12:42 pm How to build your content calendar
Note: This post is part of our 10X Media Guide to creating content that builds your audience and your business. Click here to start at the beginning.
Now that you have come up with a bunch of content ideas the next stage is all about building a content calendar that keeps you and your team accountable.
A great content calendar helps you visualise your content strategy and stay organised. It also helps you optimise your distribution and engagement opportunities and it allows you to build a consistent story for all your publishing efforts across all your distribution channels.
A well constructed calendar also means you can manage lots of different kinds of content in one place for different geographic locations, different company brands or even different stages of your customers buying cycle.
Ultimately, content calendars are necessary for aligning the content creation efforts of your team.
So they’re pretty important. It’s hard to achieve significant results without one.
Creating your Content Calendar
You can use an Excel spreadsheet, a Word document or even a sharable Google Sheet. There are also content calendar tools available to help you manage your schedule. These include CoSchedule, Trello or even your WordPress calendar.
When you create your content calendar document we recommend you start by dividing it into the following categories:
- Topic (or Working Title)
- Format (This is the content type e.g. news piece, in-depth research article, FAQs, interview, link round-up etc. See our article on the 15 Content Formats for Content Marketing for more content types to use)
- Call to action (What is the key action you want to the reader to take after reading each piece of content)
- Draft Due Date (This is the date the draft is submitted to the Editor)
- Final Due Date (This is the final date the editing needs to be completed by)
- Publication Date & Time
- Intended Audience (This is the segment of your audience that you are specifically looking to target with each piece of content)
- URL (This is the URL of the final piece of content, this is always something you can come back an add in once you have hit publish)
- Target Keywords (These are the target keywords you want to focus on and possibly mention in the title or sub-titles in your content)
- Distribution Channels (Select only the ones you want to specifically target or are especially relevant for each piece of content. Refer to the spreadsheet list of Distribution Channels you created in the previous step to help you identify them)
- Notes (This is where you add any further notes or reminders to yourself about each piece of content)
Here is our content calendarwhich you are welcome to use.
Once you have finalised your content calendar document, think about the frequency you want to publish and set to work creating a routine for yourself and your team.
For example, your frequency could be twice a day, once a day, twice a week or any time frame you set yourself. The key however is to be realistic based on your current capacity to stick to the schedule as you will need to remain consistent when publishing.
And remember to select a frequency that fits the type of content you are creating e.g. if you are only creating long form highly researched articles accompanied by a professional video then you might want to post less often to allow yourself time to thoroughly research and then produce and edit your accompanying video.
Establishing a steady rhythm to your publishing is key.
Lastly when you are filling in your content calendar take into consideration other dates and events which could impact your schedule and the success of your content, such as:
- public holidays (and not just those in your area, think about where your customers are located, because these are often days where customers won’t give your content the attention it deserves);
- seasonal trends and themes (e.g. holidays, Christmas, summertime etc);
- conferences and key industry events;
- product launches and other activities you have planned e.g. giveaways, competitions, events, promotions etc.;
- company news and announcements
Now with all of this in mind, set to work and schedule the best of your brainstormed ideas into your content calendar.
Put them into a logical order which also provides a variety of formats for your reader.
Then review gaps in your content range and add in any topics that you feel will enhance the flow of your schedule.
Once you have plotted your content calendar you need to set in place your content production workflow. This is the process you take to get your piece of content from an idea to a piece ready to be published.
Here is an example workflow of the way we do things here at 10X Media with a relatively small team:
Managing your Content Calendar
Once you have started your calendar and you have planned the workflow required to create your scheduled content, what next?
It becomes all about maintaining your calendar and keeping your content schedule focused. Your calendar won’t work if you forget to keep checking things off, updating and filling it in!
I suggest completing 1-2 months of your calendar at each time. You don’t want to plan too far ahead as you will restrict your ability to react to current topics and tweak and adjust your content schedule as you go.
This way you can keep your content topics fresh, relevant, add more of what is working and not repeat things which didn’t get the engagement you were after.
It is also beneficial to have a yearly or quarterly check of your content plan to keep your content aligned to your goals and relevant to your target audience. To help you do this it can be quite beneficial to create some over arching content themes for yourself.
These themes can be about specific types of content you want to cover, a company wide focus currently underway or they can be themes of content related to a product or sales sequence. e.g. we had a plan to put together this sequence of ‘Create’ content and this was our theme for this month.
You can add your themes to an additional column of your spreadsheet or content calendar to keep yourself accountable.
Now you are ready to start writing the first piece of content on your schedule.
Hit next to continue to Step 8.