What is a content calendar? (And how to create one)

1 month ago

The simple definition of a content calendar is that it’s a calendar of content for your blog, social media profiles, and other marketing platforms.

Pretty self-explanatory, right?

But that superficial understanding won’t help you create a content calendar that’s actually useful.

You need to go beyond the surface if you want to consistently schedule and create content that engages and moves your prospects down the funnel.

In this article, we’re not just going to cover what a content calendar is (and what it should include), but also how to create one that will deliver maximum impact for your content marketing strategy.

What is a content calendar?

A content calendar is a calendar for all the content you plan to feature on the company blog, YouTube, and other content marketing channels.

Screenshot of content calendar in monday.com UI

A content calendar is also sometimes called an “editorial calendar,” depending on the company and setting.

It can cover different content types, like video, quick social media posts, and in-depth blog posts.

The purpose of a content calendar isn’t just to give you an overview of content production, but to provide a consistent experience for your audience.

For example, releasing specific series on different topics on certain weekdays (or biweekly) is common practice.

It helps engaged readers expect content that they care about, and know when to check out your company blog, YouTube channel, or their email inbox.

Also, going into detail beyond just a date, category, and working status can be a great way to improve the consistency of your overall content strategy implementation.

What should a content calendar include?

A content calendar should include all planned content pieces for at least the next 1–3 months, and even up to a year. It should also capture everything you need to know about the content.

Must-have information includes:

  • The obvious data: date, title, working status, assigned writer/creator
  • Platform the content will be published on
  • Target audience of the content
  • Budget for each piece of content
  • Funnel level of the content

By including information like the target audience, you help remind your editors to edit for a specific tone.

You can also include the “funnel level” of the piece of content. That way, writers can adjust their writing based on the needs of the intended audience.

For example, an existing user of your product has very different concerns than someone who’s just starting to consider investing in your product/service.

A content calendar should work as an extension of your content marketing strategy. If you have different teams for different platforms, it may be more effective to have multiple calendars.

For example, one dedicated social media content calendar, one for the blog, etc. For smaller companies, combining all channels into one calendar is likely the best idea.

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3 main benefits of using a content calendar

If you’re not quite sure about using a content calendar yet, you should get to know the potential benefits. Here are the top 3:

It helps you stay consistent.

The first benefit is self-explanatory. Planning out content in advance helps you be more consistent with releases.

And both for blogs and social media, consistency is definitely a virtue. One of the best ways to build a relationship with your readers — or watchers — is to follow a consistent schedule.

If they know that the next part of a series comes out every Tuesday, they’re much more likely to come back to your blog or social media account.

On the other hand, if you just randomly post or share whatever comes to mind, they won’t know what to expect. You’ll struggle to build a loyal following that way.

It controls your corporate voice.

There’s a reason why changing the content calendar was the second most important content marketing change that B2B companies made as a response to Covid-19.

Graph of top content marketing changes during Covid-19

(Image Source)

The content calendar — or editorial calendar — directly impacts your corporate voice. The type of content you plan out and when you release it can impact how potential customers view your company.

For example, pivoting quickly and releasing content about how the company is dealing with Covid-19 was a way for companies to build trust during uncertain times.

It also may not be the best time to release feel-good case studies about ideal circumstances.

You should always consider recent events — especially when they’re on the scale of a global pandemic — and how they color the way your audience might react to your content.

It helps you build relationships with your target audience.

Ultimately, a good content calendar goes beyond just dates and topics. It’s your step-by-step plan for building relationships with your target audience.

If you’re willing to leave success up to chance, unstructured content creation may be enough. But if you want to build customer relationships with surgical precision, you need to plan things out.

Every blog post or video should be a piece of a greater content puzzle that makes sense to your audience.

Convinced to create your own content calendar yet?

Great, we’ll explain the process and crucial best practices in the next section.

How to set up a content calendar that maximizes your content strategy

Creating an effective social media or blog content calendar isn’t as simple as just adding random content ideas to an online calendar.

Here are 5 steps to follow to set up your content calendar for success:

Nail down your strategy first.

The first thing you should consider is your overall content strategy.

A concrete strategy is one of the biggest predictors of content marketing success. Without it, your team will always scramble to come up with useful content ideas.

You need to answer a few questions before you can create an effective content calendar.

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What content types and channels do they prefer?
  • What topics do they care about the most?

If the majority of your audience is active on LinkedIn, you don’t need to schedule 20 weekly tweets.

Choosing a few high-priority topics to cover regularly can also be a great idea.

It may seem counterintuitive, but a “restrictive” set of categories and intervals can help you come up with more original content ideas.

For example, if you always release content for your existing users on Thursdays, you’re forced to dive deep and deliver value, perhaps even interviewing users for ideas.

Go beyond the basics.

When you treat the calendar as a concrete tool for implementing your content strategy, you need to go beyond the basics.

