How To Create A Content Calendar For 2017
- By Brad Poirier
- 09 Dec, 2016
Plus a free content calendar template
You've heard that 'Content is King.' Well if that's true, then a content calendar is the Queen behind it. Great content just doesn't produce itself, much the same way a beautiful lawn doesn't just grow itself. Producing great content and producing it consistently takes careful planning and thought
. It's no wonder that 77% of marketers will increase content production in the next 12 months (LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community). Yet, 51% of marketers indicate that lack of time stops them from producing content and 50% have trouble producing a variety of content. A content calendar solves all of that. We have a free template for you to download and use and a step-by-step instruction on how to use it.
The Goal Of A Content Calendar
A content calendar is a resource, one that can be shared among your entire marketing team. Or if your marketing team is small or just one person, it's a resource to keep track of your content schedule. Why use a content calendar at all? It allows you to quickly visualize a list of content you want to publish through the year
(or even just the month), rather than very sporadically creating and publishing content or doing so with no thought to a timeline or an effective publishing date. This allows you to:
- plan content around events
- visualize gaps in content calendar
- have plenty of content ready
For the most part, the further you can plan out your content schedule the better position you are in to provide a consistent set of content for your customers and prospects to consume. This builds your brand and the author as a thought-leader in your industry. Look at a 2017 calendar for your industry. Are there dates you can tie into? Put this information into your content calendar to prepare great content around those events.
While the content calendar template we offer it lists for everyday of the year, but you can use it to plan content on a weekly, monthly or even quarterly basis. Does your industry move quickly? You may need to react and change your content calendar.
How To Set Up Your Content Calendar In 6 Easy Steps
Step 1: Identify Your Key Topics
This will probably be your toughest step, but if you can get through this one, I promise you the rest are much easier! This is the toughest step, because it's where you need to define your main topics for the year. Start by filling out the month that's coming up next from when you download this template.
Step 2: What Type Of Content Are Your Producing?
Content by definition is anything that's consumed by a visitor. Content usually comes in the form of blog posts or articles but can be and should be much more than that. Infographics are much easier for readers to digest than reading a lengthy article (though the article usually accompanies that anyway). Videos are becoming increasingly easy to put together. You already have a video production studio in your pocket! Have you thought about putting together an eBook or are you doing research on your industry? Put together a white-paper that you can share on your LinkedIn after. Based on the events going on through the month you can discover what type of content would resonate best with your audience.
Step 3: Content Details - The Meat & Potatoes Of It All
Here is where you want to list a few "sub-topics". These will be your subheadings, your bullet points or at least a roadmap of where to write down your thoughts when it comes time to create this content. Reference it when you are sourcing images or creating a script for that video or producing graphics for your infographic. Keep this somewhat short and slightly more narrow than your main topic or title.
Step 4: Identify Your Keywords
This is a critical step. It's what's going to get you found on Google. Can you guess what keywords I have picked for this blog post? If you guessed "content calendar for 2017"
you would be very correct. Your keyword(s) should be in several parts of the content itself. Don't overdue it or Google will actually penalize you, but you want to have a good balance. If you're looking for an easy way to write SEO rich content, start with a title, think of your keywords and then work backwards writing the content around that title and it's keywords.
Step 5: What will you offer
Not every piece of content needs to linked to an offer, but you should offer something. Offers are the currency of leads generation. In order for a prospective customer to give up their information you need to 'buy it' with an offer. After all, what's the point of producing all of this content if it's not to acquire new clients! An offer can be in the form of an eBook, a White Paper, a template (like this calendar template) or a free consultation for your services.
Step 6: How will you share it
Don't skip this last step. Figure out before
publishing your content where you want that topic shared. Some topics and also some content is best shared on only certain networks. For instance, a white paper is best shared on LinkedIn for a B2B type of business. A video is obviously best shared on YouTube and (hosted on) but it's good to upload that same video on Facebook. You'll want to embed the YouTube video on your blog page but lives natively on each platform that allows for it. You may even take a small clip of that and place it as an Instagram post with a link to the full video. Infographics are best shared on Pinterest. You can place it on Facebook, but it's not something people will consume directly on Facebook, rather you'll need to provide a link to it.
This step is where you can also source your best thumbnail image for each social network. Here's a great article on 5 social media tools
to create graphics for sharing.
What are your biggest challenges in creating content? Or your own suggestions for having a consistent content schedule? We'd love to hear them in the comments below.