Any content creator will admit that creating valuable content at a regular interval is real-life challenging. Sometimes, it can feel a little overwhelming and marketers think that they have to be cranking out millions of posts in a short timeframe.
This type of brain fog necessitates the need for an organized plan to hold content creators accountable, centralize, and flesh out ideas, as well as keep the content flowing at a steady clip.
On that note, if you create content in any shape or form, you know how vital it is to have a clear and documented plan for publishing and promoting your content.
The truth is, when it comes to content marketing, many organizations and content creators that struggle with consistency have found a content calendar to be the perfect solution.
What Is A Content Calendar And Why Do You Need One?
A content calendar (aka an editorial calendar) enables you to turn your ideas into an organized plan so you can stick to your publishing schedule and keep your content strategy in sync. Also, it makes sure that you and your team have the same end goal in mind.
Is it really necessary to have one? Could you benefit from adding a content calendar to your content marketing plan?
Most of us know that the answer to that question is a big fat juicy YES. We know that the number one way to get traffic is through the very habits that an editorial calendar will help us develop—consistency.
However, a lot of marketers still struggle with knowing exactly how to set up and use a content calendar to achieve their goals.
If that sounds like you, it’s time to learn what successful content marketers have known for years: content calendars are essential for maintaining busy, successful publishing schedules.
What Are The Benefits Of Using A Content Calendar?
Plan Your Content Ahead
Do you have ideas for your next piece of content but you’re still working on a project? With a content calendar, you can take that idea, look for the best time to showcase it and jot it down for future use.
Then you can research it and mull it over for a while before producing it, source input, and comments from others. A content calendar gives you a new perspective towards planning your content. It establishes the expectation and can help you and your team keep focused on publishing content consistently.
Stay On Schedule With A Content Calendar
Another major benefit of the content calendar is that it keeps you on track. It helps you see what’s coming up so you can carve out time in your schedule to get ahead.
It describes which content pieces to deliver and when, so you can plan your work accordingly without letting them slip through the cracks. Plus, it allows proper and timely scheduling of important events or milestones for promotion through social media, web, and advertising.
Organize Content Elements
All too often, organizations experience less than ideal results with their content marketing because of a failure to organize key elements such as calls-to-action (CTAs), author, images, campaign, or even publish date.
In that respect, a content calendar helps you keep your content organized, on track, and focused. It helps you visualize each aspect of the posts in one place so you aren’t leaving out any content for major campaigns.
Synchronize Content Ideas
Maintaining a content calendar will help you and your team stay consistent and improve the quality of your content in a synchronized manner.
It allows you to have a bigger picture of how your content will look like over the next few months. This makes the content evaluation and correction simpler. Further, keeping a regular check on your content calendar helps in improving your content especially when there are new ideas or updates from your team.
Clearer Communication About Content Creation
Most of the time, we’re the team that suggests article topics based on conversations we’re having. A content calendar allows me to clearly take notes and make a list so that these topics won’t be forgotten.
On that note, creating an editorial calendar gives you the advantage of a birds-eye view of your online communications. It keeps your team well-informed on how to go about things in the future. Lastly, it avoids confusion and ensures the team sticks to the workflow.
How To Manage Your Content Calendar?
Whether you plan content on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis, depending on how quickly your industry or organization moves, there are several universal keys to content calendar success. The truth is, a calendar, tool, or a spreadsheet can get you started.
However, with so many editorial calendar apps available, it can be overwhelming to sift through and find the best one.
Coming from my experience as a content marketer, my team and I have been using Trello to keep our content organized. Creating a Trello board for an Editorial Calendar is an intuitive and visual way to store, overview, organize, and map our content process.
On our Trello board, we identify content details and group them into five stages (lists). In each list, there are numbers of cards– each card corresponds to an article. We’ll assign labels and checklists to the cards. Then, each card can be moved in the appropriate list according to its advancement in our writing process.
Now, let’s talk about each stage and allow me to share a few helpful tips I’ve learned along the way to seamlessly manage a content calendar.
1. Content Ideas
As a content marketer, you know how many hours you have to invest in only deciding what content to produce. So in order to combat that, we put in this list whatever content ideas we have in mind which we think could provide value to our audience. Some of our content ideas are pretty wild, some are boring — regardless, the ideas go on the board.
By indicating our fresh ideas, content types, and additional content information, our content will be easier to produce and manage. It gives our content creation process a head start and saves a lot more of your time otherwise wasted in thinking about where to start. It also helps us see ahead of time and gives us more time for planning and preparation.
As part of any great content strategy, we provide more value to our content by conducting extensive research. We do this to ensure we focus on content that engages our audience and supports our ideas with data and evidence.
This is the stage where we prepare for the content creation process such as reviewing tools/products, conducting a case study, doing a challenge/analysis, solving a problem, or experimenting. Listing these topics and forms of content in a single app makes it easier for us to verify we are covering all the products, buying stages, and personas.
Once we’ve done the preparation work of strategizing, brainstorming, and organizing, this is where we turn them into reality. This is the stage where we actually start the content creation process– writing, creating, talking, filming, etc..
Through crafting the content skeleton or framework, we construct an outline that is flexible enough to serve as the basis for an article or a presentation. We are able to translate our ideas, research data, information, solution, and conclusion into solid content.
After we’ve managed to create our content, this is the stage where we refine and optimize our content based on the goals and the baseline set out in the first steps. It’s also the process where we measure how our content is likely to perform and if we’re well on our way in publishing it.
When a content card moves to this list, it means that we have to look after and review the content quality, balance, accuracy, architecture, and delivery with fresh eyes. More than anything, it means that the content creator is passing their work to our editor (Mike).
Finally, the last part of the list is staging. It may simply refer to publishing our finalized work at a specified date and time. These articles are polished and ready.
However, we usually take the time to get them published depending on our planned post frequency and content strategy. We believe that a good article, no matter how engaging and informative it may be, can be disregarded by the target audience if not posted strategically.
Furthermore, as you view each card in every list, there are still several features you can work on:
- Members – The writer of the article adds him or herself to the card. This way it is clear who has taken point on writing the piece, and everyone knows who to tag in the discussions.
- Labels – This is where labels get added (represented by different colors), to further distinguish what type of content our article is categorized as.
- Description – Apart from the article title, we opt to put descriptions in each card to further explain what the content is about.
- Due Date – This is where we schedule our content in advance, set a deadline, and set reminders.
- Comment – This allows every member of the team to send attachments, share a link, or engage in a conversation on the back of the card.
- Attachments – This is where files such as images, documents, or links can be uploaded to the cards.
All in all, Trello is just an example of a great tool for creating a content calendar, which I could attest to its helpfulness. Other than that, there are also other effective tools to give you a head start in creating a content calendar such as Kapost, Coschedule, Taskworld, Google Sheets, or even Google Calendar. At the end of the day, it’s up to you and your team to figure out which one works best for you.
Every content marketer knows that creating valuable content, again and again, can be difficult, challenging, or even stressful. We totally get that! It’s because marketers like you try to give everything you can to your audience.
However, from the old school method of pen and paper to the digital version, there’s always a solution to keep your thoughts organized, consistent, and bring out your best potential– it’s a content calendar!
Whether you’re just starting out with a content strategy or you have an approach in place, it’s always a great idea to utilize a content calendar and make sure it’s up-to-date, innovative, and effective.
Want some professional tips for actually filling in your content calendar? Shoot us a message or leave a comment below!