What is a content calendar (and why you need one NOW)
Updated: Oct 1, 2019
Having trouble coming up with your next Instagram post? Feeling stifled on Facebook and unsure of what to say to your audience? Don't beat yourself up--creating content is a really common problem for brand builders that's actually pretty easy when you have a method to your madness. I've got you covered! Not only am I going to tell you EXACTLY how to create a content calendar that will increase productivity and create content that will leave your followers consistently engaged and hanging on to your every word, I'm actually going to give you a FREE TEMPLATE to get you started!
Creating a content calendar that will give your brand guidance and direction is actually WAY easier than you might think. The purpose of a #contentcalendar is to give you a month to month vision of where your brand is headed, and the daily posts that you need to create to get you there. The best way to create your calendar is to follow my 3 step approach:
Outline your goals
Understand what to post + when depending on your audience
Understand your layout
By following these 3 steps as you build your own content calendar, you will have a clear strategy for making creating posts that will be easy to follow and quick to implement. Trust me, this will make a HUGE difference in your blogging and Social Media outreach.
Before I go any further, I want to make sure I'm clear as to what I define as a content calendar. A content calendar is a calendar that includes all of the digital content (blogs + Social Media posts) that you plan to post over the month/year, and the channels that you will use to do so. You can either create a bird's eye (macro) view, listing the channels you will use and a descriptor (usually a title) of each post, or go micro, and create a grid with the types of content you want to create with the understanding that you will create content related to that material on that day.
I use a mix of both strategies, and they both have different benefits.The macro approach is done all at once, so you would spend 4-8 hours creating all of your titles + content, then plug the posts into a #postscheduler like or. They are both super helpful if you want to get all of your social outreach done at once, and then move on to other things.
The Micro approach (which I prefer), outlines an idea of what you want to create based on your goals, then allows you to create content every day based on what the goal is. This is a better approach for more creative types, or for those who like to live in the moment and create posts that are more reflective of what is going on that day.
Download my free content calendar template so you can get a better understanding of each view, and to start playing around with which style works better for you!
The first step in creating a content calendar is defining your goals. Do you want to build your brand, grow your audience or sell your service/product? Once you know what you want to achieve, you can create content to get you there.
Create Relevant Goals
Before doing anything to grow your business, it's essential to have a goal. You need to know what success looks like before you ever start to create anything so you don't waste your time.
Some of my common goals are:
Inform my audience about my product/service
Drive traffic to my blog
Grow my audience on Instagram
Get leads to buy my product/service
Once you have a clear goal in mind, you can start to think about what type of content will inspire your audience to complete whatever action is required for you to achieve that goal (signing up for your newsletter, subscribing to your blog, buying a product, etc).
The second step in creating a content calendar is to outline what types of content you should post and their frequency. Depending on where you are in the #buyerjourney, you will either want to help create awareness of your brand, influence their decisions, or inspire them to buy a product.
Depending on how established your brand is, the frequency of your posts will need to change a bit. If you are brand new and are just starting your outreach, focus on building Trust with your audience over selling them a product, because they need to Know, Like and Trust you before they will purchase anything from you (this is the golden rule of brand building).
This is known as the AWARENESS stage of brand outreach, and you want to create content that highlights who you are as a brand, your values, your backstory--anything that will help your reader understand who you are and what you stand for.
Next comes CONSIDERATION. This is the stage where your audience knows who you are, they get what you're all about, and now they want to see what you can do for them. This is where you want to create content that is more targeted around showing your authority. Why should they consider your product over someone else's? What makes your service so great? How can you help them specifically? The type of content that will answer those questions are product features, customer testimonials, case studies and product images.
Finally, the DECISION stage helps encourage the leads who have been following your social channels or blog for a while to BUY FROM YOU. This type of content is created to seal the deal. Here you need to create a sense of urgency. Offer promos, create a post with a countdown clock, leverage #Instagramstories to create a 24 hour offer, or post a promo code for a trial offer. This is the stage in. the journey where it is crucial to get your clients to buy, and your content should be something that is IMPOSSIBLE for them to say no to.
The last and final step in creating a content calendar has more to do with aesthetic than strategy, but it's still important. After you have identified your goals and where you are in the buyer journey, think about the LAYOUT of your content. Remember--how your content looks is just as important as the story it tell.
Once you understand this basic marketing fact, you will see huge returns on your investment into branding. A beautiful visual layout is KEY for establishing yourself as a standout brand, and the way to do that is to plan out how your content will appear in your content calendar. This is going to help new leads to your Instagram page, your Youtube account or your blog go through a natural process that will be visually appealing, but also allow you to take them through the buyer's journey naturally so that they go through all the phases of Awareness, Consideration and Decison until they reach a place of wanting to purchase your product.
This is a snapshot of the monthly layout calendar I use for my Instagram account, but it can also be applied to your blog or Youtube channel if you change the columns from 3 to 1.
Think about the journey you are taking your buyer through, and how someone who looks at all of your content at once will feel about your brand from start to finish. I've color coded my content by goals: to sell my product (black) grow my audience (green), and build my brand (red). The content is strategically placed so that my reader doesn't feel like I'm bombarding them with sales pitches, but I'm also making sure to include content that demonstrates my authority, and then also asking questions and sharing interesting content that will inspire my reader to interact with my brand, leave comments and hopefully share posts with other people who could find value in it.
So to sum it up, creating a content calendar each month will help you identify goals, streamline your content creation process, and drive more business for your brand when done right. This is a dynamic process, so MEASURE how your audience engages with your content, track what works and what doesn't, and #iterate when needed. Your brand is a unique identity, so what works for me might not work exactly for you, but with the proper processes in place to make controlling and creating your content more streamlined, hopefully I can get you one step closer.
Leave me a note in the comments below and as always, reach out if you have any questions! firstname.lastname@example.org