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Do the words “content calendar” induce an anxiety attack or make you roll your eyes? Although it may seem like an extra step, using a content calendar to organize and plan your posts and can help you think ahead and share content that’s relevant to your audience all year long. Most of all, using a content calendar allows you to reflect on your efforts and measure the effectiveness of your work so that you can improve over time.

Here are some considerations to think through when choosing a content calendar for your creative business.

What is a Content Calendar?

At a basic level, a content calendar is a schedule of posts or media that you or your team will publish to various social channels.

Some popular content calendar apps include:

Content calendars are like regular calendars on steroids and caffeine. Depending on what you come up with, each day will demand multiple posts with descriptions or high-quality photos of your products. Let’s break down the process and make it manageable.

Download or Make a Calendar Template

In general, most content calendars are some version of a calendar plus a spreadsheet mashed together. Each day of the month has a line for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and email, or some combination thereof. Often the lines are color coded to differentiate the types of content from one another. The calendars look dense and overwhelming, but with a little bit of prior organization and perspective, it not so daunting.

The first step is to decide your content strategy and frequency of posting, Use that to determine the appropriate amount of lines for your calendar. Perhaps your “newsletter” line appears just once a month instead of once a week, for example, but you plan to post to Instagram every weekday.  You may need to increase your posting frequency close to an event or holiday to increase traffic and sales, for example, so keep things flexible.

It’s a good idea to begin with a free template when you’re just getting started using a content calendar so that you can get a rough idea of how and when you want to share content. From there, customizing your own can be both empowering and take some of the pressure off.

So, now what?  You have your calendar and a lot of blank spaces waiting to be filled.  What will you share?

What is Content?

What is content? A better question might be, “What is not content?”  Content can be a post from your blog, an article from someone whose advice and work you respect, a one-off question you ask your Facebook audience, or a video.  Even a link to a product is content.

Share content with our audiences to educate, build trust, and ultimately convert curious followers into loyal customers.  When you’re a reliable source of information or entertainment, people listen to what you have to say and (ideally) purchase from you.

Realizing that just about everything you do can become content is exciting and overwhelming. Browsing the internet for funny or educational videos to share or write a post on your creative process is all content generation.

When you’re creating and aggregating content, it might not always be apparent where and when you want to share it.  Keep track of the good stuff, so that it’s waiting for you when you’re ready to schedule.

Create Buckets of Content

Get organized!  No matter what tool you use, you need designated places where your shareable content waits for you to summon it to a social network- I like to call them buckets!  You might choose to organize your content buckets by type of content, content theme, or even the social platform for which it’s intended.

These buckets are best created in some kind of spreadsheet, or in an app like Trello or Asana where you create lists of cards that include information about each item. There are a variety of ways to organize your content:

By Type or Source: This organization style is helpful when you want to drive traffic to a specific place online. Create a spreadsheet or list of “My Blogs Posts” or “My Affiliate Links” and include columns for the title, link, and the description you would use on Facebook or Twitter. =

By Social Platform: Some content is best suited for certain platforms. You can create a list of engaging questions to ask in your Facebook group, for example, or a month’s worth of podcast graphics to post on Instagram. It’s best to diversify the types of content you share so having buckets of video, text, or image groups will set you up for success in the long term.

By Theme:  You may have a bucket of “Christmas Tutorials”, “Pattern Review Posts”, or “Jeans Sewing Tips” that come from all over the internet.  Social media is always full of themed challenges created by you or someone else and if you can be helpful to your audience at a key time, they’ll read your content.

Schedule Your Content

Choose relevant media from your buckets and schedule it in your template!  Do you have several projects on your blog that relate to a certain holiday?  Do you have a workshop or product launch coming up? Designate a time once a week, month, or quarter to schedule out the content you’ve created and collected.

A significant advantage to creating a content calendar is that you’ve created a record that you can look to in the future. Add a column to your calendar to record the level of engagement and conversions your posts generated so that you’ll know if your strategy was effective.

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