Choosing the Best Editorial Calendar for Your Magazine


The old adage, ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’ is especially true for anyone involved in magazine publishing.  A fast-and-loose editorial schedule may work well for a casual blog or an infrequently updated newsletter, but that approach is a recipe for disaster in a complex publishing environment. Decentralized teams and tight deadlines only heighten the important role that your publishing calendar plays in the success of your magazine. Having a functional and flexible editorial calendar is vital to your publishing plan, but how do you find the right calendar system for your publication? Read on to learn how to determine the right details to track and the best tools for managing the publishing process.

Determine Vital Content Details

No two content calendars are exactly alike; they differ depending on each organization's needs and goals. Some calendars act as a central repository for publication minutiae, including secondary and tertiary audience profiles, related keywords, syndication schedule and more. Other calendars contain only the bare minimum; perhaps including the content title, intended publish date, and nothing more. The goal is to find the perfect editorial calendar for your team. Below are a few details to include in your calendar regardless of the platform or system you use.

Article Title: Use the real title as it will appear on the final published piece.

Keyword: Even if SEO traffic isn’t a priority, having a clearly defined keyword is important. Targeted keywords for each piece of content on your calendar can help you avoid duplicating your efforts and wasting valuable time and resources.

Collaborators: Make sure your calendar defines who is responsible for creating, editing, and publishing your content. Having the names and contact information of each person working on the content is helpful for avoiding unclear expectations and miscommunication.

Primary Audience: If your audience is highly segmented, or if you have disparate audiences, be sure to indicate the target audience group for every article.

Funnel Stage: Indicating where each piece of content falls within the reader/buyer journey is essential for informing the tone of the piece. This information is also provides a general overview of which stages of the funnel lack content versus stages that are over saturated.

Publish Date: All milestone should be determined based proximity to this important deadline. Keeping your publish date front and center will help your team react quickly and handle disruptions in the publishing process.

Choose An Editorial Calendar Tool

Once you’ve determined the essential details to include in your calendar, the next step is to find a process or calendar system that works for your team. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to editorial planners and the fancy cloud-based system that receives rave reviews might be a poor fit for a team that is more comfortable updating calendars with pen and paper. The idea is to find a calendar that provides the flexibility you need without compromising functionality with cumbersome details. The options are endless, but below we offer a few of our favorites.



If your team uses an agile content production process or Kanban board, then Trello is a good option for your editorial calendar. Within a Trello board, each article moves from one list to the next as it develops from story idea to final production. Trello provides a great visual representation of your entire content creation cycle at a glance and it can also identify logjams in your production process.



CoSchedule is another great option for editorial planning on Wordpress sites. While the plugin was originally intended for organizing social media schedules, it’s an effective tool for content planning in general. The calendar-based view makes it easy to focus on upcoming deadlines and important dates. Every article can be assigned collaborators and the content is easily accessible by everyone involved. Analytics are also included so you can track your goals after your content is published.



Of course, spreadsheets are the workhorses of many editorial teams. A well organized and detailed spreadsheet is often more useful and efficient than a complicated calendar system that has a steep learning curve. If all collaborators are working from a single location and you don’t require frequent updates to your calendar, then a basic spreadsheet might be the best fit for your group. Otherwise, a SaaS or cloud based hosting option will probably be a more effective solution.

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