In this article…
- What Is a Content Calendar?
- What Should a Content Calendar Include?
- Who Uses a Content Calendar?
- When Should You Use a Content Calendar?
- Where Do You Use a Content Calendar?
- Why Should You Use a Content Calendar?
- How to Create a Content Calendar
- Tips for Using a Content Calendar
- Content Calendar Template
A content calendar is a useful tool that can help you create a consistent publication schedule for your company’s content. Not only does it keep you and your team organized, but it also ensures that all workflow is running smoothly. To reap the benefits of a content calendar, it’s important to implement a good content calendar strategy to help boost your company’s marketing efforts.
The more you understand how and when to use a content calendar, the better you can use it to your advantage. This article defines what a content calendar is, why to use it, how to create one for your business or brand, and tips to ensure you get the most out of it.
What Is a Content Calendar?
A content calendar is a calendar businesses use to schedule and control their content for its various media platforms during a given time period. Also known as an editorial calendar or publishing schedule, a content calendar can coordinate content for publishing on platforms such as blogs, magazines, newspapers, or social media. Content calendars typically take three formats: a spreadsheet, an application, or a printed calendar. These formats hold a publication schedule for a brand’s content. Here are some types of content you can include on a content calendar:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Social media posts
- Other useful content
CopyPress offers several content creation services including blog posts, resource articles, and eBooks. A content calendar can help you organize this content and schedule it to publish it on a strategic date.
Image via CopyPress.com
To use a content calendar effectively, it’s important to create a solid content calendar strategy. Every entry into your content calendar should be well thought out and help boost audience engagement and readership.
What Should a Content Calendar Include?
A content calendar should include the name of the content you’re publishing along with a variety of detail. The more information you include, the more useful it will be. The information you provide will also help the team members you share it with, so it’s important to keep them in mind when determining what to include. Here are some of the main things you can include on a content calendar:
- Date of publication
- Time of publication
- Title, headline or content topic
- Author of content
- Status of content completion
- Content completion deadline
You can also include the platform it’ll be published on, the content type, if there will be visual elements, the URL, and the overall topic. In addition, it’s useful to include a section to track audience engagement and overall analytics. This is useful for a social media content calendar. Including these elements can help you determine what adjustments — if any — need to be made to your publishing schedule.
What you include will ultimately depend on the needs of your team and what you’re wanting your content calendar to track. This can also change over time as your business grows or other factors become more prominent.
Who Uses a Content Calendar?
Businesses use content calendars and content professionals to help them organize and schedule upcoming posts. This can include any companies that have a publishing platform such as a blog, social media, content management system, or another platform.
People who work in these roles use content calendars, whether they’re self- employed or work for a company:
- Content manager
- Social media content manager
- Social media manager
- Assistant editor
Although these are roles that create content calendars, other members of the writing or publishing team can use the content calendar as a reference to plan for their own week. It can also help them keep track of deadlines and prepare accordingly.
When Should You Use a Content Calendar?
Use a content calendar when you want to better organize and schedule your company’s content. This publishing schedule allows you to streamline your company’s efforts overall. If you find that your company’s posts are lacking structure or if you’re publishing content without purpose or strategic thinking, consider using a content calendar.
It’s important to note that a calendar is most useful when you’re using it effectively to keep track of deadlines, create quality content, and strategically consider future publications.
Where Do You Use a Content Calendar?
People typically use a content calendar online or through a desktop application. Often, you can sync your calendar with a mobile application to keep track of content on-the-go. The options available to you depend on your resources and product offerings. In addition, you can create a content calendar on a computer and print it for your tangible use.
The location of your content calendar should be specific to your company’s needs. If you plan to share your calendar with your entire team, it should be on a shareable platform such as a website that’s easily accessible by other team members. If it’s housed on your computer via a desktop application, this may not be possible.
Why Should You Use a Content Calendar?
A content calendar is a strategic tool for your business to use, no matter the size. Whether you’re publishing a blog, newsletter, or social media updates, content calendars pose several benefits. Here are some of the main reasons to use a content calendar:
When you use a content calendar, it’s easier to keep track and stay on top of upcoming content. This is because it provides a visual aid that allows you to see the number of published content you can expect for a given period. It also lets you see if there are any gaps in publishing dates you need to address.
Keep Track of Deadlines
Maintaining a content calendar is a great way to keep track of impending deadlines. A content calendar enables you to view what content needs to be published and when, which can prevent your business and the publishing team from missing any deadlines. This then creates a more streamlined publishing schedule that your readers can rely on.
Keep Your Team Accountable
A content calendar is a central resource your team can come back to consistently so they can coordinate their efforts as a whole. If team members can see when their blog post will be published, for example, they’ll be able to prioritize tasks. Teams will be able to plan and manage their time more effectively and create quality content without feeling rushed.