Include target audience, assignees, partners, budget, assigned writer or video creator, and more.

The more information you capture in your calendar, the more value you add, as it increases visibility for everyone involved.

Focus on quality over quantity.

According to a SEMRush survey, the top 3 challenges of content marketers are all related to content quality.

Companies struggle to create content that attracts traffic, quality leads, and resonates with the target audience.

Graph of top content marketing challenges in 2019-20

(Image Source)

One of the main causes of this issue is that most companies are infatuated with hitting quotas like, “8 posts per week is our goal.”

It might sound logical, but it makes no sense. Instead, you need to dedicate more time to covering highly relevant topics that your customers care about.

Stick to quality over quantity.

Collaborate with outside partners.

Don’t be afraid to include potential content partners in the planning stage.

Guest posts or collaborations should feel like a cohesive part of your blog or channel, not as something completely alien.

Look for partners with a similar or complementary tone and target audience. Then work guest posts into your schedule on a regular basis.

For instance, every second Friday of the month may be dedicated to highlighting and sharing content from guests or partners.

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Schedule content for all stages of the funnel.

For the purposes of content marketing, the sales funnel is often simplified, only divided into 3 stages — awareness, evaluation, and conversion.

Experienced content marketers often use the terms TOFU (top of funnel), MOFU (middle of funnel), and BOFU (bottom of funnel) to describe these different audiences.

Make sure you cover all these stages of a potential customer journey when planning your content.

Diagram of a content marketing funnel

(Image Source)

One of the best approaches here is to schedule content for different funnel levels on different weekdays — or alternate weeks if you only release a single piece of content per week.

Of course, you also need to use categories or different blogs entirely to help these different users navigate to the content designed to help them.

If you only ever cover TOFU content answering basic questions, you won’t be using your channels effectively to build relationships.

Twitter and other social media platforms are some of the most popular ways for customers to interact with companies.

Take advantage of that. Instead of just answering direct questions or complaints, take the initiative yourself.

Actively schedule relevant MOFU and BOFU posts in your social media calendar.

Use monday.com to manage your content production more effectively

monday.com is the perfect platform for building and scaling a reliable content production process.

With tailor-made content management templates, color-coded working statuses, graphs, real-time dashboards, and more, you can take your content marketing efforts to the next level.

Our fully customizable templates and powerful custom automation builder let you create the exact platform that your company needs.

Here are 4 ways monday.com can help you streamline your content production and marketing:

Use our tailor-made content calendar template.

The first place to start is to use our content calendar template. By default, it includes columns like target audience, channels, status, owner (assigned editor or writer), and more.

The content is categorized into blog posts, live sessions, videos, and more.

You can easily change or add new categories or columns so that the calendar reflects your process and overall strategy.

monday.com Content Calendar Template

You can extend this with more details that you want to include about each piece.

Also, with monday.com, you can easily change the view to help you get a better handle on the process. The default is the grid view, but you can set up a calendar or timeline view to help you visualize the content plan over the next few months.

Integrate with other platforms to keep everyone in the loop.

Every team has their own unique processes, and often use a dedicated software solution. For example, a sales team uses a CRM, while a customer support team might use helpdesk software like Zendesk.

With monday.com’s robust integrations, you can connect these tools and crush data silos.

For example, you can integrate with Zendesk so that your creative team gets access to customer complaints and questions as they come in.

Streamline your workflow and keep deadlines with automations.

When you get it set up properly, the monday.com automation builder can act almost as an extra assistant.

You can automate reminders for overdue pieces, notifications to editors when a draft is ready, and much more.

Every menial activity that involves contacting someone at a specific time can be automated. You can even automatically create new content brainstorming cards each week.

Collaborate on ideas in real-time with our virtual whiteboard.

Collaboration is a crucial part of the creative process for any team of writers or content creators. But with distributed or remote teams, it can be hard. It’s difficult to replicate the creative process of an in-person meeting on a video call.

That’s why we’ve created the virtual whiteboard app for our platform. It’ll help you elevate your brainstorming sessions and create better content.

monday.com Virtual Whiteboard app

The whiteboard app lets you draw, add text, images, and move and edit the entirety in real-time. The users’ cursors are color-coded, so you can see who makes which changes.

Your team can even make quick mockups of featured blog or social media images from within the app.

If your content ideas are starting to feel stale as more of the team is working from home, it’s a great tool to add to the mix.

Move beyond a basic content calendar

Producing the right content at the right time is crucial to building relationships with potential customers.

But without a content calendar, it can be hard to stay consistent, both with your actual content, and your messaging and voice.

But just randomly scheduling out pieces of content to suit an arbitrary quota — like 2 posts a week — isn’t going to cut it. You need to go beyond merely scheduling content.

Use our content calendar template and advanced project management functionality to level up your content production.

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