Magazine Publishing - Building your editorial calendar

Magazine Publishing - Building your editorial calendar

How do you build a functional editorial calendar and why is it important for newsroom? Learn more.

What is an editorial calendar?

It is a well-planned timeline that outlines high-level and thematic frameworks that help achieve content goals and are paced annually.

It is a helpful plan to have as it makes it easier to build content strategies and delegation of work. It helps emphasize the relevant topics and ensures there’s no deviation from the same. An editorial calendar shows the big picture and adds details on what we should post.

If done right, this will help categorize corresponding timelines to establish transparency on content that is planned. It acts as a blueprint for content duties within the newsroom and points content creators in the right direction.

Why should magazine publishers create an editorial calendar?

Magazine issues work more rhythmically than online newspapers. As a digital magazine publisher, you have the space and flexibility to build issues through your CMS and have them develop parallelly. It’s easier to manage with the present tech stack.

This is why having an editorial calendar is more relevant today. Publishers can be prepared for future issues and have them scheduled for publishing with the right strategies in place. An editorial calendar will help you establish a route to follow for the year ahead. You can add details on every small detail like - front end changes, image specifications, content formats, and more. This could also help identify any content gaps ahead of time and solve that problem by aligning focus.

Here are a few things you can define :

  • Event dates

  • Themes or topics to focus on

  • Content publishing plan depending on your content cycle

  • Primary distribution channels including website, social media, etc.

For magazine publishers, you can arrange your issues around your cover story or in any way suitable to you. You may include feature writers, photographers, content coordinators, etc. The stages of production can also be timed on the calendar. With greater detail, you can ensure transparency and ensure that all the directions are clear leaving no room for error. The editorial calendar should help you be productive in an organized way, if any elements slow you down, eliminate them.

How to create an editorial strategy

  1. Plan content creation

Content creation is a layered process that involves more than just the writer. You need to be clear about your team and its highs and lows. Add a list of roles that will be involved in the creation of the content to reduce any friction. You may include - designers, coordinators, writers, editors, specialists, etc. Are you getting guest contributors? Mention their details. Help create a full picture for content creation from start to finish.

2. Identify your goals

You may have a couple of key objectives based on your discussions outside the editorial team. While it’s important to focus on all, have a few workable goals that can be set into the editorial calendar. Based on your primary focus, align your content needs with your team and develop a plan that is more functional and achievable.

3. Content mix

While you may have a group of talented writers, it’s important to sort out a content mix. List out all the potential content pieces you can get - features, cover stories, interviews, photoshoots, guest write-ups, etc. If you’re tight on capacity, stick with written content because it’s the least expensive to produce and the easiest to create with a small team.

4. Specify details

We’ve been emphasizing the need to add as much information as possible to your editorial calendar. Here are some of the details you can add

  • Topics finalized

  • Author for each piece

  • Insights from subject experts on relevant topics

  • Edited content pieces

  • Content distributed

  • Status of any design work

  • Progress charts

5. Balance consistency and flexibility

Now that you let the control freak in you all out, it’s important to take a step back. Once you have a calendar you can trust and a content strategy in place, you can use it to navigate your efforts around the team. However, it is also important to create a flexible plan. A rigid calendar will only cause stress whereas flexibility will help you move around priorities and develop with ease.

6. Measure your content success

As a digital magazine publisher, there is room for error. You can always go back and make suitable edits. However, it is important to make a note of all the loops you fell into. This will help create future calendars and help you predict errors before they appear. Having a positive outlook on your editorial calendar will help make better editorial decisions.