Need help managing your content without feeling like it's pure chaos? If you’ve ever binged social media marketing tips online, chances are you’ve come across the Gary Vee content model. Figuring out how create a template for your editorial calendar can be intimidating.
But it's only intimidating if you approach it thinking the editorial calendar will stay exactly the same year round. Once you realize your editorial calendar will pivot with you and your business it becomes more manageable.
By the end of this article you'll learn:
- How to create an editorial template with Airtable
- How to use views and grouping to basically have five different editorial calendars in one simple doc
- How to use views to go from idea to production to distribution without constant email and text alerts from your team
For the record, I hate spreadsheets BUT they're necessary. Airtable is the only program I can not just tolerate but actually love. Not only is it powerful but it's also nice to look at. I use it with my own content team and for my personal brand.
There are affiliate links in this blog post. All links are for products I actually use. If you click any of the affiliate links in this post and buy the products, I’ll earn a commission (a.k.a money). However, you won’t be charged any more money for this to happen. It’s a win-win for both of us!
1. Create an Airtable Account
Before we dig into the nitty-gritty details, you’ll need to create an Airtable account. Once you’ve created an Airtable account, you’ll notice they have a bunch of pre-made templates. But we’re going to build one from scratch. I'm doing this so you can not only understand the features but also better customize it later if needed.
2. Create a New Base For Your Editorial Calendar Template
First, you’ll want to click on the plus (+) sign to create a new base and select to create from scratch. Make sure to title your base something clear such as “Editorial Calendar” so you always know what’s inside. You’ll now have a blank slate for us to work with.
3. Create, Label, and Classify Your Spreadsheet Rows
Next up, we’re going to create rows, label them, and classify them with their functionality. Click the (+) symbol to create, categorize, and label a row. You can assign a row to be used for capturing anything from emails to image attachments to URLS. You're welcome to add or remove rows, based on your own business’ needs, to make the template for your editorial calendar as simple or complex as you’d like it to be.
But if you want help with a general starting point, include the rows I've outlined below. In the end, here's what this editorial calendar template will look like.
Remember you can modify it to your company's needs. This template works best on desktop, not mobile. Now here are the rows to add for this starting point template along with their functions.
Single Line Text: Content Topic Title
This is where you’ll type a title for what the post is about. If it’s pillar content like a blog post or YouTube video, this would be the title of your video. If it’s a piece of micro-content for Instagram, it could be the first sentence of the caption or title for the video.
Collaborator: Team Member Responsible for Post
If you are the only person responsible for your content, you don’t need this. But if you manage a team of content creators or outsource to freelancers, this hands over ownership to a piece of content on your calendar.
Single Select: Production Status
Labels with production phases help the whole team know exactly where in the production cycle a piece of content is at. This way you avoid constant emails or texts asking for the status on a post. Even if you work solo, this is helpful to keep tabs on efforts.
The phases of production will be different for every team. Everyone has different team sizes, hierarchies, and requirements. Here is what mine generally look like:
- Planning Phase
- Production in Progress
- Ready for Edits
- Edits in Progress
- Ready for Design
- Design In Progress
- Design Ready for Review
- Approved (Ready to Publish)
- Published (Ready to Distribute)
You will likely even have different production cycles for different platforms. Or even for different team members. For example, let's say you work with a more senior level designer. After a few months designing for your brand they might not need a review phase at all because they've perfectly grasped what your content should look like. The fewer steps the better in order to improve the speed of production without sacrificing on quality.
Another example is if you run a podcast. You might have an asset collection phase to gather guest headshots, bio, and links. You could also have a phase to deliver promotional social media graphics to guests so they can assist with marketing the episode.
Tailor your production phases to your team, your requirements, and platforms.
Attachment: Thumbnail Images for Content
This row is to give everyone a visual idea of what is going out and where. You can upload blog covers, YouTube thumbnails, podcast episode artwork, or social media slide images.
URL for Links to Post Assets
Keep a record of every email, caption, blog, or graphic every created in cloud storage. For every post, I like to link to it so anyone can easily go to a post's editable files and repurpose it if required. So if I want to repurpose a YouTube video to Instagram, all I have to do is click the Google Drive link for the specific video in my Airtable doc.
