Creating awesome content may seem easy but it actually takes a lot of time and planning to create the perfect content calendar. Content calendars are a straightforward and effective way of planning blog posts. They also ensure that your populating your blog in a consistent and well prepared manner. By keeping a calendar you can put your mind at ease knowing that you can plan content as far in advance as you need to or around a specific holiday season. However how do you even start creating a content calendar and what sort of ideas should you think about including in it? Luckily for you, we have you covered in this week’s beginners guide…
Start with a strategy
Content is all about telling a story. Stories are what captivate audiences and make a brand memorable. So it’s important that you take a while to discover what your brand’s story truly is. Without this purpose defined you will find it difficult to even put a few blog titles down on paper. Firstly, start off by listing a few values that you think are important to your brand. Then underneath each of these values think about what questions or discussions could branch off from these. Try and think like your target audience – what would sort of information would they like to hear in order to have these values understood? Use this exercise as a starting point for your content calendar and build upon these ideas. You’ll have your key messages penciled out in no time.
Excel is you best friend
A question we get a lot is – what sort of software do you use to create your content calendars? Well for beginners, we think you should keep it simple and use Microsoft Excel. Excel has a wide range of calendar templates for you to choose from – so just choose one you think you can work with and get creating. You can even colour code your calendar to define scheduling times, topics or formats. The best part about using Excel for this is that it is pretty flexible and you can organise your calendar in any way you want.
Throughout your content calendar it’s important you include various types of “evergreen” content. Evergreen content, is content that can be viewed on any day of the year and still be relevant to the reader. For example – how to spread festive cheer as an SME is not evergreen content however how blogs benefit SMEs is evergreen content. The reason why it is so important to spread this type of content throughout your calendar is because no matter what time of year it is, people will still be searching for content like this to consume.
Another type of content you should consider slotting into your calendar is series based articles. Series articles are pieces of content that revolve around the same idea or topic. Take our blog for example, we used to do a series called web news round-up where we would find the most interesting online articles that week and publish them into one post. This went on for more than a year creating a bank of thirty or more posts that shared the same premise. By doing this we not only created consistency on our blog, we also had a fairly easy segment that we could quickly add into our schedule if something went amiss with our other articles.
Divide and conquer
Once you’ve got enough blog post ideas you can start scheduling them into your content calendar. If you’ve got some seasonal content, slot this in first so that you don’t have to worry about squeezing it in later. Then put the evergreen and series type content around this. When you start publishing pay close attention to the time and day you scheduled your posts on and how much reception they received – if any. It is more than likely, that once you’ve analysed this information a few times you’ll probably start seeing a pattern. Depending on your audience, posting on a particular day could prove to be more successful than any other. Once you’ve figured this out, it’s pretty easy to start reigning in some more regular readers.