Once you decide to invest in content marketing and develop a content strategy, there’s one more important step to take before you can start churning out all of that dazzling new content: building a content calendar. This will bridge the gap between idea and execution, helping you achieve your desired outcomes. Here’s how to do it successfully.
What Is a Content Calendar?
Also known as an editorial calendar, a content calendar is a document used to plan and schedule all details of upcoming content including when and where it will be published, who will create it, the content’s latest status update, and so on. It can serve both as a general bird’s eye overview of your upcoming week, month, and even year in content, as well as a more detailed tracking device for individual pieces of content. Your team should ultimately decide what works best for you in terms of your content calendar’s organization, whether that is an actual monthly calendar, a list, or something else.
Why Use a Content Calendar?
Content calendars are a critical tool for implementing a content marketing strategy for a variety of reasons.
Organizing Your Content Calendar
As managers know all too well, organization is absolutely key for the success of an initiative, team, or project. Content calendars are an intuitive way to organize every single piece of information relevant to your content strategy. Keeping things all neatly laid out in an editorial calendar is the best way to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
An organized content calendar will immediately make it clear to you if you accidentally forgot to schedule a post for a particular day or if the blog article you wanted to publish next week hasn’t been assigned to a writer yet. This way, your content will be so well-planned that you can run your content strategy like a well-oiled machine with no need for last-minute scrambling.
Most often, quite a lot of people are involved in executing a content strategy: executives, managers, content creators, freelancers. Having an editorial calendar is an effective way to make sure all of these people are on the same page, receiving all the information they need in order to do their jobs properly.
The Big Picture
When you’re in the weeds with content on a micro-level every day, thinking closely about each character of every tweet, you can miss an important bigger picture. Content calendars allow you to plan initiatives, prepare larger themes, create content relevant to holidays and current events, and avoid publishing repetitive content.
Creating a Content Calendar
There are several important steps you don’t want to miss when creating your team’s editorial calendar.
Pick a Format
First, you’ll want to choose a format. Ask yourself:
- Do I want to use a list? Or a calendar? Something else?
- Will we plan a year in advance? A few months? One month?
- Will I drill down to the level of each week? Each day? Each piece of content?
- What platform will I host my content calendar on? Google Calendar? A spreadsheet? A specialized editorial calendar platform like Loomly or CoSchedule?
Choose What to Track
Once you have a format in mind, you’ll need to decide exactly what information you’ll include in your content calendar. Here are some possible items to choose from:
- Platform (Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/blog, etc.)
- Relevant links
Check Out Examples
One of the best ways to decide what you want your team’s editorial calendar to look like is to look at other company’s and decide which elements you like and want to adopt and which you can do without.
For your inspiration, here are just a few real-life examples from companies with a successful content plan.
Create a Content Library
In addition to your content calendar, it’s highly recommended to keep a library of the content that you create as part of your content plan. Ideally, every image, video, and post will be stored, saved, and tracked somewhere for both record-keeping and reusing purposes.
Track Future Ideas
Finally, consider creating a place easily accessible from your content calendar (perhaps another tab in the same spreadsheet) in which you can list and brainstorm ideas for possible new content. That way, as you’re planning out content for the upcoming week or month, you can easily review previous content and past ideas for inspiration.
Putting it All Together
Once you have thought about everything listed above, it’s just a matter of finding or creating a template and filling everything out. Naturally, this process will include some trial-and-error as you figure out what works best for your organization’s needs.
After you’ve done the groundwork of creating your content calendar, you can start crafting posts, publishing content, and carrying out that brilliant content strategy of yours.
Schedule a time with one of our expert content marketing strategists and let’s get your content marketing plan into the next gear. We will even create a FREE Content Marketing Playbook to kickstart a partnership with you.