What a content schedule is, why you need one and how to make one
We find having a strategy for how and when to post content is so important when running a blog. A schedule for all of your content, even a basic one, allows you to:
- see your deadlines at a glance
- foresee how the month can potentially play out
- give an idea of what relevant content will be gracing the eyes of your readers.
You’re not going to get your schedule perfect straight away. You might even have a few drafts before you settle on something that works for you. This is all a part of learning and developing.
You might not even use a schedule in the format that we offer, and instead, you might prefer a simple list or diary, there is no right or wrong answer, it’s just a matter of finding what works best for you.
This post will give you so much insight into a content schedule. Why you should use one, how it works, and how to create your own.
Why do I need a content schedule?
Every well-established blogger out there has a content calendar or content schedule to help keep them on track. Investing in this early on can boost your productivity and success. When starting, many newbie bloggers and small blogs are quite content creating their own content schedule.
As they grow much bigger, they might invest in a content schedule program such as Coschedule to really help them keep organized and stay on top of publishing posts to a tee.
Let’s take a quick look at why we believe a content schedule is important for blogging:
- It makes blogging consistently much easier as you can quickly see any goals or deadlines. Also, if you have a plan, then you aren’t blogging blind and will find writing consistently easier to stick to.
- If you plan on consistently writing about a certain topic on certain days, then your content schedule can really help keep you on track. The same also applies to posting said content on certain days too.
- It allows you to look at your content with fresh eyes. Having your content laid out over the month lets you see what topics you are lacking in and what topics you might want to start incorporating more. It allows you to keep your topics balanced to reach every need of your audience rather than focusing on only one.
- A content schedule also lets you see where you have the potential leeway for breaks and holidays and how you can change your workflow to fit these in and recuperate afterward.
- Having an outlook on your monthly schedule allows you to factor in brainstorming. You might fancy going back to the research stage and finding some new ideas to write about. Rather than cramming your schedule full, why not leave a couple of blank spaces for when you want to do some R&D.
How to plan your content schedule
Before we get into creating a content schedule, we need to plan out a few things first. We’re going to take you through our steps to planning a content schedule and the questions we asked ourselves before starting.
What are your categories?
If you are planning your content, you should have a clear idea of what your blog is about, right? What you preach and post about are essentially your categories here, so make a note of them.
To give you a better understanding, let’s take a look at our categories:
- How to make money from making things (from making a blog, from making products)
- Advice (business, finance)
- Interviews and Reviews
- Media (business photography, video)
This is just a rough example of some of the things we fit into our content schedule. However, depending on your blog, you may have more.
It really is a matter of taking the time to figure it out. But as we said, you might have multiple drafts before you perfect your schedule.
What social media platforms are you posting on?
If you choose to share content on social media, then there are multiple options for you to choose from. Rather than go hell for leather and start spamming every single platform with your content, think about your audience. Who are they? What social media do they use, and who do you want to reach?
The most popular social media platforms are:
- Facebook (useful for FB ads and blogging groups)
- Twitter (great for quick, precise interaction)
- Instagram (perfect for visual content and influencing, do it for the ‘gram)
- Pinterest (also a search engine, very popular amongst bloggers)
- Google +
Once you start posting your content on social media, you will be able to collect data and see which platform works best for you.
How often do you plan on posting content?
When it comes to posting content, it’s key to be consistent, but you have to be realistic. Don’t set yourself up to fail by setting your goals too high. Remember you have to write all this content first and provide everything that goes with it – it’s no easy feat!
The idea is to start slowly. Maybe focus on creating and posting content 3x a week for a while.
When you become more fluid at writing and get more into the swing of things, consider increasing how often you post. Eventually, you might be posting long-form content daily.
Do you need to factor in paid or sponsored content?
If you currently have any talks in place with sponsors, then it’s important to factor in enough time for them. When working with sponsors, etc., you will really be planning months ahead, roughly about two to three months ahead.
