Digital Marketing Blog

How To Create A Content Calendar For 2017

  • By Brad Poirier
  • 09 Dec, 2016

Plus a free content calendar template

How To Create A Content Calendar For 2017
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

First: DOWNLOAD THE FREE 2017 CONTENT CALENDAR TEMPLATE and then come back to this page and we'll go through this together! ( opens in new window )

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.

Breeze Digital Media News & Resources

By Brad Poirier 18 Oct, 2017

Deadlines. Employees. Networking. Accounting. Advertising. HR. – The Party Planning Committee.

As a small business owner, you likely wear many hats.

“Wait, now I have to wear a marketing hat also?”

Well the short answer is no, you don’t have to. It really depends on how competitive you want to be in your industry.

Your big competitors invest lots of time and money into marketing their business, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Outsourcing your digital marketing to a digital marketing agency can both improve your lead quality and improve your overall ROI.

Let me explain.

By Brad Poirier 15 Aug, 2017
We are a visual society, so you should be using at least one of these options on your website.

Just like website design ranges from no use of images to the overuse of them, same is true with icons today. More than ever, some webpages are being cluttered with icons, that often add no context to the page or just add nothing to the user experience.

When is it good to use an icon on your website? Here's a few criteria I follow plus some resources for putting icons on your website.
By Brad Poirier 13 Jul, 2017
What’s more important to you: A shiny trophy for being number one on Google or a boat load of new clients coming your way.

Yes, we have said before that the number one position on Google gets 33% of the traffic for that keyword, but what do you see coming up as number one now-a-days?

Local Directories come up first. Do a quick Google search for anything local business related, for instance "restaurants near me". I did this search, and not one result on the first page was from a local business website. ALL of the first 10 results were local review sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and OpenTable.

Now to be fair, there were three local results that appeared first, in what we call the Google Snack Pack. Before the website results, Google displays three locations from Google Maps, which is also very important. For websites though, it was all local directories.
By Brad Poirier 18 May, 2017
There's pros and cons to this type of Facebook post. The pro, well, you're making an attempt to create business. The cons? How do you set an expiration date on that? Even if you indicate one in the post, there could be that customer that just says "oh, I didn't see that". Further, how do you keep track of it? Are you going to write down on a sheet of paper every time someone comes in and says "Hey, I saw this post on Facebook". Also, not everyone wants to mention that. People want to present coupons and get a deal, they don't want to announce that they're getting a deal.

There is a much better way to accomplish what you are trying to do. You may have seen it, used it, tried it, but here's how to get the most out of the post type called "Offer". Watch the video below to see an example or read below.
By Brad Poirier 10 May, 2017

Chances are the website you’re using for your business is using Wordpress. Why? Because right now,  Wordpress powers 26% of the web   ...worldwide. That’s an overwhelming market share. In the past, my experience using Wordpress has been for some personal blogs, never as a commercial website. For the past few years working as a web designer, I have been using a version of  Zurb’s Foundation Framework   to develop websites. I’ve stayed away from Wordpress for many reasons, which I’ll explain below.

I figured though: If Wordpress powers 26% of the web, it can’t be all that bad though right? Wrong. Sure, Wordpress has it’s advantages, namely in the blogging area. It still is the go-to platform of choice for blogging. Here’s the thing though: Wordpress was never meant to be a website builder. It just evolved that way. What started off as an independent project grew into the global name it is today. The entire platform though, is supported mainly by community members. Try calling a Wordpress support number. Nope. Doesn’t exist.

To really put Wordpress to the test though, I had to actually go through and build a full site, not just a blog page. Well certainly, I wasn’t going to waste my time at work building a client’s website on Wordpress. I decided to build one for myself. I have a photography hobby, and so I chose to build a photography portfolio. 15 hours later, I have an OK performing website with 3 pages setup plus some gallery pages. I am a professional designer and it took me 15 hours to get it somewhat polished.

I logged my experience every step of the way, and so here’s all of my pain points and some of the positives that came out of this experience. Overall I can tell you, though, it’s about as horrible as I expected it to be. I am more certain now than ever, that I never want to develop websites using Wordpress. I can see why large Wordpress sites are expensive to develop. Development costs are almost entirely billed by time. The longer it takes your web developer to get from blank to finished, the more it will cost you. (FYI, my development time and costs are substantially lower than industry averages)

By Brad Poirier 07 Mar, 2017
Did you know that the average consumer checks your website at least two times from two different devices before they journey into your location? Over 60% of searches start  from a smartphone device , but there is still a great amount of desktop and tablet traffic coming in. Why is that? Some of that desktop traffic is the original, organic traffic yes. However, a lot of it is a returning customer. Perhaps you're a kitchen remodeler , someone searches for "kitchen remodeling" and they find your website from their smartphone. They're not ready to buy yet though. So they bookmark or they email their significant other the web address. When they get home, they venture to their desktop or start using their tablet to continue the research.

