How to Keep a Content Calendar: A 7 Step Process
If you do content marketing for your company, you need to know How to Create (and stick to) a Content Calendar. This post presents the outline of a reasonably simple process for doing just that.
Creating a Content Calendar
Do a Content Audit
The first major step in creating a content calendar is deciding what to post. In order to know what to post, it helps to know how much you have posted on various topics. That is what a content audit is for. Execute your content audit with these questions in mind:
- What have covered at great length?
- Do those topics continue to deserve lots of attention?
- What other topics did you cover less often?
- Has anything been seriously neglected?
Also make note of those topics; you will need that information later. Once you know how much attention various topics have been given, you can make better decisions about what topics, and subtopics, need to be covered more often. Deciding how often to post on those subjects is much easier.
Create a List of Blog Topics
That list of previously covered topics will prove useful as you plan your calendar. Pull it out and take a few minutes to add new topics, a new spin on a familiar topic, old stories that need an update, and places to look for story ideas. You will want to clean this up and organize it, because you will need to use it later.
Compile a list of topics and angles to take, so you can write more than one post on each topic. Cloud services for accounting might call for two topics - choosing the right service for your business, and when to go to the cloud versus when to use traditional accounting tools.
Take that list of topics and create draft headlines for each. The headline might be the only thing a casual browser reads, so be sure to make each headline compelling. Your in-house or freelance writer should know how to do that.
Pick a Frequency
Advice abounds on the topic of frequency. Should you post a blog every day and tweet five times a day? That advice might be fine in B2C marketing, and it holds to some degree in B2B content marketing.
The B2B space, one or two lengthy and substantive posts per week are plenty.
Lengthy and substantive posts have 800-1,200 words, and are packed with facts your readers can use.
Create a Content Map
You need a summary guide that shows who you are posting content for, what they would like to know, what problems they have and so on. You can create a concept map, which is not the same as a mind map or the type of brainstorming concept map you may be familiar with.
Don't reinvent the wheel when there's a great model to follow.
Sticking to it: Create an Editorial Calendar
These first four steps lay the groundwork for your content. You now know what you have, what you want, and how often you want post, and who you are targeting.
Now it’s time to detail a plan for content execution! Mapping this information into an editorial calendar puts the brainstorm into an catalogued plan.
Assign Jobs to People
For a small to medium sized, having one or two writers and a reviewer/editor makes a good editorial team.
The latter person should, of course, be a pretty good writer but should also know enough about the business and customer base to make sure the posts are on point. Both editing ability and business knowledge will prove indispensable if you farm out blog writing.
Set Publication Dates
Make sure your editorial calendar has a column for targeted publication dates. In our editorial calendar, we have a “target” and an “publish” date. The first is our goal. The second is the day it actually gets published. This analyze on a weekly basis if we are meeting our goals.
A note on seasonal postings - A Christmas post or an Independence Day post might make absolutely no sense in the B2B space, but holidays aren't the only seasons that matter.
Tip: Plan content around seasonal interests
Customers might encounter seasonal challenges with managing data, customer inquiries, sales, payment processing and so forth. Take those high seasons or low seasons into account. Tax season is a thing, so a couple of tax season posts belong on the publishing calendar at some B2B companies.
Get Outside Help to Stick To Your Calendar
Many marketing teams are inflicted with the same problem: too much to do, not enough time (or resources) to do it.
But this doesn’t have to slow your blogging to a grinding halt.
If your team is pressed for resources and is simply not getting it done, consider an extra set of hands.
Outsource the Writing
These writing services are iterative - so your team will have to provide feedback to the writer to get it up to par. But you can plan ahead to keep your writer better informed. We suggest:
- Supplying the writer with your company’s writing style guide
- Including a short outline of the content you want to include
- Including specific internal and external links you want to include
- Specifying keywords to optimize the post
“But an outsider can’t write with the same subject matter expertise that we do”
To a certain extent, this is true. But a good writer will research the topic and work to adopt your style. As we said above, a little prepping of your writer will go a long way.
Now, Start Executing:
You should now be ready to compile a list of past topics and angles on those topics and write a list of new topics. You should also have an idea of how often to post where, and what your different customers would like to know. You also have an idea of how and where to acquire content.