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How to Successfully Plan a Content Calendar

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Suppose you’re a blogger who wants to publish more content but struggles with time management and prioritization of various projects such as blogging, social media marketing, or email marketing. In that case, you will find this helpful article. 

I know it’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything new, but you guys! When I started my blog, every day felt like a struggle. Figuring out what to write about and when to post it was hard–and even more complex because there were only three things on my content calendar. But as soon as I managed to get some sponsorships for the blog and grow my email list, putting together that content calendar became really easy. It seemed like everything just flowed from one thing into another!

Before we get started, make sure to sign up for my newsletter and get tons of tips and tricks to boost your blogging business.    

If you’re a content creator, then I’m sure you’ve found yourself stuck with the daunting task of coming up with new ideas for blog posts. It can be challenging to keep your audience engaged and make sure they don’t forget about you. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to plan your content calendar – it just takes some time upfront. If you want to learn how to successfully plan a content calendar, continue reading!

What is a Content Calendar?

A content calendar, often referred to as a social media calendar or editorial calendar, is a visual workflow that directs content creators daily, weekly, or monthly. 

Amongst its many benefits, content calendars allow for a snapshot of upcoming events, holidays, and launches. 

Successful companies such as Buffer promote a diversity of content publishing, with 80% percent being social media tips, 10% Buffer tips, and 10% product announcements.

Buffer Tips
Buffer Tips

According to ConvertKit, 52% of bloggers write articles 24 hours before posting. However, 24 hours is not enough time to prepare an article for publishing. In addition, composing an article in a short amount of time is usually laborious if it is not linked to a content calendar. To stand out in the crowded space of blogging, prepare your business with a content calendar that is manageable and consistent. 

A few years ago, the thought that your blog could be a professional writer’s employment was inconceivable. Then, bloggers were just people who wanted to talk about some of their interests and pass on advice through an article or two. Today, blogging has become more than a hobby because it is now recognized as one of the best ways for writers to make money on any media platform – social media or otherwise!

The content calendar is so important because it provides bloggers with ideas they can write about and directs them when those articles should go live (as well as how often). With this plan at hand, all you need are these three rules: 1) Be consistent, 2) Keep your posts short 3) Always have something new every time readers come back.

Why Your Business Needs a Content Calendar

Whether you are a one-person team or have multiple contributors, a content calendar will keep your business running smoothly. The Content Marketing Institute found that “60% of organizations with a written content strategy are effective, compared to only 32% of those with a purely verbal content strategy being effective” (themeisle.com). Effective communication is the best way to combat misunderstandings, frustration, and burnout. While you may feel that verbal communication is sufficient, the study from the Content Marketing Institute says otherwise. In fact, having a written plan is best for communicating complex ideas such as timelines and requirements. 

Your business will benefit from incorporating a content calendar.

Benefits of a content calendar for your business
  • Content calendars ensure that all your content-related tasks are actually happening (backlinko.com)
  • Promotes consistency of content
  • Guides the team on future projects

Without a content calendar, your business will suffer from consistency and delivery. Therefore, it is best to create a plan for future projects and deadlines and to keep track of your progress for the year.

60% of organizations with a written content strategy are effective, compared to only 32% of those with a purely verbal content strategy being effective

themeisle.com

3 ways a calendar can improve your content creation

Failing to plan is a sure-fire way to miss milestones and stunt your growth online. Releasing content at a steady pace encourages trust with your audience and algorithms. For blogging business owners, creating a content calendar is essential to your traffic and income growth. 

Launches and Promotions

Businesses tend to make the most amount of sales and traffic during the holidays. Planning for a launch takes months of preparation, if not years! If you plan to create content, physical products, or services, you’ll need to craft a plan months ahead. Adjust your business strategy to fit in delays, shipping, returns, refunds, vacation, and possible outages into your schedule. This will ensure that you do not miss the busiest season of the year! 

In addition to the launch, you’ll plan for promotion and ads to ensure a healthy amount of sales (searchenginejournal.com). There is no shortage of planning when it comes to a launch. Plan accordingly!

