Content marketing is an incredibly effective tool for building your brand, but only if you do it right. You need more than just engaging and high-quality content - that content needs to be delivered to your audience on a consistent basis. This requires marketers to plan out their content schedule ahead of time by using a content calendar.
Yet putting a content calendar in place and adhering to that schedule are two different things entirely. It can take a lot of dedication and discipline to stick to your content scheduling as it appears in your calendar, especially in the longer term. If you've struggled with keeping the content you release in conjunction with your scheduled calendar, here's how to create a content calendar you'll actually stick to.
The idea of creating a content calendar is daunting to say the least. Yet like the old saying goes, you can eat an elephant as long as you do it one bite at a time. Content calendar creation is no different - you simply begin with the fundamental framework you'll need for long-term success. This starts with defining your content marketing goals. Are you looking for better lead generation? Do you want to build website traffic? Is your goal to increase your visibility or social media footprint? Formulating your overall goal informs the rest of the process.
Next, it's time to decide what types of channels you're going to use for your content marketing campaign. This may require some research to discover which channels have the largest proportion of the audience you're seeking so that you can prioritize publishing your content on those channels. If your target demographic primarily uses Facebook, so should you, for example. However, it's always a good idea to publish on more than one channel, as long as you prioritize. This allows you to focus on the ones that have the most impact without missing out on any opportunities from secondary channels.
After you've established your goal and chosen your channels, the very next step is to create a template that you can use for your content calendar. This can be done as easily as opening your favorite spreadsheet application and creating some custom fields for the type of content, the topic the content covers, when it's scheduled to be published, and what channel it's to be published on.
The most important part of your template, however, is who's to be held responsible for ensuring the content goes out successfully. Providing for accountability means that it's much easier to follow up on your marketing team to ensure content was posted on time and to the right channel. Without this measure, it becomes all too easy to begin slipping on your content calendar.
"Evergreen" content, or content that will be relevant for an indefinite period no matter the time of year, is a content marketer's bread and butter. However, there's also a major need for topical content that's aligned with the time of year. An example of this is content that promotes products for sale as good stocking stuffers during the holiday season, romantic gifts as Valentine's Day approaches, or any other seasonal event or circumstance.
You can work this class of content into your content calendar by scheduling content well in advance that aligns with the calendar year. Depending on the type of content you're creating and the goals you have for that content, you'll need to think carefully about when you schedule it to be published, though. A few weeks prior to your targeted event is typically a good idea, though this will vary depending on the circumstances.
Content calendars aren't static documents. Following a content calendar to the letter without deviation is a good exercise in consistency, but the world is a complex and ever-changing place. Market conditions evolve over time, and so should your content calendar. Doing so provides you opportunities to ensure your scheduled content remains relevant as those market conditions change.
Review the content scheduled to be released on a regular basis to evaluate if it's still relevant. If something has changed, adjust your calendar as necessary. This can include moving scheduled dates around or even removing scheduled content altogether and replacing it with something better suited to current conditions.
No one ever said that content marketing was easy. It takes hard work to be successful in this market sector, but your job can be made much easier by scheduling your content delivery the right way. Following the above guidelines will help you create a content calendar that supports your goals without making it difficult to follow.