Don't you hate those days when you're running just a step behind? Don't feel that way about your online content marketing. A content calendar can help you manage your small businesses online presence and stay on top of your content, whether you're posting regular blogs, scheduling a social media campaign, or simply striving to keep an active business presence online.
A variety of services, templates, and software products are available, and choosing one depends on how much content you create and share, and how much is in your budget.
What does a content calendar do?
How many days have passed without posting a new blog or sharing something on your Twitter feed? Have you updated your status on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn...etc? Did you post a video on YouTube and share it across all platforms?
We've said it before, managing your online activity is a full-time endeavor, especially if you're a small business owner maintaining a variety of properties online. A content calendar can help you manage and coordinate those posts, and more importantly, plan your content ahead of time.
A content calendar gives you a picture of your content for the year, taking into consideration holidays and other days of recognition that are great for centering blog posts and other promotional content around.
To compile a list of potential topics, look for events calendars online, like this one on PromosOnTime.com.
Plan your content
Think about all the different opportunities to craft content for your audience, both from generic events calendars/days of recognition, and from your own business. Don't leave out:
- case studies
- new product/service launch
- press releases/announcements
- customer testimonials
- industry-related news/events
- seasonal content
- re-purposed/recycled content
Plugging information into a real calendar gives you a great sense of spacing and coverage for each month. Print calendar pages and fill in topics you know you're ready and interested to blog about, create content for or post throughout the year.
Now consider an interactive content calendar
Your business size, number of employees, level of employee collaboration, and need to manage various social media platforms should determine what you choose for a content calendar software or service. Research your options based on your needs and budget, and make use of free trials to see what works best for your situation. Here are a few that range in cost and capabilities:
WordPRess Editorial Calendar Plugin
WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin is a basic add to WordPress's open source project--a platform downloadable at no cost besides the cost of hosting the website. A variety of plugins work with WordPress including the editorial calendar, a fairly simple interactive calendar that integrates with your WordPress blog.
CoSchedule is also a WordPress content marketing and editorial calendar plugin. Pricing comes in around $15/month for an all-in-one basic calendar and social scheduling capabilities. Custom adds and premium integration jumps to $30/month, and further adding social automation, autopilot publishing, and data-driven intelligence takes you to $60/month. All of these are for one user and increasing social profiles from five to 25. A premium service of $300/month provides a team calendar for 25 users, 40 guests, and 100 social profiles.
Gather Content offers cloud storage for collaboration with a larger team, designed to streamline the user's web content production process. It provides structured templates to create and collate content, with fields for comments and collaboration. The software ranges from $66/month to $216/month depending on how many items and active projects you have going. Unlimited users can tap into the software.
Kapost offers software to plan, create, distribute, and analyze the content's reach and influence with your audience. In addition to the platform, Kapost offers support, consulting, and materials to further your B2B marketing efforts. The content planner begins at $800/month, with other services and options available for more.
Excel or Google Spreadsheet
Your content calendar doesn't necessarily have to include bells and whistles, integration and ROI measurements. If you have no budget for software, need a simple layout, or a highly personalized spreadsheet, open up Excel or Google and create your own calendar.
Do you pay for a content calendar service to manage your online content planning and distribution, or plug ideas into a spreadsheet or calendar hanging on your wall?