The who, why and how of making a content calendar

In 2019, I wrote a post about making a content calendar for your blog (or Facebook page, or website, or newsletter).

At the time, my website had had no new content for three-and-a-half months.
So I vowed to make a plan to help me keep it updated. There are good reasons for making a plan such as this. At the time, I said:

The idea is to sit down and make a spreadsheet with the weeks (or months – whatever your schedule is) of the year and try to fill each week with an idea for something to write. These can be tied to external events (on National Cat Day, write something about cats for instance) or they can be internally generated (one of my areas of focus is editing, so I will devote the month of May to posts about editing, for instance). Or a mix of both. However it is created, a content plan is a godsend for that day when you have no ideas and no momentum and no time to think: you just sit down and start doing what the list says.

Those words remain true. But I don’t think I had the full picture of how to make a content calender, and my post history in WordPress shows it. After that February 28, 2019 post, I dutifully produced a post on March 7. The next one appeared on May 3, and after that I managed one a month until August. I then wrote five posts in first seven months of 2020.

But from July 16, 2020 onwards, I have published one post a week, every week (except for a holiday break in January).

So what changed? How did I go from sort-of managing once a month to my current schedule: posting at 9am sharp every Thursday morning?

You need to know who and why

In July 2020, I took a week off and did some deep digging into my business and what the hell I thought I was doing.

One of the questions I asked myself was about this blog: did I need it, what is it for, who is it for?

That, it turns out, is the key question. I did a wonderful worksheet from Tonia Kendrick about finding my blogging and business niche, which focused heavily on who I thought my ideal reader was.

I came up with two potential readers: a busy woman who needs help calming the chaos in her life, and a busy journalist who could do with practical help about diverse aspects of the profession. And there was a secret third reader: myself, who every now and then wants to share thoughts and life learnings and opinions.

In addition, I used a worksheet about goal-setting from the same guru, and began to plan my work in 6-week sections, divided into three two-week sprints. The original planner called for 90-day plans, but that felt intimidating, so six week it was.

A non-negotiable in that plan was to write a blog post every week, My goal was to connect my blog with an email newsletter, and start to build an audience of people who might be interested in any future courses or services I might offer.

I would recommend doing both those worksheets before sitting down to make your content plan!

How I did my content calendar

Knowing who my audience was, and what my goal was made devising a content calendar super easy.

I drew up a spreadsheet with dates through to the end of the year, and assigned themes by week:

First week (of any given month)- something serious
Second week – inspiring/personal
Third week – tips and tricks
Fourth week – journalism-y

If there are five weeks in a month, I improvise, often by revisting older posts (as I am doing in this post).

I then work in three-month segments, filling in any ideas I have right now, and going back and adding ideas as life throws me concepts and problems and solutions. Then, once a week I look at the calendar and just write what my previous self told me to write.

What am I saying, dear reader?

Making a content calendar is important, yes.

But having a clear idea of audience and purpose is a prerequisite. If you know why you are writing every damn week, you will in fact get down and write every damn week.

Take my word for it.

Contact me if you would like to chat about how I can help with all your organisational or communication needs (coaching, editing, writing, social media). And you can subscribe to my newsletter here.

Main picture: Eric Rothermel on Unsplash

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