It’s an unhealthy practice to always wait for inspiration before creating content. Instead, you should actively brainstorm content ideas and plan their execution. A content calendar is absolutely essential for this. This avoids writer’s block, keeps you consistent, and helps cultivate an engaged audience.
There are several content calendar apps out there, but if you’d rather not use complicated software and templates, Google Calendar is your best bet. It’s simple, easy and, above all, completely free. We’ll show you how to use it to plan your content strategy in seven easy steps.
1. Create a new calendar
The first thing you need to do is create a new timeline for your content. Open Google Calendar and navigate to Other calendars on the left side of the screen. Click on the plus sign to its right and select Create a new calendar.
You’ll see a new screen with fields for your calendar’s name, description, and time zone. Fill them in accordingly. If you post to multiple channels, we suggest creating calendars for each posting channel and naming them accordingly.
If your team works in different time zones, or if you travel and need to plan around the time to get home, you can select the time zone you want to apply to your calendar from the Time zone drop-down menu.
Once you have filled in all the fields, press Create a calendar, and your new calendar will be automatically created. If necessary, you can also modify this information. Just click on the three points next to the calendar you want to edit and select Settings and Sharing. This will take you to the calendar settings page, where you can make any changes you want.
2. Share your calendar with your team
Now that your calendar is ready, the next step is to share it with your team. back to Settings and Sharing page and scroll until you find Share with specific people title. Click on Add peoplethen enter the email address or name of your team member.
When you share, you can also set the level of access. As a best practice, each member of the content team should have a minimum permission to See full event details, while only a few people should be able to make changes or invite others. This way there are no unwanted changes to your schedule and every team member is supported.
3. Color code your publishing channels
Color-coding your publishing channels makes it easy to organize and track your schedule. If you have created separate calendars for each publishing channel, you can easily do this in Google Calendar by assigning a color to each calendar.
Hover your pointer over the calendar you want to assign a color to, and click the three points. Choose one of the available colors or choose a custom color. Also, make sure the colors you choose are distinct enough that you can tell them apart at a glance.
4. Decide on your posting schedule
The key to becoming a successful content creator is consistency, and that’s what it’s all about. Here you will decide what kind of content you will create, how often and when. Simply click on the date and time you want to schedule the event and create a placeholder. It should look something like this:
Think of it as the skeleton of your content calendar. You don’t have to think of content ideas right away. Instead, you can just use placeholders to represent each piece. The goal is to create a structured schedule that is both consistent and practical for everyone on your team.
You can make this process a little easier by adjusting your calendar view. The calendar display setting is located in the upper right corner, next to the gear icon. If you click on it, you can choose between several view options, including a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly view. Adjust this setting to plan as broadly or granularly as you want.
5. Set up recurring events
If you have recurring content, for example, a newsletter that you send every Monday, you can set it up as a recurring event. Click on the event in question and select the pencil icon to create a recurring event. This will take you to the event details, where you can choose a pre-determined recurrence or create a custom one from the drop-down menu.
6. Fill in your calendar details
Now that you have your calendar and recurring events set, you can start brainstorming content ideas and incorporating them into your calendar. You can rely on idea generators, use certain sites to get content ideas, or develop them independently.
Once you have a sizable list of content ideas, start typing them into your calendar. Click on the pencil icon in one of your placeholder events and edit the name to reflect the title of the post. In the description, highlight what the post should cover and include any other information you feel is useful or important.
Once you have filled in this information, assign the post to a colleague by inviting them as a guest. To do this, simply click on the Add guest on the right side and enter the email address of the team member you want to assign to this task. Hit to safeguard when you are done applying your changes.
7. Attach relevant documents
Google Calendar lets you add attachments to events. This is great for content planning, as it means you can attach content summaries, documents, images, audio recordings, or whatever else you need to create your content successfully. The only caveat is that you must first upload this file to your Google Drive.
To get started, navigate to the event details and click on the paper clip icon. This will bring up your Google Drive. From there, you can choose any file you want to attach and add it to your event.
Schedule posts using Google Calendar
There are several reasons why you should seriously consider using Google Calendar to manage your editorial calendar, but the two main ones are its ease and simplicity. You won’t have to learn brand new software or struggle with learning curves. Instead, you can do all your content planning from the familiarity of Google Calendar.
However, if you manage a lot of content, for example if you’re a social media manager, Google Calendar may not meet all of your content scheduling needs. Instead, more sophisticated social media content calendar tools may be better for you. So, before you switch content calendars, identify your needs and check if Google Calendar is doing a good job of meeting them.