Why Use a Content Calendar?
If you’re tired of that “hair on fire” feeling, the best thing you can do is learn to plan ahead. When you know what content will be shared when, it will be much easier to come up with the actual content when you sit down to write. Instead of spending time stressing (or procrastinating), when you have a content calendar in place, you can write the content ahead of time, then simply queue posts within a schedule and hit publish when the time comes.
When I was a director at an advertising agency, I had a client that personified “hair on fire.” They did everything last minute and often dropped plans when they latched onto the next shiny idea. For someone who was coordinating all of their online advertising, this made it very difficult for me to do my job in leading the account, and made it hard for me to manage the team members under me.
So what was the solution? You guessed it! We collaborated on a content calendar which became the roadmap for all of our advertising activity. By creating a content calendar, we were able to take time to plan ahead for big holidays and set deadlines for campaign approval. Because we knew where we would publish our content and when, the calendar also helped keep both the client and my team accountable.
Although it might take some extra work to plan and get it set up, here are a few more reasons why you should consider using a content calendar:
- Everyone on the team is aligned and accountable. Even if you’re a photographer working alone, having a plan that you’re determined to stay accountable to can help immensely with productivity. If you’re working with other collaborators or employees, having a plan in place means you can keep tabs on how the team is representing the brand in the digital sphere.
- You get a high-level view of your content & distribution. Once you understand all the content that you have available in your wheelhouse, putting it into a content calendar helps you decide how to distribute it throughout the month or year. This also makes it easier to create promotional and social media posts to promote that content.
- You’ll also get an idea of what content you’re missing. If you know that Valentine’s Day is a big day for sales, and you realize you’re missing content to promote your sales, you give yourself the lead time to get ahead of the holiday.
- With this in mind, you can also plan for specific milestones. Do you have anything in your business that you like to celebrate, that your readers or fans would enjoy celebrating with you? Making sure that these moments are accounted for in your content calendar can help to foster a sense of community with your fans and followers.
- Last, but probably most importantly, you will understand your workflow better. By taking time to plan your content, you’ll eventually be able to document how long it takes for you or your team to create and prep content for publication. This helps you to establish appropriate timelines and deadlines and goes back to our first point about creating accountability!
Once you have a content calendar in place, it also becomes easier to avoid errors like asking your Facebook followers to retweet something. These kinds of cross-platform errors happen when you are rushed for time and haven’t dedicated thought to how each social media platform works, and how its language and audience differs. According to some marketers, posting the same message across all of your social media is a cardinal sin.
While it might seem easier to simply have your Instagram posts automatically become Tweets, this ends up leading to the image just being tweeted as a link:
By having a social media calendar in place, you’re able to craft an appropriate caption for each platform that you decide to use. And then you can simply copy and paste the caption into the platform or into scheduling software.
Creating a social media calendar also helps you make sure that your social networks don’t go silent for too long. If someone is interested in your photography, but sees that your Facebook hasn’t been updated in six months, they may assume you’re not in business anymore. Though the opposite might be true – that you’ve been too busy with clients to post – having an active social media presence helps assure potential clients.
Personally, I also like having a social media calendar to look back on as a reminder of when certain content was last posted. For many of us, social media can be an added stress as it puts pressure on us to churn out new content all the time. However, the life of a social media post can be rather short, so you can always reshare evergreen content. This can be a great way to keep your platforms active without having to reinvent the wheel.
Using your calendar as a reference, you can see when an article was last posted and what captions you used on various social networks. If it’s been long enough that your audience won’t feel bombarded with recycled content, feel free to use it with a refreshed caption!
Admittedly, sometimes you can be struck with a moment of brilliant inspiration and come up with amazing blog posts or the perfect Instagram caption. But relying on a flash of brilliance every single time you sit down to do your marketing will end up creating more potential for stress and burnout. Instead, take some time to write down all of your brilliant content ideas at once when there is less pressure, and map out time to get it written. Then sit down to create your content calendar.
If you’re struggling to figure out what kind of content you should be planning, check out our content and link building article.
How to Create a Content and Social Media Calendar
Before we jump into creating your content calendar, it’s important to do an audit of two things: the content that you already have available on your website and blog, and of your overall social networks.
Auditing Your Content
In our article on content creation and link building, we discussed that content needs to supply a demand. If your content hasn’t gotten much audience traction until now, ask yourself if it is answering questions that your ideal customers might have. Think about ways you can improve or update your current content to answer those questions and address those needs, instead of worrying about starting from scratch.
For example, if you’re a wedding photographer and until now your blog posts have been mostly uploading images from recent weddings, ask yourself why your past clients have come to you. What questions did they have for you? And what ways can you weave those two things together into your blog post? Maybe it is through telling a story about the wedding, or maybe it’s through discussing your approach to photography. Find ways to make the blog posts more relevant to the people that you want to attract.
If you have Google Analytics installed on your website, take a look at the Behavior Reports to see how the content on your site is behaving. You’ll want to look at how many page views the content has, as well as how long viewers spend on the page. If you see certain content has a lot of page views and there’s a lot of time spent on that page, it stands to reason that visitors are engaged and spending time digesting it.