Content calendars are an integral part of your content strategy and they’re incredibly easy to put together. However, where they might be simple to generate, it can take up a considerable amount of time, depending on how complex you want it to be. Although, it’s an entirely worthwhile task in the long run as it’ll help you to be a more efficient and productive content creator.
From simple tables with a few notes and links attached to scheduling articles with a sophisticated application, there’ll always be a way to produce a content calendar that’s easy for both yourself and your peers to make sense of throughout the course of the year, even if you’re looking to keep costs low.
There are many reasons why using a content calendar would be a highly-beneficial tool to use. From the ideas themselves and research notes to the assigned writer and the date they’re going to be published, a calendar can help with a whole manner of different things when it comes to writing and publishing articles.
This is something that would be extremely useful if you have clients that you write for as they too will be able to see and make sense of the plans you have in place for their blog or news page. Therefore, if your clients ask to see a schedule or a plan for their web content, then you’ll have something to give them, even if it’s an unexpected request.
Here are a few more reasons why using a content calendar would be the best option for you as a content creator:
It’s important to plan out your content in order to save you time further down the line. Not only will this enable you to see when articles will be published, together with any progress made, but it will also help to mitigate potential writer’s block when it comes to generating new ideas or writing an article from scratch.
Batching ideas together and scheduling them for specific publishing dates will also save time in the future, allowing for you to plan ahead and spread your focus across different types of content, such as web pages, press releases and even infographics, instead of solely dedicating a considerable amount of time to writing articles and blog posts.
As a content calendar will allow you to see when articles are scheduled for posting, you’ll be able to spread dates more evenly throughout the year. If you’re writing for a client and their budget states that they can have two blog posts a month, then those two articles can be planned, researched for and written as and when they’re needed. But having the bare bones of the article to start with will help extensively when you actually come round to write the copy.
If your articles are planned out already, then the leg work has already been done in terms of getting ideas and notes together. In the long run, this will allow you more time to actually write the article itself and proofread it before it’s published.
Taking this side of things a bit slower and allowing the extra time to go through it all with a fine-tooth comb will help to prevent typos and other mistakes, therefore enhancing the quality of your work overall.
Planning blog posts will allow for seasonal articles to be written, therefore meaning that your content will be among the most relevant and up to date topics out there. Not only will you be able to plan seasonal articles, but you’ll even be able to put focus on ones that align with dedicated national or world days, such as World book Day, for example.
It would also be worthwhile keeping an eye on the news and other forms of media to get some of the most recent information and most popular topics. Social media is an excellent place to start your search in this sense, particularly Twitter as you can see what’s ‘trending’ in real time.
This is especially useful if there’s more than one writer that’s been assigned to produce different articles outlined in the plan. You’ll each be able to see which articles or ideas have been used already or whether they’re currently in progress.
This will also help in terms of SEO and how well the article ranks. You don’t want two or more articles to be too similar, otherwise they may end up getting lost and not many people will be able to read the content as a result.
As previously mentioned, the process behind creating a content calendar is relatively simple, it’s filling it out and doing the research for each idea that takes the time. That’s something that you could do over a period of time to save spending hours on it all in one go – you might even feel more inspired if you split up article idea generation over a longer timeframe.
But there are a few simple steps and tips to follow should you want an effective, easy-to-use, simple-to-read content calendar, including:
Before you start to plan your blog posts, there should be a clear strategy behind each one. What is the overall goal of the article you’ll be planning? If you aren’t too sure about this side of things, then there are a few questions to ask yourself in order to determine this. Essentially, ask yourself whether the article is to:
Once those things have been established, then you’ll be able to plan and make further notes in much more detail – this will help further down the line when you actually come to write the article.
Creating a template for your content calendar is incredibly easy – it can be done using anything. From Google Sheets to online tools that you’ve paid for, there will always be a way to draft up your own content calendar, even if it’s done using old fashioned pen and paper.