It’s really important to make sure the quality of your sponsored content is at its highest, and you give yourself enough time to reach your deadline.
You will also have to do this when factoring in holiday based events such as Halloween or Christmas.
Do you need to factor in other aspects of your blog?
By this, we mean things other than your standard written content or sponsored content. Things such as creating:
- custom images
- and competitions
may all be important factors of your blog and require the time and quality you would give to any other content you create.
Digital content and products can take a lot longer to create than written content. This is because there is generally a longer editing process, and you will be using more than one software to create your finished piece.
What is your timeline?
We tend to plan the schedule for the month ahead. We also like to do a rough guide every three months to see what is on the horizon.
The best thing to do is to start with a brainstorming session. Write down what’s coming up (holidays, etc.), what projects you are going to focus on, and what sponsored/business content you will be sealing.
Start with your sponsored content and work in enough time for them on your first rough schedule. Then move onto any projects that will take up a lot of time for completion such as products, podcasts, and courses. Next, consider your written content.
Consider writing in blocks, such as certain days of the week where you focus only on editorial. Then jot in any slots for shooting any photographs or creating graphics.
Last but not least, remember to leave time for last-minute touches, proofreadings, and setting up the publishing for content. After completing your first rough schedule, you can focus on making a more focused and final monthly calendar. This will be more in-depth.
We hope you read the above thoroughly because now it’s your turn.
Our ultimate tips to make your content and your schedule stand out.
You now have the fundamentals behind you for building your content schedule. We’ve put together a list of tips and ideas for you to incorporate into your blog and push it to the next level.
Learn to walk before you run
This is the same as ‘don’t bite off more than you can chew.’
Like we’ve mentioned above, don’t feel that you have to aim too high to put yourself in the same league as the more established bloggers. Your time will come.
At the start, focus on setting yourself small goals to build yourself up. As you become better at blogging, you will naturally increase the amount of content you write and publish. It’s really important not to burn yourself out before you’ve even begun and potentially jeopardize your blog and mental energy.
Focus on high-quality content constantly
Every time you create, make sure to give it your all. There is nothing more important than having a high standard of content going out every time you hit the publish button.
Your readers deserve to read the best and you need to give your best in this highly competitive business.
To give yourself the best chance of providing high-quality content, consider your writing style.
Keep an eye on any spelling and grammatical errors, use a thesaurus, and other helpful tools such as Grammarly. Also, be sure to create long-form content (posts of 2,000 words or more).
Make sure you put aside the time to do this.
Simplify any complicated information
You might be an expert on what you’re writing about, but many of your readers won’t be, hence why they have come to you in the first place.
Be sure to simplify any complicated information for your audience. You can do this by using:
- bullet points
- step by step guides
You’re not writing for you, you’re writing for them.
When fitting this into your content schedule, consider creating your standard written content first. Then look into adding supporting graphics and resources when it suits your timeline and goals.
Put your reader’s interests and needs first.
If you’ve read any of our many articles, you’ll understand the importance of writing to suit your reader’s needs, but how exactly do you know what their interests and needs are? The first hint is obvious, you are focused on a niche, and you are specifically targeting a certain audience for your niche, so your niche is their first interest – pretty obvious, right? But to delve deeper into your audience specifics, you need to do some research.
The first thing you can do (before you even have an audience) is to check the stats of competitors in the same niche. If you use tools such as Ubersuggest, you’ll be able to see your competitor’s most popular posts based on what their readers search for, giving you valuable insight into what your readers are keen to know.
If you want to take a more direct approach, you can advertise a Q&A on your blog once a week, where your readers can tell you what they want to learn. You will also get an idea for your audience’s needs based on the type of questions you receive and how many people ask the same question. Keeping an eye on your post comments will also offer an insight into your audience’s needs.
Build trust with your readers
Building trust with your readers is something that will happen over time. Still, the more effort you put into building a relationship with the audience, the quicker and more fruitful that relationship will become.
