If I had to start a content calendar from scratch, here’s what I’d include
I’ve managed content for multiple organizations from nonprofits to major events, and trial and error taught me what’s actually important, and what you can just skip.
When I first started this website, content marketing wasn’t really A Thing
Back in 2008ish, blogging was still relatively new and exciting territory. It was kind of like the Wild West–people were sharing their stories and tips and style—my fave!—on platforms like Typepad and Blogger (shoutout to my old blogspot sites).
There wasn’t any real plan, just a genuine eagerness to share. It was basically show-and-tell for grownups.
Then people realized that good content was good for business. Sharing information attracted others who were interested in knowing and eventually working with you.
We now knew how much work went into creating good content and developed systems to streamline the process. We got organized and started running blogs like online magazines, with themes (Tumblr Tuesday, anyone?), professional photos, and well-researched articles.
It took time and planning to create all of that, so people got hip to editorial calendars. And as the editorial calendar process was being refined, more social platforms were popping up: Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram. Which meant it took even more organization and planning to produce, curate, and manage content on multiple platforms.
Enter the content marketing calendar, which collects all of your content marketing initiatives into one place, clarifying what to post, when, and on which platforms.
A content marketing calendar is now an essential tool for running a successful business. Here’s what I’d include if I was creating a content marketing calendar from scratch:
Hey, it’s a calendar for a reason. We’re all pretty familiar with how time works so nailing down the date—especially if it’s time-sensitive content like a holiday or launch—is a crucial first step. Fill this stuff in first.
The Topic + Headline
Your topics should include your content categories and address the 4 P’s of content. Headlines are for grabbing attention.
Remember, your ideal customer will go through a journey before they decide to purchase your product or service and your content is what guides them on that journey.
Your headline grabs their attention; your copy leads the conversation. Include a call to action (CTA) so your peeps aren’t left hangin’—once you’ve shared your wisdom, make sure they know the next step.
Pro tip: Your CTA is determined by the goal of each piece of content. If the goal is to get people to sign up for your mailing list, buy a specific item, or help people understand your mission, your CTA should drive them to that list, link, or info.
Note where you’re sharing this info: a blog post, email newsletter, social media, press release. Is the content the same across each platform? Can you repurpose pieces of your long-form content and share it on social media or in your newsletter?
This is the one people forget to include on their calendars and honestly, it makes no sense. As a creative director, I know how important it is for the imagery—whether it’s photos, videos, or graphics—to help tell and sell the story. Make sure to clarify which type/s of imagery you’ll use when you’re planning your content.
Of course, the first step is ALWAYS strategy. Once you have that down, creating your editorial calendar makes it easier for your content to do the work of marketing and selling 24/7 FOR you.