A Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing: Creating Your Content Calendar (#5 of 5)

At this point, you’ve considered how to develop personas for your content marketing program, how to generate winning content ideas, and how to narrow down your channels to those that will deliver most efficiently. Now you need to think about how you might organize and execute your content program so that it effectively delivers on your strategy and for that, we develop a content calendar. Your content calendar will serve to keep you on track towards a well-balanced content marketing program.

Tracking Items

In the calendar you should be tracking the following 13 items:

  • 1. Publish Date: The date you’ve assigned for that piece of content to be published.
  • 2. Headline: A topical descriptor for each piece of content. That could be as simple as the headline you’re using or something a little more elaborate.
  • 3. Author: The name of the content author—of course, if you’re a one-person show this is one you can skip until needed.
  • 4. Owner: The “owner” is the person in charge of ensuring that the content gets produced. That is, whoever is responsible for stewarding that piece of content from idea to a publish-ready state and promoting it after publishing. Again, if you’re a one-person show, you can skip this one until applicable.
  • 5. Status: Status is essential for keeping track of your publishing pipeline. What it does is tell you where a given piece of content stands as it moves through your publishing process and should be mandatory, even if you are a one-person show. There are a lot of moving parts when you run a content marketing program and, even if you do it by yourself, you must be disciplined about tracking your production pipeline.
  • 6. Channels: This is where you list all the publishing and promotional channels you’ll be publishing that piece of content, including:
    • Your blog and/or website
    • Your email marketing program
    • Your social media presences. For this one, you should note whether you will be publishing and promoting via organic and/or paid social.
  • 7. Content Type: The type of content, in other words, a blog post, video, infographic, etc.
  • 8. Associated Image/Graphic: The image or graphic associated with the content. You should always include a visual with your content. For video that is part and parcel, but also for all blog and social posts. Visuals make your text content much more eye-catching and appealing. Include here the name of the file and the location where it’s saved. Additionally, keep in mind the following best practices for content-related images and graphics: 
    • Brand Identity: Define upfront a brand identity and stick to it.
    • Uniformity: Graphics and images need to have a uniform look and feel.
    • Naming Convention: Name your image and graphic files according to SEO best practices that dictate the name be something relevant to the material covered.
  • 9. Topic: This will come in handy long-term as it helps you keep track of the volume of content you have around any given topic. When you have a lot of content, being able to sort and scan it all by topic will be very useful.
  • 10. Meta Description: Here you will add a meta description for that piece of content.
  • 11. Headings: Here you’ll keep track of the HTML headings you’re using in that piece of content. In other words, your H1s, H2s, H3s and so on. Doing this helps ensure that your content is properly SEO tagged when published. Of course, in a lot of cases, these heading tags will be automatically added by your CMS, nevertheless, having them noted here is still essential because it helps you QA content before you publish. QAing your content to ensure proper tagging is critical as heading tags are vital for tech SEO.
  • 12. URL: Here you paste the URL for that piece of content, which is a good way to keep all your content links catalogued and in one place.
  • 13. CTA: Here you track all your calls to action (CTAs) associated with the piece of content. Keeping this column up-to-date is especially important if you’re testing multiple CTAs for one piece of content—like you might in an A/B test (a/k/a a split test)—or, alternatively, if you’re testing multiple formats for your CTAs. The latter might just mean, changing up the syntax or sequence of keywords to see which combination gets the best results. In general, keeping track of all your CTAs is critical to making sure your content is aligned with your strategy and goals.

For the above, you can use a spreadsheet (e.g. Excel or Google Sheet), with each of the above thirteen items tracked in a different column. Set up your sheet by labeling columns moving left to right. If you’d rather use an online tool, we’ve included a list of recommendations below but keep in mind all of the following tracking items should be included in whichever tool you end up choosing.

Existing Tools

There are a handful of tools out there that can do a lot for you. Check them out and see if they might work for you, here are some recommendations to get you started: