A new year means new goals, new strategies, and new opportunities. It also means new content for your blog which can seem overly daunting and time-consuming at first glance. Fortunately, we have some suggestions and methods for alleviating the stress and exhaustion of coming up with daily, weekly, or monthly content.
In this post, we show you the best way to organize content for the coming year using a simple tool – the content calendar.
What is a Content Calendar?
Before we show you a simple how-to guide on creating a content calendar, we should probably start with explaining what it is and why you need one. Simply put, a content calendar is a shareable tool that your team can use to visualize how content will be shared throughout the year, offering these great benefits:
- Time saved during the creation and publishing processes
- A centralized location for tracking blog content, social media, newsletters, etc.
- Full team alignment, with all team members knowing what is being published, when and where it’s being published, and what is expected of team members
- Ability to plan around holidays, events, and other occasions
3 Ways to Save Time with a Content Calendar
Batching Content: One of the greatest benefits of creating a content calendar is the time saved by planning ahead and batching content, whenever possible. For example, a bookstore may want to create a content calendar for their store’s blog, featuring a different genre of books for each month. By creating the calendar in advance, the store ensures that romance novels will be focused around Valentine’s Day, travel books will be featured over the summer travel months, and children’s books will be highlighted just before Christmas.
Once the calendar is laid out, the bookstore’s blogging and social media teams will be able to save time by working on batches of posts, all at once. Graphics can be created for the theme of each month and reused across social media and the store’s blog. Not only does this save time, but it looks professional, polished, and reader-friendly, allowing a consistent flow of quality content from the store.
By batching their content, the bookstore is able to ensure that their posts look well thought out and planned rather than appearing to be someone’s last minute thought. (Face it, we’ve all been there.)
Repurposing Content: Create more with less. Perhaps the greatest time-saving tip of all when it comes to creating content would be to repurpose your content. Do you have old blog articles that you published long before you had a large following? Dig them out and re-use them! Freshen them up and give them new life on your blog.
But don’t stop there. There are other ways to repurpose your content.
Let’s use that bookstore as an example, once again. During the month of February, the bookstore may want to highlight romance novels by interviewing a famous romance author. The interview can be recorded and shared as a video on social media or as an audio file on a podcast. An article can be written about the interview and shared on their blog. A quote from the book or from the interview can be made into a graphic and shared on social media. And just like that, one interview has been repurposed in several different ways. A content calendar makes this a seamless process.
Publishing Content: Once your content has been created in batches and repurposed appropriately, it becomes much easier to schedule the publication of your content in advance. A number of online tools exist to help users schedule both social media and blog posts to be published at certain times on specific days. This eliminates the need for sticky note reminders and cell phone alarms that urge you not to forget to make a social media post or share your blog. Imagine the amount of stress that would roll off of you if you only had to think about your blog and/or social media once a week, a month, or even a quarter!
Spontaneous posters, have no fear! A content calendar does not prohibit you from impromptu posts or spur-of-the moment blogging. In fact, it frees you up to be more responsive to the world around you. There are times when our logically flowing media campaigns need to be interrupted and important world issues need to be addressed. Having a content calendar full of pre-batched media allows you to focus on what needs to be said in the moment, without losing your other content.
How To Create a Stellar Content Calendar
- Choose Your Format The world wide web offers everything from templates to apps to plugins for formatting your content calendar. You can open up an Excel spreadsheet, a Google Calendar, or any number of apps such as BaseCamp, Trello, or CoSchedule. There’s no right or wrong way. Use what works for you.
- Define Your Needs Do you need to be posting on social media every day? Twice a day? Twice a week?
- Brainstorm Get out a piece of notebook paper or work collectively on a dry erase board and start brainstorming topics you want to cover. Can they be grouped together cohesively in a logical manner? (Think about the bookstore covering a different genre each month.) Don’t get stuck here. There’s no rule that says your topics must follow a logical order. Sometimes this just helps creatives plan and organize their material.
- Start Scheduling Take a look at the calendar and take note of seasons, holidays, events, etc. Start broad and then narrow in. (One genre a month, a different author each week, interviews on Mondays, videos on Wednesdays, podcasts on Fridays, etc.) Then start plugging in your topics where they fit best to you.
- Decide How Often to Batch Do you or your teams need to sit down and batch out your content weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Even yearly? Every business is different and no one can answer this question except you and your team.
- Schedule Creative Time It’s easy to schedule the topics you want to cover each month, but it takes more thought and effort to schedule each piece of the creative process. Don’t forget to schedule time to record videos, podcasts, and live social media events, as well as time to write scripts, create graphics, reserve film spaces, and any other pieces of the process that may need to be scheduled.
Your time is valuable and implementing the use of a content calendar is sure to take your marketing strategy to the next level while saving you time, effort, and energy.
To get you started, here are ten of our favorite blog ideas for the new year:
- Make a Top 10 List
- Share Why You Started Your Business
- Disprove a Myth About Your Niche
- Take a Topic Seemingly Unrelated and Compare it to Your Vocation
- Do a “This Day in History” on a Day Related to Your Company
- Ask for Questions on Social Media and Write a Blog Post Answering Them
- Film a “How To” Video Post
- Invite a Guest Blogger to Post
- Share a Life Hack from Your Industry
- Share a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Your Life or Business