How to Build a Content Calendar (Plus a Free Template)

How to Build a Content Calendar (Plus a Free Template)

The Definition of a Content Calendar Before we jump into calendaring our content, let’s talk about what a content calendar actually is, plus a few baseline requirements for success. Inform the content creation workflow: Make sure you have your content ready in time to actually publish when needed. The 4 Keys to Content Calendar Success Whether you plan content on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis, depending on how quickly your industry or organization moves, there are several universal keys to content calendar success: Open your calendars to everyone: While not everyone should have the ability to edit a master content calendar, everyone should at least know where the content calendar is located and have viewing access. Instead, create a repository of content ideas that you can tap into whenever needed. Whitepapers or reports: Break big content pieces into a series of blog posts or social takeaways. This yearly report is chock-full of goodness. If you don’t have any shows in your existing content assets, or you need more shows to round out your calendar, then you’ll want to focus on creating new content shows. Step 3: Plan, Schedule, Publish, Promote, Track and Tweak Your Content Regular editorial planning meetings between all those involved in content creation should be scheduled well before the next publishing period—be it monthly or quarterly. Your Free Content Calendar Template (Excel File) We’ve provided a basic content calendar for you to use. Add content to the content repository: Don’t have a place right now in the calendar for some great ideas?

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How to Build a Content Calendar (Plus a Free Template)

Creating a content calendar from scratch is one of those tasks that seems so much more complicated than it actually is. Even just opening a blank Excel spreadsheet can feel overwhelming. Thankfully, sometimes all that’s needed to get on the right track is a quick how-to and a great starter template, which is exactly what we have for you here.

In this post, we provide a guide to building a content calendar, plus a free template for the year.

The Definition of a Content Calendar

Before we jump into calendaring our content, let’s talk about what a content calendar actually is, plus a few baseline requirements for success.

We define a content calendar as a shareable resource that teams can use to plan all content activity. This allows you to visualize how your content is distributed throughout the year. We prefer a calendar-based format, as opposed to just creating a long list of content to be published, because it comes with several benefits:

  • Gain inter-and cross-department alignment: Inform everyone about what is being published, when and where, so there’s no surprises or duplication of efforts.
  • Get a 50,000-foot view of content: Create a clear visual of how your content is distributed throughout the year.
  • Identify content milestones: Plan content around key events or important dates.
  • Spot content gaps: Gain a sense of what content still needs to be planned, with plenty of lead time to line up more content.
  • Inform the content creation workflow: Make sure you have your content ready in time to actually publish when needed.

Consistency is insanely critical to content success. Yes, amazing new ideas and brilliant sparks of creativity help, but we can’t rely on them alone. They’re too inconsistent and unreliable. Instead, everyone needs to be on the same page with what content is being created, plus where and when it’s being published, and it has to be done on a regular, ongoing basis. And that is precisely where content calendars come into play.

The further ahead you plan, the better positioned you are to produce a consistent flow of content.

The 4 Keys to Content Calendar Success

Whether you plan content on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis, depending on how quickly your industry or organization moves, there are several universal keys to content calendar success:

  • Open your calendars to everyone: While not everyone should have the ability to edit a master content calendar, everyone should at least know where the content calendar is located and have viewing access.
  • Iterate constantly: A content calendar is a living, breathing document, and it should change and grow as your content needs do, too.
  • There’s no one right way to calendar your content: There are a million different methods, templates and approaches to take. We’re providing you with a baseline template and a proven process that we use for ourselves and Convince & Convert clients, but you should also play around with the approach and modify elements, as needed. We tinker with it all the time, too.
  • Create a content repository: Don’t get stuck on ideas that you can’t implement immediately, or don’t get hung up on the “we’ll never be able to do that” ideas. Instead, create a repository of content ideas that you can tap into whenever needed.

Fantastic! Now that we have all of that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff: calendaring all of our amazing content.

How to Build Your Content Calendar in 3 Easy Steps

Step 1: Start with Existing Content Assets

There’s a lot of focus on creating new content when we should really be focusing on creating more with less. It’s also usually not necessary to produce all your content from scratch since we often leave heaps of valuable content just lying around.

Instead, start by taking note of all of your existing content or resources to see what can be repurposed and remixed. For example:

  • Slide decks: Repurpose these as videos, blog posts, or key takeaway slide decks.
  • First-hand data or research: As long as you use that data safely and in ethical ways, leverage your own data or research to create infographics or news stories.
  • Colleagues and coworkers: The expertise of your colleagues can be tapped for video, audio, or transcribed interviews.
  • Whitepapers or reports: Break big content pieces into a series of blog posts or social takeaways. We call this content atomization, which we’ll dive into in just a bit.
  • Old blog posts: Make minor adjustments and…

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