2015 CalendarYou’ve come a long way in growing your content marketing strategy in 2014. You’re blogging regularly, and you might have even written a whitepaper or ebook. Now it’s time to take your strategy to the next level (as well as make the work easier for you). Allow me to introduce you to the content calendar. This is essentially a tool designed to help you organize the content you will create throughout the year, as well as help you find topics to write about when you’re not feeling inspired.

All you need to get started is a spreadsheet, some time, and creativity! (Here’s a free Content Calendar Template you can download.)

Prep Step: Establish Your Goals

If you’ve already determined your marketing goals for 2015, this will be an easy step. Remember that all your content should tie back to your goals. If you’re trying to boost sales of a particular product, at least some of your content should center around that.

Step 1: Look at Your Promotional Calendar

Chances are, you know at least a few events throughout the year that you promote around. Maybe you have a big Labor Day Sale, or start your holiday promotions on Black Friday. Knowing you’ve already got these secured, you can start filling in content around these promotions. And remember: not all your content needs to be promotional in nature, but different types of posts can still nudge people toward those promotions. For example, if you have a 10 day holiday blowout sale starting on Black Friday, your content for the week prior could include:

  • Blog post: 10 Ways to Cut Down Your Shopping Stress This Holiday Season
  • Ebook: 101 Way to Save Money on Christmas Presents
  • Social media: share these pieces of content, as well as get followers excited for the actual sale

You’ll see we’ve got more than just blog posts ready for the calendar. Your content calendar should have every kind of content you create: blog posts, email campaigns, whitepapers, ebooks, reports, social updates, infographics, and case studies.

Step 2: Factor in Holidays and Seasons

Whenever I write content, I consider the month. In January, my focus is on fresh starts and resolutions. In May, I like to write “spring cleaning” and productivity posts. Let the months, holidays, and seasons guide your content a bit, and fill in topics and ideas you can use around each.

Step 3: Vary Up Your Content

People are attracted to sites and blogs that diversify their content offerings. To that end, make sure you’re appealing to all types of people: those who like to consume information through video, written word, podcast, and visuals. You can also take a single idea, such as “10 Ways to Be More Green Around the Office” and expand it into different types of content. From this you could create a blog post, a more in-depth ebook, a video, and an infographic. Put each on your calendar (though not right on top of each other so you don’t inundate readers on a single topic).

Step 4: Fill in the Gaps

By now you should have a healthy calendar filled with content of every type and on a variety of subjects. It’s fine to leave some gaps to fill in later (things inevitably arise at the last minute), but do your best to come up with topics now. That way, when it comes down to writing the content, you don’t have to invest energy in trying to come up with exciting topics. The work’s already been done!

Creating a content calendar now will set the course for easier and more effective content marketing in 2015.