Why you Need a Content Calendar
Let me take you through a scenario we are all familiar with. The clock is ticking, and your readers are in urgent need of new material. You’ll get around to it, once the house is clean, the washing is done, the children are raised, and you’re comfortable in retirement.
Need another scenario? Here you go.
A mountain of work rests in front of you, and you jump from one project to the next, distractions at every corner. Maybe a deadline has moved up or an important client is lost among the masses. Deadline day approaches and you suddenly realise you’ve got mere days to nail it. Can you do it in time and provide the quality content you’ve promised?
Okay, I’m exaggerating.
But the looming thought that something — anything — needs to be written is unpleasant and can deter the creative process.
Balancing work, family, and relationships is difficult and when you rely on that creative spark to do your job, it’s overwhelmingly frustrating to sit down and go blank when you’ve managed to carve out some time.
You want to write. You just aren’t sure exactly *what* you want to write. You reflect on days your creativity was blooming and the flow of ideas was endless.
Now, in the light, bright harshness of today, you’ve got nothing. This is where a content calendar comes in.
Corral those sparks of enlightenment into one file in which you can slot those nuggets of ingenuity into specified areas, waiting to be addressed. And never again let a deadline day sneak up on you.
With a carefully scheduled calendar that you create, you can plan for future posts, prioritise projects, and even allot time for your personal life — it’s your calendar, you can do what you want with it.
No more wracking your brain trying to recall that fleeting thought, that one topic you know will resonate with your audience. Goodbye to frantic moments in front of your computer as you peruse similar blogs, hoping for inspiration that may not come.
Content is king, and if you can provide quality content, with the help of your newly created content calendar, you can ensure your blog stays relevant, topical, and a trusted source of content for your readers.
If you remain unconvinced, read through my 7 ways a content calendar can help you, your blog, and your business.
How a Content Calendar can help you
1. Consistency = Reliability
Readers are far more likely to stick around if you publish quality content regularly. Consistency cements you in their minds as a consistent, reliable creator and you’ll become a fixture in their online social habits.
According to Curata, 91% of the most successful business bloggers publish content weekly, or even more often. Adopt this frequency and see benefits — write 24–51 posts and see your blog traffic jump by up to 30%.
Readers have expectations of you, so push yourself to meet those expectations by sticking to a schedule.
Churning out content consistently is important, but your audience also wants to feel like they’re interacting with a real person. We’re so inundated with bots and automated messaging that we can become suspicious and disconnected if we feel we’re being fobbed off. It just feels good to know we’re being heard by someone real.
Your content calendar not only reminds you to provide your audience with the content they’re expecting, but also to engage with them and track how that content is received.
Saving time and maintaining authentic connections with your audience means you can create better-targeted pieces — and hopefully more of them.
Find what works so you can duplicate the process and everybody wins.
2. Prioritisation — Be more Goal-Oriented
The heaps of work can be overwhelming when not scheduled or categorised… the different demands of you pepper your thoughts, fighting for the front-row seat of your mind.
This static energy morphs into panic and you decide on one project then jump to another job until you crash, maybe picking an easy assignment that you know could wait.
Prioritising content based on deadlines, length of project, and depth of subject matter will allow you to evaluate what needs doing immediately and what can wait.
I’m guilty of this — I’m in the midst of creating a SkillShare course on ‘Freelance Writing as a Career’ and there are cobwebs growing on my word docs… Why? Because I haven’t fit it into my content calendar. Don’t be like me.
3. Lead Your Team
If you find yourself managing a group of people, a content calendar is a great way to take control and exhibit some leadership.
In a group of people, as efficient and goal-oriented as they may be, there is often a lull in productivity as they wait for someone to take centre stage.
There’s no need for endless emails and CC-ing people, anxiously awaiting replies; no more questions regarding who’s in charge of what and notifying a dozen people about changes in a particular course of action.
Manage your team with ease and efficiency: one link, one group, one calendar. Not hundreds of emails containing soon-to-be obsolete information.
Colour-coded blocks and easy-to-read plans appeal to humans as visual creatures in a way blocks of text on dull white space never could.
Encourage your team to participate. According to Databox, in 55% of organizations, the editorial calendar is managed by just one person, but approximately 90% hoped for further communication and contribution that would have a positive impact.
4. Clarity to Create Compelling Content
It’s a battle to the death to get your content ranking high on Google’s SERP; we're all searching for the best keywords to reach our audience.
