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7 Steps to Creating a Content Calendar

Creating content for your business is vital to its success. Interesting, engaging content can connect your customers to your business, improve your search results, and support and enhance your brand.

But it’s not something you should create and publish sporadically. You should have an overall plan or set of goals for your content, then a specific way to distribute it.

One of the most effective ways to organize and plan your content is to create a content calendar.

What is a Content Calendar?

A content calendar is a map or a plan of all the content you want to create for your business over a certain amount of time, usually weekly, monthly and yearly. It’s an organized, sharable calendar that aligns with your overall marketing strategy, and helps ensure you are producing valuable content on a consistent basis.

A content calendar is not difficult to create. The challenge is sticking to it.

Benefits of a Content Calendar

A content calendar is worth the time and effort you put into it, especially when you consider the following benefits:

  • Placing your content on a calendar makes it easy to visualize
  • You can work around events or activities that are important to your industry
  • You can make sure you don’t have any gaps in publishing content
  • It allows you to work and plan ahead, ultimately saving you time, energy and headaches
  • It keeps your audience engaged with your brand
  • You can track analytics to determine what type of content was most successful.

What to Include in Your Content Calendar

Your content calendar does not have to be limited to things you write. It can include anything your business creates that helps your customers, engages them, or solves a problem they have.

The content on your calendar could include:

  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Longer-form content – such as an ebook or white paper
  • Newsletter
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Case studies
  • Infographics
  • Charts or graphs
  • Slideshow presentations

Your calendar should also identify who will be responsible for creating each type of content, the deadline, keywords and the publishing date.

How to Create a Content Calendar

There are many free calendar templates online that can give you ideas as to how your calendar could look. Choose the one that is most comfortable for you, or works best for your business. You could even create a calendar using a simple excel spreadsheet.

Here are 7 steps to creating your content calendar:

  1. Brainstorm the types of content that fit your business. Will you be writing blogs? Creating charts or graphs? Do you have a presence on social media? Do you have a type of business where you can use photos, imagery or video? Try to identify different types of content you could produce.
  1. Decide how often you will publish content. Maybe you’ll want to have a presence on social media every day, create 2-3 blog per week, or one longer form content per month. Decide how much you’d like to do, but also consider what is realistic to stick to.
  1. Identify your business’ content categories or topics. What are the topics you could create content around? For example, if you are a full-service landscaper, your topics might include landscaping, patios, lighting or irrigation. Think about seasonal or industry trends that affect your business.
  1. Brainstorm content ideas for each category or topic. Brainstorm the possible blog post titles, social media content or infographics you could create. Consider what tips or advice you could offer about each specific topic. Think about some of the questions your customers have asked, and don’t take for granted that everyone knows what you know.
  1. Plan it out. Place your content ideas on the calendar, and decide who will be responsible for creating them.
  1. Be consistent. Consistency with your content is so important to your customers. They want to know that you are there, providing helpful information, and answering their questions. One of the benefits of having a calendar is that if you create it and follow it, you’ll automatically be consistent. Many businesses designate one person to oversee the calendar, to make sure the goals are being met.
  1. Be flexible. Your content calendar should be a working calendar that ebbs and flows. Be willing to move things around. Stay in the know with current events and trends in your industry. If there is an opportunity to create timely content that goes along with something happening in your community or in the world, take advantage of the opportunity, and reschedule the evergreen content for later.

Creating content does not have to be an unorganized, stressful, ineffective task. With a little planning, you can create content that resonates with your audience, keeps them engaged, and earns you more customers.

Laurie Zinn is a Columbus-based freelance writer and owner of Line-By-Line. She helps businesses communicate with their customers through website content, blog articles, email marketing campaigns and social media. For more information about Line-By-Line, visit http://line-by-line.us or contact Laurie at laurie@line-by-line.us.

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