10 Tips to Creating an Effective Content Calendar » Succeed As Your Own Boss

10 tips for creating an effective social image of your content calendarA content calendar is an easy way to preserve your most scarce resource as an entrepreneur: your time. It’s an effective tool for coordinating content creation and helps you manage your weekly workload into clear, manageable tasks. The key is to create content early to give yourself time to get it right while you’re busy running your business.

In my world, I dedicate one day a week to content creation and have a master content calendar for my team that schedules the four types of content we publish each week: blog posts, The SBL Buzz Newsletter, Boss Tip Videos and Smallbizchat’s The Podcast. In this article, I’ll explain how I manage my weekly content using a content calendar (and how you can too!).

10 tips for an effective content calendar

By implementing a content calendar, you’ll spend less time wondering what to create and instead focus on developing the creation itself. Here are my 10 tips for creating a content calendar that keeps your ideas organized and your content flowing.

10 Tips for Creating an Effective Content Calendar Content Strategy Image

1. Define your goals

When planning your content, it all starts with your goal. Is your content meant to build brand awareness, generate leads, refer traffic to your website, drive sales, or possibly increase your Instagram followers? Your goal will determine the type of content you need to develop. Pushing content without a clear purpose won’t benefit your business. Start by deciding what your customer needs to know and where they hang out online. The answer to these questions should be used to determine the right social channel and content formats.

2. Use a template

There are many free content calendars online. Choose one that works best for you. Your content calendar can be as simple as a Google Form or a basic Excel spreadsheet. The calendar should have a share option if you have a person or company helping you develop content or do social promotion. Your content calendar should include at least the following information:

  • theme
  • Content type
  • Channel where the content will be published
  • Date and time of publication
  • Option to republish (Example: A video interview can be turned into a podcast or promoted in a newsletter and your blog).

For content calendar templates, examples and ideas, check this out Article from HubSpot.

3. Choose your channels

10 Tips for Creating an Effective Content Calendar Social Media Channel Image

Once you have a detailed customer profile and you’ve identified the social channels your target customers use, you can define the type of content you need to create. You should also consider the type of content your potential customers prefer. Keep in mind that some people like to read, others like to listen, and some people prefer to learn by watching videos. Consider publishing the same content in different formats to promote it to a wider audience. To maximize your efforts, you should only focus on one or two social media sites to build an online community. It’s best to survey your target or existing customers to find out what types of content they prefer. Make sure your content calendar isn’t just a social media calendar; it should also include other content, such as expert articles, guest blogs, and podcast interviews.

4. Brainstorm content topics

A great way to figure out the best content topics is to come up with a comprehensive list of challenges your target customers face. What do you want to teach people? How can you demonstrate your experience? Focus on creating high-quality content. No one will hire you or see you as a thought leader if your content is “okay.”

5. Decide how often to post

Determine how often you can realistically publish new content. Since creating content takes a lot of time, it’s important to choose a posting frequency that works for you. You should develop enough content to generate regular traffic to your website and provide value to your customers. Can you post content 2-3 times per week or should you opt for just two posts per month? Whatever you decide, it’s a good practice to post content on the same day and time each week.

6. Start filling out the content calendar

    10 Tips for Creating an Effective Content Calendar Posting Frequency

Start with the topics you want to cover and any national holidays that are significant to your market. For example, I always develop content to celebrate National Small Business Week in May. Then you need to start filling in the gaps with relevant content, such as:

  • Blog posts: This is where you share your story and build trust with your target audience and teach your core content to highlight your expertise.
  • Visual content: Use short videos or images of events, behind the scenes, products, marketing campaigns and projects to engage your target audience. People are always interested in fun behind-the-scenes details of how your business works.
  • Publications in the series: Create a series by developing two or more pieces of content to educate your target customers on a specific topic.
  • External content: This includes expert articles, op-eds, guest blogs or podcast interviews.
  • Seasonal Events: Are there any special events or holidays held in your industry? For example, if you sell spa packages for couples, you could develop content about 10 ways to celebrate your love for Valentine’s Day.
  • Customer Stories: Celebrate happy customers in your content. Highlight customer reviews and testimonials or develop full case studies of the results you’ve achieved for customers.

7. Develop perennial content

10 Tips for Creating an Effective Content Calendar image of perennial content

Everlasting content is content that remains relevant long after it is first published. Evergreen content is search-optimized content that continually stays “fresh” for readers. The great thing about evergreen content is that it’s also easy to reintroduce your old, timeless articles to your blog by adding links to your more recent content related to similar topics. These are the common evergreen formats.

  • Lists: A typical list post will prominently feature a number in the title. For example, the 25 best small business coaches to follow on Twitter.
  • Advices: People love to read helpful tips that will help them generate quick results.
  • How: Instructional content is popular in any format. What do your customers want to learn?
  • Videos: Video content converts better than any other online content, especially if it’s advice.
  • Checklists: Checklists are used effectively to help your customers move through critical tasks quickly and easily.
  • Tutorials: This is not just a list of tools. Tor make it valuable content, you need to add tutorials with screenshots, videos, tips on how to get started, usage hacks, and insightful comments detailing the pros and cons of pricing.
  • Resources: People want to know the best resources to help them achieve their goals. Make a list post of your favorite relevant resources.
  • Product Reviews: Product or book reviews are content that people enjoy.

8. Have a reuse strategy

You don’t always have to create content from scratch. Old blog posts can also be reused and updated through different channels, such as turning them into short videos, podcasts or infographics. Your potential customers may be looking for information on multiple platforms, so it can be a good idea to present similar content in different formats. Not sure where to start with content repurposing? Check out my article How to create a repurposing strategy for your best content.

9. Review your plan

10 Tips for Creating an Effective Content Calendar Review your plan

There is no hard and fast rule about how far in advance your content should be planned. But I can tell you that it’s a good idea to develop content at least a month or two in advance since you still have your business. It may be a good idea to review the content calendar periodically to help you stay on top of things and plan for the upcoming quarter.

10. Monitor your content

After spending a ton of time and money developing content, it’s important to measure your publishing schedule against results. Use Google Analytics to see what drives referral traffic to your website and what is the most popular content on your site. It’s also important to track actions, comments, and engagement. Additionally, you’ll want to evaluate how many opt-ins you generate from your contact magnets and social shares. Sales are the most obvious metric to track. Be sure to ask all new customers how they heard about you or send a survey after the sale.

Flexibility is key!

These ideas will get you started on creating a content calendar for your small business blog. Once you know what content your audience is interested in, give them more of what they want! Don’t be afraid to change the content format based on what you’re seeing in your analytics. Or date/time/post, post frequency, or anything else we’ve discussed here. Your content calendar will give you structure, but to stay consistent, you’ll want to review it regularly and adjust as needed.

Have additional tips on how to create a content calendar? Let us know about them in the comments!

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