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To calendar or not to calendar?

Written by Sam Grover
Published on 1st Aug, 2018

Content calendars can go one of two ways. A successful content calendar has everyone knowing exactly what they’re doing, and when. An unsuccessful content calendar is published, then never seen nor heard from again. 

Content calendars exist to solve a problem: producing a decent amount of content, regularly. To this end, they can be great when content production isn't a priority across the organisation. If people aren't in the habit of writing blogs, case studies and so on, then go ahead and make a calendar, then execute on it. 

However, lots of of organisations function in an ad-hoc way, with content emerging from all over the place. If this is your organisation, you're going to run into two problems:

  1. A granular content calendar will almost certainly be ignored once fresher things start emerging spontaneously.
  2. Things won't emerge spontaneously in a consistent way - you're likely to have significant content droughts.

So when you're building a content calendar, you need to think about how you do things in your organisation, and how you can fit your calendar to that culture. It is, after all, a lot easier to change your content approach than it is to change your entire organisation's culture. 

Foundational principles

Rather than build a super-granular calendar that will almost certainly be ignored, you can go partway by agreeing on the kind of  stories you want to tell, then agreeing on frequency. Then, as unexpected things come up, you can just slot them in in the place of the stories you agreed on.

It could look something like this:

“We want to write three blog posts a week, in one of the following categories:

  • Customer story

  • Reflections on an event we participated in

  • Industry insights

  • Educational pieces “

If something else comes up to fill your three-a-week quota, then great. If not, then just continually choose from the list of categories and write some blogs about those categories.

This "light touch" approach helps you consistently create relevant content, while also letting ad-hoc content emerge naturally. 

Adding more structure

You can then add more structure on top of this, if you need to. Using the “themes’ you created above, you can come up with a bunch of  blog post titles. The goal here is to create a “base” of content, so you should aim to have fewer posts than your goal number. So, if you want three posts a week, then create a calendar for one post a week, for the next few months.

This becomes a lot more manageable when you have some themes. If you have four themes, of equal weight, and you want to plan out six months of blogposts at one post per week, that’s only 24 posts - or six of each theme. Using the themes from above, that would look like this:

Customer story: 6

Reflections on an event: 6

Industry insights: 6

Educational pieces: 6

Now you can just nail out these posts whenever you have some down time. If you can “bank” these,  that's even better, because it will take the pressure off your demand for ad-hoc posts in the future. Even if you can’t find the time to bank these, it’s easier to write a post when you already know its title and topic than it is to start from a blank piece of paper.

Think it over, and do it right

There are lots of options in between a fully realised, specific calendar and complete chaos. Choose the level of detail that best suits your organisation, and you’ll be much better placed to consistently create good content that helps you achieve your goals.

 

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sam grover

Sam Grover

Sam is a marketing and communications specialist who helps businesses and other organisations refine their message and create great content. He blogs about content marketing and writing at samgrover.co.nz/blog