A content calendar to content marketing is like an editorial calendar to journalism. Perhaps that’s why companies who adopt brand journalism use the same term and approach as any news organisation.
Not only making sense in terms of productivity, a content calendar also serves as a strategic lever. It gives you opportunities to:
Adapt your strategy to react to important shifts
Proactively allocate and manage marketing resources
Now, let’s get into the details of creating this important tool.
Step 1: Start from the strategy
Ideally, you should already have a content marketing strategy in place. Remember, if you don’t belong to the camp of 37% of B2B marketers and 40% of B2C marketers who have a written content marketing plan, you should really start there before diving into a content calendar.
Next, extract information from the strategy to guide your content creation efforts. Specifically, start with your buyer personas and the topics they care about.
Tip: Get information about your sales cycle and buyers’ concerns from other departments such as sales and customer service.
Step 2: Take stock
This is where you look at your existing, as well as desired situation.
List all content types, e.g. blog, email, video, social
List all content channels, e.g. social networks, blogging/content sites
Determine how much resources you have and need to achieve your content marketing goals
Tip: Identify valuable and previously unexploited content assets that can be repurposed and fitted into the calendar.
Step 3: Create a yearly view
This is where you identify seasonal or significant events that can impact your publishing schedule and map them out across the whole year. Some examples:
Industry events, trade shows
Peak buying seasons
Times of year that have industry significance, e.g. tax time for accounting
Recurring annual corporate events
Step 4: Work down to a monthly plan
Next, place specific content pieces into a monthly map, considering the information from all the steps above.
The level of details depends on your industry and business, but generally, your content calendar should include:
Themes / Campaigns (tip: use colour-coded labels)
Topic / Headline
Intended date of publishing
Author / Owner
Extras: keywords (for SEO), calls to action, URL of published content (for content audit)
At this stage, you should also consider whether you want to plan your content using a spreadsheet or another tool (e.g. CoSchedule, Kapost, Trello). Some questions to consider:
What do you value from your calendar, e.g. collaboration, progress? Decide whether you want to incorporate project management and content planning.
How easy will it be to find and use the calendar, considering cross-department collaboration, upcoming events etc.?
How varied your content formats are, mainly blog or social posts?
How much visual content assets do you plan to create? Some tools might support planning for these better than others.
Step 5: Keep an ideas repository
To fill the content schedule for the whole year, you can keep a list of content ideas either separately or integrated into your monthly plan.
Tip: Again, tap internal expertise and ask for employees’ input when it comes to ideas.