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How to Create a Content Marketing Calendar: Tips, Tricks & Best Practices
Julia McCoyWednesday, 19th Jul 2023
Julia McCoy5 min read · Jan 11 2022
Did you know that 44% of marketers see content production as their biggest challenge?
Luckily, there’s a way to circumvent this issue entirely — and it starts with organization.
A content marketing calendar can help eliminate production issues with smart planning. With a calendar in place, you’ll never run out of content ideas, and you’ll never wonder what the heck happened to that content piece you handed off to a coworker last week.
Instead, your topic ideas, in-progress blog posts, and content production will be mapped out beautifully.
But how to create a content marketing calendar if you’re a newbie?
This guide will help marketers understand the basics of how to create a content marketing calendar, from developing a strategy to optimizing team productivity and analyzing results. Prepare to bump up your digital marketing efforts and results!
Table of Contents:
- What is a Marketing Content Calendar?
- What Should You Include in a Content Calendar?
- Develop a Content Strategy Before Laying Out Your Content Calendar
- How to Create a Content Marketing Calendar
- Refining Your Content Calendar
- Bonus Tip: Integrate AI into Your Content Calendar
- Examples of Content Calendars
- FAQs – How to Create a Content Marketing Calendar
What is a Marketing Content Calendar?
A marketing content calendar is a tool marketers use to plan, organize, and track the creation and distribution of content. It helps ensure that your whole team is on the same page when it comes to delivering content — from brainstorming topics to meeting a publishing schedule.
Content calendars can take many forms, from spreadsheets to literal calendars with posts scheduled at specific times. The format of your calendar will depend on your needs, your publishing schedule, and your content processes and workflows.
Creating a dynamic content calendar requires careful planning and organization. The first step is to identify your objectives and plan out topics or themes that align with those goals. It’s important to consider who your target audience is when selecting topics so that they resonate with readers and have potential SEO benefits as well.
Once this has been established, you can begin mapping out a strategy that will provide direction for the types of articles or other forms of media that should be included in your editorial calendar.
If spreadsheets are no longer providing an adequate solution for managing large amounts of content, specialized project management software tools such as Trello, Asana, and Basecamp are available to help you get organized. These tools offer features like tagging important players involved in a project along with color-coded visuals to make sorting through data easier. This ensures that nothing slips through the cracks while keeping users on track.
Why Do You Need to Create Content Calendars?
- Organization – A content calendar helps organize all your tasks so it’s easier to create and share content without having to search through multiple documents or emails. This saves time which can be better spent elsewhere.
- Focus – With a clear plan in place, everyone knows what needs to be done and when so there’s no confusion or wasted effort. This allows teams to stay focused on current tasks instead of getting distracted by every project idea that comes up.
- Productivity – By having everything laid out ahead of time, a content calendar helps teams know exactly what they need to do each day, which increases productivity.
What Should You Include in a Content Calendar?
- Content topics – Brainstorming ideas for new content types is essential to keep your audience engaged with fresh material every week, month, or quarter. Consider using surveys or customer feedback forms if you want more insight into what topics would resonate best with your target audience.
- Timeline – Establish deadlines for each piece of content so everyone knows when things need to be completed and published. Setting realistic timelines will help ensure nothing gets missed.
- Distribution channels – Identify where each piece of content will go live, whether that’s online or published offline. Knowing this ahead of time will make sure everything goes smoothly once they are ready for launch.
Before you start working on your content calendar templates, it is essential to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of your marketing team. This ensures that everyone is working toward the same goal without repeating tasks or using up resources unnecessarily. By formulating a strategy ahead of time, teams can determine how much time should be allocated to keyword research or SEO.
Let’s look closer into how to develop a comprehensive content strategy so that your dynamic content calendar meets all its goals and objectives.
Develop a Content Strategy Before Laying Out Your Content Calendar
For a content schedule to be effective, you must have a good content marketing strategy.
A content strategy defines the types of content you’ll create, how it will be presented, and when you’ll publish it. A content strategy also outlines who the intended recipients of the messaging are, as well as what kind of communication will be most successful in reaching them.
When developing a content strategy, there are several key elements to consider:
- Target audience: Knowing your target audience is vital if you want to craft messages they can relate to and find interesting or helpful.
- Tone of voice: Establishing an appropriate tone of voice for your brand will help ensure your message resonates with your intended readership while maintaining consistency throughout all pieces of content that are part of the campaign.
- Topics: Content topics should be centered around resolving customer problems or offering useful, relevant information that will attract potential customers.
- Format: Identifying which formats are most suitable for each topic, such as e-books, blog posts, or webinars, can help increase engagement and chances of conversions.
