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You’ve figured out your 5 elements to create content consistently. Yet, you’re still not able to produce content regularly. You know what to talk about, where to publish it and the different steps to create it, but it still feels like a lot of work, and you don’t know where to start.
Maybe you’ve googled “editorial calendar”, “content calendar” or “social media calendar” to find a solution to this problem. You’ve come across many ways of doing this, but really it’s always about the same tool – a spreadsheet. Argh! And if you’re a busy visual person (like I know you are), a spreadsheet won’t cut it. How do you know what to work on? How do you know what to post next? How do you even remember to look at that spreadsheet?
Spreadsheets may be great to get you started, but they won’t help you stay consistent. For that, you’ll need a project management tool. If you’ve read my previous post, you’ve already figured out your creation process. All you need now is to put some structure around it using a project management tool, such as Asana or Trello. Or better yet, ClickUp.
Why ClickUp is better than Asana or Trello
ClickUp is a very flexible project management tool. It has everything that you need in the free version. If you want to use custom fields (which I highly recommend), you’ll be limited to 100. By the time you’ve reached 100, I guarantee you’ll be so in love with ClickUp that you’ll want to upgrade anyway.
With flexibility often comes complexity, so let me explain how you can set up ClickUp to work for you.
How to set up ClickUp as your content calendar
ClickUp’s hierarchy has many levels:
Workspace > Spaces > Folders > Lists > Tasks > Subtasks > Checklists
A simple way to think about it is like this:
- Workspace = your business.
- Spaces = how you group your work. For example, I have a space for all the folders I share with clients, one for the stuff I do regularly and one for references. Other ways to use Spaces is by the areas of your business – Marketing, Finances…
- Folders = projects. In this case, you’ll create a folder called “Content Management”.
- Lists = a way to groups your tasks. I’ve explained the different ways you can use lists to manage your content in the next section. Although it’s called list, it has different views: list, board and calendar being the relevant one here.
- Tasks = traditionally, they’re your to-do’s, but here, they’re the pieces of content you want to produce.
- Subtasks and checklists are the steps you need to do to perform the task (i.e. publish a piece of content). Subtasks are tasks within a task. They work the same way, and like tasks, they have a due date. Checklists, on the other hand, don’t have dates. So the choice between the two will depend on how you like to work.
You’ll start by creating a folder called “Content Management” in the space and workspace of your choice. Then you’ll need to create at least one list. The lists you use depends on how you like to work and your content strategy. The simpler your content strategy (e.g. one channel, one type of content), the easier it’ll be to find a system that works for you.
Think about your content creation process and the various types of content you need to create, what would be the easiest way for you to find out what you need to do next?
Here are 5 options:
- Statuses. Each list can represent a status. You’ll have one list with all your ideas before you schedule them (that’s what I call a backlog) and then a list for each status after that. This is ideal if you batch your work as you can just go to a list and work your way through it. As your backlog grows, you’ll need to start using filters to find what you’re looking for more easily.
- Channels. Suppose you use different channels. If the process to create one piece of content varies wildly between two channels (Instagram post vs. a podcast), you may want to have a list per channel. This way, you can have different statuses for each list (channel) and make the process relevant to each channel.
- Pillars. You want to ensure that you provide an equal amount of content across your content categories. With a list per pillar, you’ll quickly see which group needs more ideas.
- Type of content. Writing a blog post is very different from editing a video. So if you batch your work or have dedicated team members for each process, you may want to split your lists by the type of content you produce. Like option 2 (channel), you’ll be able to set up different statuses for each list and make the process relevant to each content format.
- Combination. You may find that none of these options work and what you need is a mix of the above. Everybody is different, and you’ll need to find what works best for you and your team. You don’t have to worry about getting it right from the get-go. You can easily change things as you go – as long as you don’t use this as an excuse to procrastinate and not create content. I personally use a mix – I break down my backlog (option 1) by channel (option 2). I don’t use a list for each status (option 1) – I’ve grouped them into 3 different buckets instead.
Regardless of the option you choose, you’ll no longer have post-it notes everywhere and ideas written in multiple notebooks. They’ll all be in one place.
There may be some days (or weeks, even months) between the time you add an idea to ClickUp and the time you work on it. To assist you in remembering what it’s about, add all the relevant information (e.g. channel where it will be published, the pillar it relates to) when you create it.
Suppose your lists represent your channels, how do you know the pillar of a specific post? That’s where Custom Fields come in handy. They’re great to record your channels, content categories and content types, and any other kind of information you’d like to easily see, or group or sort your ideas by.
As I’ve mentioned above, you can only have 100 custom fields on the free plan. So if you use all 3 recommended fields (channel, pillar, content type), you can have 33 ideas with all 3 fields populated before you need to upgrade your ClickUp account for a small monthly fee.
Based on how you decide to structure your lists, you may want to use ClickUp automation. It’s particularly useful to automatically assign tasks to someone and change statuses. For example, I don’t assign a task to myself until it has a date. Once I set a date, the status is changed, the task is assigned to me and moved to the relevant list.
Before you automate, you’ll want to try and test your process manually for a few weeks to make sure that it works the way you want.
You can have up to 10 automated actions/month on the free plan.
Another powerful feature of ClickUp – and a time-saver – is templates. Templates allow you to have a task set up with all the checklists required to make sure you don’t miss a step.
You can have as many templates as you need. You may have a different one for each content type or channel depending on the steps that you need to perform for each.
You’ll use your templates whenever you add an idea to your list. If you’re not sure which template to use at the time, you can select it later.
Views are a different way to view and organise your tasks (ideas). They are available for folders and lists.
ClickUp has many views, but for the purpose of content management, you’ll only need 2 (or maybe 3) views: list and/board, and calendar.
List vs. board is really a personal preference. I find that boards become very hard to use when there are too many tasks. So I rarely use the board view. Both the list and board views are customisable – you can group by status or any of the custom fields you’ve created.
The calendar view is a great way to easily see what you’ve planned for the month. You can change how tasks are displayed in the calendar by using colours. The colour can be based on the status, the list the task belongs to or one of its custom fields. This is a great way to quickly assess where everything is at (if you’re using status), if you’re always posting in the same channel or if you publish the same type of information (pillar).
If you need some inspiration, here’s how I do it. Bear in mind that what works for me won’t necessarily work for you.
After you’ve followed these steps, you’ll have a content calendar that not only tells you what to post when and where but will also guide you on how to create a particular piece of content. Having this in place will help remove the guesswork and overwhelm out of content creation and become more consistent. However, it won’t tell you when each step needs to take place. For that, you have two options:
- Instead of using checklists for your steps, you can create subtasks and set a date for each. ClickUp has an excellent date remapping feature. If you know when each step needs to take place based on your content publication date (e.g. writing needs to happen two weeks before publication), then you can set this up in your template. When you use your template, ClickUp will recalculate all the dates for you automatically. This works fine if you’re able to stick to that schedule or if you work on one piece of content at a time.
- If you’re more of a batching person, then you’ll want to stick to checklists. Block out time regularly (e.g. weekly) for the various steps (e.g. writing, editing, designing). When the time comes, simply head over to your neatly organised lists and start working your way through them!