5 Key Steps to Creating an Effective Content Calendar

Creating your very first editorial calendar can be challenging and time-consuming, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll want to execute every content marketing project with the help of a detailed, professionally-made schedule, regardless of its size and complexity.

Here’s how you can build an effective content calendar that will streamline your content creation process and get you where you want to go:

1. Choose the Right Tool(s)

Unless you’re an independent blogger and post every now and then without specific content marketing goals in mind, you’ll want to use a reliable tool to create and manage your content calendar. This, of course, can be a free program such as:

You can also choose paid software like:

Finally, if building an editorial calendar from scratch seems too complicated for you or you simply want to save some time, you can get started with a free content calendar template.

If you’re a small team of experts, you might want to avoid spending money on content planning/project management software and go with good-old Microsoft Excel or the increasingly popular Google Sheets. Both options are collaboration-friendly but take some time to set up.

Google Sheets and Slack can be a great combo: you can create and update your editorial schedule using the former and brainstorm and communicate using the latter. If you’ve never used it before, Google Sheets is an online spreadsheet program that shows changes in real time, which makes it really practical and time-saving. Plus, it’ll be easy to keep your team members up-to-date on all the changes in the schedule as soon as they happen.

In case your content marketing campaign requires the knowledge and work of numerous experts, consider investing in a top-rated content calendar software like CoSchedule or a versatile task management tool like Basecamp and use them as an editorial schedule. These tools offer lots of amazing features that will make your content schedule more visual and easy to understand.

2. Create a Content Backlog

Once you decide on a content calendar tool that suits the team’s needs, you’ll be ready to start listing your content ideas. If you plan on writing on various topics, consider categorizing or color-coding your ideas so the calendar is nice and neat. This, of course, is entirely up to you.

Although this list is the foundation of your editorial calendar, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s totally normal to eliminate some ideas, merge others, or make significant changes to your content strategy as a way to stay competitive and make the most of new trends.

When creating a content backlog, it’s smart to add as many columns or headings as possible, including:

  • Title,
  • URL,
  • Meta title,
  • Meta description,
  • Type of content or format,
  • Assigned content writer,
  • Content stage/project status, and
  • Target publication date.

3. Decide on the Frequency of Publication

It’s now time to decide how frequently to produce and distribute content. Naturally, this depends on your content marketing strategy, the goals you’ve set, and, of course, the platform. According to HubSpot’s research on social media publishing schedules, if you want to keep your Facebook or LinkedIn followers satisfied and engaged, it’s smart to publish between 2 and 5 high-quality posts per week. This number goes up when posting on chronology-based newsfeeds on social media platforms like Twitter. The more often you post, the higher your visibility.

When it comes to blogging frequency, you may need to publish 1 to 4 new posts every week if you want to maximize your organic traffic and bring clicks to your small blog. Larger blogs may need to work a bit harder—they need to publish 3-5 new and updated posts weekly to increase their organic traffic.

4. Schedule Every Part of the Content Production Process

To be able to complete this step, you need to first break down each piece of content into separate, manageable tasks. For example, your blog post creation process can include four stages, including:

  • Keyword research,
  • Outlining/structuring the content,
  • Writing,
  • Editing, and
  • Design.

Reducing the process to tasks will allow you to add each step to your content schedule and assign the right person to complete it. This, in turn, will make it easy to monitor your team’s progress and ensure that all deadlines are met.

Tip: If you decided to list your content ideas in Google Sheets (step 2), you might want to schedule the above-mentioned tasks in Google Calendar in the form of events so you can add your team members as guests.

5. Review and Optimize the Process Regularly

Your work shouldn’t end once you’ve built your very first editorial calendar. After you kick off your content production, you need to keep a close eye on your team’s performance and whether the schedule and division of labor is manageable. If they’re having trouble completing their tasks on time, you need to find out why. The reason may be the content calendar tool you’re using, the projected deadlines, the time between the steps of the content creation process, etc.

After you identify the weaknesses of your content calendar, you’ll be able to adjust and improve it so your content production process runs smoothly.

Content Calendars: Taking Control of Your Content Marketing Efforts

Building and using a detailed content calendar means leaving nothing to chance. This planning tool helps you keep your eye on the prize while making sure that top-notch content gets churned out seamlessly and consistently.

Despite what some of you might think, editorial calendars don’t eliminate flexibility. On the contrary—they help you stay organized and take advantage of every seasonal trend and special event.

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