content calendar

Why a Content Calendar Is a Critical Content Planning Tool

Content planning tools work well with the right strategy and structure in place. A content calendar is a great option to consider to help build an effective strategy.

So, you’ve built a rock-solid digital content strategy as part of your marketing plan and you are all set to start publishing top-notch content. However, if you want to achieve your end goals, you need a well-defined content roadmap or content calendar.

To achieve this, you must outline a lucid content creation and distribution schedule. Otherwise, all your content production efforts will likely be futile.

That’s why a content calendar is a core asset amongst all of your content planning tools.

It helps ensure that all your content assets are focused on your goals. Moreover, it facilitates seamless collaboration and communication between your team members. The right strategy helps you build a backlog of high-quality content and ensures that you publish at the optimal frequency.

Software such as Hubspot, or CoSchedule, offering content planning tools can give you a great place to begin planning your calendar.

Source: Shutterstock

However, if you’re a beginner, creating a detailed content calendar might seem like a challenging task. While you’ll find a plethora of ideas and tools, you may not know where to start.

That’s why we’ve outlined a simple step-by-step guide to help you get started.

1. Explore Calendar Examples

When deciding on the right content calendar to add to your planning tools, it’s worth mentioning that there isn’t a unanimously correct way to build your content calendar.

While your calendar will indeed enhance the content planning tools offering you use, there is no prescribed calendar that you need to go with. You must define one that suits the needs of your content team. Therefore, the first step is to select the right platforms to help your team members coordinate with each other.

Typically, you can choose among the following platforms to start listing out what to post each day, week, month, etc.

The key is to make sure the calendar you choose enhances your content planning tools arsenal and will be a good fit for your content teams’ needs.

2. Consider Various Content Planning Tools

This content calendar example shows how Buffer uses Trello to manage their content:

Using Trello to Manage Your Content Schedule
Source: Buffer

In addition to the aforementioned software, you can use a wide array of content planning tools to organize, monitor, and schedule various content assets when defining your content calendar.

For instance, you can use project management tools such as Trello and Slack to monitor the progress of different blog posts and social media posts. Likewise, you can use Buffer and Hootsuite to automatically schedule your posts on different social media platforms. While it isn’t mandatory to use these tools, they can come in handy for automating routine tasks.

3. Outline Your Overarching Content Calendar Strategy

Using Google Calendar to Manage Your Content Marketing Efforts
Source: Google

Create a long-term content calendar based on the marketing objectives and buyer personas you outlined while building your plan. It’s recommended that, when developing your strategy, you start by outlining an annual calendar that defines the overall themes and subjects you’ll be working with. This is also a good time to review the previous year’s content plan and check for any gaps.

Additionally, you should identify important events such as festivals and public holidays. You should also look for opportunities to repeat the same type of content on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis. Once you’ve developed a tentative digital content schedule, you can enter it into Google Calendar.

4. Brainstorm Content Ideas

Source: Shutterstock

In order for your brand strategy and your content calendar to be effective, they need to be structured correctly, using your content planning tools to connect them both.

This takes planning, and so, the next step in developing your content calendar is to build a list of all the content ideas that come to your mind.

Make sure you consult your team members to identify topics and formats that’ll resonate with your target audience. It’s also recommended that you select the distribution channels for promoting different content assets.

Once you have a clear idea of the topics, formats, and channels, enter the details into an Excel sheet or a Google sheet. Organization is key for managing your content strategy and meeting objectives. Keeping structured plans in place to manage your content and platform distribution will help you achieve this goal.

5. Add Ideas to Your Content Calendar

Adding ideas to your content calendar is the most crucial step in defining your content strategy.

Pre-defining the formats you want to use will streamline the overall process and simply the delivery of content across the various platforms. The good news is that you’ll find a plethora of visually appealing templates on the internet.

Here’s a straightforward and customizable template by IMPACT:

Capture Your Content Marketing Ideas in Excel or Google Sheets
Source: IMPACT

While there aren’t any rules for selecting the right template, you should consider the following factors while choosing one:

  • Team size
  • Preferred platform
  • Customizability
  • Content formats
  • Marketing strategy

At the very least, your plan should include the following columns:

  • Topic
  • Format
  • Author/Creator/Designer
  • References
  • Media (images, videos, animations, etc.)
  • Campaign
  • Category
  • Distribution channels
  • Deadline
  • Status
  • Remarks

Additionally, you should rate each topic based on whether it’s ready for production. If the topic needs to be developed further, you should mention that in the “Remarks” column.

6. Streamline Your Strategy

Source: Shutterstock

Now that you’re ready with your template, platforms, and list of topics, it’s time to build a month-wise content plan.

Take a look at your yearly digital content strategy and see how different topics fit into it. Thereafter, assign these topics to different days of the month, and select the right platform for the content you wish to distribute.

Your final product should be an easy-to-understand plan that is accessible to everyone in your team. This master content calendar is what will drive your content team in sync with each other.

Final Thoughts on Your Next Content Calendar and Content Planning Tools

Developing a content calendar is an integral part of content production. It’s one of your content planning tools that can create cadence and marching orders for your team.

That’s why it’s crucial to select the right structure based on the requirements of your content creators and goals. Additionally, you should ensure that your strategy is flexible enough to accommodate last-minute changes.

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Andy Steuer

Andy Steuer

Andy Steuer is the Chief Marketing Officer at WriteForMe. Andy has been CEO, CMO, VP of Product for 8 fast-growing companies in his career. 3 of those companies became Top 10 Internet companies. Content Marketing has always been at the core to differentiate these companies from their competition. You can always schedule a 1 on 1 meeting with Andy by grabbing some time on his calendar here. List articles below that have Andy on the byline on the rest of the page. Here’s my calendar link: » More blog posts by Andy Steuer

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