A content calendar is a schedule used to plan out of the pieces of content (blog posts, videos, email campaigns, press releases, webinars, infographics, white papers, case studies, etc.) that your company plans on putting out over a set period of time.
Having a content calendar helps you to manage the insanity that typically abounds as marketing teams and business professionals try to put out relevant, timely, goal-oriented content to their audience. But how do you even begin to tackle something like this? Here are some basic tips to help you make a content calendar that actually works:
A content calendar is a very valuable marketing asset but trying to go it alone isn’t the best plan. You’re much more likely to come up with a content calendar that actually sticks if you get buy-in from others – especially if you’re one a small or one-person team. Ask employees in other departments to pitch in and help contribute ideas for content or pieces of content. This will ensure that you don’t have to do everything yourself and that other people are invested in the idea of keeping the calendar going as well. Trust me, when you get busy you’ll be glad that you have this support!
Place Big Pieces
Imagine that a content calendar is a room that you need to decorate. You wouldn’t start by placing lamps and side tables and then arranging the furniture around them. Instead, you would place the couch and the recliner and the TV and then fill all of the little accents in around them to create a balanced room. The same is true when panning your content calendar. Always start by putting the big pieces in place. Big pieces are the ones that take a lot of time and resources to complete and will need to be heavily promoted. You want to space these out to avoid both overtaxing any employees that are working on them and also overwhelming your audience with one big thing after another.
Fill in the Gaps
With the biggies in place, you can start filling in the holes. Now this doesn’t mean that you should just scrape together some cruddy “filler” to plug the holes. It just means that the pieces of content that will be a breeze to create or are mainly a repurposing of existing content should be fit in between the bigger, more demanding ones. Place pieces mindfully so that you space out different focus areas to allow for variety. But be careful not to cover your whole calendar – not yet anyways.
Planning a content calendar that doesn’t allow any wiggle room is a recipe for failure. If your calendar is too tight and doesn’t leave space for spur of the moment additions, all of your hard work and planning may go to waste because trying to squeeze timely pieces in and push other content back can break the whole system. This is why it’s so important to leave gaps in your calendar that can be filled by breaking announcements, recent developments, timely updates, and other last minute content.
How long of a time period should your content calendar cover? A week? A Month? A quarter? A year? Well, it can really span as long as you’d like but trying to go too big at first can become overwhelming. This is why I would suggest starting with a month-long timeframe. You’ll get enough experience that you can determine what works best and then tweak your approach for the following month. Some companies (ours included) find that the month-by-month approach fits the best for their industry because it allows them to be more agile and not stuck in a fixed plan that could potentially become outdated if it’s planned too far in advance. For other companies, building up to the year-long content calendar is the best option for them. You’ll need to figure out what works for your business and then stick with it.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and son and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!