Whether you’re managing thousands of blog posts or a few dozen articles, you know that it’s imperative to have an editorial calendar to keep track of it all.
The good news is, there are a lot of great calendar tools out there you can choose from. In fact, for those of you who are HubSpot customers, there’s a marketing calendar built right into HubSpot’s software.
But one of the best editorial calendar options is Google Calendar. It includes features like repeat scheduling, syncing, and adjustable visibility so you can collaborate effectively with your team. Best of all, it’s completely free to use.
Intrigued yet? Here’s how to set up your editorial calendar using Google Calendar.
Follow Along With These Free Editorial Calendar Templates
First thing’s first: Download the calendar templates above (they’re free.) By doing this, you’ll have three editorial calendar templates on your computer to use at your leisure: one for Google Calendar, one for Excel, and one for Google Sheets. In this blog post, we’ll be going over how to import the Excel template into Google Calendar.
Step 2. Customize your template and prepare for import into Google Calendar.
The publish dates on the templates you download will be stamped for a previous year.
Feel free to change them to the current year in the spreadsheet itself — you can also drag them to the dates of your choosing after uploading the file into Google Calendar.
Google Calendar makes it easy to load a calendar you might have pre-created in another program into Google. This includes Microsoft Excel. Next we’ll show you how to import the Excel calendar template you downloaded in the previous step into Google Calendar.
Step 3. Open Google Calendar.
Once you’ve downloaded (or created) a calendar that opens in Microsoft Excel, it’s time to open Google Calendar. Just make sure you’re already logged into the Gmail account you want this calendar to give access to.
Step 4. Use the left hand dropdown menu to create a new calendar.
Next, set up your Google Calendar to accommodate the information in your Excel spreadsheet. To do this, go into your Google Calendar and click the plus sign to the right of “Other Calendars,” as shown in the screenshot below. Then, in the dropdown menu that appears, select “Create new calendar.”
Step 5. Fill out the details of your new calendar.
Fill out the fields that appear on the next screen. This includes a brief description of your calendar, as shown below, to give people proper context when you invite them into this calendar. When you’re done filling in the details, click “Create calendar.”
Step 6. Import your XLS or CSV file from the same dropdown menu.
Using the same dropdown menu you used to create your editorial calendar, you’ll now import the Excel file itself into Google Calendar. Click that plus sign and select “Import.”
Click the upload box that reads “Select file from your computer,” and locate the file entitled “Blog Editorial Calendar – Excel” that was included in the ZIP file you downloaded in Step 1 above.
Step 7. Select which calendar to add this file to.
In the second box below your imported file, click the “Add to calendar” dropdown. Be sure to choose the calendar name you just created from the dropdown menu, as shown below. Then, click “Import.”
Step 8. Click Import.
Once you’ve uploaded your Excel file and selected the calendar you want to add this file to, click “Import.” You should see an Import calendar dialog box telling you that seven events were successfully imported. Click “Close.”
You can now change the dates of the first seven assignments in the original Excel document if you’ve not already done so. Navigate to the start of your calendar. Be sure all of your other calendars are temporarily hidden by clicking the colored box to the left of the calendar name.
For example, on the week of January 3, you should just see one “Blog TBD” calendar event on each day from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Use the edit window of each assignment to change the publish date. So, for instance, if you’re satisfied with the 10 a.m. publish time, you can simply change the date. Each assignment will then appear as event blocks in your monthly calendar view.
Step 9. Determine your publishing schedule.
Now that you have your calendar created, it’s time to fill it in with assignments for the year. This is when you have to make some decisions about your blog’s publishing schedule.
While the Excel file you imported accounts for one blog post per day, this doesn’t mean you need to publish seven days a week. You can choose to publish every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Or perhaps you plan on posting on just Thursdays. Remember, the key to successful blogging is quality over quantity.
Don’t overcommit to a blogging schedule if the quality of your content will take a hit. How often your company should blog will vary depending on your business goals and resources.
If you decide to decrease the number of days you want to publish, click on the calendar event of that day and select “Delete.”
Even if you want to publish multiple times a day, updating this calendar is as easy as adding an event. Select a slot on your calendar to add another “Blog TBD” event and copy the default description from another one of the events you imported.
Next, it’s time for some minor adjustments. Currently, the “Blog TBD” events are set for 10 a.m. Feel free to move these events to whichever time your blog publishes content during the day.
Step 10. Set up recurring events.
Now that your publish dates and times are set, you can make these recurring events on your calendar.
