The challenge of consistently creating fresh content keeps many marketers up at night. How do you find enough content to keep your customers engaged and coming back for more? How do you find new topics when it seems like everything related to your industry has been covered to death?
Or perhaps you have a deep well of ideas to draw from but lack focus. You have a file full of half-finished blog posts, ideas for ongoing series, and even a vision for an infographic that will knock your readers’ socks off. You just don’t know where to start. In either case, the solution is simple: You need a content calendar.
Common Content Calendar Mistakes
Much like the editorial calendars that give structure to print publications, a content calendar outlines your content strategy. It allows you to plan topics and posts, preventing last minute panic when you realize that Thanksgiving is only two weeks away, and you haven’t even thought about your annual “Things to Be Thankful For” post.
While content calendars are useful tools, they can also cause problems if you don’t approach them correctly. In fact, many marketers make mistakes that render their calendars useless, or at the very least, cause frustration. If you’re making your first content calendar, or you have one that isn’t working for you, avoid making these content calendar mistakes.
1. Sticking to a Rigid Daily Schedule
Posting on a regular basis is one of the fundamentals of content marketing. Fresh, up-to-date content helps drive traffic and increase conversions. Yet too many marketers attempt to create a calendar that calls for a new post every single day, even going so far as to determine exact topics or titles. However, that approach is likely to end in frustration. While you may have an idea of what you want to write about, you might find that when the time comes, you have nothing to say, or that the specific topic you’ve planned on isn’t relevant anymore. Not to mention, it’s better to have fewer, higher quality posts than mediocre posts every day. Instead of trying to plan content for every day, sketch out a basic plan with an eye toward posting 3-5 times per week.
2. Not Allowing for Breaking News
When you plan every single piece of content and have something on the docket for every day, you risk limiting yourself. Things change. You might have the opportunity to publish some great guest posts — or a planned guest post will fall through. There could be major news in your industry that needs in-depth coverage. You might have a phenomenally successful post that needs a follow-up. When every day of your calendar is spoken for, and you don’t have any flexibility, you could miss opportunities. This is especially common when you plan too far in advance. Trying to predict what to cover in six months could be a waste of time, so again, plan for a month or two, leaving room for the unexpected.
3. Not Thinking About Promotion
Every piece of content needs promotion to gain a wider audience. When creating your calendar, don’t forget to outline how you plan to spread the word. Some pieces, such as e-books or posts created as ego bait, need more promotion than a standard post, so you don’t want to release them when you’ll be away on vacation or in the midst of a sales conference.
4. Not Allowing Enough Time
Great infographics don’t happen overnight. E-books and white papers aren’t written in an afternoon. You need time for research, writing, design, editing, and production on your larger pieces of content, so don’t plan to post an infographic on the second day of your content plan when you haven’t even started designing it. Work with the writers, editors, and designers who will be assigned to each piece to determine a realistic timeframe, and then develop your calendar. Otherwise, you may be scrambling for content at the last minute to fill that spot.
5. Not Tying Content Into Your Overall Goals
The best content marketing is strategic. In other words, you don’t create content for the sake of creating content. When developing your calendar, don’t plan on fluffy or useless pieces just because you need a placeholder. Everything should be created with an eye toward your overall goals, whether it’s more conversions, more social media traffic, or better search rankings. Analyze your content’s past performance and develop a calendar that builds on successes and avoids the failures.
Content calendars help ensure that you regularly publish and better align your advertising and outreach efforts to your content. If you avoid these mistakes, your calendar will be the useful document it’s intended to be, and not a source of frustration.