What is a content calendar?
A content calendar is simply a schedule of what content your business will produce and at which time. It is an invaluable tool to organise your content and avoid disjointed or repetitive posts. Content calendars should form the basis of all digital marketing strategies, particularly for bloggers and others whose income is derived from content marketing.
The following steps will help you create a content calendar to schedule your posts and ensure a smooth experience for your followers.
1. DEFINE YOUR AUDIENCE
Your content will rarely be directed to a single audience, so your content strategy needs to address the different segments present within your audience. For example, if your business sells online eCourses you would need to create sufficient quality content for both customers who have already purchased your course and prospects that are looking to purchase.
2. BRAINSTORM TOPICS
What are the problems that your customers face? How can you help them overcome these issues? People want to read articles that address their needs, so you must ensure that your content is interesting from your audience’s point of view. A good strategy is to actually ask your audience about their pain points (eg. through a Facebook post), and use their answers to help guide your content calendar planning.
I find it useful to have a friend read over my calendar before I start working on the actual content, as it helps to have a fresh set of eyes to point out inconsistencies and duplications in the plan. If this isn’t possible, I would stongly suggest reviewing your content calendar the next day following its creation to ensure it flows as originally intended.
3. LOOK FOR EXISTING CONTENT TO BE REPURPOSED
Most businesses have a wealth of content which has previously been created for other purposes and only requires a minor tweak to be suitable for publishing. Look through your existing files for white papers, slideshows, pitch decks, promotional content and other material that could be re-used in your content calendar.
4. PLAN YOUR CONTENT MIX
An effective content calendar contains a well-planned mix of different formats to strike the fine balance of keeping readers interested without an information overload. There are many free tools to help you create interesting content (check out Canva and SlideShare as a starting point), so the days of producing 3 long-form articles per week and nothing else are well over.
The content mix will differ depending on your audience, but below I’ve listed a few ideas to help you diversify your online content:
- Long form articles (should form 20-30% of your overall content)
- How To guides
- Videos or vlogs
5. SCHEDULE AND POST
Once you’ve brainstormed ideas for interesting content, you need to schedule them on your calendar. Take advantage of any special events at the time and schedule content to coincide with these events wherever possible, for example Christmas time or even a local school fair (if this would resonate with your audience).
Most platforms allow you to input all your posts at once and schedule them to be released at certain dates, and you can save hours by using this feature. When your content calendar is up to date and all content has been created, upload to your preferred platform and wait for the interactions to roll in.
6. SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!
Now that your content is posted, you need to get people to read it. Share widely in social media networks and forums to encourage clicks, but be careful not to spam! I make the time to comment on 3 related articles every week with thoughtful comments that encourage readers to click through to my own blog.
7. REVIEW AND TWEAK
Throughout the month you should regularly check on the performance of your published content, and make changes to scheduled posts if necessary. Take note of which posts received the highest engagement and use this information to adjust your content calendar in future. Just because you’ve written out your plan does not mean that you have to stick to it!
Keep an eye on trends and capitalise on them by being flexible with your content calendar and allowing yourself to adapt it at the right time. Even just minor adjustments to your content can help you to stay relevant and strengthen audience engagement, such as a brief mention of current news in a blog post.
If executed well, a content calendar can bring enormous return on investment (ie. your time). By remaining committed to posting regular, quality content, readers will be encouraged to visit your page more regularly, giving you the opportunity to engage with customers more personally.