You may be familiar with the phrase “content is king.” In today’s competitive marketplace, good content – informative verbiage and attention-getting visuals – will help attract website visitors and keep them engaged with your site and brand. So what's your biggest content asset? Your blog. Small businesses that have blogs produce 70 percent more leads monthly and receive 50 percent more website visitors than companies that don’t blog.
Impactful blogs don’t happen by accident – they take preparation, planning and scheduling. The first step in achieving blog content that resonates with your customers is creating a content calendar. Here are steps to make it happen.
A content calendar, also called an editorial calendar, is a schedule for when and where you plan to publish content. Staying organized is the key to using content marketing to grow your business and a content calendar helps you keep track of all of your blog articles in one place. A content calendar also helps ensure that everyone involved understands their responsibilities and deadlines. This makes it easier to collaborate with team members and partners.
If you are the only one writing and producing blog content, a content calendar is still important for ensuring that you are doing everything — from creating outlines to writing and editing articles to adding photographs and publishing — necessary to connect with customers. This will also give you a big-picture point of view of your content efforts and help you schedule articles that connect with your audience throughout the year.
Your blog should live on — and attract readers to — your website. If you don’t have a website or need a new one, Web.com makes it easy with website packages featuring drag-and-drop web builders plus domain names and web hosting. We are always here for you and your business.
To get started, look for online content calendar templates that are easy to use and update. There are several ready-made options available including these templates from HubSpot, Trello and CoSchedule. You can also create one yourself by customizing a simple Google or Excel spreadsheet with categories that will help you achieve your goals – see the following section for specific ideas and details.
Once you have a template created, be sure to link it to your Google calendar so you will receive constant reminders to keep your content moving in a positive direction. This will help ensure that your blog articles are always timely and are published at times when they will attract the greatest readership.
Add a name for your blog calendar then create categories including publishing date, author name, the title of article, headline and status (approved and not approved). You’ll also want to keep track of when your blog was published by having a column where you can record the date your content posted.
Don’t forget key dates and holidays. Set up a category where you can list holidays and quirky events like “Squirrel Appreciation Day." Stay true to your core brand messaging but have fun along the way – your customers will appreciate it. Here is a useful HubSpot article on How to Create an Editorial Calendar in Google Calendar.
What’s a content calendar without blog topics? You have a lot of ideas you want to write about – be sure to put your thoughts on the calendar and keep them organized. Having a creative list of topics in the works will prevent you from scrambling at the last minute trying to find ideas for that looming publishing date. With a calendar, you can assign titles, dates and authors to help you stay on schedule.
It’s not always easy coming up with fresh blog content – everyone gets stuck once in a while. Fortunately, there are several tools to prevent blogger’s block. Get up from your desk, stretch and go for a walk. It’s amazing how a little downtime can refresh your mind and get you back on track. Another way to generate ideas is to plug keywords into a Google search and see what pops up. If the well is still running dry, try content idea generation tools such as Google Suggest, Google’s Keyword Planner, Answer the Public, HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator and Visual Spark.
When a customer goes online to find a business, they type in words like best auto repair services, florists with the best roses or favorite running gear stores into an online directory like Google. By including these words in your blog and other content, search engines will take notice and direct people to your website. These search engine optimization (SEO) keywords can help you rank higher in search directories, so be sure to include them in your content calendar with each article.
To develop keywords, take a look at what your competitors are doing. How do they describe their business on their website and in their blogs? Keep a running list of these terms and phrases and implement them in your SEO strategy, while focusing your content campaigns on your core messaging. Web.com can assist you with expert SEO services and advice to help you achieve your content goals.
Following a consistent blog publishing schedule can be challenging. You or your writers may need more time or unexpected circumstances can knock your blog plans off course. A content calendar will keep you on track. Determine when and how often you will publish. Once you have a better feel for how much you should be posting, you can develop a schedule.
A posting schedule is very important and is the foundation of your calendar. Plan at least a month in advance but stay flexible, recognizing that your content priorities may change based on current events and industry happenings. Never miss an opportunity to provide your customers with content that addresses recent events and illustrates how your brand is solving challenges and making their lives easier.
Blogging is a process and great content starts with a content calendar to keep you organized, on track and in touch with your readers and customers. With a calendar in place, you can stop winging it and start winning over even more customers with your outstanding content.