How to Build a Simple Content Calendar
Have you been tasked with building your company’s content calendar? If you’re not already an expert content marketer, probably the first thing you did was Google how do I build a content calendar. [We know your secrets! Plus, we Google stuff all the time, too.]
The thing is, lots of the posts out there want to help you create a monster, color-coded, super-calendar for your content. But most of us don’t actually need that. We really need a list of 2-3 things to research and write about per month that can help us drive toward our defined goals.
In addition to having a simple calendar to help narrow your focus, you’re also going to want a simple calendar because simple is flexible. As you learn what kind of content works for you and what doesn’t, you’re going to want to make changes to your plan. You’ll also need room for things that pop up at the last minute. Last but not least – you need to maintain your sanity!
Ready to get started? Let’s build a quick-and-dirty content calendar together!
Step 1: Set Some Parameters
1. Goals. Take notes on what your brand’s challenges are, or what the organization wants to accomplish over the next 12 months. This will be a list of approximately one million things. You’ll need to narrow your focus! Pick 1-2 goals that you can actually accomplish with content marketing.
2. Audience. Make a list of the people you’re talking to – your audience. Who are they?
3. Content. What does your audience need from you? You may want to talk to the customer-facing folks in your organization on this one. Oh – and no one really wants to know about your products or services.
Example: Let’s say your company sells rocks – you work for Rockz Unlimited. (Yeah, rocks!) Your challenge in #1 is that everybody knows you sell big rocks for outdoor landscapes, but they don’t know you also sell small rocks. Your audience in #2 might be landscape designers. In #3, maybe your landscape designers simply want to know what’s current in landscape design and they trust your company’s insight.
Step 2: Start Brainstorming!
Take a look back through your notes. Now start brainstorming content ideas that fulfill the needs of #3 and #1, that the people in #2 will actually need. Try to sketch out 30 ideas. Ideas 1-5 will be a snap, but 6-30 will be the hardest work you’ve ever done in your life.
Example: For Rockz Unlimited, the beginning of your list of ideas might look like:
– Why Japanese rock gardens are all the rage
– How to design rock gardens for all seasons
– What rocks are trending for 2016
– How to design a $2,000 rock garden that looks like $20,000
– The best low-maintenance rocks in the Midwest
You’ll notice that NO post ideas say, “We sell big rocks AND small rocks.” Just letting people know what products you sell is a job for the rest of your website – it doesn’t usually make for interesting content.
Step 3: Plan, Publish, & Be Flexible
Try to narrow down your giant list of ideas to 5-6 – whatever you need to publish for the next month or two. Set a deadline for each post. That’s your content calendar!
Once you start publishing, go talk to your internal and external resources to get feedback. You’re going to want to refine your company’s goals and target audience until they’re pretty specific, and you’ll also want to sit down and think about fresh content on the regular. In our opinion, a content calendar should be a living document – solid enough to provide you guidance but flexible enough that it can always get just a little bit better.
Example: Linda Rockz, the CEO of Rockz Unlimited, tells you that the company is about to go all-in on marketing drought-resistant landscapes to people in California. It’s time to revisit Step 1 above.
Send us a link to whatever you’re working on – we’d love to check it out. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook!