Blog / Editorial plan: 8 steps to your own content plan
Editorial plan: 8 steps to your own content plan
Jana – August 23, 2023 – 10 min read
Creating a content or editorial plan is a critical step in any content strategy. In fact, an editorial plan helps you stay on top of things and reminds you to create and publish new content regularly.
A content plan makes a lot of things easier, and that’s why in this article we’re going to show you how to develop an editorial plan that shows you when, where, and how to create, publish, and distribute your content, what the goals of each content piece are, and who in particular they should target.
What is an editorial plan?
An editorial plan establishes topics and content that you will create and publish across social media over a period of time. It also specifies who is responsible for creating each piece of content and when it should be published.
Creating an editorial plan is important because it ensures that everyone on your team knows their role in content creation. It also gives you an overview of what content needs to be created and by when. This also allows all deadlines to be met.
Basically, a good editorial plan robs you of all the stress that comes with creating content on a regular basis. In fact, you tie all of this into a working process through the use of an editorial plan.
Why you need an editorial plan
An editorial plan is the tactical roadmap for your brand’s content marketing strategy – namely, it outlines what you want to publish, when and where. With an editorial plan, you’ll be more organized and able to track progress toward your goals and ensure your content is reaching the right people at the right time. Therefore, an editorial plan brings the following advantages:
1. increased traceability: your editorial plan makes it easier for all members of your team or anyone working with you to see what was published and when, and who is responsible for creating it. This increases visibility and helps keep all content consistent throughout your campaign.
2. improved collaboration: an editorial plan enables better collaboration between teams and individuals so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to planning content and due dates.
3. less stress: with an editorial plan you have the necessary structure and orientation to reduce the stress of creating and publishing content. You no longer have to worry about what content to create or publish next, because everything is clearly laid out in your editorial plan.
4. more time: with an editorial plan, you can plan ahead so you don’t spend precious hours thinking up new ideas or publishing content at the last minute.
The main formats of an editorial plan and their advantages and weaknesses
In principle, an editorial plan can take on a wide variety of forms. However, in our opinion, these 5 are the most used and also the most successful:
- The Spread Sheet
- The calendar
- The mind map
- The project software
- The Content Hub
The Spread Sheet
The spread sheet is the most traditional format for an editorial plan and allows you to easily track ideas, assign team members, and keep an organized list of content topics. The downside is that it can be difficult to visualize the editorial plan because it is linear. Often Excel or Google are used to create a spread sheet and then customize it to your own needs and wants.
With this format you can display your editorial calendar in a clear monthly or weekly layout. This way you can quickly get an overview of upcoming dates and plan the content accordingly. However, this format does not provide enough flexibility when it comes to managing specific tasks or tracking progress over time.
The mind map
The editorial plan in mind map format provides a visual overview of topics, keywords and editorial goals. This format is great for quickly sketching out ideas and seeing how different topics can be connected. The downside of a mind map editorial plan is that it can be difficult to add details or track deadlines accurately.
The project software
Similar to a spread sheet, by using project software like Trello, you can easily assign tasks and manage progress over time with visual cues like color coding or images. Plus, you can quickly adjust tasks as needed without having to move them manually. However, apart from task management, it does not offer any other editorial planning features, which limits the usefulness of this format in terms of overall editorial strategy.
The Content Hub
A Content Hub editorial plan is an all-in-one editorial plan format that combines the benefits of a spreadsheet, a calendar view, and a mind map. It allows you to manage content ideas, track editorial progress over time, schedule posts for publication, and optimize content for better results. The downside is that setup can be difficult and take some getting used to in order to fully utilize all the features.
But which format is suitable now and when?
This really depends on your specific needs. Luckily, though, it doesn’t matter whether you opt for a traditional spread sheet or a more modern content hub editorial plan, because in this area, anything is better than nothing.
At Growth Marketing Map, we use a combination of spread sheet and project software. This allows us to work as individually as possible, but at the same time be accessible to new team members.
