If you’re new to the world of online marketing, you may have heard of the term “content calendar” or editorial calendar. What is a content calendar, and why do you need one? Most importantly, where can you learn how to create a content calendar?
A content calendar is an effective way to ensure that you’re posting content regularly and staying organized. A well-planned calendar can help you avoid talking about the same topics repeatedly, and it can also help you keep track of your contents’ performance.
Let’s take a closer look at what a calendar is, how it can help and how to create one.
What is Content?
In a nutshell, content is the blog posts, social media posts, images, videos, and other written materials that you share with your audience. The purpose of content, from a marketing perspective, is to educate and inform. With the right strategy, content can:
- Build brand awareness
- Establish your firm as an authority
- Build credibility
- Effectively sell your services
When you share informative and engaging content, your audience is more likely to share that content, expanding your reach and building brand awareness along the way.
Demonstrating your expertise through blogs, videos, social media posts and other forms of content also helps build credibility and trust while establishing your firm as an authority. Simply put, you’re showing potential clients that you know what you’re talking about and have the expertise to help them overcome problems and reach their goals.
In addition to the examples listed above, content can also include:
- Landing pages
- Case studies
You can build a name for your firm, expand your reach, and ultimately increase your client base through content. All of this is achieved organically, which means that leads are highly targeted and much more likely to convert.
What is a Content Calendar?
Content creation can be a major undertaking, especially when social media channels and video content is put into the mix (and it should be). A content calendar will keep your firm’s content organized. It should outline:
- The types of content that will be created
- When the content will be posted
- The topic/nature of the content
- Who will be creating it
- Who is responsible for publishing it
The list can go on. Content calendars can be as simple or complicated as you want them to be, but ultimately, it’s a great way to plan out how and when your content will be published.
How to Create a Content Calendar for Your Firm
Now that you have a better understanding of what content is, let’s talk about how to create a content calendar.
The first and most obvious step is to get organized. Creating a content calendar template in Excel or Google Sheets is a great way to get started. Templates ensure consistency and continuity across all of your content planning efforts.
Your content calendar should include a few crucial elements:
- Title/Topic: Provides clarity on the purpose of the content and who it is intended for.
- Keywords: What keywords will the content be focused on (if any)?
- Content type: Will this be a blog post, video, image, whitepaper, etc.?
- Buying stage: What stage of the buyer’s journey is the viewer in? In addition to clarity and engagement, understanding the buying stage also helps with monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Publish date: When will the content be published? Planning out your publishing dates can help you stay more consistent with posting.
- Progress status: Is the content in the planning stage, creation stage or publishing stage? This will help you keep track of your content and ensure that you’re on the right path to meet goals and deadlines.
- Channel: Where will the content be published? On your blog, on your social media accounts, both?
- Promotion: How will the content be promoted? Will it be promoted on social media, newsletters or somewhere else? A color-coded system may make it easier to quickly and easily identify how content will be promoted.
- Supporting media: Does the content have any supporting media, such as video or eBook? If so, a supporting media column will make it fast and easy to locate this additional content.
Of course, you can add or remove elements based on your firm’s needs, but these are the basics.
One important thing to cover here is social media. Your firm may already have its social media accounts set up and running. But if you’ve yet to take this step, you may want to take the time to figure out which social media channels will work best for your firm. For example, maybe LinkedIn and Twitter are where most of your clients are, so you’ll want to focus on posting content for these platforms.
Choosing the proper social media channels is important because it will help you plan your content calendar and make sure that you’re engaging with your target audience on all of the platforms they use.
Touch on the Right Subjects
Now that you have a template for your content calendar, it’s time to start the actual planning process.
While you can and should cover topics you feel are important or exciting, it’s also important to cover what your target audience is searching for. For example, let’s say that your ideal clients are looking for information on small business tax deductions. If you cover this topic in an informative blog post, it may rank in the search results and drive these clients to your virtual doorstep.
If you’re answering the questions your target audience is asking and providing them with valuable information, then you’ll drive targeted traffic to your website and establish yourself as a credible authority in the industry.
So, how do you know what your ideal clients are searching for? Through keyword research. Keyword research tools can help you discover what people in your target audience are searching for and the search volume for these keywords.
There are many keyword research tools (you can find 12 here) that can help you figure out what clients are searching for.
Keyword research is just one piece of the puzzle when planning your content, although it’s a necessary foundation. You also need to come up with topics using these keywords.
In many cases, the keywords themselves will give you the idea or may even be an idea in itself. But let’s consider the “small business tax deductions” idea above. Sure, you can write a general article with this keyword phrase with an overview of the most common deductions, but you can also cover:
- How tax deductions work
- How to determine whether a business qualifies for specific deductions
- Pertinent changes to tax deductions
To flesh out your topics, you can have a brainstorming session or use a tool like Semrush’s Topic Research tool.