It would also be worth adding your own colour key to the template you’ve created, dedicating a shade to different stages in the process. For example, red could signal that the article is currently being researched for, orange could mean that the article is being written and green could be used to state that the article has been published and is onsite.
In addition to that, some of the other key pieces of information you could include in your content calendar include:
It seems a little counterproductive or even a little too eager to be scheduling blog posts for a year down the line, but it will save time in the long run and it’ll even allow for some flexibility when it comes to writing and scheduling articles.
Although planning articles is extremely useful, it would also be handy to keep some ideas on the backburner just in case some of them need to be changed or swapped out for something a little different. This way, you’ll always be prepared to make changes to your calendar, no matter how big or small.
Add notes to the articles you have in your content calendar so that you’re aware of your thought process when you scheduled the blog post in. This would be especially useful if you’ve planned for an article to be written at Christmas but you planned it back in the spring. This covers you further down the line so that you won’t feel so left in the lurch when you come to write the blog post.
The same goes for research links – only include links that are relevant and give precise information. For example, if you’re writing an article about driving laws in the UK, then be careful when searching for research links because you don’t want to use an American site to get that information as it’ll be irrelevant, inaccurate and, most likely, incorrect if you use it to explain British driving laws.
This stem backs to having extra content in the pipeline in case things change further down the line. For example, if you’re wanting to write an article summarising the events of the London Marathon and it’s been planned to go live for a specific month, but the marathon has been cancelled, then you’ll need something else to replace it with, and that’s where your evergreen content comes in. Think of it more as a safety net as opposed to anything else, but you should still take the time to plan it, just don’t schedule it for a specific date.
It’s important to stress here that you shouldn’t copy what your competitors are doing, but you should take some inspiration from the kind of content they’re publishing and when they’re posting it.
Get into the heads of some of the other content creators out there and use that to your advantage. Perhaps it’ll spark one of your own, unique ideas that you can use or you might even see something they haven’t done so well, so you can then learn from that side of things as well.
As already discussed, this could be entirely dependent on your client’s budget, if you’re putting together a content calendar for professional means. But no matter what it is you’re using the schedule for, you’ll have to decide how frequently or regularly you’re going to be publishing content.
Do you have the time to post two or three days a week? Is it realistic for you to be publishing articles several times a month? Would it be too infrequent to post one article every four weeks? These are all questions you should ask yourself in order to come to a final conclusion.
The good thing about keeping a schedule is that you’ll be able to keep things flexible. Constantly reviewing it will be highly beneficial in order to keep up with the times and stay on trend with a lot of what’s going on in the digital world.
Ideas are there to be moulded, worked on and added to, ensuring that both yourself and your readers get the most out of the overall experience, whether that be writing the article or taking the time to read it.
As times, situations and events change, you too have to be prepared to make some changes to your content to fit in with that. If something doesn’t work one month, then change it to another, for example.
It might not be appropriate to publish an article in December about how to grow your own vegetables as the weather simply doesn’t allow for that during the winter months. Instead, schedule it to go live in March or April, when spring has finally sprung.
Having a content calendar at the heart of what you do as a writer is incredibly advantageous. Not only does it ensure regular, high-quality content is published, but it also allows for everyone else in the team to know where the articles are in the process.
It will make your job so much more efficient and productive, but above all, it’ll make it even more fun than it was already. Having a plan in place when it comes to blog posts is absolutely essential, and you can even proudly share it with your clients, should they request to see it.
Add tables, cheerful colours and interesting fonts to make it look as appealing as possible, that way, you’ll always look forward to either adding to it, editing it or swapping out dates where needed. Either way, with a content calendar in place, you’ll soon be reaping the rewards when it comes to quality content that everyone can enjoy.
As an experienced Copywriter, Lorna enjoys creating varied content for an abundance of different industries and sectors. From detailed, informative articles to creative infographics, she's always looking to inject originality into the work she produces. When she isn't working, Lorna runs her own lifestyle blog, plays the guitar and loves to take part in charity runs.