- Distribution channels: A publishing schedule will help identify which distribution channels are most effective for reaching your audience.
- Budget: With a specific budget in mind, you can set reasonable deadlines and determine how much time needs to be allocated per task. This is where you also decide whether to focus on organic results or paid ads.
By taking all these factors into account, you will have a better idea of how long projects might take to complete along with their associated costs. This allows you more control over timelines and resource allocation while ensuring maximum ROI from each campaign.
Now that you have a content marketing strategy in place, it’s time to learn how to create content calendars.
How to Create a Content Marketing Calendar
To create effective editorial calendars, you must first identify your objectives to determine the type of content that is most suitable and beneficial for your audience.
Content calendars typically look like actual calendars that show the daily tasks assigned to each member of your content team.
Here are a few content calendar tips on how to create an effective content creation process.
1. Determine Your Content Schedule
How often do you want to post new content? Weekly, biweekly, monthly?
2. Decide What Type of Posts Should Go Into Each Calendar Slot
Blog posts every other day? Videos once a month? Daily podcasts?
3. Assign Tasks
Assign tasks to different members of your team such as keyword research, copywriting, editing, and designing visuals so everyone knows who is responsible for what.
4. Research Content Ideas
Begin researching topics that are related to each post to identify keywords that can be used for SEO. From these topics, you can develop ideas for headlines and titles that will draw readers in.
5. Write Down Your Publishing Dates
Schedule when each piece of content should be published on various platforms. You can even create a separate social media content calendar for posting on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
When setting these dates, note the important holidays or events in your industry so they don’t conflict with major news stories that could affect reader engagement.
6. Adjust Your Content Planning Based on Important Events
Accurately timing your content is essential.
To keep your audience hooked, you need to stay updated with industry trends and important events.
This not only ensures that your blog posts or social media updates are timely but also relevant to ongoing discussions in the market.
A well-planned calendar with seasonal content helps you do just that.
A recurring events calendar is useful for planning ahead around seasonal trends or holidays that happen every year like Black Friday sales or Easter egg hunts. This allows brands to anticipate customer needs before they arise and capitalize on opportunities early on with timely promotions and offers related to those events.
Additionally, these types of calendars can help businesses stay organized during busy times by providing reminders about upcoming tasks such as sending email newsletters before the Christmas shopping season arrives or updating website copy before summer vacation starts in June.
Your publishing schedule can include holiday-themed posts during festive seasons or align topics with current events. This strategy makes sure you’re creating engaging pieces while keeping things organized and boosting your overall content marketing efforts.
Next time there’s an event trending in your niche — be it a tech conference or fashion week — adjust accordingly. This way, when readers come looking for fresh takes on these subjects, they find them through YOUR published content.
7. Optimize Your Content Calendar for Better Productivity
When creating content calendars, one way to improve productivity is to prioritize tasks based on their importance and relevance. For example, if an article has a higher impact potential, then it should take precedence over other tasks in terms of your production and publishing schedule.
Project management tools such as Trello or Asana can also ensure more efficient task delegation and collaboration, which saves time for other marketing activities. These platforms allow users to assign specific tasks with deadlines and facilitate collaboration between multiple departments without having to attend too many meetings.
Content marketing calendar tools let you collaborate between teams and departments. Screenshot from Asana
Repurposing content is another way to improve productivity. Content that you already have in store can be reused and updated. Think of customer survey results, data from the CRM system, or old blog posts.
If you’ve got an arsenal of blog posts and published pieces that did pretty well in their time, why not transform them into new formats like infographics or videos?
By presenting similar ideas on a different medium, you will be able to reach all potential customers who may look for information on various platforms. This way you will make the most of your valuable content without having to create something completely new every time.
Lastly, make sure that you have the right content creation team so that no one is overburdened by a deluge of tasks. This includes human resources such as writers, editors, and designers, as well as financial resources where proper budgeting helps avoid last-minute scrambles for funds.
By optimizing your content calendar, you can create a streamlined workflow that will help to ensure the success of your project. But it doesn’t stop there. You can continue to refine this process to maximize the efficiency of your content team.
Refining Your Content Marketing Calendar
Analyzing and refining your content marketing calendar is an important step in ensuring that it meets your content marketing goals. Here you can identify areas for improvement and find opportunities to make your workflow even better.
Review the results of each post. Check stats like page views, clicks, shares, or engagement rates on social media posts.
Examine the effectiveness of your content in terms of whether it gained leads or closed sales.
Look at audience feedback and sentiment from social media posts to gain insight into how readers feel about your content. This way you can either refine existing pieces or create new ones that are more engaging.
