Content may be king, but the king could always use some help. It’s hard to be on top if you’re not organized behind the scenes. To produce content in a timely manner, you need a content calendar. It’s what tells the king where to go and when — as well as what to say.
At first, it may feel overwhelming to take on a quarter or more of content planning and arrange it in into a calendar format to use as a guide. But using a content calendar is an excellent way to stay organized and plan engaging content. It helps you produce content and share regular, relevant information with your teammate during the content creation process. It also serves as a benchmark for analysis and changes.
Here are some tips for developing an efficient process for content calendar creation:
Start with a Content Calendar Template
Having a template provides a way to visually organize what you put on your content calendar. Like any other calendar, you want a calendar template that is easy to read and provides enough columns to cover date/time, messaging, channel type, and person responsible.
If you aren’t sure what you want or what feels right, it’s a good idea to review the wide range of content calendars available online. You may like these versions or be comfortable with a platform as basic as an Excel spreadsheet or a digital calendar program.
If you use an existing template, be sure to check how you can download it and whether it’s compatible with any other software you may use. Having a content calendar that integrates with other tools often means less work and greater data insights.
Decide on a Time Period for Your Content Calendar
Depending on your budget and planning process, you may make a content calendar for a quarter, six months, or a whole year. The best approach is to at least plan for half the year, even if you don’t enter in all the content for the six-month period before beginning to create and publish it.
Even if you establish a content calendar for half the year, start working on the second half soon after launching your content campaigns. Your efforts during the first half of the year can — and should — guide your topics and timing for the rest of the year.
Select Audience Content, Place, and Time Preferences
Doing this research in advance of creating your content calendar will save considerable work and vastly improve your results. The research will indicate what type of content your audience wants, which channels they prefer for accessing this content, and what time of the week and day they typically search for this content.
Use existing analytics to determine this; another option is to mine for more insights through customer surveys, analysis of the competition, or market research that includes tools that calculate the most read content. Also, pay attention to any seasonal events or occasions that impact your audience so you can include those content themes.
Compile, Create, and Curate
With that information, start compiling the types of content you will create or curate, as well as frequency, location, and time. You don’t need to write all the content now. At this point, your content calendar should contain title ideas, topics, and sources for curated content from various curation platforms.
Filling in the time slots provides a visual way for you to see how you can diversify content topics and formats across channels to keep it interesting for your audience. You’ll be able to see where gaps may exist or whether you’ve balanced the content to address your entire audience’s needs.
The time slots also provide a way for you to manually schedule the content. Alternatively, you can use it as a reference for automation software that schedules content for publication across all platforms.
Make One More Content Calendar as Part of the Process
Just when you think you’re done; your last step involves making one more content calendar. Doing so shouldn’t take too long because you can copy the one you’ve already created.
The new content calendar will guide your content repurposing process. It’s a tactic that should also be part of your content marketing strategy. Some content will be able to be used again in a different format — some of the things you produce will beg to be angled for a new audience or fleshed out to address second-tier concerns. The process for repurposing involves using sections for shorter content pieces. It also means adding new sections in that have updated statistics or research.
Developing your repurpose content calendar from the start of the process saves time and effort. That ensures you don’t have to compile content options later for this part of the process. Be sure to add a column to this calendar that allows you to place a link to the existing content for easy access at a later date.
Have a Content Repository for Ongoing Ideas and Team Contributions
Not every content idea will find a home on your initial content calendar. Make a content repository, and open it up to the team to share and compile ideas for future content calendars. It can also serve as a storehouse for your existing content assets, which you can repurpose later on.
Be Prepared to Make Changes and Revise Your Content Calendar
As you track results, changes will be necessary. Some topics or content formats may not work as well. Or you may have discovered that a specific audience segment has shifted its time or subject preferences. However, the content calendar template makes it easy to make these adjustments and share the information with your marketing team involved in creating, scheduling, and publishing the content.
A content calendar may sound like an intimidating concept. In reality, it’s a way to ensure your team is on the same page from the very beginning. Not only will their content production process be smoother, but your audience will also appreciate the consistency that follows.
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