Woman writing in calendar

Planning ahead — How to create content calendars and why you need it

9 min read
Dylan Culhane

The small biz journey is a tough one — but there are a few tools that can help you compete with the big players in your space, even with a smaller budget and fewer resources. One tool is to create great content for your blog and social media channels — content that really hits home with your audience. Besides being a way for your brand to connect with your target market, creating and sharing great content also helps keep your brand top of mind, so that when your consumer wants to buy something, they think of you. But starting the content creation journey can be overwhelming: what should you post, when and where should you post it, and how do you go about creating it? Learning to create content calendars can answer those questions.

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In this article, we’ll unpack what a content calendar is, why it’s important and how to create content calendars for your business.

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So what’s the big deal about content?

Content seems to be the buzzword on everyone’s lips these days, but the effort required to produce it may make you question whether it really is worth it.

The short answer is: absolutely.

Let’s get into more detail about why creating great content is time well spent.

It helps your brand stay top of mind

While your audience may know of your brand, today’s shortening attention spans — especially online — means you have to work that much harder to stay relevant. Add to that the fact that your competitors are posting content regularly, and it’s clear that in order to not be left behind, posting content regularly is essential.

It’s also a good way to demonstrate that your brand is dynamic and adaptive through changing times, trends and events.

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It helps you show your true colors

Every brand has a unique set of values, and posting content is a good way to allow you to demonstrate these values to your audience. Demonstrating your values is about telling your audience who you are as a brand, how you see the world, and how you’re solving some of its problems. 

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It’s a way of joining in the conversation

If you go online, you’ll find a conversation about pretty much everything.

As a brand operating in this digital space, joining conversations that affect your industry is almost a non-negotiable if you want to be relevant in your niche.

Posting worthwhile content is a great way of contributing to these conversations on your own terms, while getting people to interact with your brand at the same time. </blockquote>

Two birds, one stone.

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You can hone in on specific sub-audiences

You may know who your general audience is, but you may also have several sub-audiences within that, all of whom have different likes, dislikes and preferences.

For example, while your general audience may be people who like to travel, the subsets within those could be family vacationers, intrepid world explorers, weekend warriors and adventure seekers.

Creating content is a good way to connect with those specific audiences, rather than trying to be a catch-all to everyone.

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How to create content calendars

Now that we’ve sold you on the idea of why content is important, how do you go about creating it in a meaningful way?

The answer is not a glamorous one: the secret is to plan.

And that’s the overall idea behind a content calendar — it’s a visual plan of the content you’re going to produce over a set period of time.

So, what does this content calendar look like? In its simplest form, you can open up a blank document and begin a table with columns for the days of the week, and the type of content you’ll create on a given day. Describe what you need to create the content (such as images or other visual collateral), who it’s assigned to, the date you want to publish, and what its progress is.

However you decide to format your calendar, it should make sense to you, and looking at it should give you a clear sense of order for the tasks ahead.

Creating this calendar is your first step towards producing steady, meaningful content that's coherent to your overall brand’s intention.

You can even make it look pretty with some of the pre-designed calendar templates we have in GoDaddy Studio.

November calendar

Planning your content: weekly, monthly, quarterly

Now that you’ve got the bare shell of your calendar, it’s time to populate it.

Decide on a high-level view, a medium view and then a close-up in terms of the themes you’ll be focusing on and the actual items you’ll be producing. In timeframes, this can translate into what you’ll be writing about in a given quarter, month or week.

If you’re just starting out, you may want to begin with planning only a month ahead — and then when you get into the swing of things, you can extend this to a whole quarter.

The farther you plan ahead, the better your view of your overall content strategy (plus it helps you prevent repeating the same type of content too often). On the flip side though, planning really far in advance also takes a lot of work — and things may change as time marches on.

How often should you post content?

There’s a common perception that posting daily is a good idea, and this can be true in terms of staying top of mind for your target audience.

It also depends on the social media platforms you choose to use as a brand: daily posting on Twitter, for example, is probably more feasible than a daily LinkedIn article.

In general, if you have the resources and stamina to post daily, then go for it. The risk, though, is that you’ll run your well of inspiration dry and your content can become a bit “samey” as you try and get something out each and every day.

If you post daily, try to find a balance between consistency and variety.

Theming your content

Nerding out with formulas can be a helpful way of navigating your way to a consistent content schedule.

For example, you could decide to post inspirational posts on a Monday, useful tips on a Tuesday, brand news on a Wednesday and then repeat this formula each week. You could also organize your schedule around the pillars of your brand, such as people, product, community and innovation.

There’s no absolute here: go with what fits your brand’s personality.

While a structure like this is helpful, it’s also key to allow space to change things up if you need to. For example, there could be news within your industry that you want to post about, memes you want to respond to, or special calendar days you want to shape your content around.

Seasonality is also a factor. Perhaps your travel brand is most active over the summer months, or perhaps you’re thinking ahead of the game and want to advertise in winter to get people planning their summer trips early.

Or, perhaps you sell things that only apply in one particular season (leather boots in summer, anyone?). Whatever you do when it comes to seasonality, it’s important to first know how your target market responds to your brand, and how long your average buying cycle is.

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Capitalize on opportunities

Special days on the calendar are a great way to resonate with particular crowds within your larger audience, from cat-lovers to yogis to football fans.

As a starting point, identify the special days that directly affect your industry and get involved. For example, a Mexican restaurant might want to post specials for Cinco de Mayo. This is your opportunity to affirm your presence in your category — after all, as a small business, you can’t afford to be silent on YOUR big day.

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For example, if you’re running a pet grooming business, you’ll be pushed to the front of the queue in the public conversation around International Cat Day (August 8), and again on National Dog Day (August 26) — so use this to your advantage. Your competitors will probably also be making noise at this time, so get creative. Think about what sets you apart, and take your inspiration from there.

Great design is a sure-fire way to maintain an edge.

Special days are also a logical reason for a promo, whether it’s 2-for-1 croissants on Bastille Day, a scary good deal on Halloween, or a sale on cozy winter sweaters around Christmas.

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Update your designs & promos accordingly

Once you’ve decided on the content you’ll populate your calendar with, take the time to decide on the right templates and graphics you’ll need for each type. Having high-quality, good graphics to go along with your content helps you to really drive the messaging home.

If you’re posting on a special theme, temporarily update your brand identity for maximum impact. You can do this for a day, a week or a month in line with a relevant theme, whether that’s Halloween, Black Friday or Pride month.

Having your templates ready and accessible in a tool like GoDaddy Studio is a super simple way to keep the design process quick and uncomplicated. When it’s made easy like this, creating content can literally save hours out of your day.

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A final thought

Creating content calendars is a way of starting your journey of producing fresh, dynamic content that helps you grow and thrive as a brand. It also helps you to plan relevant promotions with more impact. While it takes effort and focus to create content calendars, it will definitely yield results to make that initial time spent more than worth it.

We want to help increase the impact your content has by making the design part of it quick and easy. Try out GoDaddy Studio for free right now, and see how much fun design can be when it’s this simple.

All images available as templates in GoDaddy Studio