Without calendars, our life, quite literally, will be a snafu. We won’t know the date or when the all-important meeting with financers is, or when your dentist’s appointment is. In a way, calendars keep our lives organized. Replace ‘life’ with content in this equation, and you’d need a content calendar to keep it all organized.
Creating content is not a random thing. It is a step-by-step process that involves significant tasks: creating content and various sub-tasks, format, design, SEO, posting on social media, etc.
Sometimes this process is more straightforward; other times, you’ve to glean pieces from different sides to make it presentable. To make sure it all stays organized, you need a content calendar.
Yes, you can take on the whole process, bypassing the part where you’ve organized. But, there will always be a possibility of you missing out on something – and in instances, something ‘huge’ – if you’re not organized.
It’s like you realize on 8 pm Saturday that you had to take your dog to the vet at 3 pm. Alas! Only if you had a calendar would things be different.
Why do you need a content calendar?
You don’t need one if you run a personal blog where you occasionally create content – do a post, write a blog, or publish a video.
Even if you are professionally producing the content, you can also work without it – How well? That’s debatable. But, it brings organization, and who has ever hit a bummer with some ‘organization’?
Let’s look at some more compelling reasons why you should create a content calendar.
It saves your ideas from being lost
We all get a bucket full of ideas. But only a few drops lead to actual fruition. Rest, well, they get lost – some in our minds, others during the process.
Having your ideas together in one place helps you pursue them and analyze which ones can be worked upon.
Say you get an idea; the first thing you do is note it down so that it doesn’t fizzle out from your memory.
If you put it in a calendar, you can work out how it should take shape. You can find resources, create art, do SEO, and finally publish it.
All these subtasks mentioned in an organized form in a calendar help put your ideas into reality.
You can track the progress of your work
Another upside of using a calendar to organize content creation is that all the tasks are assigned to people with deadlines.
It helps in keeping track of how much work is done and what is left. Without a calendar, things get lost in communication, and you end up with a lot less than you expect.
The writer is assigned to submit the blog on the given day. For example, a title is decided upon. The editor will then have a specified time to edit and send it for revision if needed. Simultaneously, the designer is working on the header image.
The SEO guy will optimize it, and on the final day, you have a complete product at your hand. Since everything was in one place, it all came together, and the content is published on the assigned date.
Organizing saved the day!
It makes collaboration less hectic
The biggest reason for creating a content calendar is that it makes it easier for teams to collaborate.
As I said above, many pieces have to come together to put content into a presentable form. These tasks are assigned to different people (unless you can do it all by yourself).
In the latest content management tools like Asana or Trello, you can coordinate with the entire team without relying on external communication. You can update tasks, move the cards in different lists to show at which stage they currently stand, and communicate with your team in the management too.
It lets the team know what the progress is and ensures that all work is done on time.
How to go about it?
If you Google about ‘how to make a content calendar,’ you will find various content calendar examples. A calendar can be a simple spreadsheet with rows of topics, or it could be a Trello board with eight columns and multiple cards.
In the end, a viable calendar is what works for you.
Here are some tips if you are looking to make a workable calendar.
Put every detail in it
A content calendar is a lot more than just writing down a topic and marking it done when it is published. It has everything; how many elements will go into the content, how much time it will take, at what stage is the current content, and the final product.
It must mention the priorities, deadlines, requirements, modifications, edits, and progress. Its purpose is to optimize the process of content creation. So, add every detail about your content requirements to the calendar.
Create ‘realistic’ deadlines
Even with all the organization, there are still chances of you not being content with the end product. If the deadline is upon you, you might have to publish a low-quality work or extend the deadline.
So, it is essential to keep deadlines that your team can easily achieve. Another thing is to avoid very tight scheduling. For example, there has to be time for the designer to make amendments to the graphics or the writer to add some more text to give the blog a complete feel.
There should always be a buffer of a day or two from when you’ve finalized the content and the deadline to publish it. It will give you time to go through your content and put – or correct – any missing piece that you might feel is left out.
Don’t overcomplicate it
Your calendar doesn’t have to be unnecessarily stacked with to-do lists or tasks. It shouldn’t give your team members a headache to decipher the duties.
Keeping the calendar simple will help process tasks much easily. If you are using a spreadsheet, put color codes to notify which stage the content is on.
If you are using any content management software, make sure your team understands how it works. When we started using Asana at the beginning of our work from home last year, we had to brief the entire team on how it works. Since we were moving from e-mails and group chats to this whole new world, many of us – me too – found it hard to grasp its intricacies.
So, the team must have a clear understanding of the calendar’s working and their tasks.
Tools to create a content calendar
The primary reason behind a calendar is to get your team on board at one place, assign them tasks, and piece them together to get your desired content on time. Frankly, whatever helps you in doing that is a calendar.
From a sticky note to the dashboard on one of the content management tools, the best content calendar ideas are those that get the job done for you. Here are a few examples of the most common tools that people use to create a calendar.
Google sheets are the most basic form of a calendar that you can create. Since it can be easily shared with all the team members, it can easily be accessed by every team member.
In using Google sheets as calendars, one can give color codes to different stages. For example, if the title is assigned, mark it with yellow color. When it is published, label it blue, and so on.
Google Calendar is workable for those who run a solo blog. Since you’re responsible for everything, it is easier to set tasks in the calendar to indicate the due date.
It is not a viable solution for the team as you can’t mention sub-tasks or communicate with your team.
The name gives it away. Coschedule offers a content marketing schedule that can be used to organize tasks and optimize productivity. The calendar allows you to put all your marketing tasks in one place.
It also enables you to plan for weeks and even months in advance.
It is not a content management tool, but a WordPress plugin can function as a calendar.
It is a simple calendar grid to add your blog posts and articles to your website. It allows you to draft posts and even quickly edit them within the calendar.
Asan is a project management tool that also doubles as a calendar to organize content. It is perfect for an organization that has a group of people working on content creation.
It is the ideal tool to bring the entire team together and to assign a task with a due date. The team lead can easily track progress and communicate with all the members within the tool.
Trello is another project management tool to create lists that indicate progress and assign tasks to the team using cards. The task details are added to these cards, and they can be moved to different lists at each stage of completion.
You can use several other tools to organize the process of content creation. The best one is the one that suits your team and your nature of work.
Having a calendar to keep track of your content optimizes the process and makes it repeatable. Once you have perfectly established a content creation process, you can repeat it multiple times. It helps your team get a grip on the process and makes the whole process smoother.
So, make a content calendar for your team today and see how well it works for you. Do give us your feedback in the comments below.