Building A Solid Content Calendar

In my Friday Tips on February 23rd, I talked about creating a content calendar to avoid the dreaded:

What do I write about today?

This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive process, depending on the kind of content that you put out. But like meal planning or book outlines, it really helps to have a calendar in place so that you don’t have to worry about what’s next.

Content CalendarStep 1 to building a content calendar — Know your audience

It’s critical. If you don’t know who you are writing the content for (and ultimately who your end customer is), you’re not going to make effective choices in content topics.

Step 2 to building a content calendar — Review everything you’ve produced to date

In the aim of saving time and money, you should review every bit of content you’ve produced to date to see if there is something you can reuse or recycle reuse or recycle, if there are pieces that are relevant again because of some reality in the world, or if you’ve talked too much about certain topics and need to go in a new direction.

Another aspect you need to consider is the success of previous content. You might love your post a year ago on growing mushrooms on a log but if it generated no interest, skip that one.

Make a list with two columns: recycle and avoid. Then list each post under one of the two.

Step 3 to building a content calendar — Create a calendar

What that calendar looks like is up to you. There are free templates offered by some of the big names in content, like Hubspot, CoSchedule and so on. A quick search will guide you to those.

Me? I use a Google Sheets file. Simple, straightforward, easy to update. It’s also shareable with others who are going to be engaging in content on your behalf (hint, hint…)

It looks something like this: 

contentcalendar

Step 4 to building a content calendar — Decide on your topics

This one is the toughest step. You want to have some sort of strategy. A method to your madness, as it were. As I said before, putting out content just for the sake of it, because some freaky ghost told you that you should, is pointless. It won’t do anything for you and you won’t enjoy the process.

Some points to consider:

  • What do your customers need to know / want to know / have to know? Can you teach your customers or potential customers something that they don’t know? Can you respond to a need that they have?
  • What are some issues in your industry that you could speak about. Example? I was recently asked about copyright issues with ghostwriting. So I’ll probably add that to my calendar in the near future.
  • Are there any seasonal (read: non-evergreen) considerations that you need to acknowledge? Example? If you’re writing lifestyle posts, you can’t ignore the various holidays throughout the year! You might like to… but you can’t!

Brainstorm topics leveraged from your ‘recycle’ list from step 2 and add in ideas. Check out competitors and what they’re doing. You don’t want to copy them, but looking over their blogs might give you some ideas.

Finally, ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS, have a notebook and pen handy. Whether that’s the the note file in your phone, or a physical book, you will have ideas pop into your head at the oddest times. Me? It’s one of two places. In the shower—I need a whiteboard in there because my sticky notes keep getting soaked—or at 2 a.m. But if you wait, you’ll forget, so jot down a few notes and keep on soaping… or sleeping…

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