by Michelle Evans
Updated August 31, 2020
Should content calendars be a part of your overall content marketing strategy? The short answer to this question is “absolutely!” Content calendars are an excellent way to document, monitor, and execute your content marketing strategy and building up your blog. Content calendars enable you to get organized, work towards established deadlines, and let’s face it, lays the groundwork to consistency.
We are now more than half-way through the year, and if you are without a content planning calendar –don’t worry. It’s never too late to start filling in the blanks and tracking your content plans. You can create a content calendar to schedule everything you will need for the next three, six, or twelve months. You will notice that I did not stick with the 12-month rule. My rationale for not dictating that you adhere to a 12-month strategy has everything to do with the importance of not scaring novice creators or beginners away from the table.
Creating a content calendar from scratch can be daunting –particularly if you do not have any background in blogging, marketing, or social media management. It is okay to start small and allow yourself to enjoy the small successes before embarking taking a bigger bite from the elephant that lives in the details of a content calendar.
One of your initial goals is to become productive. Once you map out your initial content marketing calendar, you can next begin to look at hiring a content writer and being more deliberate about growing your content, attracting followers, and building your subscriber list as a part of any email marketing strategy you might have in place.
Advantages of Using a Content Calendar
There are multiple benefits to using a content calendar. Aside from organization, hitting key milestones or content planning, the Content Marketing Institute, suggests that your content calendar can:
- Allow for a single source for the status of in-progress content on different channels
- Provide you with a method to track your content plans and usage
- Enable you to monitor related or repurposed content
Content calendars are not one-size fits all model. Sure, there are thousands of templates on the market for you to select and develop your schedule, but your final product should be centric to your individualized content marketing strategy.
What Should I Put on My Content Marketing Calendar?
Your content marketing calendar should allow you to focus on any one of the following items to help build brand awareness, increase website traffic, or boost sales:
- Social Media Post Planning (i.e., Instagram Posts, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook Posts)
- Blog Topics (weekly posts)
- Video Post Planning
- Promotional Events
Throughout the content calendar planning process, you want to ask yourself the “who, what, when, where, and why” component of your actions.
You can incorporate each of these items into your content marketing calendar, or you can focus on just a few things if you are a team of one trying to do it all yourself. Something is always better than nothing. By now, you know that the adage of “if you build it, they will come” is not true. Your content calendar will go a long way to steer folks even if your work is at a smaller scale than that of a competitor.
Your content calendar can be handy –even if you are planning to hire writers to craft your blogs or social media assistants to post your social media content, you can still use a content calendar to help you formulate a plan.
As you initiate work on the development of your content marketing calendar –mainly if you are a team of one, you will want to challenge yourself to answer a few questions about your motivation. As always, you want your actions to be purposeful.
- Which social media networks (i.e., Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) will you use, and why? Remember that you don’t have to manage multiple networks. You can focus on two of these.
- Blog or website content. What are you planning to write about and when will you post it? Are there opportunities for storytelling?
- Will you use any email campaigns?
- Podcast activity
- How will you measure the results of your content marketing calendar’s effectiveness? (i.e., follows, sales, website traffic, leads)
If you have the time, you want to ensure this calendar is full. If a full calendar is not realistic for a team of one, you want to ensure your content calendar is achievable.
Where Can I Get a Free Content Marketing Calendar Template?
As previously stated, there are thousands of free content marketing calendars online, but a few of my favorites are available from credible sources like coschedule.com, HubSpot, and the Content Marketing Institute. You have the option to use any of these free templates, or you can create your tool from scratch using Microsoft applications like Excel, Word, or PowerPoint.
In summary, your options are endless as it relates to using a content calendar. Your approach does not have to be cookie-cutter. It can fit your situation, but the key is consistency. Use this tool to organize your content goals and to monitor or track those things that were successful or those items that may not have been so spectacular in your journey.