Allow You to Determine Need for Follow-up Content
A content calendar can help your publishing team see the trajectory of the story you’re trying to promote for your brand and company overall. For example, it gives you an opportunity to brainstorm what content to publish next or follow up on. This allows you to strategically consider the next steps and best time to publish the next piece of content.
Inspire New Content Ideas
Similarly, a content calendar can inspire new ideas. Seeing what you’ve published or plan to publish can help you determine what content you want or need to publish next. For example, if you find yourself in a rut or you seem to publish the same content repeatedly, a calendar can provide you with the spark of inspiration you need to get fresh ideas for the future.
Promote Strategic Thinking
Content calendars help you plan so you and your publishing team think more strategically about what content you want to publish next. When you want to plan themed content or want to plan content for your social media platforms, strategic thinking helps create cohesion and consistency. Content calendars help you plan and create content that is deliberate and serves a purpose.
In addition, a content calendar allows you to make the most of relevant publishing opportunities. For example, if there is a global moment or event that you can build content around, a calendar will ensure you don’t miss the date. This is especially important if the global event or moment applies to your target audience.
Allow You to Maximize and Save Your Time
A content calendar helps you save time by using it more efficiently. For example, rather than devoting much of your workweek to your content calendar creation, set aside time the week prior to schedule posts. A content calendar helps you see what to publish and when which allows you to publish more quickly and efficiently. Rather than creating content last minute, it helps you see what needs to be done far in advance. This lets you prioritize your time and focus your attention elsewhere when needed.
Give You Time to Create Content
When you see gaps in your content calendar, you know that you need to create content to fill them. A content calendar allows you to create content at a steady pace rather than at the last minute. Not only does this help ease stress, but it ensures a steady stream of content that your readers can come to expect. When you have time to create content at a reasonable pace, it’s easier to find inspiration that translates into quality posts.
Help you Create Quality Content, Free from Error
Content calendars give you the opportunity to create quality content, free from errors or typos. This is because they give you time to create content that isn’t rushed but well thought out. Content calendars are beneficial for editors because when content is planned and written far in advance, it gives them enough time to fact check and copy edit text.
Prevent Redundant Content
When you’re able to view the content schedule, you have a better chance of preventing redundancy. For example, if you were planning a post but then noticed another team planned a similar or identical post, you can make adjustments ahead of time.
Provide Readers with a Consistent Posting Schedule
Along with helping your business behind the scenes, a content calendar can also be beneficial to your audience of readers or viewers. Content calendars allow you to publish content consistently so audiences can expect new content at regular intervals. When they know when to expect your posts, they’re more apt to return to your website or platform regularly. This can build trust with your audience and allow it to grow.
Maintain a Consistent Message and Voice for Your Brand
A content calendar promotes consistency regarding your company’s brand and voice. When you’re able to see the content that your business is publishing, it allows you to determine if the new content you have coming out of the pipeline fits with your brand. A consistent voice is vital across all of your platforms.
Allow You to Track and Improve Your Publishing Schedule
Through the use of analytics, you’re able to track how well your content is fairing among your target audience. Once you see this and view your publishing schedule, a content calendar lets you make adjustments to improve these analytics. For example, if you notice most people aren’t viewing your content on a particular day or at a specific time, you can make adjustments to your content calendar by moving scheduled posts to a day with higher traffic. Overall, content calendars let you see what scheduling method works best for your platform’s engagement.
Increase SEO and Marketing Efforts
Having a strong content marketing strategy ensures your calendar is being used to its full capacity. The better you use it, the more benefits your company will reap. This can include better search engine optimization (SEO), more engagement, and greater brand awareness. These combine to create an effective marketing strategy thanks to the strategic use of your content calendar.
Promote a Greater Balance of Content Formats
When you’re able to visualize your publishing schedule, you’re able to view all the content formats you’re publishing and how often they’re being published. For example, let’s say you notice you’re publishing too many videos and not enough blog posts. Visualizing this through your content calendar helps you be mindful of this and work toward a greater balance of published content formats.
How to Create a Content Calendar
In order for a content calendar to be useful, it should take into consideration the format you’ll use, where you want to publish and when you want to publish, among other factors. Follow these steps to create an effective content calendar your company can use:
1. Determine the Format or Platform to Use
The first step in creating a content calendar is determining where your content calendar will live and what shape it will take. Take into consideration your company, how your team operates and the resources available to you. From here, you can decide if your calendar will be printed, a spreadsheet, an application or a program. If you prefer a calendar you can share with several team members, use an online content calendar that you can share with a simple link. This will help your team plan their week and visibly see what is in the works for publication.
