How to Build an Editorial Calendar for Your Association

By Sarah Sain, CAE • September 15, 2022

When you’re trying to run an association in a fast-paced environment, where everything seems to run a mile a minute, you can never underestimate the power of an efficient planning tool like an editorial calendar. 

Designed to keep you and your team on track at all times and always looking forward, an editorial calendar can be the ideal solution to avoid any setbacks, inefficiencies or bottlenecks that could arise when creating and deploying content.

An editorial calendar is a valuable resource that allows your association to plan all of its content for all of your channels in one place. It should be used by your communications and marketing teams, as well as the content creators and contributors who are responsible for publishing relevant and engaging content for your audience.

This tool can be customized to suit your association’s needs. Whether you want to organize it monthly/weekly/daily, by content platform, or by who’s writing it, you have complete free rein to set it up in the way that works best for you, your team, and your content.

Why your association needs an editorial calendar

An editorial calendar is an important planning tool that any association can make good use of. Not only will it help your publishing, communications and marketing departments work together cohesively, but it will also allow for enhanced collaboration between other departments as well, including events, education and membership.

Not convinced yet? An editorial calendar also:

  • Helps you to maintain an organized way to engage with your members consistently.
  • Enables your entire team to work collaboratively and share ideas.
  • Identifies opportunities to reach potential new members. 
  • Raises your association’s profile as a “thought leader” and expert.
  • Saves you and your team time by organizing all your editorial information in one place.
  • Minimizes the chance of errors that can set your team back.
  • Boosts your team’s creativity and productivity. 

What are the essential elements of an editorial calendar?

Your editorial calendar can be designed to include everything your association creates and publishes: magazine articles, case studies and member spotlights, videos, educational content, event promotions, and social media posts, to name a few.

To ensure the success of your editorial calendar and make something that your team actually wants to use, you should strongly consider including some of the following elements.

  1. Functional and aesthetic layout. Although your content calendar isn’t all about appearances, it should feature a clean and user-friendly layout that makes it easy for any of your team to understand and make sense of. 
  2. Organization by topic and type of content. To keep all your content organized properly and allow your team to find items that are relevant to them, it’s good to have some sort of filing system in place. For example, color coding each item by topic and type of content is a simple yet effective organization system.
  3. Document upload or editing capabilities. If you’re able to, you can cut down on a lot of time if you create an editorial calendar where you can directly upload and edit documents.
  4. Streamlined workflow process. It’s no good just uploading all of your different items and not making it clear which are being written, which need edits and which are published. Having some sort of workflow process in place will allow your team to move each item through the publishing journey and give you oversight on how each piece of content is doing.
  5. Writer/author allocation. If you have many different writers working on content at any given time, it should be easy to see on your editorial calendar who’s working on what. Not only does it make it easier for each writer to see what they need to prioritize, but it also makes it clear who to ask questions when they arise.
  6. Deadlines for drafting, editing and publishing. For each piece of content, you should include the ability to add deadlines to keep your team on track.
  7. Backlog and future content ideas. Finally, you should leave a space on your editorial calendar for content ideas and backlog items. These are ideas that aren’t going to turn into content soon but will provide a space for employees to note down their ideas and request content they think could be relevant.

How to build your team’s editorial calendar

Your editorial calendar will be something your entire staff uses, so it should be created with all of these people in mind.

By bringing your teams into the process of building the editorial calendar, you’re far more likely to create something that is useful and that your teams will want to use.

Here’s our step-by-step guide on how your association can build an editorial calendar:

  1. Organize a brainstorming session where all relevant team members can help build the calendar.
  2. Decide on what content you want to include in your editorial calendar.
  3. Research a range of templates and platforms to figure out what could work for you.
  4. Carry out a content audit of your existing content.
  5. Identify the different stages of producing content.
  6. Decide on a publishing schedule that’s realistic.
  7. Organize a content library that can work simultaneously with your new content calendar.
  8. Continually test your calendar and be open to making changes if necessary.

Creating an editorial calendar is one way that you can optimize the operations of your association. If you want to take it one step further, get in touch with us today and find out how we can create an integrated content strategy and boost your association’s content creation capabilities.

About The Author

Sarah Sain, CAE is senior director of content services for Naylor Association Solutions. Reach her at [email protected].