If you’ve never created a content calendar to guide you through producing and posting content for your organization, or a client, January is the perfect time to start. Getting prepared for next year’s content might seem pre-emptive, especially with the constantly changing nature of digital marketing. However, setting up a flexible, agile calendar is an easy way to save time in the long run.

Why Build a Content Calendar?

Content marketing is constantly changing, so it's important to stay ahead. Even if you only have one website to worry about, the constant demand for new content is hard to keep up with in real time. Planning at least some of your content strategy is the only way to ensure you publish new content as often as you need to in order to make an impact.

Here are a few tips to help you plan.

1.   Create Content Buckets

What types of content do you want to post on your channels? Content buckets are a great first step in preparing your content planning. You can tailor these overarching content types to your brand. Examples of content buckets include industry updates, events, promotional specials/deals, engaging questions/content, or the kinds of products/services you provide. Understanding what your content types are will help you strategically plan your content and ensure you are covering everything. Are you too promotional? Are you over-emphasizing one area over another? Your content buckets will help you visualize what you’re posting.

2.   Repurpose Content

Repurposing content is an easy way to simplify the process of content creation. Add a follow-up to your most popular article or change the audience to get a new spin on the same idea. If your blog highlights statistics, you can update a post from last year to reflect this year’s data and trends. News stories or case studies that feature a client of yours can be updated to include any new developments over the last few months. These types of content do take time to create, but they can be significantly less time consuming than writing a new post from scratch.

3.   Proactively Plan with Your Clients

Your clients likely have major events and changes planned for the New Year. Ask your clients about any events or planning happening now. Being proactive and marking those events on your calendar helps you to plan ahead and fully leverage those opportunities. Even if you can’t get a full blog post out of the happenings, they may be suitable for promotion on your social channels, website content or perfect for a short video.

4.   Factor in Holidays and Special Occasions

An easy way to fill up your content calendar is to incorporate holidays, special occasions and local happenings. Not only are these types of posts usually easy to write, they tap into an interest people already have. It’s not just for major holidays, either. Think about awareness months or cause-oriented days that can relate back to your brand or industry.

5.   Leave Space for Breaking News

It’s ok to leave some holes in your content calendar – in fact, we recommend it! Every content calendar should have some open space for new industry developments, newsworthy items and trending topics. While you can’t totally plan out a post on these topics, you can slot them into your calendar using a generic name, like “Industry News Update” or “Article Recapping New Trends in Social Media.”

Build Your Content Calendar

Content calendar creation is time and labor intensive, but putting the effort in up front can help to make your work much easier as the year progresses. While you may have to make small tweaks and changes as the month’s progress, the amount of time and effort needed is still much less than if you try to coordinate a cohesive blog strategy month after month.

Ready to start building your content calendar? Download this Social Media Content Calendar template! Using this template, you can organize your social media activities far in advance, making it easier to coordinate campaigns, grow your reach, and scale your social media marketing. The template includes a monthly calendar, content repository, and a space for weekly updates on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

Download Content Calendar Template

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