visual content calendar

7 Steps to Planning Your Visual Content Calendar

A content calendar helps organize your content strategy and execute your content plan. Here's everything you need to know to plan a visual content calendar.

A visual content calendar, or communication calendar, is highly effective when it comes to managing content for visual channels like Instagram posts and Facebook images.

When constructed correctly, it helps you organize your content strategy, executes your content plan, and even help scale your content creation. A visual content calendar helps keep everyone accountable and on track. When planning an overall content marketing strategy, it can become easy to lose track of all the moving parts. There are so many requirements to establishing a well-structured content plan, and so many elements to consider.

Not only do you have to be constantly formulating new blog posts that meet style guidelines and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) requirements, but you must also always be looking out for ways to promote the content across your various social channels, as well as continually looking for strategies to encourage audience engagement.

In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know for planning a visual content calendar.

visual content calendar planning
Source: Shutterstock

Why Use a Visual Content Calendar?

For anybody who hasn’t used one in the past, creating a communication calendar will have major advantages for you and your team.

As already mentioned, it will allow you to better plan and schedule your content, helping you be sure that you’re posting consistently and not forgetting anything.

A visual content calendar allows for maximum organization, which is especially useful when there are teams of multiple stakeholders working on the same accounts. With a visual content calendar, you can track who is working on what and when, avoid duplicating content, and ensure everything is posted at the right time with the right caption on the correct network and through the correct account.

Steps to Plan a Visual Content Calendar

Though it may seem like a large undertaking, the process of putting together a visual content calendar is actually rather straightforward and can be broken down into the following seven steps.

Step 1. Choose a Visual Content Calendar Tool

The first decision you’ll have to make as part of creating your visual content calendar is choosing the infrastructure for where you’ll host your calendar and what it will look like.

visual content calendar spreadsheet
Source: Social Media Examiner

If you want to keep it simple, you have the option of using existing calendar tools such as Google Calendar. For more personalization, you can also build out a visual content calendar within a spreadsheet application like Google Sheets.

Or if you want something more specific to content management, you can use a content planning tool like Airtable. These are all are excellent options, depending on which visual content calendar tool will work best for your organization. In fact, you may even decide to try out multiple options before you settle on one.

visual content calendar
Source: Social Media Examiner

Step 2. Decide What Information to Track in Your Visual Content Calendar

Your next step is to decide which information you want to include on your visual content calendar.

One of the best ways to achieve this is by starting with some research. Gain some insight into your target market and the demographics of the customers you want to reach. Who are they? What do they do? What are their buying patterns? Once you have completed this research you will be able to assign them to relevant buyer persona groups. When you have these groups in place, you can allocate various content items in your overall strategy to these persona groups.

Doing this allows you to be far more intentional and specific in your marketing approach and to allocate very specific marketing material and messages to very specific groups of customers. For this reason, the information you track for your visual content calendar is critical.

It can range from being quite general (the theme of your daily post) to very detailed and specific. Logically, the more complicated your content creation process, the more detail you’re likely to need to include in your visual content calendar. For example, on the more comprehensive side, you may want to track:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Time zone
  • Social media platform
  • Theme
  • The image you’ll post
  • Caption
  • Hashtags
  • Content creator
  • Checkboxes indicating the status of the content. Has it been created? Published? Archived?
  • Notes

Step 3. Choose a Workflow

Once you know what information you want to include in your visual content calendar, you’ll want to decide how it will fit into your workflow. The important thing in this stage of your calendar is to find a system and a process that works for you and your team.

You are the master of your environment and at no stage should you be trying to force your process into an already defined strategy created elsewhere. You know the ins and outs of your business and that makes you the only person qualified to really create the right workflow.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of working your visual content calendar into your existing processes and then optimizing as necessary.

