Creating and implementing a content calendar can often be harder than you think. There are many variables you should consider. For example, your content calendar should be aligned with your marketing strategy. Your content should also be helpful and informative for your target group. Moreover, it has to be somewhat related to your product offering.
So, you’ll want to put a lot of thought into your content calendar to ensure its effectiveness. In this blog post, I’ll describe step by step how to create a content calendar.
Step 1: Decide on a time-frame
The first thing you’ll want to consider when creating a content calendar is your time-frame. The time-frame is the period for which you will plan your content. It can be for one month, three months, or even a year.
If you are starting, meaning that you have never published any piece of content before, then I would suggest planning your content calendar a month at a time. This way, you can adjust your content calendar faster to match your skills and the time you have available for creating content.
On the contrary, if you are not a complete beginner, I would suggest planning your content calendar every three months. That gives you enough time to accumulate valuable data that can give you powerful insights for your next content calendar.
Step 2: Decide on your goal
It is crucial to know your goal for each content calendar you create. That’s what will help you choose which types of content you should consider. To implement goals, you can start by selecting one main goal. For example, your main goal could be to raise awareness for your website.
Once you have identified your main goal, you should decide how you will evaluate that goal. You’ll want to use KPIs to do that. KPIs are the specific metrics you want to use to measure your goal. So, for example, to measure awareness, you might want to consider your total website visits, your returning visitors, etc. I would recommend choosing 3 KPIs to evaluate your main goal.
Step 3: Decide on the types of content you want to use
Depending on your goal, you’ll want to prioritize specific types of content over others in your content calendar. I wrote an article about different types of content and what they are good for. You can find it here: Content Marketing 101: The different types of content. Read this article to help deciding which types of content you want to create.
Be careful when choosing and think about how much time you have available. As an entrepreneur or startup owner, you have many hats, so don’t overestimate your time to work on content creation. And remember, you also need to spend a lot of time on Social Media Marketing, on your website, etc.
So, I would suggest choosing a maximum of 3 types of content to begin with. If you see that it goes well, then you can add other types in your next content calendar.
Step 4: Decide on a frequency for each type of content
Once you have decided which types of content you wanted to implement in your content calendar, you need to decide on a publishing frequency for each type. Depending on the type of content, the frequency will be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or only once.
Again, be careful not to overestimate your time and capacity to publish content. It is better to be consistent than to skip too many deadlines.
Step 5: Decide on a specific schedule for each type of content
Now that you have decided on the frequency, it is time to put dates in your calendar. Start planning the types of content that are weekly first and decide on a specific day and time you want to post every week. For example, I publish a new blog post every Thursday in the afternoon (Danish time). But, studies show that the best time to publish blog posts is Tuesday and Wednesday between 9.30 am, and 11.00 am (US EST Time). However, I know that Thursday fits best in my work schedule, so I don’t follow the best time, and that’s ok.
Once you have decided on the weekly dates, then fill in the bi-weekly and the monthly dates. Finally, choose a deadline for your content that are unique (e.g., eBooks, product sheet comparisons, etc.).
Step 6: Decide on the specific content
At this point, you have set up specific dates in your content calendar. Now, it is time to decide on the subjects for each of these dates.
In this blog post, I don’t have enough space to teach you how to decide on the subjects for each type of content you have. But the hardest is often to decide on the subjects of your weekly blog posts, podcasts, videos, etc. So, I’ll focus on how to plan for these content types. But, it should look like the picture below.
First, what is your core subject and your cornerstone content?
According to Yoast, “Cornerstone articles are usually relatively long, informative articles, combining insights from different blog posts, and covering everything that’s important about a certain topic.” Your cornerstone article must be directly linked with the problem you want to fix for your customers and your product offering.
My core subject is Inbound Marketing. So far, I have two cornerstone articles: “What is Inbound Marketing?” and “Start your Inbound Marketing strategy from scratch (with a template)“.
Second, what are the most important topics that are related to your core subject?
Once you have decided on a core subject, you need to think about the most important topics that are associated with this subject. For me, it is the four components of Inbound Marketing: Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media Marketing, and Email Marketing. In my two cornerstone articles, I talk about these four components, and more importantly, I link to my articles about these components.
I would recommend choosing between 3 and 6 important topics.
Finally, think about subjects related to each topic.
Once you have identified your important topics, you can think about specific subjects for each of them.
Choose the subjects that you believe are the most important for your target group. You can look at Medium or Quora to get inspired if you want. You can also ask your customers what they would like to read about or listen to.
Step 7: Decide on a publishing order
Now that you have an exhaustive list of subjects, it is time to decide when you should publish each one of them. So, take the calendar you started in Step #5 and associate each publishing date with a specific subject. I would always suggest starting with your cornerstone content, of course. Then, I would maybe try to publish one general article for each important topic you identified.
Once that’s done, you can start publishing about the more specific subjects you have identified. It is always better to mix your topics, meaning that you vary your publishing order. This way, you’ll get a more diverse blog right from the beginning.
For example, this week I posted about Content Marketing, next week it will be about Social Media Marketing, and so on.
Step 8: Follow your schedule
Now that you have a precise schedule, it is time to keep it. I know it can be hard. Sometimes, unexpected events can happen, which can delay you. For example, I got a puppy at the end of March, and I had a hard time following my schedule for the two first weeks after her arrival. And you know what? It is ok! I am happy that I took some time off to be with her, but I am even happier that I am now back on track. I have adjusted my schedule in consequence of the delay.
To help following my schedule, I use a management tool called Asana. Maybe it could also be helpful for you.
Step 9: Analyze your results
At the end of your time-frame, it is crucial to analyze your results. Evaluate the goal that you identified in step #2. Did you reach it? If so, that’s great. Now, how could you do even better next time? If you didn’t reach your goal, why? What went wrong, and how can you fix it? You can also check out which pieces of content were more successful than others and what important topics get the best results.
Also, evaluate your performance. Did you manage to follow your schedule? Should you modify the frequency in your next content calendar? Or, do you think you can add other types of content?
I hope you find this blog post insightful. If you need any help creating your content calendar, don’t hesitate to contact me. It would be a pleasure to help you out. Remember, the most important thing is to create valuable and informative content for your target group. Keep this in mind at all times, and you will be in business.
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