Date: Draft Due Dates
Include date fields to set deadlines for first drafts, final drafts, and a hard date for publishing the approved piece. You can add more or less depending how rigid you want the process to be.
In this box, I place the keywords we're targeting for blogs. I'll include details such as:
- Monthly search volume
- Keyword difficulty
Long Text: Content Brief
What’s clear to you isn’t always clear to your team. I like including a content brief section for team members to be aware of the direction of a post and any must-haves.
This is also helpful if you work solo to remind you about the direction you want to take for any idea you place inside your template. Sometimes we get good ideas, jot them down, but forget what exactly we wanted to do when we refer back to a vague set of scribbles. This box resolves that issue.
Single Select: Platform
The single select feature creates a dropdown menu selection for you. You can customize the options with the platforms you’ll be on from blog to email or from youtube to instagram. There is also a multiple select option where you can classify a row with more than one option.
How to Use Views in Airtable for Your Editorial Calendar
Maybe I’m just a nerd, but I felt like a kid in a candy store when I discovered how to group and sort data. That big overwhelming view of your entire editorial calendar can be neatly organized in batches. You can group data by anything from the platforms you're posting to or the production phase.
Please note that the below views have been populated with random data for visualization purposes since I cannot share the actual data inside my actual calendar.
In order to trigger and create different views you'll need to click on the upside down triangle (▾) in the upper left-hand corner by grid view. From there you can create and label new views like the ones below.
The grid view allows you to view everything in your editorial calendar at a glance. This is usually how I plug in new content.
You can use the filter, sort, and grouping functions to organize grid data into blocks. In order to group together content by platform in grid view, I used the group button and selected to group by platform.
This view is great for isolating a specific content platform's production cycle. You can view all of your content under production in the document above. But you can also use Airtable's filter to create platform-specific views. What I also love about this view is the ability to drag and drop the cards into the production phase it's at. It's like you're create tons of different editorial calendar templates in one centralized document.
How to Create a Platform-Specific View Inside Kanban
- Click Filter
- Set settings to specify "Platform"
- Then set to "is exactly"
- Finally, select "Instagram" or any platform you wish to assign to this view
This is great so you can easily isolate and visualize your blog editorial calendar or social media content calendar.
Once I’m done doing the planning, writing, and linking content assets in the grid view, I like to switch to a calendar view. The calendar view gives me a clear daily overview of what is going out and when.
What If I Can't Keep Up with My Editorial Calendar?
Content production can become quite complex. You’ll find it’s normal to make adjustments to your editorial calendar. Making pivots here and there is part of content creation as not everything can be predicted and planned 1 month, 6 months, or a full year out.
Learning to work with a planning tool for your editorial calendar when you never have before takes time. In a study conducted by the European Journal of Social Psychology, 96 people chose to build one new habit over the span of 12 weeks all while reporting whether they performed the new behavior and if it began feeling automatic.
It takes over two months on average before a behavior becomes automatic. Even then, it varies greatly depending on the person, circumstances, and type of behavior. This study also proved that missing an opportunity doesn’t affect the habit-forming process. If you mess up here and there it’s no big deal as long as you aim to get right back on track.
You may assume creating lengthy content or even organizing it would be too much work. But, with time and practice, you’ll come to realize it expedites the rest of your content workflow. You’re building a new habit of getting your content in order. If after a week you feel stuck or incapable of doing this, don’t take it as a sign that it is not meant to be. Similar to the study on habit-forming, this is a process and you will make mistakes from time to time, such as forgetting to fill in your sheet. Work through this with a “practice makes progress” mindset rather than a “practice makes perfect” mindset.
But without proper systems in place to manage your ever-changing content ecosystem, things can become overwhelming. I love Airtable because it can do so many things we don't have to use 10 different apps to complete a single task. You can even play around with integrations - like Zapier - to automate segments of your workflow.
Remember to be patient with yourself. Content is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re building a brand new habit that with time and practice will become a natural part of your process to become a content machine.
Now you can do a happy dance because you’ve got a brand new tool in your toolbox to help you protect your sanity! You’ve got this 🚀😃