2. Figure Out the Content You Want to Publish or Re-Purpose
Next, determine the content you want to publish. It’s best to create and publish content that meet’s your audience’s needs. This involves understanding your overall target audience. Is there something they need to know? Is there something they want to know? Find this out and plan to create content your audience will find useful.
It’s also important to consider the type of content you want to publish. There are several forms of content you can use to your advantage, like a blog post, video, eBook, podcast, infographic, or another format. Whereas one topic would be better served as a blog post, another might be more effective as an infographic or video.
3. Determine the Channels Where You’ll Publish Content
Once you’ve figured out the content you’d like to publish, determine where it’d be better served. Where do you plan on distributing your content? Typically, a certain type of content is better suited for a particular medium. For example, social media is great for promoting new content whereas newsletters or surveys are best through email.
It’s also important to consider where your audience is most active. For example, it’s possible that your target audience is more active on social media rather than your website. Consider shifting your focus toward publishing on social media and linking back to your website to increase engagement and readership on that platform. Determine the best mediums to publish your content on to increase your audience and audience retainment overall. This will depend on your own company’s content, analytics, and target audience.
4. Determine a Publishing Schedule
Now that you know the type of content you want to publish, you can finalize a publishing schedule. Determine the days and times you want to publish and the content type. For example, perhaps you want to publish three blog posts a week, one video per week and one podcast each quarter. Depending on your analytics, you may increase or decrease your publishing schedule. It’s important to remain as consistent as possible. Ultimately, it’s important to find a schedule that fits you and your audience’s needs. Here is an additional consideration to make when determining a publishing schedule:
Consider the Size of Your Team
You should also take into account your resources and the number of employees you have. If you’re planning to post new content every day, have the right amount of employees to do this. This will avoid employee burnout if you’re requiring writers to come up with several blog posts per day, for example. You should also determine if it’s necessary to post as often as you plan to. The publishing schedule you land on should be realistic and be something that your team can handle.
It’s also important to center your publishing schedule around your target audience and engagement. For example, if you’re publishing on social media, research the best times to publish on the platforms you’re using. Typically, there are more people on social media on certain days and times. Whereas one platform may see the highest shares at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, another may get more clicks at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. This will also depend on your company’s audience. Be sure to track your website and social media analytics and adjust your publishing schedule accordingly.
Make Sure Your Content Serves a Purpose
You should ensure that you’re not publishing content just for the sake of publishing. The content you’re publishing should be useful to your audience and serve a purpose. This will keep readers coming back to your website for more information. If the content you’re using is timely, be sure to publish this content as soon as possible. This ensures the content is being absorbed before a certain event passes and the information is no longer of use to your readers.
5. Fill in Your Content Calendar
Once you’ve determined when you will publish, you can fill out your content calendar based on you and your team’s needs. This can include the name of the content you’re publishing, the content type, the date and time it’ll be published and what medium it will be published on. This will help you better organize your publishing schedule and distribute publications effectively. Another way to help organize your calendar is through the use of color. Here is how to use color in your content calendar:
Use colors to highlight certain areas on your content calendar. For example, assign a color to a certain writer, to the content’s status in the publication schedule, or to the content style. This will also be useful in determining if one writer is completing more work than others, if there are several articles that still need edits, or if you don’t have enough diversified content.
If you use colors in your content calendar, share what each color means with your team. This is especially the case if you assign a color to certain team members or writers. Knowing what color they are will allow them to quickly focus on the part of the calendar that pertains to them.
6. Share Your Content Calendar with the Appropriate Parties
After your content calendar has been filled in, share it with the appropriate teams. This is typically anyone who has content to publish. Sharing it with them will allow them to see when they need to submit their content by and view the other content coming through the pipeline. In addition, sharing the content calendar can help you and your team members brainstorm future content.
7. Review Analytics and Adjust Your Publishing Schedule Accordingly
After you’ve used your content calendar for some time, plan to review your website or platform’s analytics regularly. Determine if your current publishing schedule is increasing your reader engagement. Do you see a drop off in the number of visits to your website on a particular day? Do you notice less readership over the weekend? Make adjustments accordingly. If you see room for improvement, consider tweaking your content calendar and publishing schedule to optimize visits to your platform and overall engagement. Ensure your content calendar strategy is up-to-date with the latest trends in audience engagement. Here is more information about audience engagement:
Audience engagement refers to how often your audience interacts with your content. Audience engagement trends will vary based on your target audience, modern technology, and what the current population is interested in at the time of publication. If your content calendar keeps this in mind, it will ensure a steady and potentially increasing audience.