Align your tasks with your goals

Your business will have short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals are usually categorized by the business cycle: Growth, Nurture, and Revenue. Gagging your short-term goals may be difficult, especially during your first years of business. By aligning your content calendar with your long-term goals, you can better prepare for long-term success by adjusting your short-term goals.

For example, if your long-term goal is to make 25K your first year of blogging, then you can pace out your year with milestones such as 5K, 10K, and so on. 

However, keeping track of your earning does not promote making more.

Metrics for Progress on Business Goals
  1. List your revenue streams
  2. Analyze your funnels
  3. Increase the traffic to your funnels
  4. Nurture your audience and learn more about what helps them purchase
  5. Increase your revenue and devise a way to make income.

It is much easier to pivot when you have a content calendar that guides you. 

Consistency

To increase your traffic, nurture your audience, and make money, you’ll need to be consistent with your content. Learning from your audience is only possible when you genuinely engage with your customers regularly. 

To engage, learn and grow, you’ll need to prepare content. Generally, the further you plan, the higher the odds are for you to consistently build trust, authority, and expertise.

(buffer.com)

Beginner’s guide to creating a blog post schedule

A content calendar is a key to marketing success for blogging business owners. One of the simplest ways a blog post can help drive traffic and income growth is by creating a system that ensures you release content at regular intervals, which encourages trust with your audience and algorithms and increases website rankings. When it comes time to create an editorial calendar, there are three main points to consider to keep things running smoothly: 1) Align tasks with goals 2) Consistency 3) Launches. In the end, these simple tips will make sure you’re always on top of deadlines without sacrificing quality or decreasing momentum. 

How to Start Your Content Calendar: Plan, Create, and Manage

Once you have an idea of your content niche, including the type of posts (i.e., blog post, photo update, etc.), schedules, and topics you will publish regularly, all you need is a plan of action.

How to Plan a Content Calendar

To create your content calendar (or editorial calendar), you need to clearly understand the topic that will bring in the most traffic and best fit your business. 

1. Define your long-term goals

Identify the successes you would like to see with your business. Before you can create a plan, you need to determine what your goals are. Goals come in many forms but figuring out why and what you’re trying to accomplish with your blog will have the most significant impact on how successful it is.

Popular content marketing long-term goals include
  • Social media:
    • 10 000 followers on Instagram (swipe-ups)
    • 30 000 watch hours on Youtube (monetization)
    • 10M+ monthly views on Pinterest 
  • Income:
    • Make 5K from affiliates
    • Make a total of 25K in revenue
    • Make a full-time income passively
  • Sessions
    • Have 60K monthly sessions on your website (better ads)
  • Email Subscribers
    • Grow my email list to 100

Identify your long-term goals and set a time frame. Most people will create a 5-, 3-, and a 1-year plan. 

By my 5th year of blogging, I want to earn a full-time income and retire from my 9-5″

By my 3rd year of blogging, I would like to earn a part-time income and contribute to my retirement account.

By the end of my 1st year of blogging, I would like to break even in finances.”

Before you can create a successful blog, the first step is to determine what your goals are. Clearly, defining these long-term goals will have the most significant impact on how successful it becomes. 

Once you’ve selected your goals and put them into words, we recommend asking yourself some of these questions so that you know which type of content should be developed for your audience:  

What do they want? 

Why do they need this information? 

Which topics interest them the most? 

Who are their competitors in this area of expertise or industry niche? 

What’s my best way to reach them with valuable content at each stage in their buying process (i.e., awareness, consideration, purchase)? 

Related: SUPPORTING YOUR HEALTH AS A BLOGGER: PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH OPTIMIZATION

2. Choose your channels

Some people may want to use various social media platforms depending on their industry and target audience, while others might find that sticking with one channel will be more effective.  To choose the best option for your needs, it’s essential to understand what each one offers so you can make an informed decision about which ones are worth your time and effort. Let’s get started! 

