When you want to be effective with your content marketing efforts, it’s important to develop a content calendar. A systematized content calendar will help you plan out the content you will need to create and save you time by setting up a system you can use over and over again. It will help you create, queue, and publish your content at the right time, in order to promote the events, products, services, and information that your audience needs.

The point of creating a content calendar is to ensure that you, as well as those with whom you work, can all be on the same page in regards to content creation for your business. This may include content for your blogs, social media accounts, courses, launches, and more. Plus, all of the content needs to go together to get the marketing results that you want.

Pick a Project Management Platform

The first step to creating a re-usable content calendar is picking a project management platform that has features such as, checklists, due dates, and the ability to add multiple team members to each project.  Trello is excellent for creating a content calendar, but you may prefer Basecamp, Asana, or Teamwork.  There are others as well, but the point is to find one that works well for you and then learn the features that will save you time once a basic framework is created.

Identify the Topics You Need to Cover

Before you get started creating a calendar, you need to know what type of topics you need to cover. It’s important to identify a specific niche and then work from there.  What topics would go along with your product?  What other companies provide valuable information your customers would enjoy?

Know Who Your Audience Is

Understanding your audience is one of the most important things you can do. This will help you with content creation because you will know what your audience needs to know about your niche in order to decide to make a purchase from you.  If you haven’t created a Facebook pixel yet, do that and start looking at the data.  Who is following you?  Are they male or female, do they have children? What other topics are they interested in? How old are they?  All of this is important to know before you create content so you can customize it accordingly.

Determine What You Already Have in Terms of Content

Check the inventory you already have regarding content. Update anything that needs updating, and practice good internal linking to bring attention to other content to your audience.  Can you repurpose blog posts into videos? Update your images? Tweak evergreen posts that have previously proved popular?  Find out how to maximize what you’ve already done.

Make a List of the Products and Services You Want to Promote

What are the products and services you want to promote right now? From that list, you should be able to create at least five to ten pieces of content for each product or service.

Know the Objective of Every Piece of Content

When you create any piece of content, you need to know what the ultimate point is. Is it to get newsletter subscribers? Is it to make a sale? Is it to educate before pitching the product or service? Is it to get new leads?  Define your purpose and write the copy accordingly.

Note Launch Dates for New Products, Events, or Services

Within the calendar, note the launch dates of any new products or services that you plan to promote. This will enable you to work backward on the calendar to push out content at the right time.  Allow several weeks for a “buffer” because problems and delays are bound to happen.  Always try to stay ahead of schedule.

Create Your Schedule With Logical Headings

You’re going to want your lists in whatever project management platform you choose to make sense and include logical headings like article title, assigned to, draft due date, objective, promotion, keywords, CTA, and so forth. Leave a space for anything you want to track, including social media networks and so on.

Track Everything

You can create a simple spreadsheet and put it into Dropbox and connect it to your project management system for tracking. What you track will be what is successful, so don’t forget to find out which articles, resources, tweets, Instagram posts, Facebook posts, etc. are most and least popular.  What made them desirable to your followers? What made them stand out? How can you make future content even better?

Find Help

Creating a systematized content calendar seems like a lot of work, and it is, but it will save you untold hours in the long run.  Finding an online business manager or virtual assistant with project management skills is one of the best investments you can make in your business.  Ask them to create a system, a calendar, and a central tracking spreadsheet as well as creating content and scheduling it. You won’t be sorry and you’ll wish you did it sooner!