You’ve heard it before. Blogs have said it before. We’re getting so tired of it that it honestly hurts to say—but content truly is king.
No robust marketing strategy is complete without content marketing that elicits clicks and converts sales.
The best part? Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing efforts—and generates nearly 3x as many leads.
But before you go out and start generating content, it’s imperative that you put together a plan that helps boost your bottom line and keeps your team from experiencing burnout or redundancy.
That’s right. We’re talking about a content calendar.
How to create a content calendar (& why your content strategy desperately needs one)
A content calendar is simply a detailed plan of your company’s content marketing efforts over a certain period of time. Your content calendar should be about when, where, and what you should post—a strategy that helps lay the groundwork for your team and what’s to come.
Content planning is extremely helpful in the long-run, but also extremely difficult to stick to in the short term.
Strategies shift, things come up, and ultimately content plans change. But having an outline and an organized, actionable plan in place can help you simplify and streamline your daily marketing efforts, even in the midst of changes.
Why do I need to content plan?
Content schedules offer a lot more benefits than drawbacks. Of course, they do take a bit of time to set up initially but past the upfront work, it’s only positives.
Here are the reasons why you need a content schedule:
• Helps your team work more efficiently and holds people accountable
• Encourages creativity and new content ideas by comparing against past posts
• Gives you the ability to plan ahead and spend less time in the moment researching a topic
• Provides a bigger picture of content marketing efforts
How to plan content
Of course, you can just write whatever comes to mind and post whenever is convenient. But if that’s your marketing plan … this isn’t the blog for you.
If you’re like us and are all about generating content that is fully optimized in SEO best practices and gives readers helpful answers to their questions, having a content plan is absolutely crucial.
Taking time to map out your objectives and goals gives you not only a starting point for your content calendar, it also gives you an end goal to strive for.
Here are a few planning strategies you can try before starting your content calendar:
1. Revisit your content marketing strategy. Ask yourself why you are creating content to begin with and what your target audience looks like. Then evaluate what makes you and your content stand out from other similar companies. Your marketing strategy should reflect your overall goals as a company. If you’re a B2B company, your content marketing strategy will look completely different than a B2C. Set a framework for your content calendar from the beginning.
2. Start with a problem statement. Dive into the specific issues your customers may be facing or questions they might have. If you have salespeople on your team, this is a great time to bring them into the conversation. They have extremely useful insight into customers and can give first-hand experience as to the questions they’re asking and what they’re looking for from a company. Your content should strive to answer those key questions that your audience is asking (or may ask in the future).
3. Develop content themes. Based on your problem statements, start mapping out the kind of themes your business has that your content should follow. If you’re a company that handmakes leather-bound notebooks, one of your themes could be journaling, supporting local artists, and fair trade gifts. Establishing themes for your content will make it even easier to develop specific topics that fall into that theme or category.
4. Evaluate your current content. Can anything be repurposed or re-optimized in a way that makes sense? You don’t always need to create something new when it comes to content. Sometimes, an old article is begging to be updated or a long-form piece can easily be broken up into smaller, more digestible chunks. Or you can re-post it to different platforms or mediums, like creating a podcast or a video, to give it a longer shelf life and a wider reach.
5. Do keyword research (then implement it). Keywords help search engines connect your content with the right audience (and helps you understand what your audience is trying to find out). Knowing what keywords your audience is searching for and when they’re searching for it is a great place to start with a content calendar.
After you have all of these concepts in place, it’s time to actually create the schedule for content.
How to create a content calendar
You can make your own simple spreadsheet or use one of the many content calendar tools on the market today, including CoSchedule and Asana.
We recommend making it at least a month out and up to six months in advance. For your content calendar, you will need a few different sections that outline exactly what the goal of the content is and how your team will effectively implement it.A few ideas for columns in your spreadsheet include:
1. Publication date
2. Publication channel(s)
3. Target audience
4. Content theme
5. Working title + description
Start by plugging in seasonal content or scheduled events first, and then work backwards from there to fill in the gaps. Alternate between your content themes and the type of content you’re posting (video, infographic, blog post, white paper, etc.) to keep it fresh for your audience and to encourage more engagement.
More likely than not, this will start out as a fairly simple calendar that develops and becomes more refined over time. By simply starting this journey toward a more planned content approach, you and your team will be more organized, strategized, and productive than ever before.
In fact, you’ll wonder how your team ever survived without a content schedule.
Want help simplifying your content marketing strategies? We are experts at creating content calendars based on experience and expertise that help your company get clicks. Contact us today!