How to Create a Content Calendar: A Step-by-step Guide for New Content Marketers

When you’re just getting started with content marketing, there are several skills you must master. Writing compelling copy and mastering SEO are important but there’s a lot more to content marketing than just writing well. Management skills are also critical, and many new content marketers are overlooking the importance of learning how to create a content calendar.

What is a Content Calendar?

Publications such as magazines use an editorial calendar to plan out their content and ensure writers, editors, and designers have appropriate deadlines so that everything is ready for the next issue.

A content calendar takes this idea of an editorial calendar from traditional publishing and adapts and expands upon it to make it a more suitable and useful tool for the world of online publishing.

Your content calendar is a tool that will help you to plan out all your different types of content including blog articles, videos, social media posts, and more. It will also ensure your writers, editors, social media managers, and everyone else on your content team knows what they’re supposed to be working on, at any time.

Why Do You Need a Content Calendar?

When you’re creating articles for your company blog, you may not be bound by the strict deadlines required for a regular print publication. But this doesn’t mean that you can fly by the seat of your pants without any real schedule or deadlines either.

A content calendar will help you to stick to a consistent publication schedule, which is important for building an audience and SEO.

It also helps you to juggle and keep track of the tasks of several different people, allowing you to manage the content process both on a day-to-day basis and with a longer-term view.

As you progress through the year, it’s likely there’ll be various events such as product launches that you’ll want to draw attention to in your content. Seasonal content can also be a great way to attract the attention of your audience. Without planning this out in advance on a content calendar, you run the risk of getting too wrapped up in your day-to-day tasks that you forget about these upcoming critical dates or leave it until the last minute to create related content. Planning out your content on a calendar in advance avoids this unfortunate scenario.

So how exactly do you get started creating a content calendar?

1. List Your Topics and Article Ideas

The first step is to get all of your ideas for content jotted down where everyone can see them. If you’ve only done broad research into the type of topics you want to cover, this is the time to be more specific and come up with some rough article titles and content ideas with related keywords you want to target in each piece of content.

The amount of content you plan out in advance will depend on how much content you intend to publish and how fast your industry moves. If you’re writing mostly about evergreen topics, you can plan further in advance.

As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to plan out your content at least a month in advance, although many companies plan six months or a year ahead. Planning this far in advance doesn’t mean that you can’t adjust and adapt your calendar as you go along.

Formula for a winning content calendar
Source: Association Headquarters

2. Plan Out Your Content Formats

Next, your content ideas and topics need to be mapped to the most appropriate content formats for each subject.

Some topics may be ideal as a blog post, while others may work better as a video. For topics that you want to really cover in depth, you may want to consider producing an ebook.

Don’t forget about emails and social media posts. These can be valuable content in their own right, as well as be used to promote content on your brand site.

Source: Hubspot

3. Decide on a Publication Frequency

Sticking to a regular publication schedule that you can sustain with high quality content is more important than producing a high volume of crap content.

Decide how regularly you can produce and publish content based on the resources you have available, and plan out your content based on this schedule.

Don’t try to be too ambitious. It’s better to aim for one blog post a week that is well-written and produced, than try to stretch for three that end up being rushed and of lower quality.

4. Plan out Your Tasks and Deadlines

Each piece of content you produce will have several tasks associated with it and you may well have several people assigned to work on it.

For example, for a single blog post these tasks might include:

  • Write the post
  • Edit the post
  • Source images for the post
  • Format the post
  • Publish the post
  • Promote the post

When scheduling your content, you’ll need to allow plenty of time for each of these tasks, especially if different people are working on them.

You can probably see how quickly this can start to become overwhelming, particularly if you’re working with a large team and trying to manage a high volume of different types of content.

This is why it makes sense to use a calendar specifically designed for content marketing, rather than messing around with various spreadsheets and calendar apps.

A Content Calendar Designed for Content Marketers

We designed the DivvyHQ content calendar specifically to overcome the issues with existing calendar and content planning systems.

Simple, yet powerful, the calendar allows content teams to organize their content and tasks in an intuitive way, with multiple views and filter options so that you only see what you want to focus on.

If you’re outgrowing your existing content calendar solution or you’re new to content marketing and want to maximize your efficiency from the start, get in touch to try DivvyHQ for free today!