C&C: How to Create a Content Schedule
I have never been a regular blogger. Erratic is probably the most suitable word to describe my posting schedule since I started my first blog almost five years ago. Yet, I now have a proper content strategy and calendar in place, and, touch wood, I am sticking to it.
So what’s changed? Well, unfortunately, what everyone says is true: the best way to grow your blog, or any online platform, is with consistency. There isn’t really a way around it. Posting blogs and other content frequently and regularly is the most reliable way to bring in and keep readers and eventually customers. The ridiculous thing is I’ve been creating and implementing content strategies for clients all year, without doing the same for myself. I’d say I’ll post twice a week but without a proper strategy in place, my motivation would dry up very quickly, and I’d miss first one, and then another post, and would never get back on track.
Yet last weekend I sat down, and went though the exact same process I use with my clients, and drew up my own content schedule for the rest of the year. It took maybe two hours, maximum, and the reason this post even exists is because of this.
I’ve also signed up to CoSchedule, which I’m already obsessed with. It’s a content marketing calendar which gets you seriously organised, and manages all your social media sharing as well. I’d put off subscribing to it for a while as it does involve a monthly fee ($15 for the basic level, which I have and does everything I need it to) but it’s already been completely worth it. On top of the fact that’s its a great product, there is nothing like paying out monthly for something to get you making the most of it!
So here is the process that I use to create content strategies and calendars. I learnt it from Amber, who in turn got it from byRegina I think. It works just as well for content marketing as it does for regular blogging.
Brainstorm ideas for content.
Start by writing down all your ideas for individual pieces of content on separate post-it notes (or other scraps of paper). Look in your draft folder for blog posts you’ve started but not written. Think about the questions your clients or readers ask you. Think about the knowledge and skills you have that you could share. Think of the pain points your clients and readers suffer from. Think of the things that you want to say.
Get everything out of your head, even if you don’t think it’s going to fit in with the rest of your content, or that it’s not going to work. You can edit later, right now you just need to get everything down.
So for instance when I did this, some of the things I wrote down, and which you will see on here over the next few weeks, are “There are other ways to live your life”, “Anxiety and creativity”, “Features vs. Benefits” and “Celebrating failure: Fuck-up Nights”.
If you plan on creating different forms of content, say a newsletter, a blog and a podcast, write the topic and then label it as whichever form you think it will exist best in (coloured highlighters or pens are a good idea here). If you’re not sure yet, just leave it for now.
Group your ideas into forms of content and blog categories.
So again, in my case, my blog categories are: Writing and Creativity, Digital Nomadism and Freelance Life, Creative Living, and Copy and Content. I also had a separate sheet for newsletter ideas.
Fill in blanks.
Now you have your categories, go back over each and see if you have any other ideas for content. If one sheet is significantly less crowded than the others, then try to come up with some more ideas to fill it up.
Put it into a calendar.
Now take your post-it notes and decide when you will be publishing each one of them. This is when CoSchedule really does come in handy as you can colour code for different categories / forms of content etc. and you can see visually what your content schedule will look like. Alternate between different categories so there is always a mix of content on your blog, and publish on the same day(s) each week. Try to plan at least a couple of months, preferably three, in advance so you don’t need to repeat this process too often.
I publish a shorter blog post about Copy and Content (like this one) every Monday, and a longer blog post every Wednesday from one of the other categories. I also send a weekly letter each Sunday with words of encouragement for creatives (sign-up below!), and am currently co-publishing a podcast every other Monday. And this is what my SoSchedule calendar looks like: