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Keep everything for one workflow in one base. Concepts covered: bases, Airtable sync.
Building a unique personality, voice, and brand while informing what you do with data is one of the central demands on content creators today. Too in the Airtable base to indicate that the piece is done.
To handle the next step—paying the writers for the work they've done—Roy has another table in the same Airtable base that collects all of the information he needs to finish his invoices:
- the employee's name
- the invoice amount
- the work done
- the date of the invoice
- the payment date
- the period covered by the invoice
When the invoice is processed, he can then go back to that original table and hit the “Paid” checkbox.
“To be able to manage all our projects in one place, and then hit one of two checkboxes to update, one, who I owe how much money to and two, have they gotten paid? Everything is just right there,” Roy says. “From a document storage-meets-spreadsheet-meets-small business management perspective, it's incredible. There's nothing else I've seen that can do this.”
Running this all out of Airtable brings Roy a lot of other side benefits. He can easily get a glimpse of each individual project and see exactly how much working product it entails, how much revenue it brings in, and how important it is to the business overall.
He can also track which clients have paid him and related information—when he's sent out the invoice, when the invoice is due (using a simple date-addition formula), and whether it's been paid.
Airtable allows Roy to manage all of the most important information that runs through his agency at any given time—what projects need to be done, who is working on them, and whether or not everyone has been paid for their work.
Deliver structured, collaborative content to clients
Recently, Roy's started experimenting with using Airtable not just to manage his editorial calendar but also to deliver content to clients in a more structured, collaborative way.
Sending documents seems a simple and straightforward way of delivering work product, but using Airtable to run his business led naturally to an experiment with using Airtable to do that as well.
The problem with a complex document like an email campaign, especially when that campaign runs over the course of several months, is that you often have lots of moving and changing parts to deal with.
For many of Roy's clients, that meant:
- different events to promote depending on the week and the newsletter
- different external influencers to reach out to to help promote the content
- different job listings and other opportunities to include
Managing all these changing elements in individual documents would mean endless versioning issues and emailing back-and-forth—kind of like running an agency without Airtable did, previously.
By using Airtable to deliver work, Roy found that he could skip all that and instead deliver a database version of each campaign to his clients—allowing the two of them to work collaboratively to keep their campaigns stocked with the right information and copy from week to week.
Content creation is important, but just as important for Roy and his clients is making sure that the content they create gets out there to the people who can help promote it and spread the word.
Roy's clients often have prospective social media influencers in mind, but lack the time to reach out to collect and reach out to them on their own. And in addition, each email newsletter he helps run has a different group of pertinent influencers connected to it.
To manage these, Roy and his client assembled a list of influencers, then Roy added those to the content product Airtable base with flags for subject matter inclusion, allowing his team to tailor the influencers contacted to the topics actually being covered in a particular newsletter.
With an entire newsletter formatted into a base, it suddenly became much easier for Roy to communicate over what to include and how it would look week after week.
“Before, it was a mess in terms of trying to coordinate what we included last week and what we need to include this week,” Roy says. “Before, they would Slack us some stuff, email some stuff, Twitter DM some stuff, and stuff would get lost. And now, they can copy and paste right into a simulation of the final product, add some text here, a URL there, and so on.”
“What I really like about it is that it's providing the client with a really simple, structured way to look at the work we're delivering and add their feedback and fixes,” he adds.
Since the newsletters are a weekly production, sometimes a client will want to advertise a certain job or opportunity for a certain number of weeks and then cut it off.
This is the kind of detail that normally adds another layer of logistical complexity. Roy solved it by adding a field called “Include Thru” that allowed his client to add this information themselves to the product's Airtable base.
“They'll add it or tell us a date to include it through and then we will know right away, each week, whether to keep it in the newsletter or not. So this has been very helpful in both communicating with the client and managing this stuff ourselves,” Roy says.
Giving the client an easy way to make a change to the body text of that week's newsletter, update the date through which a certain ad should run, and add to the list of influencers who will be contacted—this is what makes delivering content through Airtable different.
“We're probably saving at least a few hours each week with this base for this client, but it's also improved our relationship with them. Before, stuff would slip through the cracks. There might be a job listing they had promised some important person that would be included and then it would not make it into one of the newsletters, that kind of thing,” Roy says. “So this has actually tightened everything up and really improved our relationship with them.”
It's not just asking the client to use your system because it saves you time—it does that, but it's also saving the client time and giving them peace of mind that everything is being taken care of. Because the whole content product and its distribution model lives in Airtable, clients don't need to worry about their requests slipping through the cracks or getting lost in a far-flung doc—the product lives in Airtable, the representation of it there reflects reality perfectly, and delivery can move along at a quick cadence.
“Once we showed them that here is this specific place where in one click you can change the view, and you can filter exactly what articles showed up in last week's newsletter, what events and jobs showed up on the May 5 edition, here are all the journalists that you want to try to tweet at this week, and you don't have to even filter through a huge list anymore—that's where they'd really started liking it,” Roy says.
Your editorial calendar is the single source of truth for everyone on your team involved with content production. Whether you’re publishing content for an internal company blog or running a digital publication, an editorial calendar helps you store critical information around articles, stories, and distribution.
The problem is that editorial calendars get messy fast. When trying to cobble together an editorial calendar across several different tools, like Google Sheets, Google Calendar, and Trello, information gets lost.