Once you have a set of keywords and topics, you’re well on your way to filling out your content calendar.
Check Out the Competition
You have a list of topics and keyword ideas, but before you start plugging them into your calendar, you need to do a little more research. Your ideas may be great and people may be looking for these search terms, but what if all of your competitors have already covered the topic? Should you just toss the idea to the side? No.
If competing firms have already covered your topics, then find new angles or perspectives. For example, take a controversial angle to a tired subject to catch interest and boost rankings.
Alternatively, you can use an SEO tool like ahrefs to see what your competitors are ranking for and potential keywords that they may be missing that you can target to outrank them.
Checking out the competition will help you further flesh out your topic ideas so that you can start creating and posting.
Determine Your Publishing Schedule
Once you have your content ideas and keywords, you’ll need to determine your publishing schedule. We’ll cover how often you should post in the next section, but your schedule is really more about the actual dates and times you want to publish your content.
- Which day(s) of the week are best for posting content
- What time of day your audience is most likely to engage with your content
Through your own research and testing, you may find that when you post a blog on a Wednesday at 9 am, you get the most engagement, shares, and visits. With this information in mind, you can tweak your publishing schedule to target Wednesday mornings for publishing.
Initially, your publishing schedule may just be based on convenience. Maybe you have extra time on Friday mornings, so you choose to publish at this time. But as your content calendar grows, you may want to experiment with different days and times to see what works best for your audience and visitors.
Bonus Tip: Take advantage of scheduling functions if they’re available. This will allow you to plan ahead and post your content over time without having to do it manually.
5 Tips for a Successful Content Calendar
1. Post Regularly
One of the primary purposes of a content calendar is to keep your content organized and ensure that you’re posting consistently.
How often should you post? Experts generally recommend posting:
- A few times a week on your blog and LinkedIn
- 1-2 times a day on Facebook
- 2-5 times a day on Instagram
- 2-10 times a day on Twitter
These recommendations may be excessive for firms, so if they are too much for you, try dialing this back to a more reasonable level. The key most important thing is to be consistent. You may not be on Twitter 2-10 times a day, but if you’re posting daily or every other day, you’re still being consistent.
2. Be Flexible With Your Calendar
A content calendar doesn’t have to be set in stone. In fact, it’s essential to be flexible. Things may come up that you want to cover immediately. For example, when PPP was announced in 2020, many firms shifted their content calendars to make sure that they informed their clients about this significant development.
Posts should be timely, especially on your blog and social media accounts.
3. Include a Combination of Content Types in Your Social Media Calendar and Overall Content Calendar
When it comes to your social media calendar and overall content calendar, it’s important to mix things up.
Make sure that you’re posting all possible forms of content, including:
- Textual, including blog posts, eBooks, opinion pieces, case studies, newsletters, landing pages and more
- Audio, including podcasts
Utilize all types of content available on all platforms. For example, you can post all of these types of content on LinkedIn. Instagram, on the other hand, will be primarily images and video. But in both of these cases, you want to make sure that you’re not just posting one type of content.
In addition to the content medium, you also want to make sure that you’re posting different types of content. Social media calendars should include a mix of:
- Your story. Help your audience get to know you and your firm. Tell your story, and be authentic.
- Promotional. Don’t overdo these, but definitely incorporate them into the mix of content you publish. Be tasteful when you’re creating these posts, and try to not make them “hard promotions.”
- Tips/tricks/educational posts. These will likely be the bulk of your content. They provide value to your audience, and they promote content sharing.
When you provide a mix of content, you can engage with your audience in various ways.
4. Use Social Listening
At first, finding content ideas for your firm may be easy. But eventually, you may struggle to find ideas. One great way to fill your content calendar with new ideas is to engage in social listening.
Social listening is all about finding out what people are saying about your company, competitors and industry. You can use these social media mentions to create new content.
5. Create a Content Library
Creating a content calendar is essential, and your calendar will continue to grow with each passing month. But what do you do with the content that you’ve already created and posted? Create a content library.
Keeping track of your content, keywords and publishing date can also help you keep track of the content’s performance. Additionally, your library can help you avoid covering the same topic more than once. It can also help you re-use your content. Check out the article we did here on creating reusable content.
Content calendars play an important role in content marketing. They help you stay organized and ensure that you’re posting consistently. The world of online marketing is complex, and content creation for blogs and social media can quickly become overwhelming. Working with an experienced professional can help.
Ready to create your content calendar? Book a call with us today to learn how we can help with your content planning needs.