This post contains affiliate links. If you sign up to an app using one of those links, I’ll get a small commission.
This week, I have been sharing a few articles on Facebook about how to create a content calendar. Truth be told, there is no one-size-fits-all approach; there are many ways to manage all your content, and as many tools to help you with that process.
It has taken me many years to find and refine my approach. Over those years I have tried and tested quite a few methods and tools, so it is time for me to share what I’ve learned, so you don’t have to go through the same process.
First, let’s look at what a content calendar is and why you may want one.
What’s a content calendar?
A content calendar is just that, a friendly way (i.e. a calendar) to see all the content you want to produce over a certain period of time. It’s often referred to when talking about social media platforms, but it can (and should) include all your publishing platforms, such as your blog and podcast.
5 reasons why you want a content calendar
You may think that you don’t need a content calendar because you’re already using a scheduling tool. However, depending on the scheduling app you use, you may not have that overall view.
One of my clients recently had that exact problem. She’s using Planoly for Instagram and Facebook scheduler for Facebook. Although Planoly has a calendar view, my client didn’t have the overall picture of all her content across all the platforms she uses, to see how all the pieces fit together. And this is essential if you want to show up consistently online.
2. Goal tracking
If you have a social media or content strategy (which I hope you do), having an overall view of what you are publishing will also help you ensure that you are meeting your goals.
Let’s say your goal is to post 4 times a week on Facebook, then you can see at a glance on your calendar, whether or not you have all the necessary posts scheduled.
It may be more or less easy to track depending on the tool, but is nonetheless something a good content calendar should allow you to do in a few clicks.
Having that one view is also very beneficial when used in conjunction with your content pillars. It helps you ensure that what you post is balanced in terms of its content and objectives, i.e. making sure you don’t post too much about one thing one month and then nothing at all for months on end.
4. Peace of mind
Obviously a big plus about having a calendar in the sense of being organised and knowing what to post and when, which gives you one less thing to worry about.
As a solopreneur, I have to do everything in my business, and the last thing I want to do is think about what to post on social media every day! I tried this approach in the past, and it created more anxiety and stress.
I’ve been in situations where I would start writing a post first thing in the morning, only to find myself still writing hours later or looking for the perfect photo, then stressing out about the little time I had left to do everything I wanted to do.
When I’ve left it to the end of the day to avoid the above situation, then I ended not posting at all, due to the other things taking over, and the knowledge that it would take me forever to get a post ready.
Having a calendar forces me to think in advance about what my audience wants to hear about and how it fits with everything else I am doing, which makes me feel more organised as a result.
5. Harnessing your cycle superpowers
By planning my content in advance, I am able to batch my work, meaning that I’ll have days where all I do is write, edit or create images for my posts.
This goes very well with working in sync with my menstrual cycle. I’ll write during my expressive phase (i.e. around ovulation), do the research and editing during my dynamic phase (i.e. before ovulation) and come up with ideas during my creative phase (i.e. after ovulation). Working this way has made such a big difference to my workday and my content creation process.
If you are not menstruating, you can work with the moon cycle instead.
So now you’re convinced you need an editorial calendar, how do you go about it?
4 Tools to plan your content
As I wrote at the start, there are many tools available out there, and it all depends on your preferences, i.e. are you a spreadsheet person or a visual person?, your budget (I’m only sharing free tools below) and how elaborate your process is.
There are many, many, many templates available on the internet. Trust me, just do a Google search, and you’ll find plenty of options.
Spreadsheets are great but can quickly become big and unmanageable. Plus, I’m guessing if you’re here you’re not really a spreadsheet kind of person. The significant element missing for me here is the calendar view (by that I mean a monthly grid). I have found a few templates that have one included, but they are very clunky to use.
Well, that’s where Airtable comes in.
To the untrained eye, Airtable is just a pretty spreadsheet. Let me tell you, it’s much more than that! It’s a database. But let’s not get carried away with the (boring) details. All you need to know is that Airtable is very powerful, and allows you to switch between a list view, a card view and a calendar. How great is that?
To be fair, setting up Airtable to work the way you want can be overwhelming for the non-tech savvy people. There is a template available to get your started, or if you’re looking for something more customised, I can help you get set up.
ContentCal is actually a scheduling app that happens to have a calendar view. Unlike Planoly, which only works for Instagram, ContentCal works with many platforms, and you can even add your own, such as your blog. In this case, though, ContentCal will not be able to publish content on your behalf.
Note that you don’t have to give ContentCal access to your social media platforms either. You could use it for planning purposes only and use a different tool for scheduling.
The only downside of ContentCal is that the free version only gives you a weekly view. You’ll need to upgrade for a monthly calendar.
4. Asana, Trello & other project management tools
For me, project management apps, such as Asana and Trello, work best. If you take the approach that publishing content is a project, and each post is a task within that project, then a project management app is what you need. There are obviously many of those available. My favourite is ClickUp.