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If you’ve been blogging for any amount of time, chances are you’ve heard the term ‘content calendar’ once or twice and perhaps you’re even using a version of a content calendar without even realising (I know I was for a long time, I just didn’t know what it was called). Or maybe you’ve heard of a content calendar but you’re not really sure what one is or if you even need one.
When you start a blog it all seems so simple, you write a post, you publish a post and voila – blogging is a go. But then you start to learn about the different marketing methods and you hear you’re supposed to be growing your email list and creating landing pages and running a Facebook group and promoting your posts and pinning, tweeting, sharing and stumbling this that and the other and before you know it the overwhelm kicks in.
Enter – the Content Calendar.
To be honest, I don’t know what I would do without one, how I would even function or decipher all the craziness that is going on in my head if I didn’t first start with a content calendar.
So What Is a Content Calendar?
Put simply, a content calendar is your plan of attack. Also known as an editorial calendar, it serves as your way of being able to plan out your content for the upcoming days, weeks or months so you’re not always working ‘on the fly’. This allows you to not only be able to plan what’s happening in advance, but also allows you to get ahead in your writing and schedule out your blog posts so you’re not always working down to the wire.
Your content calendar can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. I usually plan my content calendar out 3 months in advance in a spreadsheet with a date to publish, the post title and a column for whether or not I’ve written the post yet and whether or not the post has been published. It’s pretty simple, but highly effective. Here’s what it looks like:
You could also have columns for your social media blurbs here too so you can even write in advance your social media promos.
But Why Do I Need A Content Calendar?
Consistency is key. It’s that simple. As a blogger, if you want to blog for more than a hobby, if you want to drive serious traffic to your site and create a business from your blog, then your number one tool is your content. That is what your readers come to you for, that is how you establish your brand and that is how you connect your page visits with your profits. Your content. And posting content consistently is the only way you will see your business grow.
Sure you could create a beautiful website with fancy design, gorgeous Pinterest graphics, amazing free downloads and the best products ever… but no one is going to see it if you can’t get traffic to your site. And consistency drives traffic.
What a content calendar allows you to do is be consistent with less stress and provides some level of accountability.
How many times have you sat wondering about what you’re going to write for your next post, only to abandon your efforts because you couldn’t come up with anything or you weren’t feeling creative enough? What about all those amazing post ideas you’ve had but didn’t write down anywhere and now you’ve forgotten them?
Your content calendar can save you from this cycle of last minute publishing and creative stress.
How Does It Actually Work?
Okay, here’s how the actual practical application of my content calendar works.
The first thing I do is brainstorm a whole heap of blog post ideas. I like to have at least 100 post ideas on hand so I’m covered for whatever creative mood I’m in. Sometimes I’m more inclined to want to write a tutorial, other’s I’d rather write a more heartfelt piece. Regardless, all ideas go into one of the spreadsheet pages. I also include a column for what category of my blog that post is suited to and a column for any notes I have (which could be as simple as one line or a whole paragraph).
Then I map out the dates I want to post on for the next 3 months. This will change for you depending on how many times a week you post. At present I post twice a week minimum, more if I’m super organised. So I create a new page on my spreadsheet and enter a date column with all the dates I want to publish over the next quarter. I also add in a ‘Post Title’ column and a ‘Written’ and ‘Published’ column.
Then I start by filling in any time sensitive topics. These could be topics relating to holidays like Christmas or Easter, they could be New Year’s topics or even end of school topics. Whatever is relevant to your niche, fill these posts and dates in first.
Then I start filling in the rest with blog post titles. I aim to keep a good variety of content being published at any time and this is where having the ‘categories’ column can be beneficial on your previous spreadsheet page. I can sort all of my posts by category and make sure I’m publishing a good amount of content from each category.
There’s something about having the posts with a date next to them, in writing, that makes me feel more accountable and more determined to make it all happen. Using a content calendar makes me more organised, more in control, gives me more freedom to grow my business without the stress of worrying about what to write next.
What could a content calendar do for your blog?