Are you stuck every week with what to post on your blog? Is your social media all over the place? Then you need a content calendar for your biz.
Find out what a content calendar is and how to create a kick ass one in this post.
Never draw a blank again when it comes to posting day again! Become an organisational whizz and have the most cohesive brand ever in no time with your content calendar, spend less time worrying about what you are going to post and more time being awesome. Because, you know, you have more important things to worry about.
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What is a content calendar?
A content calendar can be used to plan the content for your blog, your marketing efforts, and your social media accounts. A good content calendar will have all the information you need to plan your posts, including post titles, authors, priority levels, posting dates, special holidays and events, marketing campaigns and so on and such forth. Your content calendar gives you an overview of your content for the month/quarter, which enables you to make sure that it’s consistent and focused over time. It also helps you keep your sanity (huzzah!).
A good content calendar allows you to easily plan your blog posts alongside your social media posts, email marketing campaigns, and other marketing efforts. This way, all of your content, social media and marketing can work together, and your brand will feel more cohesive to your readers. When you use your calendar to plan every aspect of your blog, things should flow much better overall.
The basics of a content calendar can
- Show you your overall plan for your content
- Identify the objective
- Track the big picture
- Be a system so everyone is on the same page
- Connect your to do list to your calendar
What Information Goes Into a Content Calendar?
At the very least, content calendars are the place where ideas, topics, and dates are stored. You can include extra information such as what opt-ins to link, post author, marketing efforts, affiliate links, series, purpose and whatever else your wee heart desires.
Just remember, how much information is included in a content calendar is entirely up to you. At the end of the day, the sole purpose in creating one is so those broad ideas and strategies turn into actionable campaigns, so it shouldn’t be overwhelming.
How to create your content calendar
Right, so now you know what a content calendar is, but how do you create one? Follow these simple steps and you will have your own kick ass content calendar in no time
Determine your goals for your biz
You need to set goals for your biz (if you haven’t yet, check out this post on how to set (and achieve) your goals). Decide what you are hoping to achieve with your content, this will help you stay focused and on topic.
Write down supporting goals for your primary goal. For example, if you are hoping to make money, how are you going to achieve this? Ad revenue? Selling courses? Affiliate marketing?
Brainstorm ways that your content will help you achieve these goals.
Evaluate your current drafts and ideas
You most likely have some content that hasn’t been published on your website or social media yet. These could be in draft form in your WordPress site, on scrap bits of notepaper, in an app such as Trello or Evernote or even just in your head.
Consolidate this list into one place. They make a good place to start in your future content planning.
Establish a Posting Schedule
Right, it is time to come up with a schedule. First, you will need to determine how often you will post. Will it be weekly? Daily? Bi-weekly? Whatever the schedule, stick to it. Consistency helps your blog look professional and keeps you on track.
Make sure that you can keep up with your schedule with your other everyday demands. You don’t want to burn out. Your schedule should suit you and your business.
Generate Blog Post Ideas
Now that you have the framework for your calendar, you need to brainstorm blog post ideas. Coming up with dozens of engaging topics and other types of content in one go will take time and effort, but you’ll save a lot of time in the long run.
Grab yourself a spare piece of paper and jot down all your ideas, do a good ole braindump. Make sure to keep your goals and audience personas in mind. Each piece of content you create should be strategic. It should help you reach your goals by feeding a need or interest of your target audience. Highlight the content that enables this and cross out those that don’t.
Read More: How to write the perfect blog post
Make room for special events and holidays
Blog post timing is critical. Some seasons or parts of the year which you may find are busier than others. Consider special events, holidays or relevant times of the year to your niche. This will enable you to establish the ideal content and time that you need to post your content.
You will also need to come up with a list of important dates for your business such as sales, launches or events you plan to attend.
Once you have your goals, launches, holidays and dates in mind you can start adding them to your calendar.
Add Your Content Ideas to the Calendar
When entering these headlines into your calendar, be strategic. Create a mixture of different types of content, for example, lists, reviews, interviews, roundups and so on. You will also need to think about the optimal days to post. You can find when your audience is most active by using Google Analytics (if you haven’t set up Google Analytics yet, follow this tutorial).
Keep these questions in mind when you are adding content to your calendar
- How does this benefit my target audience?
- What value does it bring?
- How will this help me achieve my goals?
Add your marketing plans
Finally, it’s time to consider your marketing plans for the year. These should support the content you have created and should ultimately help you achieve your goals, too. You can plan all of your social media posts (including images and captions), your email campaigns, as well as any ads you’re planning to purchase for the time period.
Review your calendar often
Though you’ve planned your content calendar down to the last detail, you should also be flexible as needed. Schedule regular planning meetings to look over your notes and goals to make sure everything is flowing smoothly. If changes are necessary, make the note on your calendar for future planning meetings.
Free tools for creating your content calendar
There are many free and paid tools and resources out there that will help you create your own content calendar. There are pros and cons for each and your budget will determine what you can use. However, I have picked out some free tools that have all the features you need to create your calendar.
Google Sheets is a free editorial calendar tool that is in the form of a simple spreadsheet though requires a lot of time to set up. Once you have set it up, you can make a copy so you always have a blank template to use. Beeauty!
Trello is a tool for editorial calendars that has simple boards that you can use to create an effective blogging schedule. It uses a drag-and-drop approach whereby you organize your blog content easily and into different lists. Trello can be used as part of a team and can be used on all your devices, allowing everyone to stay on the same page.
Evernote is a free notetaking app that syncs to all your devices. But, my friend, it is not just a notetaking app. Evernote now has templates including calendars, planners, trackers and more so you can customise your notes and turn them into good old content calendars. You can share them with your team or keep them to yourself.
The WordPress editorial calendar plugin allows you to drag and drop drafts and scheduled posts in a monthly view. You can see at a glance what your posting schedule looks like and you can edit straight from the plugin. Easy peasy!
If you’re old school (like me), you might prefer a physical planner. There are limitations with a physical planner in that not all your team has access to it and you will need to transfer all your content to your website, social media and other online presences. However, I like having a physical planner to jot down ideas, brainstorm and to organise my thoughts.
- Blog and editorial planner: create exceptional content, get more done and smash through your blogging goals
- The one hour content plan: the solopreneur’s guide to a years worth of blog post ideas in under 60 minutes and creating content that hooks and sells
- The badass blog planner: your guide to defining your purpose, creating clarity and building a year’s worth of killer content
- Content Strategy Planner | Second Edition: The Ultimate All-in-One Content Planning + Strategy Workbook (Volume 2)
Creating a content calendar is a crucial step to making sure that your blog or business runs smoothly, is cohesive and that you never draw a blank or miss a holiday again. Review your content calendar often in order to stay up to date and add to your calendar when a new idea takes hold.
Do you use a content calendar? Let me know in the comments what tools you use
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