Learn how to plan content for your blog in an easy, organized manner. Swipe the process and download the planning documents.
Content planning can be overwhelming to a lot of marketers and bloggers, but it doesn't have to be. The secret to planning content for your blog quickly and easily? It's a content calendar. When you plan your blog content in advance, it speeds up the entire process. Learn how content batching can help you blog more often and in less time.
Why is a content calendar a critical element of your content marketing program? Have you ever missed a deadline or not had a blog post go live when expected or sat down to write and found no inspiration and had no idea what to write about? Maybe you wrote a post that you knew pretty much sucked but was the best you could come up with in your limited time? I think a lot of content marketers have. We are in a quickly growing, rapidly changing field without a lot of great, ready-to-use, affordable tools and that impacts many content marketers. You don't need the fanciest of tools to streamline your processes.
Per the 2017 B2C Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends-North America from Content Marketing Institute 49% of marketers say strategy issues (lack of strategy, developing/adjusting strategy) contributed to stagnant success last year. 37% cite content-creation challenges as a factor. If you’re like many content marketers content strategy and creation are challenges for your organization. How do you combat that and make your efforts produce better results? Here’s where a content calendar can help. It may seem obvious, but the use of a planning calendar will help the team stay focused and on track. And when they’re on track and focused, they’re likely more efficient.
In the agency, I use multiple content planning calendars. Each client has their calendar for both content production and distribution. It’s critical to know what’s in development for each client, who we’re going to partner with, where it will be shared, as well as when it was published. A planning calendar may differ slightly from a distribution calendar but in the end, both let you quickly see where things stand and stay on track. This keeps all team members accountable and should improve your content’s effectiveness by ensuring all initial goals are met during the development and distribution process.
This is where you keep track of everything that’s in production, who’s working on what step, when items are due, etc. I’ve found when creating a planning calendar; I need the following information:
You’ll want to have deadlines associated with the necessary steps and note if they’re concurrent or dependent upon each other. How you manage this calendar is up to you. Some use shared Google Docs or spreadsheets; others use subscription-based software programs. I’ve used both options and honestly, either can work, though the subscription-based software programs are better if you’re going to deploy content through them and want to be able to manage everything in one place. But they come with a price tag that can be limiting for brands with smaller budgets. You can efficiently manage the content planning process without the big software tools. They’re great to have but not a requirement.
I do highly recommend using a shared document that everyone on the team has read-only rights with one member (Editor, Manager, etc. whoever is ultimately responsible for the project) being the only one with editing rights. It’s up to you what tool you use but in my experience, limiting the editing capabilities to one person keeps things more honest and on time.
A sample content planning calendar used by the team.
Similar to a content planning calendar, a content distribution calendar lets you keep track of each piece of content that’s been written and ensure it's published at the right time. Using a distribution calendar is key to ensuring your distribution and amplification plans are followed through by the greater team.
Each client should have a unique content distribution calendar. I track the following items on my client’s calendars:
I also track baseline analytical data on the distribution calendar, so it’s easy to review and see trends. I’ll look at the one day and 30-day metrics. How popular was the post, did it get shares? If so, where? How many, etc.
Analyzing the results and adjusting strategy is the final piece of content marketing but it’s one that seems to be frequently missed. Including performance metrics in our distribution calendars helps us determine if there’s a day of the week or time of day that’s better for a client.
Here's a sample content distribution calendar that can be customized for your business or blog.
Do you regularly use a content planning or distribution calendar? If so, have you found it helps your team run more efficiently? If you have questions about establishing a content planning process or need help creating or distributing content, the team at Etched Marketing would love to help. Visit our Contact Us page, give us a little bit of info (you know, how to get back to you) and we’ll be in touch to start the conversation. We’d love to help your team too.