Do You Have a Content Calendar? Here’s Why You Need One
We have talked plenty about the execution and benefits of content marketing, whether it’s for social media, email, or blogging. Of course, one of the hardest parts of content marketing is actually putting the content together. Knowing what to publish and when to publish it can be a challenge, especially as you try to organize all of your ideas for new and exciting content. Sometimes, it’s just hard to come up with a decent idea. The solution to your problems very well can be having a thoughtful content calendar.
A content calendar is just what it sounds like. You’ll plan your content ahead of time, whether it’s for a single platform or several. It adds a little bit of legwork to your content marketing efforts, but it’s well worth the effort.
What Are the Benefits of Creating a Content Calendar?
Most importantly, a content calendar keeps you organized and on-track. You’ll be able to see any gaps in your content strategy for each week, month, or even year, and you’ll know when you need to have finished drafts completed by. Simply keeping better track of everything ensures that you’ll be able to publish regular content, which is critical for success. You won’t be able to justify putting off a blog post or delaying it by a couple days, since it will push everything else back.
Another important element is that you’ll have a much better time keeping your message consistent. As you look over your schedule, you’ll be able to develop themes and tweak ideas to keep them on-message. As an added bonus, this is also likely to give you ideas for even more content in the future.
One last benefit of a content calendar is that it helps remove the stress of searching for last-minute ideas. You’ll already know where you have gaps and need some inspiration, so you can take your time. You might come across a good idea while browsing other industry blogs or news sites, answering a customer question, or just driving home. When inspiration strikes, not only will you have a great idea, but you’ll know exactly when it’s a good time to use it.
What Does a Good Content Calendar Look Like?
You can create your content calendar using any calendar software you’re already using, even Outlook or Google Calendars. If you need something a bit more detailed, there are plenty of software developers who offer specific content planning solutions. But let’s start simple, and assume you have a blank Outlook calendar (or something similar) to work with:
- Plan one day at a time – figure out what frequency you want to publish your content at, and create an event for each one. You should try to plan out two to six months of content.
- Color code – use this to your advantage. If you’re scheduling different formats, use a distinct color for each format. Make shades darker or lighter depending on length or theme. This way you’ll be able to understand your upcoming schedule with just a quick glance.
- Get detailed – the title and basic information should be included in the event’s name, but you should also include as many details as possible when you click for more information. This makes it easier for you to understand exactly what your original vision for the piece was when it comes time to write the first draft a couple months later.
How Should I Get Started?
Here are some best practices for getting started with your own content calendar:
Audit Your Existing Content
The best way to figure out what your content calendar should look like is understanding what’s already working well for you. Liberally sprinkle your calendar with themes and concepts that are already performing well. Make sure to fill in the gaps with new ideas, however, as you don’t want your content to become stagnant.
Leverage Several Types of Content
Not everything needs to be an email or a blog post. Schedule infographics, interviews, and whitepapers, too.
It’s important to keep in mind that your content calendar can, and should, be flexible. If you have a piece of content ready to go for next week but there’s a major piece of news in your industry that you should capitalize on, feel free to switch the piece out. You should always be on the lookout for opportunities to improve your current calendar, even if it’s on short notice.