In today’s extremely dynamic digital marketing world, timing can mean the difference between success and failure. Having a well-designed content calendar in place will help and motivate you to produce and publish high-quality content on a regular basis. If you’ve read our quality vs. quantity piece, you already know that maintaining a balance between top-grade and high-volume content is a sure-fire way of achieving your content marketing goals.
A content calendar, also referred to as an editorial calendar, is a tool content marketers use to plan their future content output. A content calendar is a written schedule that consists of crucial information about a company’s upcoming content, including the type (article, blog post, case study, social media post, email newsletter, podcast, ebook, etc.), the title, the assigned author and editor, the status (in progress, complete, published), the projected publication date, the chosen distribution channels, and the promotional activities.
The amount of details that a content calendar contains depends on the scale and complexity of the content marketing campaign in question. Unsurprisingly, solo bloggers tend to have simpler content schedules compared to the editorial calendars of large businesses and organizations.
Content planning is an essential part of every successful content development strategy. A thoughtfully designed content calendar will help you, your marketing managers, and your content writing team collaborate well and stay organized, publish content on time, visualize the content marketing campaign in full, and, of course, achieve your content objectives. Content calendars also help you stay on top of the efficiency and success of your content production process.
The content production process consists of many moving parts: researching, outlining, writing, editing, and adding complementary multimedia. This means that there are usually many professionals involved in a content marketing project. To be able to do their jobs well, all team members need to be in the loop, i.e. know exactly what’s going on.
A detailed content calendar will inform your content creation team and outside partners what each member is responsible for, whom they should communicate with, and when they should complete their tasks. This is immensely important because some team members can’t start working until others complete their part.
For example, content writers can’t create outlines and begin writing until SEO specialists conduct keyword research; editors can’t suggest improvements until the first draft is ready for review; graphic designers can’t create visuals until the final version of the content piece is complete (unless you’ve decided on a more general design); etc.
An editorial schedule will also let everyone know when changes and adjustments to the content plan have been made. This reduces the need for frequent meetings and consultations, boosts efficiency, and ensures a smooth workflow.
As we mentioned above, a good content calendar will help you or your content production team approach content writing in an organized way. This, in turn, will help you stick to deadlines without rushing and compromising the quality of your work.
Meeting deadlines is key when producing and publishing content as part of a special-event content marketing campaign (Christmas, Black Friday, the launch of a highly anticipated product in a relevant industry, etc.) or a specific business strategy (annual sales, the introduction of a new line of products/type of service, etc.).
Having all your planned pieces of content written down will help you see the big picture that is your content marketing campaign and find any weak spots or opportunities for improvement.
For instance, your editorial calendar can ‘warn’ you that you’ve scheduled quite a few social media posts for a particular period of time and need to channel your efforts into other types of content (diversify your content output).
Your content schedule can also show you when you have room for a few more content pieces in a given week, month, or quarter, thus allowing you to make the most of your content production.
The ultimate purpose of your content calendar is to achieve your content marketing goals more easily. Since setting content objectives is typically done before creating a content calendar, this planning tool will assist you in completing them by keeping you on track to complete small tasks and meet key milestones, leverage popular events and beloved holidays, and sustain your target audience’s interest through consistency.
Since professional content calendars include due dates and other crucial details about every important step of the content creation process, you’ll be able to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of your content marketing efforts with ease. In other words, these tools give you the opportunity to locate and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your content production process.
Understanding why a certain piece of content is performing well (or badly) will help you replicate the successful content plan (or avoid making the same mistakes) when building your next editorial schedule.
For some great tips on creating an effective content calendar, check out our article here.
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