Content marketing is the new digital thing, I think we can all agree.
But all of this delicious content doesn’t just happen on its own, unfortunately. It takes strategy and planning in order to create blogs, white papers, videos, websites, or whatever else you produce to engage with your audience.
To effectively coordinate all of your content ideas, it is necessary to create a content calendar.
Now, while you could spend some time creating your own content calendar from scratch, it’s obviously easier to just customize an existing template.
Fortunately, there are plenty of templates already out there, including our own Content Marketing Calendar which is part of the Digital Marketing Template Fileset.
I’ve also detailed a number of other resources below, but first let me delve into the reasons for having a content calendar.
Content Strategy: Best Practices Guide (Subscribers Only)
The purpose of a content calendar
Getting editorial teams to take notice of a content calendar can be difficult, because one of the reasons people start writing careers is to never have to look at spreadsheets. .
However, if your content production is tied to specific strategic marketing goals, it’s helpful to create a timeline so that you can plan ahead, delegate tasks, and gauge your success.
More specifically, a content calendar allows a business to:
- Note key events in the industry calendar.
- Plan for seasonal events, like Christmas or Easter.
- Make sure you create a variety of content rather than focusing on just one channel.
- Delegate specific tasks within the team.
- Make sure everyone on the content team knows their deadlines.
- Plan ahead so that content creation isn’t always a last-minute rush.
Overall, a content calendar should allow you to plan well in advance and track your progress, assuming people are actually sticking to it.
Potential data fields
Assuming you see the logic of having an editorial calendar, the next step is to decide what information you want to track.
For example, next to the month or week, you can choose to include:
- Important industry / seasonal events.
- Important events for your own business.
- Type of content.
- Theme / subject.
- Potential titles.
- Who is responsible for it?
- Potential audience.
- How will it be promoted (e.g. email, social)
- First draft deadline
- Final deadline
- Performance against KPIs.
I would recommend using only the fields that are absolutely necessary and removing any “optional” categories because if the spreadsheet is too big or complicated, it will just deter people from using it.
This is the moment you’ve all been waiting for. I’ve rounded up eight content calendar templates that you can download for free, although one of them requires an email address.
And here they are:
This download includes two calendars in one worksheet – an annual view and a monthly view.
There is also a sample calendar that has been completed to give you an idea of how it could be used.
It allows the user to make a very comprehensive content plan, with the annual view allowing you to map important dates or business milestones, while the monthly view gives a more detailed map of specific content.
Another free calendar that comes in the form of a handy Google document, this time created by Postcron and aimed at bloggers.
It has a very simple yet effective layout, with columns for author, subject, keyword, title, results, and conclusions.
Our friends at HubSpot posted a useful guide to create a simple content plan in Google Calendar.
It’s pretty basic and really only serves as a deadline reminder, but it allows content teams to share a centralized timeline that people will hopefully stick to.
Designed as a way to help nonprofits manage their content plans, Lightbox Google Doc Calendar comes with separate tabs for each month of the year.
It might not be the easiest template to master, but it’s pre-populated with annual events to give you a head start on content planning (although the events are all from 2013).
Editorial calendar for WordPress
It is a free WordPress plugin which gives you a calendar view of all your scheduled blog posts.
You can also edit posts in the calendar view, schedule new posts where gaps exist, or reschedule posts by dragging and dropping them to a new date.
It has 4.8 out of five stars out of over 130 users, so if you’re looking for an easy way to plan ahead on your WordPress blog, this might be a good option.
The Web. Look for. Social
This Excel Calendar is part of the “Marketing Game Changer Kit” and requires an email address for you to download.
However, it is a very handy tool that allows you to schedule blog posts, save topics, link to events or themes, choose keywords, and assign authors.
Bog Angus created this simple editorial calendar in Excel allowing you to follow your monthly “roadmap” in the same sheet as your specific content items.
There are also worksheets for tracking new ideas and recording the progress of completed content.
Content Marketing Institute
the The CMI Excel calendar consists of four worksheets: an overview of important dates, details about a specific blog post, headline ideas, and another for listing existing content.
Again, this is a fairly straightforward layout, but you can easily customize it to include any additional information that is relevant to your business.
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