Why, How, and What for Content Calendars
A content calendar has become a must-have for me and my blogging because my freelance writing business has grown. I used to post on my blogs willy-nilly. I lacked consistency and I lacked themes. I’ve learned that these matter if I am going to stay consistent with this blog. Why bother on my personal brand blog when I have enough work to keep me busy?
The more you write, the better you get!
So here is a quick blog for you on why a content calendar matters, how to set it up, and what to include.
Why use a content calendar
A content calendar simply schedules what you’re going to write, whether it’s for your personal blog, a business, or a client. It helps with organization and it keeps you posting. You lose readers when your content stagnates. You also lose your audience if you’re repetitive or without a purpose. This is where themes come in handy, but that’s a future post (which I’ll go back and link once I’ve written it).
To sum it up: use a content calendar for organization, consistency, and purpose.
How to set up a content calendar
Start with the calendar that works best for you. Personally, I use Google Calendar like crazy. I have several calendars all linked to my Google account so they display at once, color coordinated. What kinds of calendars, you wonder? The family calendar, the school calendar (my husband is a Principal so I’ll create a new one when my kids start public school), a money calendar (bills, direct deposits, etc), writing tasks, and on.
I do not use Google Calendar for my content calendar. This is because, for me, I want the tangible experience of writing it down. I have a calendar hanging on the wall above my monitors. I bought it at T.J.Maxx. Because deals, yo!
Now, follow a couple of helpful steps to determine what goes on the calendar. BTW, I’m not an expert in this, but have my own experience of trying things out to share so tell me what you’ve found works best for you!
- Brainstorm content. This one deserves some sub-bullets…
- What matches with your brand? Your persona? Your niche? Do you portray yourself or your business as casual or serious? How do you want your content to reflect this?
- What needs to you address for customers? Are you a trusted source for something particular in your industry
- Decide if you want to follow certain formats. Perhaps you want to post news-based blogs. Or maybe you’re into writing how-to articles. Do you have webinars or videos to share?
- Share stories. People connect to stories. My mom and I have a business hiring musicians and our story is #lifeofastudiomusician because guess what?! People don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes of recording CDs, playing at concerts, prepping for hosted events, and so on. We share the story through our social media. Go us!
- Create a calendar for one to n months. For me, I typically fill in about two months.
- Adjust the calendar for trends. Remember, you want to be relevant and if you’re rigidly sticking to the schedule, you won’t address current trends that affect you. Also, you can totally change direction if you find your analytics are slipping. If it’s not working, change it!
What to write from your content calendar
Now that you have your game plan, what should you do with a note on that calendar such as what I have for mine: “LE.com content creation post 1 – content calendar”. For me, this means a blog post on this site (I have a personal blog I also put on my calendar). For you… it could mean…
- A long-form blog post, between 1,200-2,000 words with carefully organized headers, bullet points, lists, and images, because that’s a lot for a reader to digest.
- A short post, between 300-800 words that gets right to the point and shares something actionable.
- An Instagram post that shares your visual story.
- A Twitter post with appropriate hashtags.
- A Facebook post using a good image (because the algorithm likes pics).
- Another resource that can build blog traffic such as SlideShare, commenting on other blogs, contributing to online forums, guest posting, YouTube videos, podcasts, and on!
Good luck. Have fun, and let me know how you do this!