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  • Writer's pictureDr Joseph Nightingale

Creating a Content Calendar: A Step-by-Step Guide

The biggest challenge of content marketing is creating new content. It's an endless treadmill. Month after month, year after year, you need to stick to your posting schedule. And you can't sacrifice quality or originality without harming your brand's reputation. You need a content calendar to keep you organised and creative.

Whether you're planning your blog articles or social media posting schedule, using a content calendar template prevents panic when "posting day" comes around. You can plan weeks, even months ahead – scheduling your posts around holidays and industry events or just giving you a little breathing room to think up new ideas.

But what does a content calendar template even look like? How is it laid out? What information do you need to include in this content roadmap?

Below I'll answer all your questions and include my very own content calendar template you're 100% free to use.

What is a content calendar?

A content calendar, or an "editorial calendar," is a plan of your posting schedule for upcoming content. It can include topic ideas, dates, keywords, target audience, content pillars, and more.

Content calendars aren't set in stone; they can be reconfigured, adjusted, and edited as your content strategy evolves over time.

In a nutshell – they're a tool to plan your content. Use them however you find works best for you.

The key benefit of a content calendar is organisation. Keeping your content-related info in a single location, you don't lose track of what must be published and when.

Content calendars also improve collaboration. You can show any member of your team – or even a freelancer or content marketer – your content calendar, and they'll know what you're posting, when, and why.

How to create a content calendar

Step 1 Selecting a posting schedule

Deciding on your posting schedule largely depends on your content type and capacity. No hard-and-fast rules about your posting schedule exist, except more frequent posts lead to greater engagement. For example, social media accounts that post daily tend to accumulate followers more rapidly.

Never sacrifice quantity for quality. If posting more means lower quality posts, post less.

The goal should be consistency. As a rule of thumb, try to produce a minimum of two social media posts per week and one blog article. If you can achieve more without sacrificing quality, produce more.

Oh, and always post at the same time – mid-morning on weekdays is the peak time for interaction (on social media).

Step 2 Formatting a content calendar template

How you format your content calendar template depends on your content type. Avoid content calendars that look like actual calendars: they contain much less information.

You can create a superb content calendar in Excel:

As promised, here's a 100% free content calendar template ready for you to use right away:

Content Calendar Template
Download XLSX • 15KB

For website-based content, include the following columns:

  • Title

  • URL

  • Content type

  • Content pillar

  • Keywords

  • Keyword volume and competition

  • Meta title

  • Meta description

  • Post date

  • Workflow stage, e.g., ideation, writing, evaluation, publication

For social media posts, including the following columns:

  • Title

  • Platform

  • Post type

  • Post caption

  • Relevant link

  • Hashtags

  • Post date

  • Workflow stage, e.g., ideation, writing, evaluation, publication

Step 3 Developing content pillars

Content pillars are overarching topics guiding your content creation. Though they're not specific to content calendars, they do help create a more functional tool.

Think about content pillars as major landmarks in your business. An outdoor clothing company could have camping, hiking, hill running, and mountaineering as its content pillars. Using these pillars, they can spin new ideas for content – and keep track of the different pillars in their content calendar.

Indeed, content calendars are as useful for keeping track of past content as planning future content.

Step 4 Filling your content calendar

Once you've planned your pillar, built your calendar, and decided on your posting schedule, begin filling out your calendar. Try to work at least a month ahead; it's far less stressful.

While ideas for content might not come for several days, you suddenly hit on an idea that can be converted into 3 or 4 blog posts. You have more time for such moments of inspiration when working a month ahead, leading to better overall content.

Top tips for content calendars

You can tailor your content calendars 100% to your needs. Ditch columns or add extra info to help organise your process.

Remember these rules:

  1. Keep it simple. Restrict info in your content calendar to relevant points. It's not the right location to start drafting opening lines or other parts of the content. Your content calendar can end up looking bloated, confusing, and more than a little daunting to anyone not intimately familiar with its intricacies.

  2. Use colour. Nothing catches the eye like colour. While your calendar shouldn't be a kaleidoscope, a dash of colour – in, say, your workflow stage – can help you keep track of key aspects, i.e., what's yet to be posted.

  3. Share it with everyone. Anyone needing to use the calendar should have access – writers, graphic designers, managers, and more.

  4. Update and refine. A content calendar is a living, breathing document. Content ideas can be refined and adapted with time. You can postpone pieces, revise keywords, and more. Your content calendar should grow as your content strategy does.

Create a content calendar that keeps you organised

Content calendars aren't optional; they're critical to maintaining a posting schedule. With hundreds of potential posts a year, you must keep track of what you're creating and when.

Using a content calendar, you can ensure all your prep work is completed in advance, i.e., keyword research, meaning your content writers can get to work crafting spectacular SEO content designed to convert.

Ready to take your content marketing to the next level? Impeccable Writing can help you create a winning content strategy that drives results for your business. Our expert team will work with you to craft compelling content that resonates with your target audience and boosts conversions.

Don't settle for mediocre content - let us help you stand out from the crowd. Schedule a free consultation to explore your content strategy today!


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