Content Calendars: A Crucial Tool For Blog Strategy (Template Within!)

Cara Bowles    By under Content Strategy.

Let's talk about why you need a content calendar, how ours are put together, and a bit about viewing them as part of a larger process.

Download our content calendar Excel template here. (The example posts are fake. This is obvious, but yes, they are.)

Why You Need A Content Calendar

  • Your team, clients, and others can keep track of the plan, see what's coming up, and what's been accomplished
  • Content is never abandoned or forgotten. Content that is unfinished or unpublished is tracked so that it can be put to good use or reused, and repeat mistakes can be avoided
  • Avoid repeating topics too often, neglecting an important segment of your audience, or approaching topics in a non-strategic way.
  • Stay on schedule so there are no gaps in publication.

Our Calendar Sheets

At Northcutt, our spreadsheets track 12 columns for each piece of content created:

Added: This simply indicates when the idea for the piece of content was added to the sheet.

Title/Description: This is either a working title or a description of the topic for the piece of content.

Status: This moves from "idea" to "scheduled," "distribution queue," and "published." In the idea stage, the topic is merely being suggested. "Scheduled" indicates that the idea is accepted and has a due date. "Distribution queue," means the content is finished but not published, and "published" means it live.

Due Date: This is when the content is due to be finished, not when it is due to be published.

Publish Date: This is when the content is due to be published, assuming a date is scheduled, or lists the date of publication after the fact. For uncertain publication dates, such as guest editorials, this can be marked "n/a."

Content Type: This refers to the type of content by the purpose it serves. Blog post, guest post, landing page, etc.

Keyphrase: Assuming keyword research has been prepared for the content, it goes here.

Author: The one who will be doing the writing.

Target Audience: This is based on personas or demographics we are targeting to remind ourselves not just what the topic is, but what type of reader it's being created for.

Promotion: Indicates efforts that are made to promote the content such as distribution through social media, outreach, etc.

Document Link: A link to the Google Doc for the content.

Notes: Anything extra that might need to be added.

The Calendar As Part Of A Process

While the calendar itself is important, it's not sufficient. For the calendar to serve its full purpose, it must be a part of a larger process.

  • The calendar must be updated regularly, for example on a specific day each week, or every time a piece of content is completed.
  • Audiences should be carefully defined beforehand through the development of personas and, in some cases, market research.
  • Keyword research is a heavily in-depth process and we recommend using our checklists to get the most out of it.
  • Topic choices go beyond knowing your audiences and doing your keyword research. Topics should also be chosen based on where they are in your funnel and developed accordingly. Topics close to the bottom of the funnel should be designed and positioned in a way that avoids pushing too hard on the part of your audience that's higher up the funnel. Topics higher up the funnel should be designed for maximum reach.

All set. Get out there and get organized.