Have you started planning your content marketing strategy for the year? With a content marketing calendar, you can start putting together a plan that really works, by posting the right content at the right time. In this blog post, I’m going to show you how to create your own content marketing calendar – and there’s a free content marketing calendar template for you to download to get you started:

Why you need a content marketing calendar

Content marketing calendars have 2 main benefits:

  • They help you get better results for your business, more leads and more conversions
  • They help you save (a lot!) of time

By planning your content ahead of time, you can focus on creating content that helps you achieve your goals faster. Posting for the sake of posting simply doesn’t work anymore; there is too much content battling for the same peoples’ attention, so if you want to stand out and actually get ROI from your content, then you need to create the right content and share it at the right time – with the right people.

Of course, there can always be changes and surprises; for example, there could be some big news in your industry that you need to talk about on your blog. Or perhaps some unforeseen event shocks the world, which could mean you have to change your tactics.

But, generally, it’s quite easy to keep to a clear schedule. And plus, it saves you time. When you know exactly what you’re going to publish and when, you don’t need to constantly scramble to come up with ideas last-minute. If there are any unforeseen circumstances in your schedule that would keep you from content creation, you can rest assured since you’ve planned your content in advance.

Now, let’s get into the ‘how’s’ of content marketing calendars:

How to Create a #ContentMarketing Calendar (FREE #Template)Click To Tweet

What are your business and content marketing goals?

Before planning any content for your marketing calendar, make a list of your content marketing goals. What do you want to achieve?

  • More leads?
  • More subscribers?
  • More conversions?
  • More traffic?
  • More engagement?
  • More trust?

After all, you’re creating all of this content with a purpose. Think of that purpose – and be very clear about it – so that you can come up with the ideal types of content and content topics that will actually help you reach your goals.

When you get to the stage where you’re coming up with content ideas, for each idea, ask yourself this question:

“What will this do to help me achieve my goals?”

If it doesn’t help you achieve any goal, then it’s most likely worth scrapping off your list and coming up with a different idea.

Create audience personas

Who forms your audience? How much do you truly know about your target audience? Who are they, specifically?

Personalization, as I mentioned earlier, is extremely important in the current climate. If you want your audience to actually read/see/hear your content, then you need to give them a reason to: you have to give them content they want to read.

And in order to understand what they want to read, you need to understand who they are.

Sometimes, it helps to create some imaginary audience personas. Give them a name, a face, an occupation and so on:

How to Create a Content Marketing Calendar [FREE Template]

Of course, this information needs to be grounded in reality. Your audience is probably formed by quite a few different groups of people, but within these separate groups, they share some similarities.

For example, if you were a business consultant, you might target both entrepreneurs who built a business online and small business owners with a physical store. Create personas for each of these groups to help you understand who you’re targeting, and so you can then create content for each of them.

This will also help you decide what platforms you should use to reach each audience group and when to publish it.

Research your niche

You can also learn a lot by following your niche and understanding what content topics your audience prefers, what content formats they use the most (video, blog post, and so on), and what channels they’re on.

Ideally, you should subscribe to multiple publications (blogs and news sources), as well as follow relevant thought leaders in your industry, so that you can always keep up to date with the latest news and developments, as well as to keep an eye on what content your competitors and other content creators in your niche are publishing.

Most importantly, focus on what content works best, whether it’s blogging or social media. What blog posts get the most readers, the most shares, the most comments?

What social media updates get people to take action?

Useful tools for research:

  • Feedly and Flipboard, for subscribing to different online publications and keeping track of all the latest news and other content in your industry
  • Buzzsumo, for researching the content in your niche: which posts get the most attention on social media, the most shares, etc.
How to Create a #ContentMarketing Calendar (FREE #Template)Click To Tweet

Start planning your content marketing calendar

Now that we got all the research out of the way, here’s how to start planning your content marketing calendar – and, don’t forget, you can also download a free content marketing calendar template for 2018 by using one of the forms in this post:

What types of content will you publish?

For example:

How to Create a Content Marketing Calendar [FREE Template]

Put together a list of all the different types of content you plan to create this year. It’s always a good idea to diversify and offer different types of content.

Important dates

Next, put together another list, this one with important dates:

  • Holidays
  • Novelty holidays that are relevant to your business
  • Industry events
  • New products or services launches

And any other important date you can think of that might impact your content. This way, you’re very clear on what days you need to create specific content.

How to use the content marketing template

So, you’ve downloaded the free content marketing template (if you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for?).

How to Create a Content Marketing Calendar [FREE Template]

What next?

Each month has its own tab where you can start planning and organising your content marketing strategy:

How to Create a Content Marketing Calendar [FREE Template]

To get started, simply copy and paste the content type you want from the bottom of the calendar and add it to the corresponding day.

Next to it, you can specify what campaign it’s part of (lead generation, traffic generation, conversion, engagement, promotional, etc.), as well as write down who is in charge of creating the content, when the deadline is, and add any other notes that are relevant.

Then, simply rinse and repeat: put together as much of your content marketing calendar as you can for each month – it’s that easy.

It’s also important to be specific; establish exactly who does what and by when, otherwise, chances are, it won’t get done. It’s always so much easier to stick to a schedule when you actually have a schedule – otherwise, you’re likely to put things off and only create content when you have some time.

You don’t need to come up with every headline for the year in one go; however, it’s definitely a good idea to plan your content in advance, at least a month if not more for big projects.

How to Create a #ContentMarketing Calendar (FREE #Template)Click To Tweet

That said, you can plan out your overall content marketing strategy for the entire year; for example:

  • If you create any content that needs to be published regularly, like blog posts, podcasts, vlogs, and so on – you don’t need to think of all the headlines and subjects, but you can schedule out the days when they need to be published and the days by which they need to be completed
  • Bigger projects that require more work so they don’t happen as often, like webinars, online courses, and e-books, so you know ahead of time when you need to get started to finish them on time
  • Promotional content related to new product and service releases
  • Regular email marketing campaigns and newsletters

Conclusion

To sum it all up, there are a few things that you need to remember from this post:

  • Establish your overall business goals as well as your content marketing goals
  • Think of who you’re targeting: create your audience personas and understand what their needs are
  • Research your niche: understand what works and what doesn’t
  • Plan your content calendar: put together a list of all the different types of content you want to create this year and start creating the timeline using the free content marketing calendar

How do you plan your content marketing strategy? Leave your comments below and please do share if you enjoyed the post 🙂

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