If you’ve started having a look at digital marketing for your business or even creating your own communication strategy, you’ve surely come across “content calendars”. But what exactly is a content calendar, how can it help your business, and most importantly how can you create your own?
Read on to find out everything you need to know about content calendars. Plus, I’ve got a free and easy-to-use content calendar template for you to download, so you can start producing and promoting content ASAP.
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar (also known as an “editorial calendar”) is a visual schedule and workflow that help content creators (and their team), plan, create, publish and promote content, on a daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly basis.
Why do you need a content calendar?
That’s when it’s becoming juicy: I imagine you’re here because you want to start or improve your digital marketing and communication strategy, which is great news.
You’re probably wondering where or how to start, or if you’ve already started, maybe you’re finding yourself struggling to produce content consistently. You’re feeling scattered, you don’t know what to post or when, and you just want to be organised.
And oh boy how I understand how you feel. This is exactly how I felt before I started using an editorial calendar to publish and promote my content.
Having a content calendar is a great and easy way to plan your content in one central place. Being organised will in turn help you:
Post more consistently
By using a content calendar you’ll be able to see your whole week/month/year in advance, including important dates for your business (launches, new releases, sales, …) and holidays.
Consistency is crucial in business (and in life tbh), showing every day on your audience’s platform(s) is the key to creating meaningful relationships and engagement.
Having a content calendar will allow you to plan and schedule content in advance so you always know what to post, when to post, where to post and how to post.
Save time by streamlining the content creation process
Gone are the days where you find yourself endlessly scrolling your Instagram feed, looking for inspiration and trying to figure out what to post at 9PM.
Planning your content ahead on your calendar will not only help you know what to post, but also plan your tasks and to-do list for each piece of content well in advance. Say goodbye to multi-tasking and hello to batching the most important or repetitive tasks.
Scale your strategy
Having a 360 view of your content you’ll be able to be more ambitious with your strategy. Start by setting up a basic communication strategy, show up consistently and once you get the hang of it, your genius brain will be free to think about new and innovative ways to reach your audience online. How you scale will depend on your goals and objectives for your business, it can be launching a new type of content, like a podcast or video, exploring different platforms to publish your content on or even run multiple campaigns at once. The sky’s the limit!
Improve the quality of your content
Not only being organised will help you allocate your resources more efficiently, it will also give more breathing space to improve your content. No more last minute sloppy posts, with a content calendar you’ll plan your topics, headlines and even CTAs in advance, and will have time to review your drafts and improve your workflow. Plus, you’ll reduce the risks of typos or huge mistakes.
I personally like to track my goals for each piece of content and ensure I have a good balance of educational/inspirational/promotional posts throughout my week/months, which results in a better content strategy overall.
Make it easier to collaborate
Having a content calendar is awesome when you’re a solo entrepreneur or managing your digital marketing on your own.
But it becomes necessary when working in a team: it allows everyone to see the status of each piece of content (maybe you have an editor who needs to review your articles, or a social media assistant who needs to know when to publish the Instagram posts), if multiple people are in charge of creating content the calendar allows each person to know what needs to be done and when. I’d also recommend having a “Notes” section so everyone can leave comments if there are things to improve or last minute changes.
How to create a content calendar
You now know what’s a content calendar and why you need one for your business. Now onto the fun part: creating your own! And if you can’t wait to have your content calendar, scroll down to grab my free template and start getting organised.
Choose a tool
The first step in creating your content calendar is choosing a tool that works for you. There are many platforms and tools out there that enable you to create an easy and efficient content calendar, but the most important thing you should take into account when choosing where to host your calendar is how comfortable you are with the tool. Some will prefer using a Trello board, Asana, or Notion, others (like myself) will prefer sticking to a good old Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet.
When I first started posting articles on my blog I used a simple Trello board: each card was a content idea with a due date, I had three columns: To do — Doing — Done, and that was it. But when I started expanding to other platforms and got serious with my digital marketing I started using a Google spreadsheet. Being able to see my whole year in advance allows me to be much more organised, focused and efficient, and I absolutely love my spreadsheet (and I can even have access to it wherever and whenever, which is great for creating content on the go).
Define your goals
The second most important step is to define your goals. Each piece of content should have a goal and help you achieve your objectives: is it driving traffic to your website, is initiating a relationship with your target audience and delivering value, is it increasing revenue?
I personally like to keep track of my goals in my calendar and have a specific column where I note down how I want each piece of content to serve me and my business. This allows me to be more focused when actually creating said content, but also to track the performance of my campaigns much more easily.
Brainstorm topics and content buckets
Then, brainstorm topics and content buckets that way you’ll broadly know what to talk about and can ensure you don’t always talk about the same subject over and over again.
For example my 3 main content buckets are: digital marketing, entrepreneurship and sustainability. In each bucket, there are several more focused topics I can talk about, like social media, SEO, email marketing, …
I also keep track of which topics I talk about each week, to make sure I talk about a variety of subjects and address my target audience’s pain points in different ways.
Choose your channels
There are sooo many content channels to choose from these days, it can feel a bit daunting. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, a blog, a newsletter, a podcast … Where TH are you supposed to start?
I’d recommend starting with a couple of channels: choose the platforms your target audience is hanging out on most often and the ones you feel comfortable with to start. You don’t need to be EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME.
Decide the key elements your content calendar needs to track
It is now time to decide which key elements you want your calendar to track. I’d recommend starting by tracking the dates (you know, like a regular calendar), including the important dates for your business and any relevant holidays, then the different platforms and channels you’re going to publish your content on, links to assets you might use, the status of each piece of content, and of course your goals and content buckets.
Establish a workflow
Now that you have everything you need to track and know where you’re going, establish your workflow: how often are you going to post? How in advance do you want or need your content to be prepared before it’s published? What are the different stages your content needs to go through before you hit that ‘publish’ button? Basically you get to decide how easy or how complex your content pipeline needs to be.
Review the calendar as a team
If you’re working with a team, it’s finally time to invite them to review your brand new content calendar. If you’re working solo, send it to your friends and family. Use their feedback to improve: maybe there’s a column that you know deep-down won’t be useful, maybe some tracking needs to be more detailed? Take this time to tweak and perfect your calendar.
Ready to start creating and filling in your calendar? You can download my content calendar template to get started quickly: it’s the exact template I use on a daily-basis to schedule and publish my content.
Originally published at https://www.solenerauturier.com on November 29, 2020.