Why do I need a content schedule?
There are lots of benefits to using a content schedule, for me the most important reason is that it helps maintain my sanity. By scheduling my content I can ensure that I’ve got a constant pipeline of high(er) quality articles being published. I’m not rushing at the last minute to hit publish, and get plenty of time to review and modify articles. It also gives me the extra time that I need to research and source data & images for my articles. I’m going to assume you’re already sold, so let’s dive in and have a look at what a content schedule is and what’s involved.
You can download a copy of my content schedule here, the rest of this article will reference this document.
What should be included?
A good content plan should cover all the copy you’ll need to create over the next few months. It can include everything from you social media (twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc.) through to your press releases and blog posts. Different mediums will have different volumes of posts, so you may want to separate the content plans into multiple tabs to prevent things like your twitter updates from drowning out all your other content.
Do you really need to fill out all the columns in this enormous excel sheet? Ideally yes, but I know it’s not practical for everyone. So I’ve tried to color code the columns by importance & relevance. The blue fields are essential to making your content plan work, everything else is for tracking. You should modify the columns & the priority to suit you.
How far ahead should I plan my content?
Try to create a plan for as many months as is practical for you, this really will vary based on the amount of time & resource you have. Personally, I like to keep 3 months worth of article titles ready, and top-up every month. I try to keep 4 weeks of articles ready for automatic publishing, and begin fleshing the articles for the second & third month out as I go along.
What do I put into my schedule?
Everything. All your content. Absolutely anything you want to publish at all, including anything that goes out in an ad-hoc, last minute manner.
I usually start my content plans by highlighting important dates the plans needs to accommodate. For instance Christmas, Chinese New Year, a significant Corporate launch or industry event. This allows you to create topical information on the approach to these activities, and illustrates how you’re connected to the industry.
Theme based content planning
I’ve previously talked about the benefits of using content themes, this is the perfect opportunity to create themes with ideas that flow neatly into each other. Here’s an example of how you might plan a series of articles in a theme:
- What is Omni Channel Retail?
- Examples of Omni Channel Retail
- Using NFC & QR Codes in Omni Channel Retail
- Using Email as part of your Omni Channel Retail strategy
- Creating your email schedule (this is the start of the next theme)
You could assign these the same category, varying tags, and deliver them as a series. Grouping related content together makes it easier to navigate content on your site, and allows you to deliver much more in-depth information without overloading any one post – enhancing your position as an authority in your field.
If you need some inspiration on what to write about, stay tuned. I’ll shortly be writing about different methods of sustainably creating content. There are lots of different methods & styles, I’m sure one of them will work for you.
Just because you have a content plan doesn’t mean you should follow it blindly. Be mindful of current events and remember to consider the communities sentiments at large before allowing your content to publish. This is especially important if you’re using an auto-post system.