If you have a regular publishing schedule, say every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00 a.m., you can put that in as a recurring “slot” on your calendar. It’s okay if you don’t have a piece of completed content — or even a working title — to put there yet. It’s just a reminder that you want to publish something that day.
To add your recurring slot, click on your first “Blog TBD” event and click the pencil icon to edit your event. This will take you to the details of the post, where you can create a custom recurring schedule for each assignment, as shown in the screenshot below.
You can set the post up as a recurring post, so it automatically appears every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00 a.m. (or whatever days and times you want).
Once you’ve selected the recurring days, hit “Done” and “Save,” and you’ll have an editorial calendar framework to work with.
For now, keep the event’s title as “Blog TBD,” but feel free to customize the description with any extra details you want to be sure you include for each post. Wait to invite any guest, as we’ll use this to assign posts to an author once you begin filling in your topics. With everything complete, click “Save.”
If you don’t have a recurring schedule like this, you might not need an editorial calendar just yet — but it is an excellent way to set goals for yourself. For example, if you know you want to publish a certain number of posts each week, even if you don’t hit every single slot, it’s a good reminder for yourself and your team that this is something you should all be striving for.
Step 11. Fill in your publishing slots.
Now that you know all of the slots you want to fill, you’ve got to actually fill them. (If you don’t have topic ideas yet, check out this free topic idea generator. It’ll give you some good ideas for content to put in the calendar.)
Let’s say one of the posts you want to write is “10 Surprising Facts About Tapirs,” and one of the posts you’ve already written and want to publish later is “Think You’re Cut Out to Own a Tapir? Read This First.” Just add them both to the calendar by clicking on “Post – TBD” on the correct date, choosing “Edit Event,” and then changing the “Post – TBD” text to the actual title of the post.
Now, let’s say you don’t want to write “10 Surprising Facts About Tapirs,” and you want your colleague to write it instead. To assign the post an author, you’ll invite them to the event as a guest. To do this, click on the event, hit “Edit Event,” then invite that colleague to the post by typing their name or email address into the “Add guests” box, selecting “Add” when their name pops up and hitting “Save” on the event once you’re done.
Now, anyone can see who is responsible for writing the post that’s going up in that time slot.
You can take it a step further by adding details to the “Description” box of the event, as shown in the large box in the screenshot above. You might include a quick synopsis, the keywords you plan to target the post for, the target audience you’re trying to reach, and the offer or CTA you will direct the reader to at the end of the post. Don’t forget to add the draft’s due date.
Before Google Calendar lets you save the event, you’ll see a dialog box asking if you would like to change just this event or all of the events in the series. Select “Only this event.”
Repeat these steps to assign each blog topic today and in the future.
Step 12. Share your editorial calendar with others.
Now that you have your calendar set up, you can invite people to see it. I’d recommend you start with your immediate team and regular contributors — as well as anyone who regularly asks you about publishing content on your company blog.
To share this editorial calendar with people, simply find your editorial calendar under “My Calendars,” as shown below. Click the three dots next to the calendar name and select “Settings and sharing” when it appears in the dropdown menu. You’ll be taken to the same screen when you first filled out the details of your editorial calendar in Step 2.
Then, you can add in the names of people with whom you’d like to share the calendar and set the right permission levels for each invitee.
It’s wise to keep those with the permission settings to manage changes and sharing to a minimum so there aren’t too many cooks in the kitchen — but I recommend you let everyone see all event details, so it’s clear exactly what content is going up in each slot.
Under the “Share with specific people” heading, enter the email addresses of those on your content team and decide if they have viewing, editing, or admin privileges. Save your updated settings.
Why Using Google Calendar as an Editorial Calendar Works
Google Calendar has amazing features that will help you manage your editorial calendar. For starters, if you use Gmail for your corporate email, everyone that you work with will already be in Gmail (and their calendar, specifically) all day.
As a result, it won’t be hard for people to form a habit of checking the editorial calendar because it won’t be difficult for them to find it.
Google Calendar also makes things really easy to move around and schedule because, well, it’s already a calendar. It has all the functionality you need to schedule stuff out and let the people who need to know about it know.
Along those lines, allowing people to view your calendar is simple, making it easy for multiple teams to collaborate, see what’s being published, and figure out when they might launch content and campaigns.
Finally, this sets a precedent for other teams to coordinate with your team in a straightforward way. You can have a calendar for upcoming campaigns, offers, social media pushes, product launches — you name it. And you can all share those calendars for a single-screen view of everything that’s going on so you can coordinate more easily.
Are there other solutions for maintaining an editorial calendar? Of course. But if you’re looking for a free, not-too-shabby, minimum viable product, then Google Calendar is for you.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.