Popular Channels of Communication Include

Social media-Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, Instagram, and blogs

For starters, these channels are great ways to build relationships with customers and potential customers. They can also help you to increase brand awareness and generate more website traffic. Another popular channel is social media networks, in particular Facebook. Facebook has about 1 billion active users daily who make between 21 and 40 minutes spent on the site with their friends daily. This means that a large percent of your audience is being influenced by their influence daily.

Sales-One-on-one sales, telephone sales, in-store sales

Most businesses plan to make sales a significant goal. Sales can be made by selling products and services via telephone calls, personal visits to your office/store, or selling online. The chances of making a sale increase if the customer has developed a positive relationship with your business. Personalized and highly relevant communication is one way that you can achieve this relationship with your customers.

Website-Ranking-your-business highly on Google and other search engines

To be ranked highly in the search engines, your company name and website must be prominent on page one of the list. You can accomplish this by having a compact and unique URL, with keywords prominently placed. Also, you must ensure that the quality of your website is consistently high since it will determine whether or not your business gets through to customers’ searches. Add relevant keywords to your URLs and manager pages.

Audio-Visual Marketing

So you’ve got a killer product in motion, but how are you going to ensure that your customers know about it? Admittedly, visuals almost always add an extra je ne sais quoi to your website and thus further boost its appeal. As most customers are visual beings, they tend to be more attentive to what they see than what they hear. And if your product has been designed with quality in mind, then a slickly put-together video can go a long way in making it a customer favorite.

Video- Youtube, commercials, TikTok

One of the easiest ways to reach out to customers and boost your brand awareness is by creating a video about your brand featuring all the products you manufacture and sell. Use a professional video production house or hire a co-worker who has an interest in video production. They can then create a short promotional film for you that is relevant to your product, service, or industry. You can then edit it and upload it on your website and screenshots of the product so that viewers can decide if they want to go ahead and purchase it.

A content calendar assists in planning a business’s content and serves as a method for tracking these posts to develop a plan and routine. Maintaining user experience in mind while doing this is essential to keep customers engaged. 

3. Identify your pillars

Pillars are the main points that your content touches on. Pillars will vary by niche. Here are examples of pillars by niche. 

Social Media Marketers

  • Social media tips
  • Content tips 
  • Business owner tips
  • Promo’s
  • Storytelling

Clothing Boutique

  • New arrivals
  • How to style…
  • Fashion trends
  • Brand storytelling
  • User-generated content

Hair Stylist

  • Client before/after
  • DIY hair tutorials
  • Hair education
  • Product recommendations
  • Service offerings

Stationary designer

  • Behind the scenes
  • Design tips
  • Client showcase
  • Favorite products
  • DIY/ tutorials

(acreativeco.com)

Identifying and understanding your pillars will help you create content that engages, informs, and persuades. A pillar is the central message of a blog post or online marketing piece and should be closely related to what you’re trying to sell and offer real value for the reader. 

4. Decide on your publishing frequency

Decide when you will publish and let your audience members know when to expect your content. Order your pillars so that you diversify and control the frequency of your content. Know that within your pillars, you will have multiple subcategories. For example, social media may include LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and more. 

You know that there’s only so much time in the day. But, when you publish regularly and let your audience members know what they can expect from your next content release date, it creates an expectation that encourages them to come back for more. Ordering your pillars is also essential because by diversifying and controlling the frequency of each post (i.e., social media), you will be able to reach all parts of your customer base with relevant information at just the right time – without overwhelming anyone or anyone type of channel. 

5. Update and review your plan

It can be easy to hit a plateau in your content creation, which is why it’s essential to take some time and review your plan. Include regular audits of your content on your content calendar. 

Audits include your content and the channel on which your content is being communicated. Content and Channel audits are completely separate audits and are best done separately. 

