I’ve said it time and time again…
Content marketing takes a lot of time, effort, and money.
To streamline the production of your company’s content and organize your ideas, you’ll need to document your strategy.
Countless organizations use content calendars.
And, there are a lot of content calendar templates online.
I’m going to save you a lot of time by showing you how I created my basic yet effective content calendar.
Trust me. This is going to be some incredible advice.
Let’s dive on in.
Table of Contents:
- Step #1 – Use Google Sheets
- Step #2 – Fill in The Data
- Step #3 – Perform Keyword and Topical Research
- Step #4 – Create Outlines for Topics
- Step #5 – Schedule Your Topics
- Step #6 – Add Collaborators
Step #1 – Use Google Sheets
Google Sheets is basically the cloud version of Microsoft Excel.
As long as you have an internet connection, you can edit your sheets in real-time along with collaborators.
This makes it super easy for anyone to access and make live changes to sheets without having to send them repeatedly to the right people for edits.
For this reason, Google Sheets is going to be our content calendar platform.
If you have basic spreadsheet creation skills (even with Microsoft Excel), this tool is going to be easy to use.
If you don’t have these skills, leave a comment and I’ll answer any question you have.
Alright, let’s get started!
If you have a Google account, you can automatically access Google Sheets by clicking the menu button right next to your Google profile picture.
As you can see, Google Sheets is visible.
Click on it and you’ll be directed to the dashboard.
Click “blank” once you’re here.
Once that’s done, you’ll see a basic spreadsheet.
This is going to be the skeleton of our content calendar.
In the next step, I’m going to show you how to fill it out.
Step #2 – Fill in The Data
Alright, it’s now time to fill in the data.
In the top columns, we’re going to create categories for our content calendar.
Here’s what these categories should be:
- Article Name: Put the name of your article in this category.
- Article Type: Is the article a blog, whitepaper, or eBook? Make sure you specify that in this category.
- ETA: This is when the article will be completed.
- Publish ETA: This is when the article will be published.
- Writer: This is the person writing the article.
- Editor: This is the person editing the article.
- Outline: This will be the link to the article outline.
Here is what your content calendar should look like with these categories.
To give yourself more room to write in the spreadsheet, make your categories larger.
To do this, simply place your mouse on the cell (A, B, C, etc) and drag it over to resize it.
Your basic content calendar is now ready to go.
Of course, you’ll still need to learn how to use it.
In the next step, I’m going to go over how you can populate this calendar with your own research.
Step #3 – Perform Keyword and Topical Research
I know that any type of SEO research can sound daunting to an unfamiliar person.
The reality is that keyword and topical research aren’t difficult.
If you’re a business owner, chances are your marketing department is already doing this.
If they’re not, then they should start.
Conducting research is the only way content marketing yields results.
Ideally, you’ll need to know what types of keywords or search terms potential customers are searching for.
Then, you use your research to create content topics that will cater to them.
That’s how it works.
See, that’s not very hard to understand.
Topical research, on the other hand, is simply a process for finding article topics.
You can do the same by conducting keyword research, but I like to take it a step further by using a tool named BuzzSumo to find out what my audience likes to read.
As you can see, all you have to do is type in a keyword in the search bar and dozens of popular articles will show up.
BuzzSumo will show how many times the articles have been shared and liked on social media.
If you purchase the premium version, you can even see the number of backlinks each article received.
Why is this important?
Information from keyword and topical research will help you brainstorm possible article topics and model these topics after successful online content.
Step #4 – Create Outlines for Topics
Once you’re done conducting research, you can fill out the categories at your leisure.
Next comes creating outlines for your topics.
It’s important to make sure that all of your ideas are documented to help collaborators see your vision.
If someone else in your company is going to be doing all of the writing or participating in another way, shouldn’t they know all of the details about your proposed topics?
You can use Google Docs (a cloud version of Microsoft Word) to create an outline.
Here is what your outline should consist of:
- Proposed Headers: Come up with at least three variants of your article’s title. Work with your marketing team on choosing the right one that will shine.
- Word Count: How long is the article going to be? Write that down in this category.
- Tone: How do you want to communicate the article? Do you want the article to sound like a text message or a technical blog?
- Points of Emphasis: These are going to be your talking points (and the subheaders) in your article. Note them down in this category.
- Keywords: Remember the keyword research you compiled? Write down all of your target keywords here along with the number of times you want to add them to your article.
- References: What do you want to model your article after? Do you have any sources? List all of your references here so that you can go back to them anytime you need to.
- Notes: Communicate any notes to the collaborators here.
- Promotion: Write down a strategy for promoting your content.
It’s up to you whether you want to create a brief or extensive outline.
Whatever helps you organize your thoughts effectively will suffice.
Step #5 – Schedule Your Topics
Many people always ask…
“How many blogs do I need to write every month to see results?”
“How often should I publish marketing collateral such as eBooks, whitepapers, and case studies?”
These are great questions without a definite answer.
Research from HubSpot concluded that companies who publish 16+ blogs per month are more successful than those that don’t.
My rule of thumb here is to find out what works for your brand.
Start be publishing twice a week and adjust your frequencies based on what’s effective.
Once you have your frequencies down, you can put crank your posts out instantly.
The content calendar template I provided allows you to change your publish ETA instantly without moving a lot of things around.
Step #6 – Add Collaborators
Again, this basic content calendar makes it simple to add any collaborator you want.
All you have to do is click “Share” in the top right corner of Google Sheets.
Then, you can add the email address of the collaborator.
You can also generate a link that will allow anyone to access and edit the content calendar.
You can do whatever you want with this calendar template.
Add your collaborators, and give it a try today!
What Do You Think?
This basic content calendar can help anyone organize and plan their content marketing campaign in advance with collaborators.
What do you think?
If you have anything to add or any questions, feel free to leave them below.
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Founder of Blog Seminary, a content marketing agency based in Memphis, TN. Also a proud husband and father of two.