Monday Learning: How to create a simple content calendar
Rule #1 if you want a successful business – there’s no success without a plan. This principle is applied to the world of content marketing in the form of content calendar.
Content Calendar is a schedule that helps you organize upcoming content by describing what and when you will post. This document will protect you from panic when your deadline is in sight to publish the next blog post, video, infographic etc. Creating a content calendar can be fun sometimes if you have a good and creative team to work with. However, some of you might find it hard and chaotic if you haven’t done it before or you are alone in the process.
Here are some steps and tips that will help you manage the process.
1. Determine the length of the calendar
You can’t just start writing down ideas that come to your mind and not know when to stop. The first step is to define how long will your content calendar be. You can make one for 1, 3, or 6 months. From our experience, the best option is a calendar for 6 months. That way you give yourself a big enough window of time and freedom to think about all the ideas you have. It must be noted that this calendar doesn’t mean that you have to strongly stick to it. On the contrary, a long-term calendar gives you the flexibility to do changes and the opportunity to plan your time efficiently.
If you have never developed this kind of calendar before and it looks too complicated, choose your first one to be for 1 month and do the next one for 6 months.
2. Brainstorm a list of ideas
Step two, get a pen and paper or open your favorite note app and start writing down every idea that comes to your mind. For your notes and thoughts to be neat, firstly start by focusing on creating a list of the former events you expect to happen. Use the calendar year as a base. Write down all important events you don’t want to miss, holidays, trade fairs, seminars, trainings and special events that your company does every year. This step will help you determine the kind of seasonal content that covers a large part of the plan and is very easy to put a date on it.
Once you have written all the important events and dates, start filling out the blanks with your own content ideas that are relevant to the company. Write non-stop for 10 minutes straight and write every idea without judging it.
3. Define what type of content you are going to be publishing
There’s a big difference between planning to write smaller articles (1500-words) and planning a whole webinar. More complex and longer types of content, like infographics or e-books, can take more time to develop, edit and design. That’s why you need to have a good plan if you want to manage to create and publish everything. The list of types of content you can develop contains: a short, medium of long-sized articles (1k words/1k-2k words/over 2k words), e-books and white papers, brochures, podcasts, infographics, webinars, videos or pictures etc. If you are short on resources, focus on the simplest ones. Articles are always a good start. Also videos or pictures from events, campaigns, products and projects with catchy texts. However, the majority of other companies will definitely do the same. Choose the more complex type of content. That way you will earn a competitive advantage that can help you differentiate yourself from your competitors.
4. Define what’s relevant and important
Now is the time to edit your list to end up with a high-quality of ideas. Categorize them by priority and relevance:
- Start with your user personas. How relevant is that piece of content to your audience’s needs and problems?
- How much do people read and search about it? Using a Google Keyword Planner search can help you answer this.
- Is this piece of content going to make an impact on your overall marketing goals? For example, if you are looking for leads, a webinar is a priority than a small article or photos of your products.
- Be honest, will you be able to fulfill the content’s promise? If you don’t have the expertise and resources to create and give value with that piece of content, erase it or save it as an idea for the good times.
5. Plan of time frames and resources
Now when you know what type of content you are going to create you will need to plan how long will it take you to create each piece, who will create it and how much will it cost. If the idea is to write a small article, all you need is a writer. If you have one, she/he can tell you how much time is needed. But, if the idea is to create more complex types of content, you will need to think about resources too. For example, creating an infographic takes more time, and you will need a designer (if you don’t have one, getting one will have costs). Also, creating a short 3 minutes video may seem simple and easy to create, but here come the costs for the photographer, time to find one, time and resources to provide all the needed elements for the video etc. Talk to the ones that will be included in the creation. This will help you plan your time and resources better.
6. Define dates and start preparing
You just have to give each piece of content date of publishing. How more complicated can it be? Well if you want that content to work and get you results you will need to think a bit more. There are a couple of things you can give a thought to:
- Always ask your content writers when they think they can develop each piece of content.
- Put a time-sensitive piece of content close to the day of publication. If you choose to write an article related to the Winter Olympic Games, you know the exact date, so define the date of the content one week before it.
- Look into your analytics, choose the days that get you the most views. Understanding the importance of analytics and posting content at the right time can get you a better customer experience, and eventually, loyalty.
When everything is finished, you should share it with your teammates. Add one last creative touch. It should be readable and understandable. Use different colors that will have a unique meaning. Bold out the important things and be strict with the dates. This content calendar will be the guide for your whole marketing team (or just for you) and the company. Make it public, share the document or just print it out.
Hope you find these tips useful. Follow our blog for next Monday’s Learning article! Or, if you get stuck, feel free to contact us.