Creating a content calendar is hard – or so the thousands of plugins and tools would have it seem. “We’ll simplify it for you,” and so on and so forth, but the real nuts and bolts of the situation are that you need a place to come up with ideas for blog posts, and you need a place to schedule your blog posts for completion, editing and publishing. Two lists.
The Free Template
I’m happy be testing out these two lists as we speak, and to kickstart your mind thinking with these two templates for creating a content factory. Here they are in one downloadable doc. You get:
- Brainstorming buckets + Content Hit List
- Content Calendar around your business goals
Use it as a Word Doc or put it in your google drive for best results so that you can comment back and forth with your team – brainstorm collaboratively and get your Content Calendar rocking and rolling.
Content Hit List – The top row on the content hit list is intended to be switched up and swapped out for the main buckets that align with your business goals.
Content Calendar around Business Goals – In the days where you have a piece of content going out the post should be due to the editor – or to be edited – a certain number of days before you post it. I don’t personally have an editor (I’m working towards it,) but of course a bigger company is a bit different and should have editing going on before publishing – also something I’m working on. If you don’t have an editor or a designer yet – just factor in the time to get an image and re-look over your post for editing purposes.
Each post should have the number of the corresponding goal that you filled out at the top of the calendar – I think this format helps nudge you and team to think about how the posts correspond to what you’re really trying to accomplish. I’m assuming it’s more than just having a baller blog.
Build your lists around business goals
I’ve made a modified version of Hubspot’s Content Calendar Template – because I feel that the Business goals need to be clarified on the content calendar itself and while people are brainstorming or taking assignments it needs to be clear what business goal the content is suppose to support.
As part of the process of creating a Content Calendar for my year of blogging everyday chose my priorities as 1 – Generate demand for my service business, 2 – Increase my brand awareness, 3 – Get more speaking gigs, and 4 – Sell physical products that I have for sale. It’s important to note the kinds of content you will be creating to support these goals; for instance – content that generates demand for my main offering is going to be posts that directly relate to, instruct about how to do it yourself, share broader overviews of the subject matter, why and how to choose the right company for your needs.
How to posts – Give away a ton of value on the edges where people do (some of) your job themselves
Because you can only do so many “How to choose the right [insert industry] company”, that’s where it pays to share niche advice about how to do bits and pieces of the job – generally it would be very impossible to give away the whole enchilada, because there’s just too many intricacies to most of our business models. Still of course exercise caution when sharing sensitive information, business advantages, and trade secrets – if you have them.
Web design is the type of job that you could list all of the exact things you need to do to learn it, explain exactly how: and most people want to do a couple things themselves but usually don’t want to build their website if it’s any more complex than an online brochure. So I air on the side of giving every bit of value away that I can while forming my content calendar, but also serving these places where people are foraying into web design a little bit but may see their limitations. I suggest taking the same approach when it comes to your content – whatever your industry.
How to get the most out of these templates
Set your first, second, third and fourth business priorities for the content calendar, and as you’re adding new posts and content to the calendar make sure that the distribution of the posts makes sense with the priorities you’ve set. For instance your number one priority should have the most content associated with it, and secondly your second most important goal. It’s easy to get distracted, but this content calendar template nudges you back on track if your blog posts are getting off topic or not in line with your business goals.
Luckily, I do have fun with my content calendar. “Increase Brand Awareness” is a very open priority so anything that I feel is in any way related to digital marketing and will be fun to write can sneak in there – it is important to enjoy the process of getting new articles up, or you may end up with a boring blog anyhow.
So allow yourself some freedom with your goals and intermix the relaxed with the more intense posts. Though it is crucial to have some kind of call-to-action at the bottom of your blog post, and make that as customized to the content as possible, I suggest not building most blog posts around a hard sell. Content marketing is a drip drip drip campaign not a ‘give us all your money’ on the first or second post game. People just get turned off and don’t feel apt to pay you attention again.
“One of the biggest mistakes people make is going for short-term nickels rather than long term dollars” - @garyvee Click To Tweet