The How’s and Why’s of Planning Your Content Calendar
I have a pet peeve, something that really grinds my gears. My grievance: rushing around at the last minute trying to get content out the door. It drives me batty, especially when multiple people are involved. Not only is it a major inconvenience, but not planning content could potentially lead to poor quality posts, or not getting them out at all, letting your audience down. But I have a solution, and that is content calendar planning.
What is a Content Calendar?
I’m going to assume that you have a blog, social media, and a newsletter, which is distributed to your following and subscribers on a regular basis. In many cases, brands plan their content on a week-to-week basis, creating the blog and newsletter the week, or even sometimes the day, before. This could lead to mishaps and poor brand positioning, and even failing to meet your goals.
A content calendar could be made of the following components, planned in advanced:
- Blog Articles (Editorials)
- Marketing Initiatives (Social Media, Email Marketing, Advertising, PR)
- Lead Generation Magnets (PDFs, eBooks, video series, audios, etc.)
- Promotions, Product and Program Launches
- Events and Holidays
Crafting Effective and Memorable Content
Creating content can take a huge chunk of your time, so it obviously makes sense to create content that people will actually care about. Crafting content that weaves a story, addresses a pain point, or validates a view, is the key to emotional marketing. Emotional marketing, often times, is what leads to a sale. By crafting content that resonates with your audience through content planning, you will undoubtably produce more sales, and repeat sales.
Why You Should Plan Your Calendar in Advance
Implementation of Your Strategy
Hopefully, you already have a digital marketing strategy in place, consisting of your goals, objectives, content strategy, and lead generation strategies. If not, you’ll definitely want to take this strategy course. When creating content, always keep your strategy in mind. Remember your target audience, existing digital assets that you can utilize (existing blog posts, eBooks, PDFs, audios, videos, etc.) and your key performance indicators throughout your planning.
Optimization of Content
By planning your content in advance, you have the opportunity to fully consider multiple ways to optimize your content, including lead generation magnets, conversion optimization (what people will opt-in for or purchase), social sharing, promotions, and so much more. Consider strong call-to-actions in your content to push users to take the next step.
For many brands, there are many moving parts for their content creation, including copywriters, graphic designers, and even sending content to a community manager. Even if you’re doing everything yourself, planning your calendar in advance will ensure that you are more productive by allowing you to create multiple posts in one day, and pre-scheduling them, helping you to get back to what you do best. Being a solopreneur can be hard, but there are some awesome ways to avoid overwhelm so you can rock what you do!
How to Plan Your Content Calendar
Every quarter, I spend a day planning my content calendar. I like to first use post-it notes to arrange content on a calendar (see above image), rearranging as needed. I will then transfer all of my content to Coschedule, which creates drafted WordPress blog posts, ready for my content. Here are my five steps for creating my content calendar:
Step One – Review Your Strategy
As mentioned above, it’s important to always keep your strategy in mind. If you’re not creating content to benefit your business, then what you have is just a hobby. Review your strategy, often, to maximize on your efforts.
Step Two – Determine Product or Program Launch Dates
Let’s assume that you are selling something, whether it be a product, service, or program, all with their own launch dates. Creating content that will promote your launches will help boost awareness as well as potentially build trust with potential buyers. Also consider adding annual holidays, events, advertising campaigns and PR to your calendar to help plan and implement content, including social media content and email campaigns, to get the word out.
Step Three – Note Peak Times
Most businesses see high and low seasons, where sales fluctuate. You may also start to notice a difference in social media engagement and web traffic at different times of the year. Note your peak times and plan your best content when you are busiest to see maximized results. To learn how to measure your social media and web traffic, you’ll definitely want to check out this post about Google Analytics.
Step Four – Brainstorm Content Ideas
I often hear, “but I don’t know what to write/vlog/podcast about”, but chances are, if you love what you do, you can talk all day and all night about it. When getting started with a brand, I like to ask them to write down 52 blog post ideas, just as they come to mind. Once a list is created, you can go ahead and start grouping them by category. I like to keep a spreadsheet of my ideas, noting any ideas as inspiration strikes.
Step Five – Plug In Your Content
Now that you have all of your content ideas ready, it’s time to start plugging it in. Consider an app like Coschedule to plan your content calendar and draft your blog posts. Alternatively, you can use a dayplanner, Google calendar, or just a regular old hanging calendar! Note content due dates (including related assets) and try to create multiple posts in one day. After this you can even plug them into Buffer!
Are you ready to get started planning your calendar? Save this post for future planning or share it with your team. You’ll be glad you did.