If you’re anything like me, you probably dove headfirst into a content strategy without much of an overall plan... In which case, it’s not really a “strategy” at all but more like systematic content creation. Well the good news is that it’s never too late to take your content marketing to the next level with a well thought out content calendar.
A Content Calendar is a crucial part of developing your content marketing. It is a road map, almost like a business plan that will help guide you and your team (if you have one) to more efficient and more effective content.
How? Well organizing your flow of content months in advance will help ensure that you always know what you’re posting and when. Plus you can even produce content in bulk for distribution at a later date. Think of how much time that could save. Instead of spending hours on trying to find a last minute topic, you can focus on actually producing good content.
Not to mention it will ensure that you never miss important dates. There are so many annual events, and milestones, seasonal trends, that you can leverage but not if you don’t plan ahead. I mean today, May 14th is in fact Dance Like a Chicken Day so you really wouldn’t want to miss out on that.
By planning in advance, you give yourself more opportunity to develop meaningful content instead of doing what I did last week which was a 100% result of poor planning. It was a non-episode to publish my realization that I need a content calendar.
So here is what you need to do to get started:
#1 - Research
- Start by researching your Audience
- Who are they?
- What do they like/dislike?
- What platforms do they use and how do they interact with them?
- Take a look at your competition or allstars that you might follow
- Have a look at what others in your field are doing not to copy but maybe get some inspiration
- Who are your Content Creation heroes? Perhaps they can provide some inspiration as well.
- You might do something similar but add your own unique perspective and experience. That’s what people will come back for.
- Look at your own existing content
- What has worked and what has not?
- What could be re-purposed or updated?
#2 - Planning
Now what you might find at this point is that if you have not completely flushed out your concept then you will feel the need. If you have not already you may want to explore some questions like:
- What is your goal? And how will you achieve it?
- What is your tone?
- How will you create consistency?
Knowing more about your audience and what they like/what content resonates well, will help you flush out the answers to those questions.
#3 - Now You Can Create Your Calendar
Start by laying out your calendar in a document or spreadsheet. I used Excel to easily layout episode number, date, topic and additional notes and helpful links. Then add in major events like holidays but don’t forget about:
- Marketing campaigns
- Product Launches
- Conferences or trade shows
- Relevant world events
Next start brainstorming new ideas. Ideally you would have come up with several from your research but when in doubt, go back to that foundation and maybe dig a little deeper. Look for common problems that your audience might have which you can help them solve.
Try to plan out at least the first few months of content. The thing to remember is that now your calendar has been started, that planning, creation and scheduling should be an ongoing exercise worked into your routine.
Once you see the benefits that this planning has on the your marketing you will definitely want to keep that up or find yourself scrambling the night before to plan out tomorrow’s post. But hey, when all else fails, there’s always the chicken dance.