How to create a content calendar

Building a Business, Content Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Small Business Marketing Tips

 

 

You’ve decided you’re going to do this, you’re starting a business! Yay! Maybe you’ve already got one and now you need to figure out what to share on your social media channels and in your email each week. Um, say what? Every week? If you’re reading this and thinking, crap. I don’t know what to write about every week. It’s OK. I’m going to teach you an easy way to create a content calendar so that you NEVER have to stare at a blank screen and wonder what the heck to write about today. Trust me, that process is super inefficient. When we try to come up with something on the fly we often end up with writer's block or situated firmly in the distraction zone browsing Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or whatever other distraction we can find.

Why Creating a Content Calendar Helps

When you create a content calendar in advance you’re never faced with that awful blank screen. You never have to wonder what to write about. More than that, you don’t end up duplicating something you’ve written before.

How do you Start Creating a Content Calendar

My first step is to brainstorm. Have a huge brainstorm session and think about all of the questions your Ideal Customer asks when you speak with them. If you don’t have customers yet, that’s OK. You can do this by thinking about the questions they have that relate to your solution.

For example, if I’m going to brainstorm on SEO topics it might look like this:

  • What is SEO?
  • What do I do to SEO my website?
  • How do I know what keyword to use?
  • How does Google work?
  • What should I do first for SEO?
  • How many keywords should I have?
  • What’s most important for SEO?

Any of those topics sound familiar? They’re posts I’ve written or considered writing because they’re common questions I get from students and clients. Think about your Ideal Customer and start writing down everything you can think of that they ask. Grab a pen and paper, a stack of post-its or open an Excel or Google doc. The format doesn’t matter. Do what works best for you. Personally, I like to have a digital file to work from. Even when I do my brainstorming on pen & paper (often my preferred method), I transfer to a spreadsheet for long-term use.

Next, Think About the Questions Your Ideal Customer Doesn’t Know to Ask

What questions tie to your business and would help your customer but maybe they don’t know to ask yet. What can you teach them?

For this brainstorm, think about what you teach. For example, for SEO here are some teaching topics.

  • Why using your keyword in your image file name helps your SEO
  • 3 common SEO mistakes you may be making
  • How to write an SEO friendly Title Tag
  • How to write an SEO friendly Meta Description
  • Why you shouldn’t use the same keyword on every page
  • Why you need to write unique Title Tags and Meta Descriptions for every page

While these are topics that your Ideal Customer may not know to ask about yet, they’re questions that they will have as they begin to learn more. Once they read the “What do I do to SEO my website” post, they’ll learn about Title Tags and Meta Descriptions and from there, they’ll want to know “How to write an SEO friendly Title Tag and Meta Description”. Meet them where they are and take them where they need to go with your content.

Repeat the brainstorming process for each area of your business. For example, I teach SEO, marketing strategy, business building, and content marketing. This particular post is for content marketing but also fits into the marketing strategy. I have brainstorm guides for each topic area that I teach all within my master content planning calendar.

If you have more than one content topic to cover then you’ll want to divide the topics evenly. For example, if you plan on teaching on four subjects that are related, as I shared above, you’d want to create one post for each topic area once a month. Your initial batch should include 1 or 2 posts for each area (sometimes called content pillar).

How do you organize your content calendar?

Once you’ve got your brainstorm session complete and you have a big list of topic ideas for each of your content pillars go through them and choose up to 12 topics to write about. Create a new spreadsheet tab and add the dates for the next 12 Mondays. Choose one topic each week. This is what you’re going to share for your weekly content. You’ll need to work on writing these blog posts, recording videos or podcast episodes for these topics. Your weekly topic format can be whatever you choose, the content calendar creation process is the same for all. Go back and mark which ones you’re using on your master brainstorm list too so you don’t duplicate them later. I like to grey the square out once I’ve selected the topic. I can still see what the topic was but I know immediately that it’s already been written so I don’t waste time writing about it again.

Once your content calendar is planned out for at least the next month, it’s time to start writing. If you want to learn how to save time by batching content check out this post. I love batching content. It saves me so much time. It’s easier for me to get into the zone and write multiple posts in a day than to do one each week. This post is the third one I’ve written today and it’s going to be published in about 12 weeks. I’m currently at the beginning of my next batch. I like to do 12 posts at a time but I’d start with 4-6 to make it feel more manageable.

I hope this helps make content planning easier for you! Follow this process, add ideas to your brainstorming tabs as they come to you and you’ll never run out of content ideas. 

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