How to Develop a Content Calendar for Your Website

Below, you will find an unedited excerpt from my new book about building Internet-based businesses, Online Business from Scratch. To receive updates about the book, visit www.fromscratchbook.com.

When you have decided which publishing channels you want to use in your business, the next step is creating a content schedule. A content schedule is simply a plan of what kind of content you want to publish and when you want to publish it. You already know that keeping a consistent publishing schedule will be one of the keys to your long-term success and your content schedule will ensure that you are regularly publishing content to your website and your other publishing platforms. With a good content schedule in place, you will never forget to write a blog post, publish a podcast episode or keep your Twitter account up-to-date.

Here’s how to create a content schedule:

  • Step 1: Print Out a Monthly Calendar — You will be creating a new content schedule for each month. A few days before the end of a month, begin working on the content schedule for the following month. In my experience, the best way to lay out a monthly content schedule is with an old fashioned paper calendar. A paper calendar provides a visually intuitive way to look at your publishing schedule for an entire month on a single piece of paper. You can either buy a printed calendar at a store, or print one off the Internet. I personally print off free calendar templates from WinCalendar (www.wincalendar.com). If you want to go all digital, you can fill out a Microsoft Word calendar template from WinCalendar or put your content schedule directly into Google Docs.
  • Step 2: Make a List of Your Publishing Channels — Write out a list of all of the publishing channels that you want to regularly post content out to. This will include your website, your email list, your personal Facebook account and your Twitter account. This list will also encompass other social networks, your podcast (if you publish one), your YouTube channel (if you create one) and any other places that you plan on regularly publishing content related to your niche. Facebook is a special case. Your personal profile, your business Facebook page and your Facebook group (if you create one) should be listed out as individual publishing channels.
  • Step 3: Determine Your Publishing Frequency for Each Channel — For each publishing channel, choose how often you want to publish new content. You might post to some channels, like your Facebook and Twitter account every day. You may even post to your Twitter account multiple times per day. You may publish to your website once or twice per week. For more involved channels, like podcasting and YouTube, you may only publish once per week or once every other week. Choose a sustainable frequency for each channel and commit to sticking with the publishing cycle that you set.
  • Step 4: Create a Process for Each Channel — For each publishing channel you plan on utilizing, write out a standardized list of steps that you will complete whenever you create a new piece of content. For publishing a blog post, your steps might include brainstorming, outlining, writing, editing, proof reading, scheduling to WordPress, optimizing for SEO, adding an image, posting your article and sharing it on your social media channels. Having a standardized process for each publishing channel will speed up the process and make sure that you don’t miss any important steps. You will also eventually be able to hand off some of these steps to contractors or employees so that you can put more of your focus on creative tasks. Whenever I write a new blog post, I hand it off to my employee Rebecca. She will edit the post, proof-read it, find an appropriate stock photo, schedule it in WordPress, assign appropriate tags and categories and schedule it to be published the following week.
  • Step 5: Write Out Your Publishing Schedule — Take out your paper calendar and start penciling in dates to publish content for each of your channels. The dates that you select should align with the publishing frequency you selected for each channel. For example, if you want to post a new article on your website twice per week, you might write in “Post New Article on Website” in your calendar on every Tuesday and Thursday. Try to be consistent about the days of the week that you post each type of content. Your audience will then get in a habit of checking your website and your other channels for new content on specific days. Publish your most important on week days, because people generally spend less time online during the weekend. Choose dates to publish content for each of your publishing channels according to your publishing frequency until you have done so for all of your channels.
  • Step 6: Set Aside Content Creation Days and Pre-Schedule Content — According to your calendar, you may plan on publishing some form of content every day of the week. This does not mean that you should be creating content seven days per week. it’s much more effective to create content in batches than to try to create content every day. Set aside one day of the week to create all of the content you want to publish for the following week. Write the articles you plan on publishing and pre-schedule them to post with WordPress. Write the tweets and Facebook posts you want to publish and schedule them with a tool like Buffer (www.buffer.com). Record your YouTube videos, record podcast episodes and create any other content you plan on publishing in the following week on your content creation day and schedule them to go live according to your calendar. By creating your content in batches and pre-scheduling your content, you will never miss a publishing date on your calendar and you will have more free time to work on other parts of your business.