A Content Calendar is a calendar where it says what you are posting when and where so you know exactly what you are doing, and you can prepare. It takes the stress out of coming up with content on the spot and makes sure there is more coherency in your postings. Potential customers get to know you and your business better and are more likely to buy from you.
A content calendar, sometimes called an editorial calendar or blog calendar (if it is just used for blogs), can be used for all kinds of content and therefore needs to be adapted to whatever you are doing with your content.
If you don’t have a content strategy yet, it might be useful to make one first. Check out ‘Your Own Content Marketing Plan‘.
Setting up a content calendar
As I said, the setup depends a lot on what you are using. Moreover, there are a million different ways to set it up, depending on what you like and need.
I use an Airtable with different tables per channel that I use. For each channel, I have the title, the date it’s going to be published, the information I need and the progress. I have a lot more, but that is the base of what you need.
Note: Airtable* is a fabulous tool. It is like a spreadsheet (excel) combined with a database. It is very powerful and has many applications. One of them the content calendar.
You could also use an Excel table and instead of having different tables per channel, add a column ‘Channel’ so you know what channel it is for.
You could add a column for images, for URL, for notes, for the category if you do monthly categories, for instance. The sky is the limit.
My best advice is not to overdo it in the beginning. Start small. You can always add if you find you miss something, but I have seen time and time again that if people go very big with their content plan, they stop using it quickly. Mostly because it overwhelms them to look at it, sometimes also because they don’t understand anymore how they were supposed to use it.
Using your content calendar
Once you have your basic calendar setup, it is time to start using it and fill it in. There are two ways to go about it; Start with the dates and channels and fill in the titles. Alternatively, start with the titles and fill in the dates and channels. This depends on how you prefer to work.
I will describe both options below:
Step 0: Pick the dates
No matter which option you choose, you need to know what your schedule is. How much will you post where? That will give you an idea of how much you will need. If you want to start from dates you now need to fill in dates per channel in your content calendar.
Step 1: Pick a topic
If you are starting and are struggling with content, pick a problem, a category, that you will write all your content about. I would recommend that it is something that leads to a product or service you want to sell more of.
Step 2: Decide on your informative content
Write out many things you can talk about regarding this topic. If you have your ContentTree – a system I use to come up with much content – then that makes this step a lot easier.
You can use these for your blogs (or videos) and newsletters. These are your big items.
Step 3: Make these big items
If you are starting, I recommend to then make the big items before moving on to the smaller pieces. This will help you tremendously.
Step 4: Write small items around the informative content
You can make images that have quotes from your blogs. You can find case studies or other inspiration regarding that topic. You can ask questions that fit that category.
Step 5: Add the rest of the smaller content
Using the six different types of content add the rest of the material. Make sure you have enough to fill all your content spots.
Step 6: Fill it in the calendar
If you start from the dates, you can now add all of these content to the right spots. Start with the blogs, videos and newsletters and add the content for other channels later.
If you start from the titles/channels and then add dates, you can now add the dates. Start with the blogs, videos and newsletter and give them a publishing date. Now start adding dates to the rest of the content when it makes sense (don’t link to a video before it is published).
Step 7: Post and plan
You are now ready to plan all of this in.
I know this might feel hard and daunting in the beginning, but if you do this process a few times, it will go quicker and quicker. Also, it is more effective and productive to make a plan once a month, then trying to come up with content on the spot.
My Content Routine
What I do is I make my plan once a month. Once a week, I write all the content that goes with that plan. Because I have the outline ready to go, I know exactly what to do. I don’t have to think about a topic or what I should put on this blog. I will schedule this blog, my newsletter and my social posts to go out on the times they are supposed to. So then I don’t have to think about it anymore for the rest of the week.
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*Full disclosure: This article contains referral links. This means that if you decide to use this service I get credits for that service. I only link to products and services that I use(d) and love.