I'm not going to lie to you. Creating content is an investment. It costs time and money to develop exceptional content that your audience wants to read (and share!). In the few years that I have been working in the marketing and communications industry, I have learned a thing or two about creating content effectively and efficiently. I have edited and refined my process many times over the years. In this blog post, I will show you how to plan a week's worth of content. At the end, I will provide a content calendar template for you to download and use.
Create a content calendar
When I sign a new client, the first thing I do is set up a content calendar.
What's a content calendar, Brittany?
It's a simple document that outlines these elements:
- Content topics
- Date and time
- Additional media, including links, images and video
Your calendar can be a simple calendar app, written on a piece of paper or organized in a spreadsheet. I'm a big fan of the spreadsheet, so I would recommend this format.
Let's say you are a nutritionist and you want to put together a plan for sharing your recipes. Here's what you want to do:
- Create a new spreadsheet.
- Along the top, create columns for: Day, Time, Network, Topic, Post, Links/Images
- Write out the copy you want to use for a piece of content like a recipe.
- Indicate the date, time and network you want to post.
- Include links and or images that accompany the post.
When you have this calendar populated, you can bulk schedule your content.
Use content creation tools
Creating content is the meat of what I do, so it needs to be efficient. There are so many awesome free and low-cost tools that can help you create the best content in the most efficient way. Here are some of my favorites.
Evernote is fabulous for writers. You can have your research, to-do lists and drafts in one place. And as long as you have an internet connection, your content syncs to whatever device you are working with. The basic version is free and allows you to clip text and images, connect two devices, create and share notes. If you are looking for something a little more, the plans start at nominal monthly fees.
If you want engaging content, you have to include high-quality images. Canva makes it so easy to create beautiful visual content in no time. Canva has a library of templates, iconography, fonts and colors to help you produce images, posters, invitations and other visual content. Most of the design elements are free, and the premium elements are available for $1. If you want to create a branded profile, complete with a color palette, typography and custom templates, the program will cost around $12 per month.
Grammarly is online editing and proofreading tool that is just the bomb dot com. Seriously, this is my far one of my favorite tools! Grammarly will scan your content for spelling and grammar errors, style and plagiarism. All you have to do install the extension on your browser and write away! This tool will scan any content you write on the browser, including social media, emails, blog posts, etc. Basic features available for free, but advanced features like the plagiarism detector are available for approximately $60 per year.
I'm going to be honest with you guys: content marketing is a hungry beast. You have to feed it new content all the time. However, it can be overwhelming to always create fresh content. This is why many content marketers curate content.
Content curation is the simple process of redistributing existing content. This can be an industry article on your Facebook page or a properly credited image on Instagram. You can curate this content ahead of time and include it in your content calendar.
It's worth noting that curation should be focused on your social channels. Your blog should house YOUR content.
Here are some of my favorite tools to help find complementary and supplementary content.
Feedly pulls together a list of links related to your industry. If you are looking for business articles and blogs, simply set up a feed for business. Every day, you will have a fresh list of blog posts, article, infographic and other content links to use. Feedly is free to use, too.
Oh yeah. Pinterest isn't just a place for planning your dream closet, vacation or wedding. It's a great content curation tool. Simply type your keywords into the search bar and you will have a ton of great content to peruse.
Set up Google Alerts for any topic or industry you need. For example, if you are creating content on the Calgary real estate market, set up an alert for "calgary real estate" and Google will send you relevant content on that topic. You can then use this content on your social media channels or use it as inspiration to create your own content.
This is a handy tool if you are looking for relevant and valuable content to share in a pinch.
Use scheduling tools
One of the best discoveries I have made in my marketing career is scheduling services. Scheduling content once a week will save you time and stress in getting your content published and promoted. There are many scheduling services out there, including Hootsuite, Buffer, Co-Schedule and Sprout Social. Each service offers slightly different features and pricing, but any one of them will get the job done - and get it done quickly. The team at Social Media Examiner breaks down some of these services in this article.
Carry a notebook and pen
The last piece of advice I will give you is this: carry and notebook and pen with you all the time. You can use a phone app, too. I do this because oftentimes the best content ideas will come when you are busy just living life. Whenever you have a lightbulb moment or you are surfing the internet and come across the perfect article, you can bookmark it and save it for later. You'll rarely miss a great content idea.
Now, I promised you a content calendar template, so here it is. This template is set up for one week, starting on Sunday. I have also included a drop down list of social networks you can post to.
Download here: Content Calendar Template