You are probably reading through all of this and thinking “how on earth am I going to fit more into my schedule?” but you’re schedule won’t be based around one task per day, it will be filled with little goals that will end up becoming second nature to you.
Things, like checking in with your readers and responding to comments, these things can be done at any time. You can do this over breakfast, during a break, or at any time. We consider our audience as our friends, and so we treat them as such. They don’t only fit into the work schedule. They fit into the life schedule too.
Don’t forget to put great content on any social media platforms you publish on.
Your social media platforms are just as important as your blog, so whatever content you post on your social media should share the same high quality as the content you post on your blog.
It’s not ideal to do a quick copy and paste of a blog post to add content to your social media quickly. This won’t work because different social media platforms are designed for different media styles. With whatever text content you post, you should also put in the same amount of effort for accompanying graphics and images and make sure each version of your content is in the perfect format for the relevant social media platform.
With every social media post, remember to add a call to action. Sure, it’s nice to see a lot of likes and shares, but the main point of your social media is to drive traffic to your blog.
Know the best days and times for publishing on social media
Knowing when and where to post your content to your social media profiles is undeniably valuable and can give you an edge over other bloggers. Knowing this simple yet powerful information will help you save time, be more proficient with your posting, and will guarantee you a higher number of social shares.
Consider using snippets from your best content for social media.
We’ve spoken about not using copy and paste to replicate your blog content, but we didn’t say you shouldn’t take snippets from your most popular posts and feature or rework them for your social media posts.
A good way to look at your social media posts is to view them as individual advertisements to lead traffic back to your blog. If you have a killer post that you know will benefit your Facebook audience, then take a snippet, add some awesome graphics along with a brilliant call to action and get people moving over to your blog!
Remember, your content doesn’t have to be long-form content on your social media as your audience tend to skim through quickly. You need something short, sweet, and eye-catching.
Go the extra mile, especially for sponsors
When you’re doing business with a sponsor or anyone who has paid you to display their content, go the extra mile and give them the best experience. If you’re offering a sidebar ad, what else can you also include? A guest post? Giveaway? Spotlight?
When it comes to your sponsors, it’s not all about the money. You should touch base with them often, offer them your advice and opinions, check in to make sure they are happy with the traffic they are getting through your blog, and if you really want to, offer them a discounted rate next time if they are a repeat sponsor.
Supplement your own content
Just because it’s your blog doesn’t mean it has to be your own posts. Let me say this from the start. We are not talking about copying here. It would be foolish to only focus on having your own content on your blog as linking to other blogs (and their content), and allowing guest posting has a wealth of benefits.
Firstly, linking to other blogs will help your readers trust you. If you find something relevant to your niche, which you know will benefit your readers immensely, then share this and tell your readers why it’s beneficial for them. It is a selfless act, and better yet, it saves you the work of rewriting. Doing this also has another benefit…
Building Links. If you find valuable content and resources elsewhere in the blogging world (which you will), then link out to them. Link building will greatly elevate your blog, help you gain more friends in the blogging community, and other bloggers will most likely link to their article on your blog driving traffic your way.
If your blog holds a wealth of knowledge not only based on your own content but based on others, then you will quickly become a staple in your niche. Other bloggers and readers will know where to go for credible content, will link to you more, and boost your SEO ranking.
Don’t create filler content
We’ve touched on this before, but we can’t stress the importance of not creating content just to fill in the gaps. Maybe you’re falling behind on your targets and think posting something is better than posting nothing, but we’re focusing on quality over quantity to guarantee the best blogging success.
Posting quick-fix articles can become a dangerous cycle. You might find yourself falling into the habit of creating short articles on a whim because it feels like you are achieving more and it feels like you are posting more. Still, there is such a high chance this type of content isn’t of the quality you can offer and isn’t fully reaching your reader’s needs.
You could potentially be causing more damage long term, losing the interest of readers, and worsening your blog quality all because of a few quick fixes that you’ve fallen into a deadly cycle with.