To determine the current trends in audience engagement, it’s important to consider who your target audience is, what their challenges are, and what they’re interested in. Some trends in audience engagement include relationship and community building, influencer marketing, and using certain social media applications. In addition, readers may prefer a certain content type during a given time period. For example, some may prefer video content over written content, social media posts over pop-up notifications, or blog posts over a podcast. The best way to achieve a high audience engagement is to monitor your analytics regularly and notice any changes.
Tips for Using a Content Calendar
Here are some tips to ensure you’re getting the most out of your content calendar:
- Set aside time to schedule content. Prior to the upcoming week, set aside time to create, plan and schedule content. This involves selecting a day and time that the post will go live. It’s important to do this for all of your platforms whether you’re posting to a blog or your social media accounts. Setting aside this time will help ease stress and make you and your team less overwhelmed overall.
- Determine the best, timely content to share. When you create and schedule posts, consider what your audience wants to see during that calendar period. If you’re scheduling content for social media, consider sharing a recently published article or blog post. It’s also wise to share older, evergreen content that is still relevant and up-to-date.
- Plan your content around your most active platforms. When you plan and schedule your posts, make sure you’re publishing the best content that will have the most traction given the platform you’re using. For example, if your article is geared toward a particular audience, plan to schedule its promotion or publication on the platform where that audience lives the most to maximize engagement opportunities.
- Include the type of content that’s being published or created. When you create a content calendar, it’s important to have a field that states not only the title of the content but the form it’s in, too. For example, some content types include article, audio, infographic, social media post, map, or video. Adding a column that states this can help you stay organized and can help avoid publishing too many types of the same content in a given period.
- Delegate one person to be in charge of a content calendar. Though a content calendar should be shared with everyone on the publishing team, it can be helpful to limit editing access to one person in charge of the calendar. This person can schedule posts and publication dates, reminding their team of deadlines, ensuring an effective content calendar strategy, and determining any errors. This helps create a more streamlined production cycle and prevents confusion or errors.
- Try different formats. There are several tools, software, and platforms you can use to manage your content calendar. If your current calendar isn’t effective, select another that is more conducive to your working style. Consider switching to an online format if you haven’t already and adjust the styles to meet the needs of you and your team.
- Track engagement. A content calendar can track engagement. To track engagement for each piece of content , include a space for the number of clicks one form of content received, how many replies it received, and other engagement metrics important to your project. Tracking metrics on a calendar provides you with a snapshot of your content’s performance and lets you see any potential adjustments you can make to your publishing schedule. Consider reviewing your analytics on a weekly basis to get a better view of which marketing efforts are working.
- Keep it simple. If you’re new to content calendars, start off with the basics and slowly build your calendar over time until you’re more comfortable using it. This will prevent you from becoming inundated or overwhelmed. As time goes on, add metrics or other data as you see fit.
- Revisit your content calendar as your business grows. What worked for you at one point may not be the best system for the duration of your project. As your business evolves and grows over time, consider the platform and format your content calendar uses. Newer tools and software may suit your workflow better. Consider if any adjustments better serve where your business is now.
- Don’t publish content hastily just to fill your calendar. If you see gaps in your content calendar, make sure you’re filling them strategically. Make sure each piece serves a purpose and isn’t written quickly just for the sake of more content to ensure you’re publishing quality content that will keep readers coming back for more.
- Publish themed content. If there is a relevant global or company event, a holiday, or a peak buying season, consider publishing relevant content around it. Audiences typically want to read and view content that’s timely and relevant. Publishing related content can help increase your views.
- Use color-coding. When you create a content calendar, consider implementing a color-coding system. You can color-code by the campaign, content type, the channel you’re using, the team member assigned to the content, or another method your workflow prioritizes. This will help you determine if you’re publishing too much of the same content or if there’s a good balance. The color-coding system you use should be consistent, simple and easy to share with coworkers who use it.
Content Calendar Template
The elements you include on your content calendar will depend on your company and it’s specific needs. At a minimum, include the content title, content author, and the date and time of publication. Add rows and columns as you see fit and as your team needs. Consider this generic content calendar template to use as inspiration to create your own:
|Content Title||Content Author||Type of Content||Content Completion Deadline||Status||Date of Publication||Time of Publication|
|content title 1||content author 1||content type 1||dd/mm/yyyy||ready/in process||dd/mm/yyyy||00:00|
|content title 2||content author 2||content type 2||dd/mm/yyyy||ready/in process||dd/mm/yyyy||00:00|
|content title 3||content author 3||content type 3||dd/mm/yyyy||ready/in process||dd/mm/yyyy||00:00|
|content title 4||content author 4||content type 4||dd/mm/yyyy||ready/in process||
|content title 5||content author 5||content type 5||dd/mm/yyyy||ready/in process||dd/mm/yyyy||