Providing the right structure to your editorial calendar helps you eliminate the logistical overhead and spend most of your time where it counts — actually writing content. Organizations that publish 12 times a month see up to 3.5x the traffic of organizations that publish once a month.
As with most things, the hardest part is getting started. That’s why we’ve put together some of the most helpful editorial calendar and content marketing templates that people have built on Airtable below. We’ve collected five of our favorites from various Airtable users across blogs, digital publications, and marketing agencies. Feel free to rip and mix them as you like!
1. Centralize your editorial calendar and content pipeline
If you’re doing content marketing by publishing posts on a company blog, you want to grow traffic by targeting an audience of people who are likely to be interested in your product. That means producing content along specific verticals and user personas.
The difficulty with traditional editorial calendars is that they often disperse the information you need across different tools — you might have your buyer personas mapped out in a Google Doc, deadlines in Google Calendar, and article drafts in Dropbox Paper. Switching between these tools means that information can slip through the cracks, making it difficult to track how your content is performing and how best to meet business goals.
We put together this starter content marketing template to help content marketing teams consolidate all the information they need into a single database.
For day-to-day collaboration and logistics, the editorial table contains a kanban view that makes it easy for everyone on the team to see the status of each article in the pipeline. In the same table, a calendar view keeps track of the deadlines for every article. Another editor view shows only articles that have been drafted and need editing.
While the editorial table keeps track of logistics and production, additional tables for verticals and SEO keywords help tailor each piece of content according to bigger business objectives. In the database, each record links to a specific keyword as well as a user persona.
2. Manage a digital publication
With a small team, the primary constraint to producing and publishing content is sheer manpower.
There are only so many hours in a day, which means that you have to balance coordinating edits, promotion, and distribution with the actual task of producing the content. For digital publications today, there’s a lot more to content production than just writing a couple hundred words and loading them into WordPress. Once a post is published, it has to be distributed across channels like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
A well-structured editorial calendar reduces communication overhead and allows your team to spend their time where it counts — actually writing.
The folks at Singularity Hub, a publication on technological progress, use their editorial calendar to keep track of information specific to each story — from deadlines to drafts to image assets.
Once an article is marked as “Complete,” it’s then moved from the production pipeline into a social media view.
Once published, articles are handed off to the social media manager through this view. Each story record details what should be published per social channel for every article.
By doing this, Singularity Hub can maintain a single editorial calendar to organize content production across WordPress, Medium, and YouTube, as well as social media distribution.
3. Collaborate remotely with your editorial calendar
Airtable And Asana
Today, teams running an online content publication are often remote or enlist remote freelancers to help out with content production.
At QuickBooks Resource Center, QuickBooks’ online publication for small business owners, in-house editors work with freelance writers and SEO strategists to produce content on topics like managing cash flow, tracking inventory, and preparing payroll.
Their Airtable editorial calendar database is designed to keep everyone involved in content production on the same page — across various offices and time zones. One of the biggest challenges of managing a remote team is simply resource allocation. When you can’t look over at a teammate sitting at the desk next to you, it’s hard to tell when someone has too much on their plate.
To get around this, they have a Writer Workload view that shows who’s working on what at any given point, along with the status of each article. That makes it easy to assign new articles and redistribute existing ones based on writer capacity.
4. Interface with clients through your content calendar
For marketing and digital agencies, the organizational challenge of an editorial calendar is centralizing content production across multiple clients in a single place.
Keeping track of production was one of the main reasons why Animalz, a content marketing agency in New York, put together this base in Airtable.
Airtable And Wix
Similar to the Content Marketing pipeline template above, Animalz uses a kanban view to keep track of the status of articles in their pipeline.
Each of these articles, however, is linked to a separate Plan Periods view, which shows the number of pieces that need to be produced for each client every month.
Animalz bills clients on a recurring subscription basis. The Plan Periods table shows the intersection of each client’s plan with articles in production.
Animalz also uses its Airtable database as a CRM. Each article links to a record in a separate Customers table that shows how many articles per month are allotted to the customer, the monthly recurring revenue, and the customer contact data.
5. Strategize content concepts
Keeping up a high tempo of content production is crucial to growing traffic and building organic reach. But that’s only part of the equation. You also have to nail down the topics your audience actually cares about.
Embracing a data-driven approach to content, digital agency Purple Rock Scissors created a content counting database, which tallies up all the hypothetical content concepts pulled from doing user research.
As director of content strategy at Purple Rock Scissors Tricia D’Antin says, “The goal is to inform content strategy through data, rather than pre-existing assumptions, opinions, and beliefs about content.”
The main Content Concepts table lists various potential concepts that could exist on a business’ website.
Each content concept is then connected through linked records to alternate tables including use cases, business goals, page traffic, and more.
That makes it easy to tally up which concepts rank the highest for the specific work that Purple Rock Scissors undertakes for clients. It creates a starting point for the agency to craft a content strategy — whether they’re trying to drive higher search traffic to a client website, or redesign a site to better match use cases for specific customer personas.
Airtable Encrypt Field
The templates above aren’t meant to show you exactly how you should run your editorial calendar or your content production pipeline—instead, think of them as a set of building blocks to help you get started. The way that you structure your editorial calendar will differ based on various factors, like the size of your team, your audience, and your business goals.
Ultimately, you want to structure your editorial calendar according to the needs of your team — but that doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. Take a look at what other people have already done, and use that to create an editorial calendar of your own.
You can find even more templates for content production over in our template gallery.