Most (amateur) web designers only pay attention to the desktop view. Sad face: many web designers still build websites that are desktop only, they're not building responsive websites that are mobile-optimized. The worst part is they're often designing this on a 20" or larger monitor. Of course it's easy to design a great site when you have 20" of a digital canvas to work with. The real Picasso comes out when you can take that same great experience and display that on a 4" screen, AND to optimize it for as slow as a 3G connection. There's a big difference between your site being mobile-friendly and mobile-optimized. Mobile-friendly usually just means making sure the content is formatted to scroll up and down and no content stretches beyond the width of the smartphone screen. Mobile-optimized is taking the same content from your desktop and optimizing it for a mobile experience. This is important now more than ever, as Google has started to ONLY SEO Index your mobile site and not your desktop site.

So that's the why I design websites using four screens. You might interested in knowing what are the screens I design with, and how I use each one of them to turn your website from blah to Yahhh! I only build websites that are responsive. I check how the content looks and how the content interacts along the way. Below are the screens that I use to check this with and more importantly, the order in which I do this.

Screen #1 - Smartphone
You might be shocked to think that the first screen I check my work on is a mobile device. If you were a bakery and 60% of your revenue came from donuts, would you start your morning by prepping the cookies and pastries? You start with your money maker! Well, since over 60% of all Google searches start from a mobile device, why would you start with the device that people aren't using as much? I'll tell you why, it's because you're working with an amateur designer. Or perhaps you're working with a legacy designer who won't budge. When I design in a mobile-first environment, I can truly focus on that experience and maximizing it's potential. We focus on getting the most important information right away. For most businesses this means placing a "TAP-TO-CALL" style button at the top of the page. Nothing is more frustrating than having to remember the number in your head and quickly double-tap-your-home-button to get to the phone dialer and attempt to get every number in there correctly. If location visits are important we also make sure there are easy-to-find buttons for loading your bulit-in GPS navigation.

What do you think the next screen is going to be?

Screen #2 - Tablet
Did you guess that correctly? It's only natural to work my way up the screen size. Now that I've mastered the experience for mobile, I can open up canvas a little here and work on the tablet view. Tablets today range from about 7"-10" and yes there are those two outliers that are around 13" , but they're still a tablet, at least according to the internet browser being used. A growing trend for the tablet view is using what we call the "hamburger" menu. That's the 3-line menu button you might see in the upper right or left hand corner of the screen. We layout the navigation in both the hamburger format and the traditional horizontal navigation. It all depends on the business and the goal of your website. That's why we custom design all of our sites starting with a 1-on-1 consultation . Since a tablet is still inherently a mobile device where the user interacts using only a touchscreen, we still are focusing on easy, tappable buttons. Consumers are used to tapping on items with their tablets, we make it super easy for that to happen. Gone are the days of only making links available from within the text. Consumers need clear call-to-action buttons to guide them along their buying journey.

Screens #3 & #4 - Laptop & Large Monitor
Technically I'm designing and coding everything on my large monitor, but the testing is being done on multiple screens. However, when I start to design for the desktop, I'm using my laptop which dual outputs to a 21" cinema display. This allows me to have the freedom of design but to see how it will interact on a 13" monitor (which is about the average monitor size for a small laptop). The most important content is "above the fold". So if it's not designed right, some of the content that looks good on 21" would normally get cut off on a smaller screen. We make sure that doesn't happen. The desktop design is where it does get a lot more fun, and more roomy. It's like trying to pack a bunch of moving boxes into a cargo van when you've been using your 1988 Corolla earlier that day. Ahh, you can breathe a little. However, use this space carefully. Remember, with great space comes great responsibility. I've seen many web designers who came from a graphic design background. It is honestly a natural progression, but it's an entirely different approach. Use a white space or negative space is critical here. So if you're used to working with that graphic designer who loves using tons of colors and turning text into metal like beveled art and everything else that came with cheap Photoshop work from 10 years ago, they're in the wrong arena. You have about 5 seconds to capture someone's attention before they'll decide to leave the website. Now, a lot of that comes from excellent copywriting and headline writing , but bad design choices will confuse the consumer and cause them to leave and go to the next result in line.

So there you have it. The method to my madness. Some people look at website design and say why not , I look at website design and say why ? Rule of thumb: Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. I'm on the web all day long. I can easily spot a badly performing website, in terms of conversion. Today, you're website is all about conversion . Your business can't afford to run a wiki-pedia website. It needs to be a lean, mean, lead-generating machine. This applies to all business websites.

What are some examples of good and bad website design that you have seen?
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