After the format is clear, however, you should also know what should not be missing from an editorial plan.
Elements that belong in every editorial plan
It is important to remember that editorial plans are living documents and should be updated regularly as the year progresses and new ideas emerge. However, the basic framework of such a plan should always contain certain elements. But since you already take the following general elements from your content strategy:
- Your goals
- Your positioning
- Your target group
- Your content mix
- Your style guide and
- Your content creation
Should your editorial plan focus on these more specific elements:
- Content topics
- Goals of the individual content pieces
- The target audience of the individual contents
- The format of each content
- The release date
- Keywords, Internal Links etc.
- Editorial Guidelines
- Dissemination channels
The topic of your post decides everything else. Each content piece and post should have a single theme. This then determines the goal of the content, which target group is addressed, when the content is published and what the further planning looks like.
In short, the content topic includes everything you want to talk about in the content piece. Ideally, your content strategy will give you some topics to choose from.
Goals of the individual content pieces
Likewise, you should set goals for the individual pieces of your editorial plan and for your plan itself. It’s all about what you’re trying to accomplish with each post.
The target audience of the individual contents
In order to determine everything else, you need to know who you’re targeting with your content so you can tailor messages to that audience. Ideally, you have already defined your individual target groups beforehand and only select the appropriate persona for the respective post.
The format of each content
You also need to determine what types of content to include in your editorial plan and when. The following formats are suitable:
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Cheat Sheet
The release date
For each post, you also need to specify when it should be published. First and foremost, of course, the day is crucial, but the time can also vary depending on the target group and should therefore always be taken into account.
Keywords, Internal Links etc.
You can also include additional elements such as keywords or internal links in your editorial plan. This facilitates traceability and collaboration in these areas.
Your editorial plan should also have editorial guidelines that briefly tell you how content should be created. Ideally, you can get this from your style guide.
In addition to the exact timing, the frequency is crucial. This is about knowing how often you should post and how often you can post. Once you know this, you need to decide how often to ultimately publish what.
Allocate resources to each editorial piece, such as budget, manpower, or technology needed to create it successfully.
Finally, you need to determine where the content will be published or distributed, such as on websites, in email campaigns, or in the respective social media channels.
Now that we know the elements that must not be missing in an editorial plan, let’s create one together in a few steps:
8 steps to an editorial plan
Below, we’ll help you step by step to come up with a template for your editorial plan. Such a one must always answer these two questions first:
- At what frequency do you want to upload new posts?
- What are my editorial guidelines?
Once you have these questions answered, it’s really just a matter of planning the individual content, and that’s why this article focuses more on the content of the editorial plan and less on the structure and functioning of the same.
So how do we fill an editorial plan with life?
We have answered this question in 8 steps:
- Step 1: Choose the topic of the post
- Step 2: Determine the target audience of your post
- Step 3: Choose the right format
- Step 4: Determine the goal of your content
- Step 5: Set the publication time
- Step 6: Set the channel
- Step 7: Pay attention to keywords and internal links
- Step 8: Pay attention to repurposing
Step 1: Choose the topic of your post
First and foremost, your editorial plan serves to help you map the topics you want to talk about to your goals, formats, audiences, and more. Basically, an editorial plan should show you and your team members what you talk about, when you talk about it, what channel you do it on, and what your goals are with it.
It’s about bringing structure to the chaos of your content planning.
So think about the following things, for each day you post:
- What topic do I want to talk about?
- What is my goal with this topic?
- Does this topic fit the target group I want to address?
- What benefit does my target audience get from this content piece?
- Does this topic fit the time I want to publish it?
- Does the topic fit the format?
- What posts should build on this post?
Only if you can answer all these questions, you should choose your topic, because it is crucial for the further steps.
Here, it can be important to know how to actually write a top-notch blog article.
Step 2: Determine the target audience of your post
Only after you have determined your topic does it make sense to choose the right audience for that content. After all, many companies have multiple target groups that have different interests. You should always pay attention to these differences.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Which of my target groups is interested in this topic?
