Blogging is standard practice for any business wanting to grow online. In fact, it’s become central for successful content marketing. Why? Read this post to find out.

If you’ve been following our content marketing blog you’ll know how to write a great blog post, what evergreen content is and why you should be creating it. You’ll even know how important categories and tags are for your blog.

You should also understand how important it is to write your own content, because no-one knows your business and customers like you do.

And you probably know that in order for your content marketing to work you need to be creating regular, high quality content tailored for your audience, like clockwork.

But “How do I do that?” we hear you cry. With a content calendar of course! By the end of this post you’ll know exactly what a content calendar is and how to use it, and you’ll even be able to download the one we share with our very own customers.

What is a content calendar?

A content calendar is a very useful tool for scheduling all the content you intend to publish.

It allows you to capture your blog posts, email campaigns and social sharing posts in one place, which means you can see the bigger picture of your content marketing efforts.

Using a content calendar enables you to plan ahead, to think about how your posts logically fit together, and to think about what your audience needs to know and what you want to teach them.

Preparing for your content calendar

To get the most out of your content calendar it’s a good idea to do the following first:

Review your blog categories

Ensure your blog categories are clear, relevant and being used appropriately.

We recommend 8 categories as the absolute maximum, but between 4 and 6 is optimum.

For more advice and helpful tips, read How to organise your blog categories.

Research your blog topics

When researching blog topics for our own customers as part of our Essential Setup package, we use a combination of customer profiles, keyword research and topic research.

You want to choose the topics that are the most relevant to your audience, always asking “How can I help my audience solve their problems?”

Check out How to choose your blog topics for an in-depth look at this process.

How to use a content calendar

Ok, so now you’ve done the groundwork you can start creating your content calendar.

Or better still, download our free template and you can start loading it straight away. Simply complete the form at the end of this post to subscribe to our weekly content marketing blog and you’ll get your free content calendar, as well as other useful goodies.

Here’s how you load the template with your own content:

  1. Start by filling in your dates. Our template is based on publishing one blog post per week over a 3 month period, but you can easily edit this to suit. You might even want to start a new tab for each 3, 6 or 12 month period.
  2. Then complete the coloured sections in column B according to your own setup, i.e. your blog categories, your email lists (if you have more than one) and your social media networks. Add or delete rows in each section as necessary to tailor the calendar to your own business needs.
  3. Now you can schedule your blog posts based on the topic research you’ve done, by entering your blog headlines in the appropriate category and date cells. You should use an even spread of categories to help steer your post frequency.
  4. Once your blog posts are loaded into the calendar, you can then add the dates and times that you’ll publish your email campaigns and social media posts. If you use a social media scheduling tool like Hootsuite, you can set these up in advance, rather than having to post at a certain time and day.

And, hey presto, you’ve just scheduled the next 3 months of your content! You can now use your calendar to keep on top of your posts, to see all your content marketing efforts at a glance, and to know when you need to start thinking ahead for your future posts.

Tips for using a content calendar

If you get in the habit of using a calendar to organise your content, you should find it gets easier and easier to think about new topics, to stay on top of your content marketing, and to keep publishing regular, high quality content like clockwork.

Here are our top tips for getting even more mileage from your content calendar:

  • Because we like to stay organised at Wildheart, we use the strikethrough option in Excel to cross off each post and update as it’s published. That way it’s easy to see where you’re up to in the calendar. And it always feels good to cross things off a list!
  • Already done your blog topic research? That’s fantastic, well done! But don’t stop there. Ideally you want to already be thinking about your future posts. Always keep your blog topics in the back of your mind and be on the lookout for new opportunities. The more you can stay on top of your content schedule, the easier it will be to keep publishing regular content.
  • Planning a website redesign? You should use both our:
    • website content audit to help evaluate your existing content and reorganise your blog categories, and our
    • content calendar to help organise the content you want to publish after the launch (use the form at the end of this post to download the template).
  • Use Google Analytics to measure how popular your posts are. If you have comments and feedback on specific posts on social media, you can use this engagement to spark ideas for follow-up posts within your chosen categories.
  • The content calendar is great for solo operators but it’s even better for teams, as it allows you to share and collaborate. Use it with your own cloud storage, like Google Drive or Dropbox, for powerful collaborative teamwork.

So, now you know what a content calendar is and how to use it, there’s only one thing left to do – sign up below for your FREE content calendar template and start loading your schedule today!