Content calendar (or the editorial calendar) is a key tool for bloggers and other content marketers. If done well, it makes you more productive, gives you a great overview of your tasks and responsibilities, and helps teams work in sync and not duplicate any work. It can also help you beat the writer’s block.
This article will give you all the advice and tools you need in order to schedule a week’s worth of content activities in about 10 minutes.
Why is it important to publish new content regularly?
One of the best pieces of advice for a newbie blogger is to publish content frequently and to try and stick to a recurring schedule of publishing. There are plenty of benefits in having a content calendar and a consistent schedule for publishing the content:
- Content calendar gets you organised, more efficient and allows you to plan your content better.
- Consistent new content builds trust and a consistent audience. It brings a stream of traffic and comments, and gives readers a reason to subscribe to you, follow you in social media and check back. It helps you build a buzz and expectations around yourself and in that way attract an audience that loves your content and is eagerly awaiting to hear from you next time.
- Not updating your content frequently makes it hard to gain a momentum for a new site. It can also give an image of a dead place. It gives a bad impressions if a visitor finds no updates have taken place in some time and it decreases the chance of visitor subscribing, becoming a loyal reader or subscriber.
- Frequency of new posts can affect the search engine algorithms so you may rank higher. Search engines crawl and index sites that are updated regularly more frequently.
- More quality content brings more opportunities for shares in social media, links from other sites and traffic from search engine thanks to the different keywords and topics you’re covering.
Is there an optimal posting frequency?
One of the main elements of a content calendar is for you to determine the posting frequency.
Bloggers have many questions in this area. Should I write longer posts but less frequently or should I release shorter posts multiple times a day or week? What days should I publish these posts? How much and how often should I create and publish new content? What is the optimal posting frequency?
There’s no right or wrong answer here. There are successful blogs with any of these choices. Some post short but frequent posts. Some post rare but long. Some mix and match these approaches.
This decision is based on what is right for you and what is right for your audience. You have to find a schedule that fits you and works for you. You don’t want to stress yourself too much by going for a too frequent schedule that you cannot achieve. Be realistic.
7 factors that will affect your posting frequency
Factors that will affect your posting frequency are things such as the size of your team and the type of content you are producing. Listicles and top lists might be quicker to create while long-form content and multimedia-heavy content may take longer. It all really depends on what your situation is in terms of:
- Remember that more content is not necessary better and that less can be more in some situations.
- How much time do you have? Make sure that you can stick to any schedule that you set. Most important thing is to not put yourself on a strict schedule that you cannot cope with, as that may make you lose motivation and quit blogging.
- Make sure that you put quality of content as the top priority. Quantity doesn’t matter if no one gets to see any of your posts.
- Leave time for distribution of content too as without it your posts will not reach many people.
- How much inspiration and how many ideas do you have? Take a look at this list for some inspiration.
- What resources do you have to help you? Are you on your own or can you outsource some of your tasks?
- What are your goals and plans? All content you plan to produce should connect to your goals and objectives. Think about what you are trying to achieve and how each article fits in a bigger picture. This will help you decide how to approach each individual post idea. Some might work best in a video, some might be best with little text and lots of images, some might be best with a long and detailed post.
How do I determine the best schedule for me?
- Some blogs publish new articles many times a day such as Mashable, some do it once a day, some do it once a month. The perfect schedule that optimizes the potential of your site and maximizes its growth would most probably be to post one new article every day. Your readers would come back daily, you would have potential to create a lot of buzz and Google would love you.
- In my early years of blogging I posted new content every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I did that for 2 years without missing one day. Most of my posts where in the range of 300-700 words. There was no reason for this schedule, I picked it because it fit me well in those years. More recently most of the posts I publish are 2,000+ words, but I publish them much less frequently. Again I picked this frequency because it fits me better at this point in time.
- Some sites follow the natural cycles of the industries they work in. If you blog about a specific sports club it makes sense to be active when the club is active as that is where most interest will be and your content will be able to be most effective. There are opportunities in seasonal trends, holiday, events and other environmental happenings. These are your opportunities to engage your audience with timely and relevant content. Many of these events are known in advance, set them in your calendar and make sure to plan the content creation in order to have something ready when the time is right.