Some workflow examples you might consider for your content marketing team would include choosing a process wherein a marketing manager or marketing executive plans out a general yearly content strategy, a content manager maps out a monthly content calendar, and then every week a content specialist plans out each week’s posts on a more micro-level, which are then sent to graphic designers to create blog cover images and edits images to be used.

content planning development

Step 4. Build Out the Visual Content Calendar With Existing Information

Nobody said the creation of this visual content calendar would be a walk in the park! But the hard work will bring great returns. Once you have your workflow and structure in place you will need to spend time actually building out a content calendar.

Suggested Reading – How to know if you need an editorial or content calendar: Editorial Calendar vs Content Calendar: Here's Why You Need Both!

In this step, you will create the infrastructure for the calendar itself and input any existing information so that it is all but ready to use. You can have quite a bit of fun at this stage, really making this calendar your own! Play around with formatting and color-coding.

But what makes this stage so important? Well, very simply, by laying everything out for yourself visually, you get a great bird’s eye view of what your content roadmap looks like. It will highlight the types of content you are focusing on at any given stage and will also give great insight into where you may have potential gaps. You can even track your various buyer personas strategies clearly and concisely in this step.

As life becomes increasingly busy, you may find you don’t have the required time to sit and plan your content in the detail you need to. This step provides you with a handy tool for these busy times and will help you to keep everything on track at all times!

Step 5. Import an Archive

Content is a valuable resource and this applies to older content as well as more recent pieces. One of the best aspects of a well-structured and well-run visual content calendar is the ability to pull in older content pieces for a refresh!

Accessing past content and earmarking it for different re-publishing dates on your calendar extends the life of this content and also provides you with a mountain of valuable and relevant content for your ever-growing customer base. This is often referred to as “content repurposing”. Repurposing allows you to keep building into your online knowledge base and to provide these valuable resources to your customers on a regular basis.

The downside is that, since this visual content calendar will be new, you will need to set time aside to go through the semi-tedious process of retroactively filling in a backlog of content.

Don’t worry, it’ll be worth it in the future.

content planning inspiration
Source: Shutterstock

Step 6. Curate a Queue

This step is great for smaller businesses that maybe don’t have many staff resources at their disposal and who are possibly doubling up roles within the company.

Another incredibly useful facet of the content calendar is that it allows for scheduling content well into the future. That’ll be your next step as part of your planning process: starting to look forward and fill in the calendar for the weeks and months to come.

Creating a successful content schedule will ensure that you have a constant stream of content running across your platforms at all times. There is nothing worse than websites and social media pages that stand dormant for lengthy periods. They give the impression that the company either doesn’t care or that they are not on top of their game. Neither of these perceptions is one you want to foster for your company and so, if you have already made the wise decision to create brand platforms, you need to make sure these are constantly ticking over.

This pertains to engagement and interactivity on social media platforms as well. Social media platforms have provided the ideal place for customers to get in touch, reach out, and communicate with you as a company. Leaving these channels unmanaged and these questions and conversations unanswered will have the opposite result of the one you are hoping to achieve. You will simply lose followers faster than you can blink.

Content marketing in general is about the here and the now. It is immediate, relevant, and engaging and anything less than your best efforts in this regard will simply not be good enough.

Queuing your content correctly will help you to stay on top of these elements continually.

visual content calendar
Source: Shutterstock

Step 7. Start Working

Once you have taken the time required to correctly set up your visual content calendar, there is not much left to do except get started!

You can now get running with your new visual content calendar! All of your infrastructure, workflows, and processes should be in place now, so it’s just a matter of putting it all into action and reaping the benefits of all the work you just did in the previous six steps.

Partner With WriteForMe To Plan Your Visual Content Calendar

While it is possible to set up a communication calendar and run your strategy internally, you may just feel you do not have the time to do this process justice. And that is okay!

Partnering with experts specialized in content planning and strategy development may be the best decision you can make for your business regarding content marketing. WriteForMe will assist you in creating a content plan and organizing a visual content calendar for you.

WriteForMe is a team of content marketing experts specialized in producing and managing high-quality blog content at scale.

Contact us today to discuss your content writing needs and our team of strategists will create a FREE Content Marketing Playbook.

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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:https://meetings.hubspot.com/andysteuer » More blog posts by Andy Steuer

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