Whether you’re a writer, editor, blogger, or social media strategist, a content calendar is a must! This indispensable resource allows you to plan your content activity in advance and share it with other team members. Creating a content calendar is easy, and once it’s done, you’ll be organized and on track to meet your goals.
What is a Content Calendar?
A content calendar is a tool that allows you to lay out and plan your content over a specific time period. It enables you to visualize at a glance how your content will be distributed throughout the year and may include ideas, topics, milestones, and dates. The benefits are numerous; a content calendar will:
- Keep you organized and on track
- Save you time and energy
- Ensure your content is fresh and relevant
- Provide your team with visibility
- Encourage departmental and outside collaboration
- Eliminate last-minute scrambling to fill a content void
A content calendar is a crucial component of your marketing strategy; it allows you to focus on deadlines and important events, and boosts productivity. A well-planned content calendar prevents repetitive and stale messaging, keeping your audience engaged. 88 percent of B2B companies incorporate content marketing into their overall marketing efforts, yet only 32 percent have a detailed content marketing process in place.
Taking the time to develop a content marketing calendar will position you for success. Here’s how to do it!
How to Create a Content Calendar
Building an effective content calendar for your organization requires the following steps.
- Brainstorm content ideas. Think about content that closely reflects your brand and industry. Make sure to list a wide variety; your options are practically limitless. Lists; how-to articles; Q&As (Questions and Answers); theme-based posts; case studies; testimonials; interviews; product reviews; tips and tricks; company or industry news; editorials; product success stories; and facts/statistics are all popular go-to topics. Plan content around specific campaigns for maximum effect.
- Utilize existing content. If you’ve got a large library of existing content, don’t be afraid to re-purpose that. White papers and reports can be broken down into individual sections and spun into a whole new series; old blog posts can be updated with new information; product launch announcements can be rewritten to incorporate user reviews and updated features; research data and statistics can be turned into infographics. Get creative and take advantage of the assets you’ve already developed!
- Decide how often you’ll publish. Your specific content strategy will determine publication frequency. Blog posts might be limited to one a week, while social media accounts are often updated daily, or even multiple times per day.
- Create a calendar template. There are plenty of free or inexpensive content calendar templates you can choose from based on your needs and preferred format. Some of our favorites include CoSchedule, HubSpot, Buffer, Bob Angus, Airtable, and Hootsuite. Or, you can create your own from scratch using an Excel Spreadsheet, Google Sheets, or—if you’re really the old school type—a simple printed or erasable wall calendar.
- Schedule your content calendar. Using your list of content ideas you’ve brainstormed, plan your calendar out as far as possible, depending on your publication frequency. Pay attention to important dates, such as holidays, and upcoming events such as webinars, conferences, product releases, etc. How far out you go is up to you; try creating a calendar for one month when first starting out. Once you’re comfortable with the process, feel free to plan out six months or more in advance.
- Track your analytics. You won’t know how well your content is doing if you don’t have some way to measure analytics. Look at engagement and revenue statistics in order to learn which types of content are working best, and which are less successful.
- Be prepared to change things up. You know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men. Your content calendar should serve as a guide, but current events and unforeseen circumstances (the coronavirus pandemic is an excellent example) may dictate a change in direction. Likewise, pay attention to analytics; if a certain type of content isn’t attracting an audience, try something different. The most successful companies think fast and pivot with the times.
It may take a little trial and error (and more than a few tweaks) to develop a content calendar that aligns with your marketing strategy and brand mission, but hang in there. Once you begin using a content calendar regularly and become familiar with its many advantages, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without one!