An up-to-date content calendar is an important element of any successful content marketing strategy. Whether you’re taking your first steps or building upon years’ of experience, preparing and maintaining a content calendar will help you stay on top of your objectives and achieve your goals.
1. Identify Your Goals
What goals do you want to achieve with your content? Do you want to generate more leads? Or perhaps you want to increase brand awareness and improve customer loyalty? Whatever the reason, determining your content goals will help you pick the right topics for your content calendar. Ideally, you should have two or three achievable goals.
2. Research Your Audience
It’s vital to understand your audience and what content they will find valuable. Do this before you start otherwise you may waste time writing unneeded copy. Think about your customers and how your expertise can benefit them. What kind of problems do they run into? What questions would they ask you?
It’s a good idea to spend some time researching your audience and the most common issues they experience. Check out message boards, customer help articles and other related areas to get an idea of what they want to know.
3. Choose Your Content
Once you understand your audience and their needs, you can start thinking about what type of content will appeal to them most. Content is typically written word, video or audio. Written content is by far the most popular type as it is quick to produce and costs next to nothing to create. Some of the common types of written content include:
- Blog posts
- Buying guides
- News articles
- Case studies
You should always try to include a visual element in your content as it helps to break up the text and keep the reader engaged. Infographics are particularly useful for summarising facts and figures.
4. Pick a CMS
A reliable content management system (CMS) is another important component of any successful content marketing strategy. Depending on the type of content you want to publish and how often you plan on posting, one CMS might prove more suitable than others.
As with your audience, it’s advisable to spend some time researching what the different systems offer. Free content management systems like WordPress and Joomla come with plenty of features but you may need a more powerful CMS if you’re planning on posting a lot of content on a regular basis.
5. Create Your Calendar
With the above taken care of, creating your content calendar should be a simple task. First, decide how often you want to publish content. Some businesses benefit from publishing content every day, while others publish on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Take a look at when your website receives the most visitors and go from there.
Create a calendar in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Keep it neat and tidy and block your topics by week. We recommend using four columns e.g. one for the date, one for the blog topic, one for the research source, and one for the blog location. Colour in the posts that have been completed and posted with a text highlighter, and try to prepare your calendar a month in advance. With a little planning and preparation you’ll find your content calendar filling itself up in no time.