How to Make a Content Calendar

Content calendars are important. If you don’t have a coherent structure, you’re going to end up missing stuff. Reality: everyone thinks blogging is a no-brainer. People think social media is for funsies. You have so many ideas, how could you ever run out? You’ll just post/write/podcast when you feel like it and that’s that.

Sorry, I was just laughing. A lot.

I mean it’s cute. And, at first, it could be true. I give you six weeks before you’re crying uncle. Because even if you have 75 million ideas (which you don’t), you

  1. Won’t remember them
  2. Won’t make time to craft them into well-written copy

So, please listen to this:

YOU NEED A CONTENT CALENDAR

I wasted an entire header on that. Because it’s that super extremely mega ultra big time fun house polka dance The Godfather Lord of the Rings the Bourne Identity… what was I saying? (Any IT Crowd fans here? FATHEEEEEEERRRRR!) Ok it’s important. Majorly majorly. Organize your content. Use a content calendar. Read on and I’ll show you examples. Maybe I’ll even make a free download. I may first watch the IT Crowd.

Content Calendar Examples

I feel like this is one of those “show it” topics, so I’m just going to give you a load of examples and let you make decisions about the categories and structure.

First, you can integrate the *concept* behind these examples into any major software. So, if you use Asana for content calendaring, Basecamp for content calendaring, Trello for content calendaring, you get the idea: you just need the right categories and workflow to pull it off. And a bucket for brainstorms. Always a bucket for brainstorms. Because the lightning bolt of inspiration doesn’t last and you need to write that ish down before it flies away and you’re staring at a blank screen.

There are probably three main categories for which you would need a content calendar. I’d say they are:

  1. A blog
  2. Social posts
  3. A podcast

I manage content calendars like this for numerous clients, so I’m ready to show you what works for me. Some adaptation of it will work for you.

Content Calendar For a Blog

Here is what you need to make a blog content calendar.

Essential elements:

You will also needs tags.

Want to see how to actually write an SEO blog? Here is a live demonstration of me writing an SEO blog about apple pie. Not to brag, but it is kind of boring. If you’ve never done one before, it should help you get an idea of where to start and the steps to take.

There are certain tasks that have to be performed for a blog to be created, optimized, posted and cross-posted (or as I like to call that last one, the 4th trimester of your blog) (I’ve never called it that until just now) (but let’s get that going) (streets ahead).

Workflow considerations:

  • Graphic creation and sharing (who’s doing it, how do you know when it’s approved/ready?)
  • Content creation and editing (who’s checking it, how do you know when it’s done?)
  • Who’s getting tags together and is there a system?
  • Who’s doing the actual posting + adding a meta-description?
  • Is the cross-posting happening straight from your platform or are you writing separate social copy and then posting it to your various profiles?

All of that requires some initial decision making and then clear indication in the content calendar itself. You may accomplish this in a simple Google sheet simply by having color-coded indicators, adding a “Y” or link to a cell or tagging someone when it’s their turn to take something over.

Content Calendar For Social Posts

Now we get a little more wild west. Social posts are voluminous. Exorbitant. Seemingly endless. First, if you’re doing this in a Google sheet (which I do like), you can’t use emojis. If you tag a Google doc in your Google sheet (which I’ve done plenty of times), you will run out of room fast. Consider how you’re going to segment the content out. If you’re posting daily, you’ll probably want to start a new doc or tab at least once a month. Same goes if you’re rolling these in an Asana task, Trello board, etc. etc.

Essential elements:

  • Date
  • Post date
  • Title/description/source/copy (with or without emojis)
  • Approvals
  • Sized/branded graphics
  • Platform titles and posting confirmation
  • Data

Workflow considerations:

  • Who is creating copy/graphics?
  • Where are the copy/graphic files going?
  • Who’s doing tag research and where are the tags being recorded?
  • What data from your social media management software is being tracked and recorded per post?
  • Who is following up with social media posts?
  • How far in advance are you planning?

There are no social media management software programs *that I know of* that I would directly create copy in. First of all, what if something times out and you lose something mid-sentence? I always create social media copy outside of a SMMS. Then you have a backup. The second note I’d make on this is that if you are going to make any good use of SMMS data, you need to relocate it or handle it in some way. Data is only good if you do something with it. I’ve worked with social media content calendars before where we go in every week and add the data for each post. It’s cumbersome but it forces you to look at it.

Content Calendar For a Podcast

Another wildly underestimated workload is creating content for a podcast. Good podcasts are not stream of consciousness. They are thoughtfully researched, carefully curated and professionally edited. There is a lot more media to a single podcast episode than you might think. Doing a podcast could easily be a full-time job with multiple team members. Ones that perform well get to that level.

If you’re starting out or want to launch a podcast, here’s what you need to record on a podcast content calendar.

Essential elements:

  • Dates
  • Podcast title
  • Show notes
  • Transcript –> blog
  • Links and embed code
  • Thumbnail
  • Social graphics
  • Soundbite
  • Social copy/posts/hashtags
  • Posting info with assignments

Workflow considerations:

  • What’s your lead time? Podcasts take more time than other types of collateral because you record then edit and have multiple pieces to create before it goes up. Be realistic about this because a single hitch could make you inconsistent.
  • Who’s doing what? There’s a lot to create and you’ll probably have separate people doing different tasks (host, graphic designer, copywriter, social media manager).
  • Are you having guests? There’s a whole huge process to that kind of PR development that shifts your strategy.

There’s a lot to it. If you make a system, you have a much better chance of pulling it off.

Create Great Content Calendars

While these are good recommendations that come from a lot of experience, you need to sit down with your team (or yourself, solopreneur) and really think through the essential elements and workflow considerations for your own content calendars. If you plan, you can track. If you track, you can monitor your strategy. If you monitor your strategy, you can make the right moves. If you make the right moves, you’re now in play. Good luck!

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Wish you could hear my dulcet tones? I also vlog this stuff.

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