These are the technicals of this business, but don’t let the technicalities, algorithms, and guidelines mute your creative genius — spend more time in creative mode and less time lost in detail.
A laid-out plan will lend you the clarity to look at your time objectively to plan your projects, the intricacies laid out so you can move forward and let the creativity (i.e. the fun bit) take over… That’s likely why you were hired in the first place.
Readers and clients want compelling content with keywords so artfully interspersed that they go undiscovered. Don’t let the threat of inefficiency kill your elusive-at-times creativity.
5. Reuse, Recycle, but don’t reduce
Remember all that time you spend on that feature, step-by-step guide, blog post you’re particularly proud of? It delivered solid results, but does it have to stop there?
Take an eco-approach to sharing content: go back through your calendar and find projects you can expand on.
Maybe a follow-up feature, an expansion on an in-depth topic even further to create an ‘ultimate guide’ or even an ebook to offer readers as an add-on gift.
You can update old content with more relevant keywords, group together old posts into one article, or guest post on someone else’s site to reach a new audience.
Sharing updated content enough times will cement you in a reader’s mind as an authority on the subject, one who keeps readers up to date on the events and provides a current, in-the-know voice.
Take for example this post. This could be expanded on, securing its own proud-as-punch place on the front page of my website, become a 7-chapter ultimate guide, or even an ebook that would benefit writers interested in creating less and promoting more.
It sounds like a lot of work for content you’ve already put out there, but sometimes you have to spend time to save time.
6. Track Time Spent Well or Wasted
I get a little trill of fear and excitement when I’m approached by a client to try my hand at something new. It’s fun to be challenged… But don’t let a gung-ho, guns-blazing attitude be detrimental to your productivity.
What is sometimes masquerading as an ‘adventure’ is actually too much work for what it’s worth. Too much time spent for not nearly enough financial gain.
Though this isn’t just a financial issue: sometimes a client is riding high on the fumes of a new, breakthrough idea that they haven’t planned well, but their enthusiasm is infectious.
You go round and round with them, emails pinging back and forth about what it is they want, but you can’t provide their needs because they don’t know what they’re seeking.
Track your projects: check off what’s completed and really observe the ones that don’t seem to be going anywhere. If you’re seeing blocks of time devoted to something but there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, ask yourself why.
Review it case by case. This objective approach can help you tell what’s possibly been holding you back.
You’ll also be able to identify exactly what is working. For example, that project that took less time than you anticipated but is delivering well in terms of results Can this be utilised again?
Is it a type of evergreen content that will bring value more than once? Can you continue with the topic, possibly a follow-up post that will generate more results, thereby you gain on previously completed work?
7. Track Performance
This isn’t just for marketers — it’s for anyone with a business or online presence who wants exposure and has to fight for it.
There’s no point in employing campaigns or testing a new marketing channel if you don’t track its progress.
Use your calendar to track metrics and properly gauge success so you don’t end up wasting precious time, like patterns in how your content is received or if there are more optimal days to post.
Employing this tactic will allow you to spot what works and what doesn’t so you can create and tweak content that your audience really wants.
FREE TOOLS TO USE –
CoSchedule content calendar template –
With this template, you can colour code and manage projects, posts, email newsletters, webinars, social media campaigns, and podcast episodes. The list goes on.
Marketing campaigns can be scheduled and managed, featuring an option that shows only elements associated with that campaign.
Filter content by the type of project, colour label, team member, etc.
Google Calendar –
You can view it as an actual calendar, or switch to the agenda view, depending on your preferences.
Share your calendar with team members and assign different levels of permission per member.
For on-the-go colleagues and collaborators, use the ‘Find a Time’ or ‘Suggested Times’ features and let Google do the work in finding a window of time for one another.
This is just one of Google Calendar’s features. Check out the rest and decide if this is the content calendar for you.
For people with a more visual outlook less interest in the traditional calendar view. It’s flexible, versatile, and uses a process of stages with colour coding to differentiate between projects based on a number of factors.
(You also have the option to enable the calendar view, if that’s your preference.)
We’d all like to easy-going, laidback approach to content creation, but we have to admit an unfair truth — our schedules just won’t allow it. Take the unstructured but leisurely path and you’ll inevitably see your work suffer.
Structure is key to maintaining your brand and implementing the different strategies you use to keep your content in front of your audience.
And don’t be turned off by the thought of valuable time spent setting up your content calendar. Time well spent pays off, and it won’t be long before you can reap the benefits.