1. General considerations about content calendars
If you are serious about managing your business's online presence, you will benefit so much from using a content calendar!
1.1. What is a content calendar?
A content calendar is a document where you write down what you will share on each of your channels throughout the year. It can be built using a spreadsheet, a text document, a physical or digital calendar, or pen and paper.
1.2. Why a content calendar?
A content calendar will help you stay on top of what you need to do next. You will prepare it in advance and therefore avoid last-minute breakdowns from not knowing what to post!
Since you are preparing it in advance, you will have plenty of time to consider which content you want to create, how much time you will put into creating it, and how it will all come together in your overall marketing strategy.
Those inserting reach and engagement metrics into their content calendars will also simplify the process of analysing that information to reach insights on which type of content to focus on.
If you are working with a team, it will also ensure everyone in it is on the same page and knows what is going on at any given time.
2. How to build your content calendar
You can build your own content calendar or you can use an existing template.
The major benefit from building your own content calendar is that you can ensure it has exactly what you need.
If you decide to start with an existing template, you will save yourself time and trouble. You can also tweak it to suit your specific needs as you get used to it.
2.1. Decide what you want in your content calendar
Whatever tool you use, you will need to define multiple fields for each of your pieces of content. It will save you time when planning and creating them as well as help you reach insights about their performance.
Here are the ones I find most useful and that I include in our template:
- Year: Year in which it is going to be posted (e.g. 2020, 2021)
- Month: Month in which it is going to be posted (e.g. January, February)
- Day of the Week: Day of the week in which it is going to be posted (e.g. Monday, Tuesday)
- Day: Day of the month in which it is going to be posted (e.g. 1, 2)
- Time: Time of the day in which it is going to be posted (e.g. 9h00, 10h00)
- People in Charge: Who is in charge of it and what each person is in charge of (e.g. Kerry - Video, Ash - Text)
- Deadline: When it needs to be ready (e.g. Monday at 11h00, Friday at 18h00)
- Campaign: The larger campaign the post is part of (e.g. Morning motivational quotes, Christmas sales)
- Topic: Summary of what it is about (e.g. 50% off all toys, Photograph of the interior of our office)
- Platform: Platform in which it is going to be posted or channel through which it is going to be sent (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Blog, Newsletter, Text message)
- Format: The type of content it is (e.g. Text-based tweet, Long-form blog post).
- Text: The specific text it is going to include (e.g. Check out our Christmas Sales!, Mornings are the perfect time to workout!)
- Visuals: The visuals it is going to include (e.g. Photograph of our bestselling scarf, Video on how to use our bestselling keyboard)
- Links: The links it is going to include (e.g. URL of a product page, URL of an article)
- Link to Published Post: If applicable, link to the post you shared to have it on hand in the future
- Reach: How many people saw it (e.g. Reach number on social media, Newsletter subscribers)
- Engagement: How many people engaged with it (e.g. Engagement number on social media, Click-through rate on newsletter)
2.2. Use our content calendar template
Now that you know which fields you want in your content calendar, you are ready to use our template! We update it yearly and send it out to our digital marketing hub subscribers.
If you want it in a different format, drop us an email and we will send it your way.
Here are a few specific tips on how we use our specific template:
- Fill all the columns apart from the last three before sharing your piece of content.
- Fill the last three columns consistently after sharing your piece of content.
- If you want to share several pieces of content on the same day, simply add multiple lines for that day.
3. How to manage your content calendar
Now that you have the bones of your content calendar, it is time to fill it out!
It is important that you understand a content calendar will save you time in the long run but you will have to dedicate some time to learning how to use it during the first few months. You will get quicker with practice!
There are four major steps we at Alexandra Pedro Marketing take every year and that structure our relationship with the content calendar.
3.1. Partially come up with content for the coming year
I recommend partially filling the whole content calendar for the next year at the end of the previous one.
What campaigns are you going to focus on the following year? Are you going to make a big deal of Father's Day? Are you going to focus on Twitter or on LinkedIn? This are decisions you should make before the 1st of January.
This step is essential for you to focus on the bigger picture and how all the different pieces of content connect with each other and drive marketing gains.
3.2. Stay open to change
You have an idea of what you are going to post but life happens. For example, all of a sudden a pandemic hits and it is not right for you to post that tweet you had in mind to invite your audience to the epic party you are hosting.
Just keep in mind what is happening around you and adapt the content you are going to create to suit what your audience is living.
3.3. Finish planning the content for the coming month
I take care of my content calendar for the following month on the last week of the previous one. That way, managing a consistent online presence for my clients and my business throughout each month becomes easier and less stressful.
3.4. Finish filling the calendar for the previous month
Finally, make sure you always fill the last three columns of your content calendar consistently.
You have to options:
- Fill them out after a certain amount of time of sharing each piece of content. For example, you may source and insert the stats for each piece of content exactly 48 hours after it is first shared. While this means you will be monitoring stats most days of the week, those stats will be comparable to each other.
- Fill them out on the same day each month. For example, you may source and insert the stats for the content shared on the each month on the first week of following month. While it is not as accurate as the first option, it certainly easier to manage.