I recently mentioned the importance of a content calendar in one of my other posts discussing the professional content writing process. However, I didn't get the opportunity to offer much detail about the content calendar and just how beneficial it can be, so let's take a moment to look at it a little more closely.
We'll lay out the main benefits of a consistent content calendar, how it can help your business's digital footprint, and how it will streamline the process for your content writers.
But first, what is a content calendar?
Content Calendar - The Basics
A content calendar is your business's digital content roadmap for any timeframe in the future. It could be for the next few weeks, the next half-year, or even longer.
While many of us assume a content calendar is just a blog publishing schedule, it can be so much more! The term 'digital content' is different for every website, and you can tailor your content calendar to fit your organization's needs.
For example, your content calendar can lay out your entire publishing plan for every social media video, LinkedIn update, tweet, and blog post for your organization. But just laying out the publication date is only the beginning.
The best content calendars will include your subject, target keywords, length, and additional media (such as pictures, links, and videos). Put all this information together in one place, and you're on the fast track to easy, consistent, and well-researched digital content.
Naturally, creating this robust content calendar takes a lot of time. So is it really worth it? Well, let's dive into the benefits.
While the calendar offers professional content writers a plethora of tangible benefits to improve the content itself, I have to say that the number one benefit is accountability.
In the hectic and fast-paced world of business and marketing, it's so easy to procrastinate on digital content. You tell yourself that you'll write that blog post next weekend and then the weekend after that. Or, you simply don't have the time to sit down every day and think of an engaging social media post when you're under pressure to publish it immediately.
Piecemeal, these tasks are a major chore that is very easy to brush off – but it's so crucial to your business! Therefore, a robust content calendar is your avenue to hold yourself accountable for these tasks. If you've already laid out your plan, topics, and due dates, then the process to produce this digital content gets streamlined significantly.
Your audience will also notice this new streamlined approach as your digital content maintains consistency.
Going hand-in-hand with holding yourself accountable is consistent publishing. We all know that regular content and engagement is crucial to growing your brand, and your content calendar is your avenue to achieve that growth.
Once you've determined how often you want or should be posting content, plug that schedule into your content calendar. Those firm publishing dates combined with front-end research will help you publish consistently, and your audience will notice!
Every blog writer has pushed writing a post to the very last minute at some point in their career. It's late, you're struggling to find a topic, and your writing feels about as slow as molasses. Yet again, a publishing calendar is your tool to avoid that scenario!
As we mentioned in the introduction, a calendar is so much more than just a date and a title. The most effective calendars will be a single depository for:
Your keyword research.
Central topics to cover.
Additional media you'll use.
It's the perfect collection point for all things content-related for your business. Of course, this information won't magically materialize in your calendar, but having all tools and due dates in front of you is serious motivation to get your research done early.
In fact, the due dates in your calendar don't just have to be for publishing your content. Set due dates for completing research for every publication, perhaps two or three weeks in advance, and then you'll be reaching pro-level with your planning.
With all this research done, writing your content will be a breeze. You know when it's due, you know your topic, and you know your keyword plan. That's a massive chunk of time saved, and you can focus on writing without encountering blogger's block as you frantically try to think of a topic on the same day you want to post.
Time to Get Started
Now that we've covered the benefits of the content calendar, it's time for you to start using it! Starting from scratch can be difficult, so we've made it easy by including a sample template.
The documents below are a blank content calendar for you to use, or modify for your specific needs. The top option is an Excel file, the second is a PDF. Start scheduling!
I realize that creating a content calendar is a big ask. It takes time and effort to sit down and plot the roadmap for your digital content, and then to complete the necessary research in a timely manner. But, I guarantee it will make your digital content process so much easier in the long run.
I've found that the best method to get going is to start small. Begin by making a content calendar for the next week. Map out your social media posts and one or two blog posts if you haven't already written them. I'm sure that simply having those posts mapped out will work wonders for your time management during the week! After that, you can start to scale up.