By studying these metrics, you can determine which pieces are performing well and which need to be revisited.
Any trends emerging from reader comments should guide you in further improving your content marketing initiatives, including targeting better keywords, tweaking your SEO strategies, and implementing content automation to improve the quality of your content.
Bonus Tip: Integrate AI into Your Content Marketing Calendar
Are you lagging behind your content schedule? Missing due dates? Perhaps your content team is suffering from burnout, struggling to come up with fresh ideas day after day. There’s only so much a human content producer can do.
But what if they have help? Artificial intelligence is the key not only to speeding up the content creation process but to improving the quality of your output as well.
AI writing tools like Content at Scale are great for finding content ideas and turning them into well-written pieces within minutes. All you have to do is input the keywords you want to rank for and Content at Scale will generate a long-form blog post ready for optimization. And since it has built-in Copyscape and AI detection, you will never publish poorly written content ever again.
Examples of Content Calendars
So we’ve established that content calendars are essential tools for planning and organizing content creation and distribution across various platforms and channels. They help businesses maintain consistency, manage workflows, and achieve their content marketing goals.
That said, there are several different types of content calendars, each with a unique focus and purpose. Here are some common types:
Social Media Calendar
Social media is an important part of any content marketing strategy. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your efforts, it helps to have a social media calendar that outlines when and what type of posts you’ll be publishing.
For example, if you’re selling beauty products, you might plan ahead for special events such as National Lipstick Day or International Women’s Day by scheduling themed posts throughout the month. You can also use your calendar to promote new product launches and create holiday-specific campaigns.
Social media calendar template from Semrush
An editorial calendar allows marketers to organize their content according to specific topics or categories. It provides an overview of all planned pieces so everyone on the team knows which projects are in progress and who is responsible for them at each stage. This makes it easier to track progress and deadlines while ensuring quality control standards are implemented across all channels.
Editorial calendars may look different depending on how many topics or categories need coverage but generally include titles, headlines, publishing dates, assets (images or infographics) as well as relevant events or holidays that tie into content themes.
Video Content Calendar
Video content calendars are focused on planning and organizing video content production and distribution. This could include YouTube videos, webinars, live streams, and other visual content.
Screenshot from Lumen5
Email Marketing Calendar
Email marketing content calendars are used to plan and schedule email campaigns. They help marketers coordinate the timing and content of their emails to target specific audience segments effectively.
Email marketing calendar template from Moosend
An SEO calendar is designed to align content creation with keyword research and SEO strategies. It ensures that content is optimized for search engines and targets relevant keywords to improve organic traffic.
SEO strategy template on HubSpot
Product Launch Calendar
When preparing for a new product or service launch, this type of content calendar helps organize content creation and promotion to generate buzz and excitement around the launch.
Product launch calendar template from Spreadsheet.com
Influencer Marketing Calendar
If you’re working with influencers or have influencer marketing campaigns, this type of content calendar helps coordinate content collaborations and sponsored posts.
Influencer marketing checklist from CMI
Internal Content Calendar
This type of content calendar is used within an organization to plan internal communications, such as company newsletters, announcements, and updates.
Internal content calendar template from Staffbase
Multi-Channel Content Calendar
A multi-channel content calendar integrates content planning across various platforms and channels, ensuring a cohesive approach to content marketing across all touchpoints.
Here’s an example of a multi-channel content marketing calendar from Optimizely:
When choosing a content calendar, consider your specific needs and the platforms where you publish content. Many content management tools and platforms offer built-in content calendar features to streamline the planning and scheduling process.
FAQs – How to Create a Content Marketing Calendar
What do you use to make a content calendar?
Popular tools used for creating content calendars include Asana, Trello, Google Calendar, Hootsuite Scheduler, CoSchedule’s Editorial Calendar Plugin for WordPress websites, or the Content Marketing Institute’s own Content Marketing Planner Tool.
Each of these tools offers different features so it is important to choose the right one based on your needs and preferences.
How do I create a social media calendar for content marketing?
Creating a social media content calendar requires careful planning and organization. Start by formulating objectives, then determine what types of posts will help you meet those goals.
Next, develop an editorial plan with specific topics and create timelines for when they should be posted.
Finally, determine which platforms are most appropriate for each post based on audience demographics and engagement levels.
Once all these steps have been completed, use scheduling tools to organize posts into an effective social media calendar that supports your overall content strategy.
Now that you know how to create a content marketing calendar, you can start planning your content schedule according to your marketing objectives. Don’t forget to use this guide as a reference when trying to create a comprehensive plan for success.
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