How to Create a Content Calendar (+ Free Template)
Without planning your upcoming content, “once a week” gradually becomes “once a month,” and from there on, well, it’s a slippery slope.
As a professional content writer, framing your creative work into tables and charts might make you cringe at first. But I believe you already know that maintaining a blog is a time-consuming task that needs to be managed somehow.
I want to introduce you to one of my favorite writing hacks — a content calendar. Managing a calendar for my content helps me develop a timely posting schedule and create content. Most importantly, it keeps my readers engaged by preventing my content from getting repetitive or random.
But before we dive into creating the content calendar, let’s talk about content strategy and why we need to plan our content in the first place.
Content strategy is the art of planning and executing content to achieve business objectives and goals. Without a content strategy, it’s hard to keep up a writing routine. Think about it as taking a step back and planning your moves before typing a single letter. Every content manager eventually concludes that working without a plan is stressful and unproductive.
What is a Content Calendar?
Managing a content calendar is the best way to plan and organize upcoming content. It ensures consistency and the actual execution of the content strategy.
A content calendar is basically a documented schedule of all your future content pieces with due dates. As part of the content strategy, we will create a list of topics to write about. At this point, we start shaping our content plan, decide which pieces we will cover, and schedule them in our content calendar.
How to Create a Content Calendar?
After extracting a list that contains potential names for the articles, it’s time to decide when to write and where to publish each article. You can use a table for this matter or search for an advanced online tool with multiple features. However, a spreadsheet will do just fine. I personally like to work with Google Sheets because I can share it with whomever I want to collaborate with and update it straight from my phone. And, well, it’s free! 🙂
If you want to start using a content calendar, I made a free template you can copy and adjust for your own needs. Feel free to grab it here:
Planning Ahead is Time Worth Spent
Giving yourself time to plan is the number one way to set yourself up for success. I recommend you spend more time planning than you do writing. When we don’t plan, we feel rushed, and it shows. If you spend time planning, it helps your future self work calmly. Knowing the what and when gets you entirely focused on the how.
Write Down Ideas
Sometimes, the best ideas come to my mind when I’m driving or chilling on the sofa in the evening. Keeping another tab for ideas is a great way to enrich your content calendar with new articles. Always write down ideas. Use your content calendar sheet as your notebook. Remember, inspiration comes and goes in little bursts, and a content calendar is a way to save it for a rainy day.
Don’t Wait for the Perfect Moment — Schedule It!
When writing is your day job, you can’t rely solely on inspiration because there will be days (and sometimes even weeks) when you’re not feeling it. And it’s okay. When you’re low on inspiration, you can go through your content calendar and write according to the plan while leaving the creativity for better days. Scheduling your content is one way to get through these non-creative phases until the inspired vibes return. You know, in some days, you just need to get the job done. So use your content calendar to plan all future posts. In the long run, not having to guess what post will go up on what day is a significant gift for your future uninspired self.
Include a List of Your Channels
If you write content for more than one channel, consider adding it to your content calendar and scheduling it as well as you do with your central channel. Some posts will better suit your blog, while others will perform better as guest posts or as articles for other content channels. Those decisions should happen in the planning stage and help you design the content in a way that serves its purpose.
It is crucial to prioritize your content better and recognize when you’re over or underutilizing a particular channel. Listing all of your media channels in your content calendar could help you maintain a balanced distribution of your content.