Like we’ve said, don’t aim too high. The great thing about working for yourself is you set your own bar, and if you can’t quite maintain the targets, you created then simply alter them. Your content schedule can be worked and reworked as often as you like, it’s your schedule for your blog, and it is there to suit your needs purely.
Reshare your blog posts
If you’ve written a really cracking blog post but don’t feel like it’s getting the traffic, it deserves then consider resharing it later down the line. There’s no shame in reposting your content multiple times on any platform, just don’t be too spammy and make people sick of seeing it.
Cross-linking posts can also help drive traffic to certain posts. If points in your post have been written elsewhere in greater detail, link to your other posts. Do this across all of your posts where this is relevant. In short, you’re essentially guiding your traffic through your blog rather than waiting for your content to be found.
How to make a content schedule
Are you still with us? Brilliant. You’ve gotten through the learning stage, and now we get to the fun part. So now you know how to plan your content schedule and have our top tips to help give your schedule edge, but how do you actually make a content schedule?
In this stage, we are going to show you how to make a simple content schedule in Google Docs digitally. If you don’t have Google Docs, we highly recommend you download it. It’s brilliant for bloggers to write and save their content on the go and can be used on desktop, laptop, tablets, and phones with automatic saving features and offline mode. It also keeps everything in one place.
This is such a simple task and won’t take long, but to make it easier, we’ve made a quick note of some keyboard shortcuts we used to create our schedule.
Copy text – Ctrl + C
Paste text – Ctrl + V
Bold text (& unbold) – Ctrl + B
Highlight multiple cells on one row – hold shift and click each cell
Colour cells – Highlight the cells you want to share the same color (use method above, one row at a time) right-click > table properties > cell background color> ok
Align table text – Right-click (no need to highlight) > table properties > table alignment (left, centre or right) > ok
Step 1 – Get your tools ready
Open a new google document
View your calendar or have one in front of you (this is so we can refer to the structure of the calendar for the month)
Open your worksheets
Step 2 – Create the structure
Click Insert > Table (hover over the table tab)
Drag your mouse along and down to create a 7×10 table (this gives us enough cells to write dates and goals)
Start adding the days of the week along the top row and then every second row (see the image, we use font size 11 and bold)
Adjust the width of the table to make sure your days of the week are on one line only
Next, add the date underneath the relevant day (font size 8 and bold) (see image)
Step 3 – Add goals, dreams, and targets
So now we are at the most important stage. Remember, it might take a lot of time before you get your content schedule to a stage you’re happy with, but don’t worry.
For this stage, you’re going to need to take a good look at the worksheets you completed earlier. If you didn’t complete these, then we really recommend you do this before you start filling in your schedule as it will make it a whole lot easier.
Remember, your content schedule isn’t just going to tell you when you’re planning on creating content, it is also going to show remind you of when you should be posting your content and where to.
To get started, let’s look at content. Do you have a specific topic you would like to write on certain days? If so, start to fill them in roughly – maybe Wednesdays are for finance and Fridays are for advice.
You don’t need to place specific post titles in your schedule and can work from a separate document of content ideas; however, if you want to get specific, then definitely do so.
Alternatively, you might want to break your week up into two halves. Perhaps Monday to Wednesday will be spent solely on writing content for all topics, and Thursday and Friday will be spent on creating images and graphics.
At this point, by Saturday, you will have a ton of content written, and you could spend Saturday and Sunday doing any proofreading, final edits, and getting your content ready to publish.
You will also be able to look at your schedule as a whole and figure out the space left to respond to comments and talk to readers. On Sunday evening, you could set your content to publish.
If you use something such as Coschedule, you can set up your days and times to publish your content, and that will be you finished for the week. Alternatively, you can make a small note on your own schedule of when and where you plan to publish and do so on the specific days of the following week.
If you work this way, you will be guaranteed to have content for the whole of the following week and shouldn’t get caught out.