Creating an Effective Content Calendar - A Complete Guide
Ever heard of content calendar? What is it?
Content creators and marketers are well-aware and at some point of time in this position: the next social media post or blog post is due, and you’ve been so occupied that you’re only now brainstorming ideas. You can feel the strain as you labor to finish it quickly, and once it’s out there, you can barely take a breath before your subsequent deadline hits.
When you fully comprehend what content marketing entails, you’ll realize that it necessitates sticking to a full-fledged calendar. Even a minor hiccup can toss the entire thing apart.
As a result, an actionable content calendar can drastically improve your ability to consistently ideate, produce, and post content. Making a content calendar from the ground up is one of those undertakings that appears to be far more difficult than it is. However, with the right strategy and tools this task can easily be a cakewalk.
A well-thought and crafted content calendar simplifies your marketing strategy’s structure, boosts efficiency, and saves a lot of time. But how do you come up with compelling ideas and what are the best techniques, tools, and approaches for developing one?
First and foremost, what exactly is a content calendar?
A content calendar is a tool that assists you in planning and organizing your digital content in preparation for publishing. A content calendar is intended to be an authoritative and easily accessible platform.
Depending on your marketing needs, you can organize your calendar on a weekly, monthly, or bi-annual basis. Having a content calendar, irrespective of which chronology you choose, allows you to quickly keep track of any content being produced and released ahead of schedule.
Depending on your industry, the content calendars might cover a wide range of topics. Indeed, you can plan for planned promotional events, case studies, updating old content, publishing webinars, videos and much more.
The need a content calendar - benefits and importance
Content calendar is a must if you plan to use content for promoting and growing your business. It guarantees that all of your content-related activities are completed. It also gives you a broader 360-degree view of your current as well as forthcoming activities. With this, there are numerous reasons why incorporating a content calendar into your content marketing plan is a good idea. Here are a few:
The biggest advantage of having a content calendar is that it saves you time and efforts in the long run by being organized and preparing ahead. You can use the time you save by using a calendar to focus on more creative aspects of your marketing plan.
Pin down the areas of improvement
A content calendar can be a useful tool for testing. Thus, it allows you to attempt different content types and posting times to evaluate what works and what doesn’t.
Proper planning and designation of work
A proper content calendar in place ensures that all critical workflow operations run well by planning ahead and clearly delegating responsibilities among team members. This is especially crucial in larger groups when tasks like editing and fact-checking are likely to be split among members. Rushing this procedure could result in costly errors.
Keep errors to a minimum
A well-planned content calendar decreases the chances of you or your marketing team making mistakes. You’re also less likely to create redundant material that ends up being shared incorrectly across your marketing platforms.
Content calendars come in handy to facilitate easy collaboration and interaction of the team members. Content calendars’ accessibility capabilities allow everyone to monitor the status of each content without having to communicate with other people individually.
Avoid seldom content publishing
A content calendar stops you from posting infrequently and aids in the identification of potential content gaps. This allows you to make changes ahead of schedule if necessary.
Focus on creativity
A content calendar, as previously said, saves more time. Thus, providing ample time to spend on other creative endeavors. This could indicate you have more time to experiment with new ideas.
Key components of a successful content calendar
Content calendars come in different forms. The scope of your content calendar categories will be determined by your requirements as well as your industry. The calendar segments you choose will be determined by whether you keep all production in-house or hire freelancers.
The features listed below are some of the significant ones that you would want to know of content calendars. While not all of them will be suitable to you, it is best to keep a track of all the elements in this section.
Whether you’re a blogger or a larger corporation, a title is crucial to ensuring you’re targeting your customer persona. It is relevant to both large and small businesses to ensure that content provides value and is focused on the demands of the audience.
Adding titles to your content calendar also gives you a better idea of what you’re working on and may inspire you to create more content.
The type of content, such as a podcast, email, video, or guide, used to target certain consumers is critical for all marketers since it governs how content is planned. Having this stated out also aids in identifying gaps in content types.
This element is especially important for larger companies, as content is likely to be spread across several sections (Travel, Lifestyle, Music, etc.). Without topic sections, a calendar may be less clear to all members of the team. You may take a step further and color-code different sections to make things even clearer.