CONTENT AUDIT VS CHANNEL AUDIT
CONTENT AUDIT VS CHANNEL AUDIT

Related:  HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR BLOGGING WEBSITE IN 2021

Content audits

  • Update key words
  • Optimize for search engine
  • Update links
  • Update images and video

Channel audits

  • Optimize your content for the search engine based on analytics and algorithm metrics
  • Adjust your strategy to meet demand
  • Adjust the frequency of content publishing
  • Analyze funnels and engagement

It can be easy to hit a plateau in your content creation, which is why it’s essential to take some time and review your plan. Include regular audits of your content on your content calendar. Audits include reviewing the channel where you are publishing this content (social media, email marketing, blog posts) and the type of content that you’re creating for each channel. 

How to create a content calendar

The best part of a content calendar is that it can be customized to fit your workflow and the needs of different team members. 

At the heart of a content calendar is 

  1. Event
  2. Time frame
  3. Channels
  4. Delegation

The complexity of your content calendar will depend on these three factors.

If you publish one article per week and promote your content via your website, podcast, and Pinterest, your content calendar may look like this. 

Clark’s To-do List

No.TitlepodcastFeatured Image on the blog postBlog postPinterestStoriesPinterest Stagnant pins
1Little Red4/8/214/8/214/8/214/8- 4/154/8- 4/15

In the image above, you will see that the channel, event, and frequency are detailed. The podcast featured image and blog post will go live on 4/8/21. Every day after that, new content will be published on Pinterest, all relating to the same event. It’s is Clarks, responsibility to post each of these items as indicated in the title. 

Choose a Format to Organize Your Content Calendar

Understandably, each person processes information differently. The main idea is to make your content calendar simple and easy to follow and understand. 

Be sure that your strategy is friendly to your team’s learning styles. For example, do not use color coding systems if people on the team are color blind. 

Choosing a format is one of the most time-consuming investments in your business. Be careful and thoughtful when selecting a structure that will best work for your business and team. 

Some things to consider when choosing a content calendar format
  • Price. Be sure your business can sustain any costs long-term. Your content calendar will be complicated to transfer onto a different platform most of the time. Prepare to be with one provider long-term. 
  • Membership. Ensure that your business covers and membership fees for each of your team members. Do not expect team members to invest their money into your idea. 

Content Calendar Template and Tools

There are multiple templates on a free and paid plan for your content calendar. Here is a list of the most popular editorial calendar templates:

Trello

Trello provides a free collaboration-management tool that tracks your teams’ categories, progress, and tasks. This is an excellent option if you’d prefer to work outside of a content calendar than in one.

Hubspot

Hubspot offers free editorial calendar templates for you to download and edit.  

CoSchedule

CoSchedule offers a calendar view of your tasks with easy-to-see emojis that help quickly identify the task. This is an excellent solution for blogging tasks as you can add important details to the task, such as images and quotes.

Another great feature of CoSchedule is the ability to create tasks and assign them to various team members. This will allow you to give tasks to multiple people as needed. This option can be advantageous as it keeps your colleague’s content steady with yours by keeping them organized to reach their readers.

CoSchedule offers a template for creating editorial calendars as well as content calendars. They also have another calendar called the “suite” calendar, which helps you manage the entire blog schedule in one place.

Moovly makes it exceptionally seamless to publish content, embed sales videos, walkthroughs, and more on Hubspot. 

Google Sheets

Google sheets is a free application within Google Workspace. It is an excel style layout mostly reliant on text-based rows and columns. Many bloggers use this application to plan out their content and schedule it for future dates. 

Airtable

Airtable is a database that helps you organize your content and use it for your blog. It is also a tool to track your blog’s progress. It is similar to Google Sheets and has a more visual layout that allows you to format the data in the way you want it.

Asana

Asana is a tool for planning and tracking projects. It will allow you to share the calendar with your team so that all of the members can see what’s going on at all times.

There are several different tools and templates for content calendars. Each one has its own strengths, but they all have the same goal – to help you plan your marketing strategy in advance so that it is optimally executed. 

How to Manage Your Content Calendar

Your content calendar needs to clearly communicate deadlines and responsibilities. Take input from your team on how to best communicate and establish responsibilities. 

