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August 29, 2016

How to build a content calendar

A content calendar isn’t just handy, it’s an operational and strategic necessity. Learn how to get started here.

A content calendar is essential for ensuring the smooth and effective delivery of great content. It acts as a roadmap for the months ahead, helping you to ensure that your content meets objectives and targets the right audience.

Editorial teams rely on a content calendar for day-to-day work, using it to check deadlines, allocated tasks and key industry events and important dates. It also provides a bird’s-eye view of content, making it easy to quickly identify any gaps in your coverage.

In essence, a content calendar is a collaboration tool that maximises efficiency and allows you to plan ahead to avoid last minute panics. It should cover everything from the content format and topic through to its delivery channels and publication dates.

Here are a few simple steps to start building your own content calendar.

Brainstorm and identify your topics

Before building a content calendar, you need to have an idea of the topics you plan to cover over at least a two month window, preferably longer. While you don’t need specifics, you do need an overarching idea of the themes. For example, if you sell kitchenware, your content will likely be geared towards Christmas dining in the last quarter. Take these themes and group your content into categories. This could be by season, event or a specific company promotion. Assign each category a colour code as this will make your content calendar easier to eyeball.

Consider content frequency

Once you have your list of themes and categories, consider how often you need to publish content. For example, do you have a regular newsletter? Are there certain topics that require monthly or weekly updates? For each category, you need to know how much content you want to produce and the best time to publish it.

Set deadlines and allocate tasks

This is vital for ensuring maximum and efficient use of resources. Assign every piece of content a publication date and an author. It’s also important to include deadlines for drafts that also allow time for at least two edits. Clear deadlines enable teams to be reactive to unexpected events that may justify a response from your brand, as you will quickly be able to see who has the capacity to take on extra work. Moreover, knowing what your colleagues are working on ensures effective collaboration between team members.

Define your marketing outlets

It’s worth including marketing channels in your content calendar as this will enable you to adjust the format, style, tone of voice and angle of your content accordingly. For each piece of work, note whether it’s for publication on a blog, social network or website.

Choose a platform for your content calendar

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself when deciding where to create your content calendar. For example, does it need to be shared across your team and does it need to be updated in real-time? This will determine what platform you use, and it can be as simple as an Excel document or a Google document, which can be shared and updated in real-time. There are a few great templates online that you can use as a guide.

Track your content’s performance

Monitor the performance of every content marketing campaign and measure it according to specific business metrics. This will enable you to constantly adjust and reiterate your content to maximise its chance of success. For this reason, it is worth adding a column to your content calendar that is geared towards at least one of your core metrics. This way you can readily see which content is working well and which is performing poorly. A content calendar should be a dynamic document, so if some content isn’t performing, adjust your content strategy.

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