If you’re like most entrepreneurs, when you start thinking about your marketing plan, you probably feel a bit overwhelmed. I get it. It can be confusing and complicated. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You just need to get organized, and using a content calendar is a great way to simplify your marketing plan.
What is a content calendar?
Whenever I talk about marketing, I’m really talking about content marketing. Content marketing is the act of creating any type of content to promote your business. Content can be in the form of blog posts, videos, podcasts, social media posts, and even traditional advertising.
A content calendar is simply a tool to help you plan out and schedule all of your content.
Some people might call it an editorial calendar or social media calendar. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, the important thing is to use it.
So how exactly will a content calendar simplify your marketing?
Why use a content calendar?
Getting organized and planning out your marketing in advance has a lot of benefits. Here are a few reasons why you should be using a content calendar:
- It takes the guesswork out of content creation. You won’t be staring at a blank computer screen wondering what to post or when to do it. When you use a content calendar, your whole marketing plan is laid out for you.
- You can see your whole plan in one place. Most of us are visual learners. Seeing everything in one place brings your whole marketing plan into sharp focus. Everything suddenly becomes clearer and makes more sense.
- It saves you a ton of time. You’ll fill out your content calendar once a month so you won’t be wasting time coming up with ideas for what to post every day.
- You’ll get better results from your marketing. When you create and execute an actual marketing plan instead of flying by the seat of your pants, your marketing will be more consistent and more effective.
How to create a content calendar
Your content calendar should be a simple tool, it should not feel complicated. It should help make your marketing plan easier to create and easier to execute.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to get your content calendar off the ground:
1. Choose your channels
The first thing to do is determine what marketing channels you will be using. Every business is different and the channels you use will be based on your particular goals and needs.
Here are a few of the most common marketing channels:
- Social media
2. Choose your tool
The next step is to choose the type of tool you want to use for your content calendar. You can do this the old-fashioned way with a paper calendar or go full-auto with a powerful app like CoSchedule. Again, choose the tool that works best for your business.
Here are a few common content calendar tools to choose from:
- Paper calendar. If you like to write things down on paper then, by all means, do it. You might use a wall calendar or a monthly planner. Just be sure you can see a whole month at a time to make your content planning easier.
- Spreadsheet. Excel or Google Sheets are perfect tools for this task. You can get as creative as you like and even find pre-made templates to get you started. One of the benefits of using Google Sheets is the ability to share your calendar. This can be useful if you have other people on your team.
- Apps. There are a lot of content calendar apps out there these days. They all work pretty well, but I’ve recently fell in love with CoSchedule. I can plan out months of marketing content and see it all in one place. It also posts automatically for me at the best time for each platform so I don’t have to think about it every day. Using this tool has made my life dramatically easier.
3. Brainstorm ideas
Once a month, sit down and brainstorm ideas for topics.
Next, spend about 10 minutes and come up with as many ideas as you can for each of those items. You’ll probably have a lot of bad ideas here, that’s perfectly normal.
In order to find the best topics to add to your content calendar, score each of your items with a 1, 2, or 3. 1’s and 2’s might require a little tweaking before they’re ready, but 3’s can be added to your calendar right away.
4. Fill in your calendar
Once you have a list of great topics you want to write or talk about, get them on your content calendar.
How often are you blogging? How many videos are you creating? How often are you posting to each of your social media platforms? Get all of this down onto your content calendar.
A few pro tips:
- Fill out one month at a time. If you really want to be a time-saving pro, then only fill out your content calendar once a month. Sit down and bang it out.
- Address holiday and special events. Are there any upcoming holidays or events? If so, be sure to include these in your plan. How will you promote your speaking gig next month? What specials are you running for the holiday?
- Color code your posts. I love a good color-coded system. Use different colors for your blog posts, YouTube videos, Facebook and Instagram posts. This will make your plan easier to understand. You’ll also be able to see where you might have overlap or gaps.
5. Execute your plan
A plan is only as good as its execution. It’s great to make a beautiful spreadsheet and color-code all your posts, but it’s in the implementation of that plan where the magic happens.
By creating a well-organized content calendar you’ve done most of the heavy-lifting. Your marketing plan is all laid out for you. All you have to do is take a look at your calendar each day and do what’s on it.
Even easier, use an app like CoSchedule to plan all your marketing weeks or months in advance. You’ll be super organized, you’ll have all your marketing posts scheduled to go out, and then you’ll just need to decide what you’re going to do with all that free time! 🙂
Are you using a content calendar to simplify your marketing? I’d love to hear what’s working (or not working) for you. Drop a comment and share your thoughts.