How to make an editorial calendar in Google Docs

You may have noticed that we like to produce a fair amount of content here at Whole Whale. Our philosophy (in addition to wanting to share as many great tips with you as possible) is that the more keywords we can index for in Google searches, the wider the audience we can reach with our how-tos, tips, and tricks (never illusions). How do we keep our content engine running? Through an editorial calendar.

First things first: Why do I need an editorial calendar?

An editorial calendar serves as a game plan for all of our communications month-by-month, in an at-a-glance format. This serves as our document for planning out content in advance, which is key (we like to sketch things out quarterly to have the right balance of birds-eye-view and granular detail).
We could do all of this via email or Slack, but having it written down in one centralized document makes it more codified for us as a team and solidifies our goals for the months ahead when it comes to learning engagements. Plus, it makes it easy for our writers to track, and for our content manager (yours truly) to organize potential articles around our keyword research.

Okay. So what goes on an editorial calendar?

At Whole Whale, our content and communications are far-reaching, and we like to include everything in our editorial calendar so that our on-site content can support off-site initiatives. For example, if we’re doing a Whole Whale U Live event with our BFF Beth Kanter, we may also want to capitalize on our time together and record a podcast to go live shortly thereafter. Or if we’re hosting a webinar with Zach Shefska of Fundraising Report Card, we may want to also host him as a guest writer for a website resource related to that theme to cross-pollinate our audiences.
We also like to look at larger trends: What conferences are happening each month? What holidays, awareness months, and national observances are taking place? Thinking in the way that people may be searching is also extremely useful here — for instance, we published our resource on Giving Tuesday well in advance of November to account for people searching for ideas for their organization early on.

Cool story, bro. So how do I make an editorial calendar in Google Drive?

Google Docs is a great way to share resources with your team, and it allows documents to be dynamic as things change (because things always change). We recommend using Google Sheets for an editorial calendar that can grow and change over the year.
The first column should be where you track your months. Once you’ve decided how many pieces of content you’ll write per month (be it 4 or 40), highlight the corresponding number of cells and merge them for that column. You can do the same cell merge in the next column if you want to assign each month a theme (this makes it a bit easier to group together content).
digital marketing calendar template
As you can see above, from there each row corresponds with one “master” month and theme. We like to alternate white and light grey for the week-to-week planning for readability (and set a color for each month to give a little bit of compartmentalization).
When planning out content for each week, it’s helpful to also know what world events and holidays are happening around that time, either for a specific piece or simply to keep in the back of your head. Keeping major events in mind will serve you if you are sharing the content on social media so you can join the hashtag from the beginning.
From there, choose the keyword focus you want to have for each piece of content, and then craft a title around that. You can even add a final column with social media taglines to go with each article so that you’re ready to share once they’re published. If you have multiple writers on staff, it’s also a good idea to add a column with who is responsible for which piece.


Digital Marketing Calendar Template

Spend less time on set up and more on planning!

Then what do I do?

Start writing! Keeping this document up to date and checking on it regularly is key to making sure content happens. Try as we might, we’ve yet to find the magical content elves that leave our resources pre-written, edited, and ready to go at our doorstep each night. Until we track them down, this is our second best option.
How to create an editorial calendar in Google Drive so that you feel like your own Miranda Priestly. #florals #forspring #groundbreaking Share on X


Want to have us do some of the work for you? We have an editorial calendar template ready for download below.