It’s the foundation that makes your content creation process easier.

Content calendars are a great tool for any marketer who wants to organize themselves. It’s got everything a content strategist needs to know to publish their content on time. This includes a full list of topics to create content on, the content types, the dates on which the content will be published, where the content will be distributed, and the people responsible for it. 

Because the content calendar is such a comprehensive document, designing a good one takes some skills. In this article, we’ll give you the secret sauce to create a useful content calendar that will help you create and publish your content quickly and easily.

Here are some steps you need to follow to create an amazing content calendar: 

#1: Empathize with your audience

The first step to designing a content calendar is to know who you’re designing it for. That’s why you need to invest the necessary time and effort into doing user research, and get to know your customers well. Having deep conversations with them about their needs is an absolute must!

Once you’ve interviewed your users and gotten a better understanding of their needs, you’ll be in a good position to clearly define the problems your potential users and customers have. Empathizing with them by putting yourself in their shoes is a critical step in this process. 

You can create journey maps to draft out the journey your users take to consume your content on your blog and social media channels, or just ‘walk the customer’s journey’ by being your own customer. Either way, you’ll learn invaluable insights that will help you through to the next step in the process! 

#2: Brainstorm to come up with content ideas

The next step is to come up with creative solutions to the insights you gathered while doing your user research and empathizing with customers. You can do this in a few ways, like having a marketing team meeting with your colleagues to come up with topics for blog articles that solve real problems for your customers, or infographics that present your data in meaningful ways.

Think about your current content assets. See if you can repurpose existing content in a new format so you can save time and money. Knowing what your current content assets are will help you ideate ‘content experiments’ which will help you learn what works, and what doesn’t. 

Another strategy is to think about content ideas that perfectly fit your brand’s persona. For instance, if you’re Apple, you should think of content ideas that are highly innovative, user-friendly and design-led. Your content speaks volumes about your brand, so it’s important to pay attention to the style, persona, and overall appeal of the content you’re planning to put out there!

Delve deeper into what content formats you want to publish on your blog and social media channels. There are many options you can choose from, such as blog articles, eBooks, whitepapers, infographics, interactive content, videos, GIF’s and a lot more. You need to explore what clicks best with your audience. 

Another way to think about content ideas is to take stalk of your human resources and the data available to you. The people working in your company are the best sources for content ideas. They’re the ones who know everything about your product or service, and understand the market well, the hopes, aspirations, dreams, and issues your stakeholders have. That’s why you must engage in something called ‘collaborative content creation’ through asking your staff what they can help you produce.

#3: Organize it all in a schedule

Once you have a ton of content ideas, it’s time to organize it all in a schedule. The whole purpose of having a content calendar is for you to know what you’re going to publish and when you’re going to publish it. That’s why it’s called a ‘content calendar’! 

A few essential things you need to include in your content schedule are: (i) the content topic; (ii) content type; (iii) content creator; (iv) publishing date; (v) content distribution channel. If you’ve got this nailed, you’ll find it a lot easier to access and use your content calendar. 

The important thing to note here is that there’s no straight jacket approach required to design a great content calendar. You can create your own unique content calendar format that best suits your business needs, and need not follow any other format off the shelf. If you don’t have much time though, a simple Google search with the words “content calendar formats” will give you a whole ton of calendar canvasses to choose from. 

#4: Publish, promote, track, tweak

Your content calendar’s primary purpose is to help you publish your content on time, every time. However, if you want to make the most of the document, you can also use it to help you promote, track and tweak your content.

You can record where you’re planning to publish and promote your content by adding the names of publications, set a potential date to track how your content is performing, and also set a date for tweaking your content type and adjusting it for better traction. 

Wrapping it up

We suggest that you use some of the insights in this article as your guiding light to create an amazing content calendar. Consistency in content creation, promotion and distribution is the key to long term content marketing success, and your content calendar will is probably the most important step that will help you achieve your marketing goals!

**About the Author: Lorie Loe is the Executive Director of Content at Elevation Marketing. An acknowledged industry leader with over 20 years of experience in content marketing and strategy, Lorie’s deep expertise integrates a highly creative and intuitive approach to B2B storytelling with practical implementation and measurement throughout all organizational tactics and channels.