Creating a content calendar for your blog can feel daunting. Many bloggers and businesses write content as the ideas come to them. While there’s nothing wrong with this strategy, the results may be frustrating at times, if, for example, the post you spent so much time writing is not read or shared by the people you wrote it for.
How do you solve this? For starters, put together a content strategy for your blog. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 60% of individuals and businesses with a written content strategy have effective blogs, compared to only 32% of those without one..
Here is our step-by-step guide to building a content calendar. Get started now and take the stress out of content creation in 2022.
1. Set Goals
You need to be very clear about your goals before you even begin to build your content calendar. Content goals can include things like:
- Generating online sales
- Building overall brand awareness
- Getting people to visit your physical store
- Building your personal brand through thought leadership
It’s best to focus on one or two goals to keep your blog content as clear as possible. Take your top 1-2 objectives and transform them into SMART goals to make them even more actionable. To do this, you need to define your goals in the following ways:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
- Achievable (agreed, attainable)
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)
Rather than simply saying, “I want to generate leads”, the SMART goal for your blog content would be, “I want to generate 100 new leads per month through entertaining blog posts that can be easily shared on my social media profiles 4 times a month.”
While tackling this step, it can also be helpful to define your call to action. This is what you want someone to do immediately after reading your blog, such as “sign up for my newsletter” or “place an order”.
2. Do a Brain Dump
This is the best way to start your content strategizing ー write down all of your ideas, no matter how big or small. It’s through this “brain dump” that you will discover the topics you are most passionate (and knowledgeable) about, and which will bring the best visibility to your brand.
During this exercise, you’ll likely find yourself returning to similar themes. This is an effective way to discover keywords for your content ー to help your blog get found on search engines. Yes, we’re talking search engine optimization (SEO), the often misunderstood art of crafting content in a way that boosts your ranking on Google (or Bing).
Once you’ve got a few themes and ideas down, you can input them into SEO tools to discover the keywords people are using to find similar content. There are plenty of free keyword research tools available to you, such as AnswerThePublic, Ubersuggest, and Keyword Surfer.
Choose a few keywords to focus on per blog post and include them throughout your content. Resist the temptation to add the keywords to every sentence; that’s called “keyword stuffing” and you’ll find that Google and other search engines actually punish websites and content creators that do that. Rather, simply add the keywords 3-7 times, depending on the length of your post.
3. Get Inspired By Others
Don’t know who your competitors are? It’s time to find out. Not only will
Check out your competitors’ content and how people are responding to it. This will help you stay on top of trends and serve to inspire the content you create. Are they getting a lot of shares or comments? What topics do they cover on their social media accounts that get a lot of engagement? Read reviews of their products or services to see what pain points they are solving for their customers.
Remember, however, that being authentic to your brand and your story is key. It’s great to be inspired and informed by the content your competitors are creating, but to differentiate yourself from them you need to be yourself.
4. Use the Ingredients You Already Have
If you have been creating content for a while you already have analytics to draw from. Take some time to review content you’ve already published and how it performed. You might discover surprising facts about how your blog performs. Dig into the numbers to uncover what your customers and readers are consuming.
You can also repurpose old content to fit with your new strategy. Spruce up blog posts from a few months or years ago to take into account new information, and add your new-found keywords to give old blog content a new life.
5. Explore Other Ways to Share Content
Blogs don’t have to be only written content. Find where your customers are online and meet them there. This could be TikTok Videos or Instagram Stories that share quotes and images from your latest blog post, with a link to read the entire piece on your website. Instagram allows anyone to share links through Stories making your blog more discoverable. It could also look like video content, infographics, podcasts, custom emojis, and more.
6. Set Up a Content Calendar
Now that you have identified your ideas and your keywords. It is time to plan your content calendar.
A content calendar can help you plan a month, a quarter, or even a year into the future. This is a great way to keep yourself (and your team) on track. By using a content calendar, you can better manage your time and plan sales or other promotions.
You can easily find free content calendar templates online. Your calendar can also be something that you create yourself in an Excel spreadsheet or something you share with your team via Google Docs.
HubSpot is a great example that you can download directly for free or use as a template to create your own. You can also try out paid options (many of which have free trials) for content calendars that are more interactive and easier to share with a team, such as Trello.
You can also use content calendars to store the backlog of ideas that you don’t yet want to include in your content strategy, but that you also don’t want to forget about. A tool like CoSchedule will keep track of this content, or simply create a Word document.
7. Get Scheduling
Now that you have planned out your content you are ready to write.
However, your content strategy doesn’t end when you hit “publish” ー you need to actually promote your new content. The easiest way to do this is by using scheduling tools.
Get the word out through your social media accounts without even having to think about it, by scheduling posts to go out several times a month promoting your new content. Remember to use the keywords you identified for the content to stand out in the crowded online landscape.
Social media scheduling tools such as Hootsuite, Later, and Buffer are great for scheduling or you can use some of the native tools provided by social platforms.
By using the tips and tricks we’ve laid out here, you’ll have a solid calendar of planned content to support the building of your brand or business.
Remember: the secret to success is creating a plan and sticking to it. Here’s to making it happen ー in 2022 and beyond.