Stage of customer lifecycle
Add a buying stage category in the calendar that corresponds to the audience’s position in the marketing funnel or their customer journey; this will allow you to track KPIs more efficiently.
Content edit date
For teams where content must go through various procedures and be seen by multiple individuals before being published, including an edit date section is highly advised. An editing deadline specifies when all relevant team members must review the work.
Final publish date
This helps to ensure accountability for completing the content. This also aids in the coordination of deadlines among various teams.
To minimize unneeded confusion, label who will be writing the content. This will guarantee that everyone understands who is accountable for the piece.
For both freelancers and businesses, this segment is extremely important as it displays the status of the content. This provides a peace of mind and eliminates the need to contact individuals one by one. Also, it can detect potential bottlenecks in the content creation and production process.
This segment mentions the platform or channel where the content will go live. Certainly, this section is best helpful to study the analytics later to determine where the content comes out on the top.
This section explains how you plan to promote the content you’ve developed.
Ideas for future content
Having a separate segment for content ideas is useful whether you are developing material on your own or as part of a larger organization. It means that all of your ideas are saved in one location, which will come in handy when brainstorming content development in the future.
How to make a productive content calendar?
You can pick and choose from a variety of styles when creating a content calendar. The idea is to create a content calendar that is tailored to your individual requirements. However, to decide which calendar will best suit you, follow the steps given below:
Outline your objectives
Before you start planning your calendar, figure out what you aim to achieve with the content. Make a list of all of your objectives and then prioritize them. It might be expanding your blog content library or increasing your social media following.
Because your goals may change over time, it’s a good idea to set both short- and long-term objectives and reevaluate them on a regular basis to ensure that your content strategy remains on track.
Select the right tools
What tools are you going to employ to create your content calendar? It must be dynamic and able to be implemented in a software platform. There are numerous tools to choose from. Consider the following factors when looking for the right one for you:
- Space of idea storage
- Planning features
- Kind of calendar architecture
- Task management features
- Notifications and alert systems
- Capable of tracking changes
- Integration capabilities
- Intuitive and easy to use
Select the fields in the calendar
An effective content calendar must have all the important and relevant fields. So, you’ll have to determine what to include.
- Content pillar
- Target keyword
- Expected content length
- Content type
- Customer persona
- Marketing funnel stage
- Completion date
- Objective of each content
- Include call-to action button or offer
- Internal links
- Research or reference links
- Specific notes
- Content creator details
- Channels on which you will post or share the content
Compile a list of the channels
Make a list of all the channels you utilize to post your content. Keep this list accessible so you may refer to it when putting together your content calendar. Listing your channels serves two purposes. First, it guarantees that none of them are left out of your content strategy. Second, it assists you in better prioritizing your material and identifying when you’re overusing or underusing a specific channel.
Build the workflows
When defining your content workflows, content calendars will have the greatest influence on the content production.
Depending on the sort of content, they will vary, but the majority will be recurring. They’ll each be assigned to someone. A typical example of a content workflow may look something like the following, mentioning the tasks and the person who will do it:
- Keyword research – Content marketer or SEO expert
- Data research – content creators or researchers
- First draft
- Content review
- Edits and proofread
- Copy editing
- SEO optimization
- Content design
- Publishing the content
- Posting it on other channels as well
- Performance tracking and review
Set the timelines
After you’ve confirmed your workflows, you’ll need to schedule them. How much time do you think each step will take? Do you have any historical data that you might look at to see if it can help?
If not, you’ll have to make a guess and assess it as you go. You might give reviewers three business days, for example. You may discover that they require more time after a few months.
It’s something you’ll have to keep an eye on from an operational standpoint to make sure your deadlines aren’t missed.
The deadlines must be clearly stated. You must convey to your staff that they are difficult and not just for the sake of being there. It will almost certainly be rocky at first, but you must hold individuals accountable.
When creating your content calendar timelines, keep the following in mind:
Internal: Launches of new products, campaigns based on the seasons, events, special content series.
External: Industry events and news, news and happenings from the local, national, and international levels, holidays, festivals, observances, ongoing social media trends and challenges.
Documentation is the key
Your content calendar should include all of the important strategies and processes discussed and decided upon. Correspondingly, when you onboard new staff, they’ll have a reliable source of information on the logistics of content creation.