Metrics are a clear indicator of your content calendar’s success. If your business displays a drop in traffic and sales, analyze your content calendar for possible gaps. 

Ask yourself,

Did we plan adequately?

What elements are missing and redundant?

What supports and structures would better support the business goals?

Monitor, engage and manage adjustments to your content calendar often. Identify areas of improvement and communicate impactful updates to your team. 

Tips and Frequently Asked Questions

The following are tips and frequently asked questions.

What content calendar does Blogging Business Owner use?

I use a google sheet to plan, create, and manage content. I rely on the suggestions made on the Growth Strategy post. 

Is there a wrong way to do content calendars?

Yes and no. Each content calendar will be different from one another; however, the foundation of a content calendar is consistent.

A content calendar contains:
*Event
*Time Frame
*Channels
*Person Responsible

If you have a team, be sure to:
*Facilitate a training
*Allow ample time for team members to familiarize themselves with the format and platform.
*Encourage questions and open dialogue (with no lead)
*Encourage feedback and input
*Enable and encourage ongoing collaboration on the platform (with little oversight)
*Incorporate feedback and adjust with consensus

If you are a one-person team or a leader:
*Think about what works best for you
*Add all components to one place (limit the number of platforms and spaces you need to organize your content)
*Be mindful of adjustments and find a platform that allows “undo’s.”
*Focus on the content (not the content calendar)

Additional Resources 

How to Create an Editorial Calendar [Examples + Templates] – Learn what an editorial calendar is, see how some of the best content teams have built theirs, and get a free template to create your own. (blog.hubspot.com)

The Complete Guide to Choosing a Content Calendar – All the tools, templates, tips, and more for choosing a content calendar for your blog posts and social media updates. (buffer.com)

Blog Editorial Calendar Template – Free to Use | Airtable – Even the most battle-hardened editorial team needs a plan of attack. And that plan is called an editorial calendar. It’s a crucial tool for everything from… (airtable.com)

Create a Social Media Content Calendar: Tips and Templates – Social media content calendars are the best way to plan and organize upcoming content. Find out why you should have one and how to get started. (blog.hootsuite.com)

Editorial Calendar – The Editorial Calendar makes it possible to see all your posts and drag and drop them to manage your blog. (wordpress.org)

How to Plan a Social Media Content Calendar – Later Blog – Social media content calendars are a great way to see continuous growth! Learn how to build a successful content calendar for your social platforms here. (later.com)

The Best 2021 Social Media Content Calendar to Organize Every Post – Are you struggling to put next year’s social media content calendar together? Look no further! We have great templates and tips just for you. (coschedule.com)

Free Editorial Calendar Templates • Asana – Organize your publication schedule and content production process in one place with this easy-to-use editorial calendar template for blogs, websites, magazines, and more. (asana.com)

How to Create an Editorial Calendar for Content Marketing in 5 Easy Steps – Simplify your content optimization process and reduce your stress with this guide to creating an effective content marketing editorial calendar. (searchenginejournal.com)

Create a Year-Long Content Strategy – A content strategy is the best way to stay accountable and ahead of the game. Create a year-long content strategy with these steps. (convertkit.com)

How to Create a Blog Content Strategy – What 4 Years of Experience Have Taught Me – Want to take your blog from good to great? Build a blog content strategy. A written content strategy has been shown to double a blog’s long-term success. (themeisle.com)

Editorial team – This handbook page describes the strategy and processes of the Editorial team at GitLab. (about.gitlab.com)

Creating a social media calendar that works – Planning out your social media efforts is essential to maximize engagement. Here are four steps for creating a social media calendar that works. (sproutsocial.com)

Conclusion

A content calendar is a great tool to use if you want your marketing strategy to be successful. It allows you to keep track of what’s going on in the world and how it will affect your business or product offerings. You can also plan ahead for upcoming holidays so that your messaging is relevant while still being timely. The critical components of a good content calendar are designing, creating, managing, and understanding its importance as an integral part of any digital marketing campaign.

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