- Some sites follow the news and events around their topic and focus on those as that is where they stand to attract the best audience and ideas for best content. There are also different internet trends and hashtags that repeat and that you could tap into. There are #throwbackthursdays and #caturdays. Explore the options and be ready for those that are relevant to your brand.
- You can create your own calendar of events. Monday could be your day to review the happenings from the weekend, Tuesday could be a quiz night, Wednesday could be educational day, Thursday could be a throwback day where you repurpose an older piece of content that is still relevant and Friday could be a preview of the weekend.
- Having a look at your visitors data in your site analytics will allow you to see how the traffic is throughout the week. This data contributed to my decision to write in the week days only. My site traffic drops on Saturday and Sunday compared to the week days and automatically picks up again on Monday. I have seen other site and audiences where it works differently so definitely have a look at what your audience tells you before making any decisions. Always measure how each article performs and base your future decisions on insights you get.
- Make a calculated guess on how much content you can create by using these pointers. Then measure the results and see how your audience reacts to the frequency. Find what works for you. Learn, optimise and repeat.
Content calendar tools and templates
There are many tools that you can use to optimise your calendar workload and make your team more efficient. They are free too. Here’s a list of those that I’ve used and that I like. Explore them and see what feels best for you.
These are the WordPress content calendar plugins:
There are also editorial calendar templates you can download and customize so they fit your needs:
Content calendar checklist when inserting entries
Try and include these pieces of information into each entry of your calendar:
- Date for content to go live. Use the calendar feature of your tool to have a simple calendar overview. Use WordPress TimeStamp feature to schedule and automate your posts
- Headline of the article.
- Content format and a brief outline which also include any visuals that need to be created.
- Who’s in charge and who’s responsible for this piece of content.
- Checklist of things to do before publishing the piece of content. See my guide on this here.
- Where the content will be distributed. What channels does it make sense to use in order to promote this piece of content? Some ideas here.
Don’t be a slave to your content calendar
Sometimes you just might not have anything to say. Sometimes you may not be in the mood for writing. Don’t force yourself in those situations. Let your procrastination be the natural filter and allow yourself to get back the inspiration to produce content that will make a difference for your goals.
Procrastination is seen as a bad thing. It is frowned upon. We try and find ways to stop the procrastination from happening. We follow tips and advice on being productive. In some way though procrastination is a good thing.
Writing is difficult when it is forced which many writers discover after a while of running a site. It is not always easy to write 500 words every couple of days, sometimes it is not possible to follow the rigid schedule. These situations can be considered as a writers block, sometimes they are look at as being unproductive, sometimes they are a procrastination.
Write when you are inspired and when you feel like writing. Procrastination defends you from your becoming a robotic, soulless writer who writes on command and without too much thought or inspiration.
I have definitely seen this happen to many bloggers and freelance writers where they end up seeing their post writing as a task that has to be ticked off their long list of things to do. 500 words on this topic by this day, 700 words on this topic by this deadline and so on…
It ends up being too much after some time, it becomes a chore, you lose the will to do it, you lose the creativity and the love that made you start writing in the first place. Your writing and your output become worse and it is felt in the feedback you get and the stats you see in social media and on your analytics. You may be getting money from doing it but all the fun is gone.
Procrastination stops this from happenings and lets it all take place more naturally. You write only when you feel like it and you only write about topics that interest you and that you have something to say about. You only write when you have the inspiration and the drive to do it.
Recharge your batteries to get inspired again
So what to do in case you feel like procrastinating? Just let it be. Kind of like the concept of Wu Wei where you just don’t take any action and you don’t do. Instead relax, recharge, do something else, get inspired. One of the things that can be done to get recharged and inspired to get back to the writing is to disconnect from your day to day activities.
Get away from your Internet connection and from your computer, do something different today instead of spending majority of the day staring at the screen without getting much important work done.
On the other hand some weeks you might have much more to say and you might not be able to fit it all within your regular calendar schedule. This is a positive problem to have and nothing to worry about either. Surprise your audience and publish it even though it is not on the normal day. Publish even though that will make it 3 posts a week compared to the standard 2 posts a week.
Content calendar is a very useful tool but being flexible and reacting to the environment can be just as important. I’ve changed my schedule many times in the past according to some big events and occasions that have happened.
It might be a big event in your field, might be some study that was published, it might be a more mainstream news situation that… be on the lookout for opportunities and stay flexible.