Everything about content marketing is time-consuming. From coming up with topics to assigning them to reviewing to publishing. It all takes time. A helpful content calendar template should help you map out your strategy and save time managing these tasks.
The less time you spend hunting for content and chasing writers, the more time you have to focus on impactful strategies.
What’s in this guide:
- What is a content calendar?
- Why are content calendars important?
- What a content calendar template should include
- Why your calendar should be part of a content operations software
- How to use StoryChief’s content calendar template
- 3 content calendar examples
- How to create a content calendar that helps you publish faster
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar shows you what content you’re publishing across your digital marketing channels all in one place. It includes your blog, social media content, and other assets like videos or podcasts.
Why are content calendars important?
If you’re publishing more than a few pieces of content each month, you’re going to need a calendar. Otherwise, managers and collaborators will get stuck.
- Easier to maintain consistency: Content marketing requires consistency. You never know which pieces of content will perform well and get the most amount of shares, or which ones will show up in Google searches. That’s why it’s important to keep going.
- Transparency among collaborators: If there are multiple strategists and content managers on your team, a clear calendar will reduce the need for constant questions and check-ins.
- Faster to understand your output: Without a content calendar, you might not really know how much content you are publishing each month. Sadly, it might be a lot less than you think. Time goes by quickly, and you might think it’s only been a week since your last LinkedIn post or blog post when it’s actually been 3 weeks!
- It makes reporting and optimization easier. With a content calendar in place, you have clear goals defined. A content calendar makes sure you only publish content that is contributing to your business goals.
- More time for important projects: The less time you invest in publishing and releasing content, the more time you can put into advanced conversion strategies, like content marketing funnel templates.
What a content calendar template should include
A content calendar template can be used to organize your content marketing team.
A content calendar template should include:
- Content titles
- Content channels
- Creator names
- Planned publishing dates
- Creation due dates
Below, we’ll take a look at some content calendar examples, but first, it’s important to note that a spreadsheet or document template won’t be useful.
Instead, your content calendar template should be included in an overall content operations software.
Why your calendar should be part of a content operations software
What’s the point of a content calendar that can’t actually publish anything?
Think about it. In 2021, social media managers wouldn’t dream of running their social content calendar in a spreadsheet. Instead, they use a social media scheduling tool.
Content managers should also use software to manage blog content—not just social media.
Here’s why content operations software is a better option for content calendars than spreadsheets, docs, or even project management software:
- No need to copy and paste approved content
- Easy to hop in and edit content directly without having to locate the correct files
- Faster content planning, briefing, and assigning
StoryChief is a content operations software with offers a content marketing calendar and content distribution, so you can plan, create, and publish content all in one place.
When you use a tool like StoryChief, you get a bird’s eye view of your content marketing while also saving time on every aspect of content marketing.
How to use StoryChief’s content calendar
Every StoryChief account includes a content calendar that shows you what will be published on your blog, social media networks, and other promotion channels.
To grab the content marketing calendar template, just create your free account.
Ok, let’s get into how to use it!
Step 1. Plan your core content
The first step is to plan your core content. In any content marketing funnel, the core content is essentially the meat. This is usually a blog post or a blog post where you promote a podcast episode, YouTube video, or downloadable freebie.
Just navigate to the Calendar view in StoryChief and select the date you want to plan a story. (At StoryChief we like to call blogs stories.)
When you plan a new story, this will actually create the story file inside of StoryChief, so you can later click on the name and start writing right away. You can add the title, due date, contributors, and correct campaign.
After you’ve added multiple stories, you’ll see them all in your calendar. For example, here’s what it looks like when the content calendar has a story planned to go out every Wednesday:
As mentioned, one of the coolest things is being able to click on that story title and work on it directly, or fill out its brief and assign it to a writer instead.
That direct access to editable content can save hours of your teams’ process every week.
Plus, there will be no version control or duplicate file issues. And everyone will always know where stories are located.
Step 2. Brief and assign to writers
The next step is to create the brief for that story and assign it to one of your writers. Every story automatically has a brief included with it. You can edit that brief and add anything you want.
In your account settings, you can also create a brief template with everything you want to include in each brief, such as the target keyphrase and secondary keyphrases.
Later, when you edit the brief of any story, your template will pop up and fill it out with unique details.
Not only does the StoryChief editor include a brief, but it also includes SEO and readability optimization. That way, your writers can monitor their SEO and readability scores as they write. This ensures the quality of the content you receive from them.
With the briefing process and content optimization right inside of your content calendar template, you’ll consolidate your work and save tons of time.
But of course, meaty content isn’t the only thing you need to plan for. It’s also important to include promotional content in your calendar.
