Need help organising your time? Check out this guide on creating a content calendar and you’ll (almost) always be on top of your work from now on
You settle down to write your weekly blog post. Leggings on, hair tied back and coffee at the ready, you mean business. And then you realise — you have no plan. Your brain has gone blank and you don’t know what to write about. Does this sound familiar? Odds are this has happened to every single blogger out there at least once. We’re only human. It’s annoying, but it’s true. We don’t have that robotic automation driving us and we don’t always have our blogs planned out to the finest detail.
Whether you have a case of writer’s block or organisation simply isn’t your forte, there is one tool you can use to ensure you keep on top of your blogging schedule — the content calendar.
Content calendars are best implemented when you have a brand new blog, but they are also incredibly useful if you’re an established blogger. Creating a content calendar is useful in so many ways. Let’s explore what a content calendar is, why they’re important and how to create a content calendar for a blog. I’ve included a free content calendar template for you to use right at the bottom of this post.
While you’re here, you should check out this blog post on common SEO mistakes, as suggested by fellow bloggers.
The Importance of Regular Blog Content
Before we dive head-first into the world of content calendars, I wanted to discuss the importance of regular blog content. Regular, reliable content on your blog is probably the number one reason you should create a content calendar in the first place.
Blogging regularly matters in terms of building up a core audience of loyal readers. It also matters to Google (or any search engine, for that matter).
According to Blog Panda, “Blogging regularly helps you to set up an interaction with your readers and build a relationship with them.” Most people enjoy reliability and predictability. If your followers know you’ll be publishing content weekly or biweekly on set days, they know to check in. They come to expect it and look forward to it. This is true of all forms of content — think of how disappointed you are when your favourite YouTuber goes AWOL for a few months with no explanation. In time, they find someone new to follow and you’re forgotten. It’s a tough reality, but it’s a dog eat dog world on the Internet these days.
The second reason content is so important is because search engines get thoroughly excited by fresh, up-to-date material. It shows your website is live and well. It also shows you are taking this game seriously — it’s not just a hobby for you.
If you haven’t yet looked into it, it’s a fascinating area (particularly if you’re 90% geek like me). Google has long applied Query Deserved Freshness (QDF) as a content ranking factor for certain queries. QDF comes into play when a certain search query becomes suddenly popular. So if there is a topical issue and people can’t stop Googling it, Google will apply QDF to rankings to ensure the most up-to-date, relevant information is displayed.
All this is to say, regular blog content is important, particularly if you’re looking to rank in Google and gain an audience. And a content calendar can certainly keep you on task.
What is a Content Calendar?
A content calendar allows you to plan and organise content. A content calendar will help you structure what material you aim to write, how you aim to write it, what keywords are going to be included and when you aim to publish it. The concept is really simple. A content calendar allows you to plan months in advance, meaning that, in theory at least, you’ll never be stumped for a post to write with a deadline looming.
Looking for more content tools and free SEO tools? I have you covered
Why You Need a Content Calendar
My colleagues often tease me for my love of spreadsheets. Apparently there isn’t a problem in this universe that can’t be solved with a good spreadsheet. I’m a little obsessive about organisation and structure, but I’ll let you in on a little secret — it’s because I’m innately disorganised. My colleagues wouldn’t believe me, but it’s true. In my private life, I can barely remember what day it is. I forgot one of my best friend’s birthdays this year. I actually forgot how old I was last week. If, like me, you’d forget your own name if you didn’t have it taped to your forehead, then you need a content calendar.
Creating a content calendar will:
- Force you to do research well in advance and come up with a number of topics and areas you would like to explore on your blog
- Encourage you to do some really quality keyword research
- Make you aware of keyword cannibalisation — you definitely don’t want two pieces of content ranking for the same keyword
- Ensure you stay organised, so you know exactly what you are doing and when
- Provide consistency — publishing consistently is one of the biggest struggles bloggers face
- Keep you on topic — you’ll be able to look at your planned content at a glance and question whether certain topics are really on-brand or relevant to what your readers care about. According to one source, keeping on topic is a huge issue faced by many bloggers
- Give you peace of mind that you have your blog under control, you have a plan and you are all set
Click here if you are interested in building Domain Authority (DA)
Before Creating a Content Calendar For Your Blog
Not every content calendar will look the same. Before you sit down and begin creating your content calendar, you should
- Consider how often you want to publish (twice a week? Weekly? Monthly?).
- Decide what days you want to publish on.
- Determine how many categories you have, and what they are. Do you want to publish equally regularly for all of them?
- Identify who you are blogging for — and what they care about.
- Have done some extensive keyword research. This will guide your efforts going forward.
- Brainstorm blog content ideas based on your keywords — websites like Answer the Public can be hugely helpful.
Just as a general tip, I’d advise that you keep a notepad file on your phone, so whenever you think of a topic for your blog, you can jot it down and add it to your calendar at a later date.
Discover where to use keywords for SEO
Elements to Include When Creating a Content Calendar
Okay, let’s get down to how to create a content calendar for your blog. Regardless of your niche (whether you’re a mummy blogger, a marketing blogger or a personal finance blogger), you will need to include the following elements in your content calendar:
- The title of your blog post
- Your target keyword
- The category of your post
- General notes on the blog you’d like to keep in mind
- Due date
- Status of the blog (in progress, writing, complete, live)
- A link to a featured image
- A link to the Google Doc of your written blog (if relevant — you might prefer to use Word)
- Publish date
- Link once the blog post is live
While you’re here, why not check out this blog on URL slugs and how to optimise them
Tips For Using the Free Content Calendar Template
Now we’ve been through all that, check out my FREE content calendar template! All you need to do is make a copy and you’ll be free to edit your own version. If you’d rather have it as an Excel file, simply click on ‘File’ and download as an Excel document.
Just a few notes about content calendars in general — remember to allow room for flexibility. Nothing in life should be set in stone. If something important comes up in your private life, or in the world around you and you want to write about it, you should adjust your calendar to accommodate it. You’re the boss of your calendar, not the other way around.
I’d recommend keeping in mind time of the year and special events — so, for example, it’s worth looking at December and planning in your Blogmas material now, along with your Valentines material in February, and so forth.
In terms of using the content calendar, I’d recommend starting at the bottom and adding rows at the top for newer posts — this way you’ll avoid having to scroll.
In terms of how long in advance you should plan — it’s really up to you and what you’re comfortable with. When I started blogging, I decided I wanted to plan a whole twelve months up front (because, like I said, I need to be strict with myself). But in that time, I’ve moved topics around and adjusted. What I will say is that the more you plan up front, the more likely it is that you will have peace of mind.
Let me know what you think! Do you use a content calendar? Is it something you think would work for you?