on the right foot:

Update your staff

Make it a point to touch base with your entire team at your weekly or monthly all-staff meetings to review the highlights on the calendar for the coming weeks and months. You can’t gain or maintain your team’s support for your content strategy if you don’t share it with them regularly and make sure they’re included in the process.

Ask for input early on

If you’ve got team members that drop last-minute content ideas and promotional needs in your lap on an ongoing basis, updating them weekly or monthly on what’s ahead should remind them to come to you sooner. Determining monthly/quarterly themes ahead of time can help your team members generate ideas within a refined scope.

Protect the brand

It’s important to realize that you don’t have to produce every content idea that’s suggested. That is not a content strategy. It’s a free-for-all, and the effects of chaos and inconsistency are projected onto your users. What’s worse is when you overwhelm your audience and increase their cognitive load, leaving them to choose what’s most important. Bad news—they probably won’t see the content you want them to.

Make it work for you

The editorial calendar template isn’t set in stone. It can best be looked at as a living document. Don’t hesitate to make the necessary changes so it reflects your team and your process. If it’s beneficial to add in columns for “intended audience” or “how this benefits our users” to prompt user-first thinking, be our guest!

Update the calendar (no matter what!)

Have you ever heard of the snowball effect? If you get lazy with updating the editorial calendar, it will be reflected in your content strategy tenfold. Once you become acclimated to the calendar template, it becomes quick and easy to update. Before you know it, you’ll be habitually updating the calendar like the content strategy rockstar you are (or soon will be)!

Need some help organizing your content? Download Mighty Citizen’s free Editorial Content Calendar Template (it’s the same one we use—and swear by!).

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