- How must the topic be presented?
- What is the perspective of my target group on the topic?
- With which presentation can I surprise my target group?
- What insight or outcome brings my target audience closer to making a purchase?
If you have never thought about defining your target audience, we recommend our article: Defining Your Target Audience – A Guide to Defining Your Target Audience.
Only if you can answer all these questions, it makes sense to design the content.
Step 3: Choose the right format
Every target group reacts differently to different formats, and not every topic can develop its full potential in every format. That’s why you need to put some thought into choosing the best format for your particular content.
The following questions can help you make the right choice:
- What goal do I want to achieve with my content?
- Which format appealed to my target group in the past?
- What formats do my competitors use?
- What do I want to remain in the memory of my target group?
Step 4: Determine the goal of your content
The point is to clarify what you actually want to achieve in general with the respective contribution: Do you want to convince or inspire? Do you want to reach out or upskill existing leads?
Only when you are clear about your goals can you determine everything else.
Step 5: Set the publication time
The release date depends very much on your target audience. It’s all about finding the perfect time for your target audience and the topic at hand. It should also be noted that formats also work better or worse depending on the time.
That’s why you need to think about this as you plan your content.
Step 6: Set the channel
Each target group has its own channel and each medium has its way of communicating. In other words, well-performing content on Instagram is diametrically different from that on Twitter. You should keep this fact in mind and adjust everything accordingly. You should find out which social media channels you can use from your content strategy.
Step 7: Pay attention to keywords and internal links
Also, your editorial plan should have information regarding internal links and keywords. Because only if you pay attention to all these aspects, your blog posts will perform.
Step 8: Pay attention to repurposing
Last but not least, everything that is published should be examined for its own repurposing potential. In other words, you should think about how, when, and where you can reuse this post.
Use the following questions to verify if your post has repurposing potential:
- Would a different format support the topic of the post?
- Would a different format show a different perspective?
- Is the content difficult to understand and should be explained alternatively?
- Can the content piece be easily converted to another format?
The more questions you can answer yes to, the greater the repurposing potential of this post and you should think about when, where and how you republish this content.
The single content piece is planned and now you just need to distribute the rest of the tasks:
- First, you need to determine who is responsible for creating, editing, and publishing the content. Assign roles to this to ensure that each task is completed properly.
- Second, you need to check your progress regularly and make changes when necessary.
By following these steps, you can quickly create an editorial calendar that fits within your team’s availability and resources while meeting the editorial goals you set at the beginning of the process.
Still, without the right tools, it can be hard to create an editorial plan that works.
5 tools you can use to create an editorial plan
With the right tools, however, the time required for strategic editorial planning is rapidly reduced. We therefore recommend the use of one or more of the following tools:
- Trello – A social media editorial plan tool that lets you easily manage editorial projects, assign tasks, and track progress over time with visual cues like color coding or images.
- ContentCal – A comprehensive social media editorial schedule tool that allows content teams to collaborate in one central location. It allows users to organize their content ideas, review editorial plans, and schedule posts for publication.
- CoSchedule – A leading social media editorial calendar tool that helps you plan and execute successful content campaigns across multiple channels while staying organized and meeting deadlines.
- Google Calendar – A free calendar app from Google that lets you create and share events in the same calendar format as other editorial schedule tools.
- Airtable – A social media editorial schedule tool that combines the benefits of a spreadsheet and calendar view to give users an easy-to-use editorial schedule tool to organize content ideas, track editorial progress, schedule posts for publication, and optimize content for better results.
With these tools, content calendar creation can become even more efficient. So feel free to try out one of the tools.
Conclusion – Without strategy the best plan is useless
No matter how good you are at creating an editorial plan, if you don’t have a content strategy, it won’t get you where you want to go.
That’s why you should always look at your strategic planning first, then create an editorial plan, and finally conceptualize social media content. But if you are ready, then this article should be of great help to you.