It’s not a hard and fast rule. It’s adaptable and will grow with your company. The important thing is to have a system in place and keep to it. You’ll avoid being perplexed and frustrated.
When you do make changes, make sure everyone is on board. They should be a part of the decision-making process.
A good content calendar covers all of the subtasks that go into creating a piece of content. It has tags that verify you’re satisfying all stakeholder needs and reaching your content pillars.
Leverage proper tagging
Using tags in the content calendar helps you to assess your approach and make sure you’re on track. It’s also about delegating responsibilities. It details each assignment as well as the resources required. Consider it the blueprint for your content marketing plan.
There are numerous advantages to using correct tags. It’s simple to figure out which content performed best. Tags can also include things like funnel stage, buyer persona, focus keyword, and content genre.
Best practices to create a profitable content calendar
Let us now look at some best practices to follow for creating a profitable content calendar.
Identify and understand the important elements of a content calendar
Thoroughly understand each and every element and feature of the content calendar. This will help you to utilize and take advantage of the calendar to the fullest.
Maintain a strong editorial
Editorial is the most crucial part of your content calendar. These are the chunks of content you’ll be sharing on your blog, on a podcast, and on social media platforms.
Your content calendar’s main purpose is to get your editorial pieces planned far in advance. That way, you’ll be able to keep your publishing schedule orderly and constant.
Some businesses have planned out their journalistic content for the entire year. Some freelance bloggers may have no idea what they’ll be writing about next week. You’re good as long as you have a central place that displays and notifies you what’s coming up.
Leverage the platform
The platform is where you actually host your content calendar. Independent content creators have the most freedom in terms of tool selection. They have multiple options, from pen and paper, Google Calendar to a simple basic spreadsheet. What matters most is that it must work for you.
However, larger organizations need a platform that can cater single-handedly to a large number of people and at the same time. Indeed, it must be easy for everyone to access and monitor how each content is progressing.
This type of information is useful for more than just content marketing and SEO teams. It’s also a medium to share fresh information you’re working on with others in different departments.
Clients can also keep track of what you’re working on by linking your content calendar to those on other platforms.
Keep a note of prospective ideas
This is a collection of content ideas for the long-term that you aren’t currently working on. For instance, this may be a random notion that just came to your mind while you are on your way to work. Or something that sprang into your head during a brainstorming session. These ideas aren’t normally listed in the calendar because they haven’t been scheduled yet. However, you should make a “brain dump” of these thoughts so that you don’t forget them.
Pick the right content calendar solution
There are many solutions available that can help you create, manage, and collaborate on your content calendar. You may wish to invest in content calendar software depending on how much content you create and what is the size of your team.
Select the format that best suits your workflow and team
Calendars for content can be created in a variety of formats. They can thrive in both static and dynamic environments. Your team’s capabilities and processes will determine which format and system is best for you.
Track the performance of the content
Nevertheless, content calendars aren’t just for content scheduling and planning. Back-end data, such as the ROI of each content you’ve published, can also be tracked using these calendars. You’ll also learn which types of topics, formats, and publication platforms provide the best or worse outcomes. As a result, you’ll be able to fine-tune and improve your whole content marketing strategy.
Start with basic things
As you begin the process of creating a content calendar, the process can quickly snowball as additional information, tasks, and other items are added. So, start with the fundamentals. Gradually add more detailed segments or functionalities once you have a basic structure of the content calendar and a good understanding of how it works.
This is an important part of teaching your staff how to work with and from a calendar. It can also be the key to keeping a content team together.
Revise & update
What works today may not perform in six months or at a later point. Your content marketing objectives may evolve over time, and new technology tools and applications will be available. Consequently , make it a point to regularly review and upgrade the usefulness of your content calendar.
Whether you’re planning your own content marketing plan or working as part of a team, a proper content calendar may help you be more productive and successful with your time. Being more orderly and well-coordinated with the help of a content calendar can only be beneficial.
Over To You!
In conclusion, a good content marketing plan must include the creation of an effective content schedule. It helps you organize your thoughts, plan ahead, and keep track of your progress. You can make sure that your material is regular, pertinent, and in line with your overall marketing objectives by using a content calendar.
It’s crucial to take into account the many kinds of material you intend to produce when making a content calendar, including blog articles, social media updates, email newsletters, and more. Additionally, think about your target audience and the kind of material that will appeal to them.