Step 3. Plan your promotional content
Promotional content, sometimes called micro-content, is the content that you use to get more views of your core content like blog posts, long videos, and podcast interviews.
Your content calendar should also be used to map out your social media posts across your top networks. This way, you can get a bird’s eye view of all of your content, not just one channel.
In StoryChief, you can add social media posts to your content calendar directly. You can also handle social media content after you publish a blog post, and then the social posts that you schedule in advance will appear in your content calendar.
For best results, you should schedule multiple posts and post variations. If it’s an evergreen article, you could even schedule these for a year in advance.
Step 4. Outline holidays, educational posts and other content that aligns with your goals
Every good content marketing calendar has a good content mix. Next to promotional posts, your content calendar should include posts that are:
This keeps your audience engaged. Make sure the posts you include in your content calendar always align with your company's goals.
- If you want to hire employees, include office-related content.
- If you want to build thought leadership, include educational and personal posts.
- If you want to boost followers, include viral content such as memes.
Step 5. Review, approve and publish content from collaborators
The collaborators in your StoryChief account can contribute to both stories and social media posts. When someone sends content for your review or approval, you will get an email notification. You can then login and make any needed edits and comments.
Once you approve the content, you can schedule it to be posted to your blog or other promotional channels, including email and your employee advocacy Slack channel.
If you forget when a piece of content is due, or if you want to check in on progress, you can always go back to your content calendar. Click on the item of concern and view the due date. You can also click through to view the actual content to see if the writer hasn’t gotten started yet.
Step 6. Analyze campaign success (and fill your calendar with content that works)
With an effective content marketing calendar, you should now have a lot more content being published on a regular basis.
Your content operations software should include a content calendar and an analytics dashboard so you can see what pieces perform the best.
After all, an analysis should be a big factor in deciding what to add to your content calendar next.
You should analyze content by:
- Individual performance (views and reads)
- Channel performance (engagement and growth)
- Campaign performance (views and reads across all pieces of content in a campaign, this includes social posts, blog articles across different channels)
- Funnel stage performance (views and reads across all pieces of content in a certain funnel stage)
In StoryChief, you can create your own tags to assign to content pieces. This way, you can analyze your content with whatever other factors matter to you, such as the target audience persona or the specific product you’re promoting.
3 content calendar examples
Let’s take a look at some examples of content calendars. Each content calendar template was built with a different app. Here, we review the pros and cons of each so you can decide which content calendar builder is the best fit for you.
1. Content calendar made with StoryChief
When you build your content marketing calendar with StoryChief, you’re also getting team collaboration, content publishing, and content promotion features all in one place.
- A content calendar can be used for all different content marketing channels
- Approved content can be published to your site instantly
- Includes features for content planning, briefing, assigning, writing, reviewing, publishing, promoting, and analyzing
- Designed for managing written content, so it will not be possible to schedule podcasts and long-form videos. However, that’s not a problem if you’re looking to run your blog and social media smoother. Plus, stories can be used to promote and embed other content.
2. Content calendar made with ClickUp
A content calendar created with ClickUp is essentially a project management board.
- With ClickUp you can toggle the product view from board style to a spreadsheet style
- Easy to see where individual pieces of content are in the process
- Can’t publish directly to your CMS
- Requires time-consuming copying and pasting into your CMS (which is a waste of money too, when you consider what you pay someone to do this)
- Doesn’t allow you to publish directly to social media either
- Can create confusion and version control issues, because task cards don’t correlate directly to pieces of content
3. Content calendar made with Google Sheets
It’s very common for content managers to use a spreadsheet to manage their content calendar. While this can work for teams that don’t publish frequently, this quickly becomes confusing when you publish more than a couple of pieces of content a month. And if you want to create an active social media presence, this option won’t work.
- Easy to link to Google Doc briefs in each row
- Free or affordable to use (depending on your G Suite plan)
- Can’t publish to your CMS
- Can’t publish to social media networks or other promotional channels
- Difficult to find files
- Difficult to know the status of content
- The sheet quickly starts to look messy and confusing when you have a lot of content to manage
How to create a content calendar template that helps you publish faster
Your content calendar template is important. It sets up the foundation for your content marketing going forward.
You need something that will...
- Help you plan your publishing schedule
- Let you instantly see your upcoming content in your content calendar
- Make it easy to collaborate with your whole team
- Work directly on content pieces (instead of hunting for them)
- Save time on publishing and distribution
- Make it easy to promote content across channels
An all-in-one content tool that includes calendars and publishing will save you a lot more time than a spreadsheet-based template.