Visual content calendar

7 Steps to Plan a Visual Content Calendar

A visual content calendar is highly effective when it comes to managing content for visual channels like Instagram posts and Facebook images. Done correctly, it helps you organize your content strategy, execute your content plan, and even create content. In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know for planning a visual content calendar.

Why Use a Visual Content Calendar?

For anybody who hasn’t used one in the past, creating a visual content calendar will have major advantages for you and your team. First, it will allow you to better plan and schedule your content, helping you be sure that you’re posting consistently and not forgetting anything.

It also allows you to keep everything organized, which is especially useful when there is a team of multiple people working on the same accounts. Your visual content calendar will help you track who is working on what, avoid duplicating content, and ensure that everything is posted at the right time, with the right caption, on the correct network, and through the correct account.

How 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.

1. Choose a Visual Content Calendar Tool

The first decision you’ll have to make as part of creating your calendar is choosing the infrastructure for where you’ll host your calendar and what it will look like. If you want to keep it simple, you have the option of using existing calendar tools such as Google Calendar or the calendar tool in your office mail client.

For more personalization, you can also build out a calendar within a spreadsheet application like Google Sheets, Excel, or Smartsheets. Or if you want something more specific to content management, you can use a content planning tool like Buffer or Monday. All are totally legitimate options; it just depends on what will work best for your organization. In fact, you may even decide to try out multiple options before you settle on one.

A visual content calendar spreadsheet
A visual content calendar spreadsheet. Source:
A visual content calendar created on Google Calendar
A visual content calendar created on Google Calendar. source:

2. Decide What Information to Track

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

3. Pick a Workflow

Once you know what information you want to include in your calendar, you’ll want to decide how the visual content calendar will fit into your workflow. For example, you may choose a process wherein a marketing executive plans out a general yearly content strategy, a content manager maps out a monthly content plan, and then every week a content strategist plans out the next week’s posts on a more micro-level, which are then sent to designers to create. Ultimately, it’s a matter of working your content calendar into your existing processes, optimizing as necessary.

4. Build Out the Calendar With Existing Information

Next, you’ll want to actually build out a content calendar. This means creating the infrastructure for the calendar itself and inputting any existing information so that it is all but ready to use. This part is actually quite fun since you can play around with formatting and color-coding. By laying everything out for you visually, this step will also help make it clear where there are gaps in your content plan, if any exist at all.

5. Import an Archive

Part of the usefulness of a visual content calendar is that it makes it easy to access past content you’ve created and published for inspiration or repurposing. Since this calendar will be new, it’s important 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.

6. Curate a Queue

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.

7. Start Working

Once you’ve done all that, all that’s left to do is to 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.

Next Steps

For help creating a content plan and putting together a visual content calendar, schedule some time to check in with one of our expert content marketing strategists and 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: » More blog posts by Andy Steuer

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