Bloggers and businesses alike are generating huge profits with content.
And for every profitable “content company,” there are 10 more that simply use content as an acquisition channel for their products and services.
Whether your business is content-based or you’re looking to use content to attract new customers, creating an editorial calendar is the first step.
In this article, I’ll demystify how to create a content marketing calendar for your blog or business. And if you follow along, you’ll get to skip the rookie mistakes and get straight to the strategies that work.
If you’re ready to make your content calendar and meet your business objectives, then continue onto step #1.
- Set goals for your content
- Map your content to your goals
- Decide how many posts to publish
- Brainstorm post ideas
- Add a visual calendar to your site
- Benefitting from your content calendar
Set goals for your content
Goal setting… yawn!
But there’s no way around it.
Before you add plan any content, you have to clarify your goals.
Why are you publishing content in the first place?
There are lots of good reasons, and you’ll probably choose more than one for your site, but here are a few common goals:
- Get more customers
- Spread brand awareness
- Attract new backlinks
- Become an industry thought leader
- Get more email subscribers
After browsing that list, it might be obvious to you now that different goals require different content.
This is why it’s so important to outline your goals first. If you skip this step, you’re likely to fall into a trap where you create excellent content but don’t get the results you want.
By outlining your goals in advance, you can pick a goal and then brainstorm content specifically to generate that outcome.
Here’s how to do that.
Map your content to your goals
For my example, I’ll say I have a small eCommerce store selling my own clothing line, and I have the following three goals:
- Get more customers
- Attract new backlinks
- Get more social media followers
If I try to accomplish all three goals with every post, I’m likely to do all three poorly.
It’s best to pick one goal for each post.
With a single goal in mind, you can develop content that is designed from the start to meet that goal.
Here are some examples.
Goal-driven content examples
These three examples are far from exhaustive, but hopefully, it gives you an idea of how to map content to your business goals.
Content to get more customers
If I want to get more customers from my article, a good idea would be a list of the “Top X New Jackets for This Fall,” including new items from my store. This post is designed to convert readers into shoppers right away.
It’s not a remarkable idea, so it’s not going to attract links from other sites, and it’s unlikely to get a lot of social media attention because it’s so commercial in nature. However, all of that is okay because the only goal of this post is to get more customers, which it will.
If I want to attract more backlinks, I need to write something for other sites, not customers. For instance, I could publish some interesting data about the clothes that people are buying/wearing this year compared to last year. This is something that fashion bloggers and trade publications might pick up, and yet it’s not totally off-brand or boring to the regular shoppers who read my blog.
It’s not going to create customers, but it might perform well on social media.
Lastly, a post written for social engagement should promote ideas that people feel strongly about. This doesn’t have to mean major political beliefs. In fact, it might be much more effective to take a bold stance on a tiny niche issue. For example, womens’ constant frustration with clothing that doesn’t have pockets. An article along the lines of “Why Designers Won’t Give Women Pockets” is somewhat sensational and likely to get a lot of shares, clicks, and followers (depending on your stance).
Unlike the list post, this article will not rank well in Google or immediately create customers, but it will get superior performance on your social channels.
Now that you know how to map content to your goals, let’s get into the numbers.
Decide how many posts to publish
You’ve got your goals figured out, and you’re prepared to brainstorm content ideas.
Before you start planning your posts or pick out a content calendar tool, the next step is to choose how many posts you’ll publish each month.
You are not choosing how many customers or social followers you want. These types of goals don’t work in practice because they are ultimately out of your control.
What is completely in your control is the content creation process. You can decide exactly how many posts you want to publish each month, and then it’s up to you to hit that number.
If you don’t get the business results you want, you can iterate and try new ideas, and you’ll have a content creation process in place to do that.
The question then, is how many posts should you publish?
How many posts should you publish?
In general, the more content you publish, the better results you’ll get.
This graphic from HubSpot illustrates this idea pretty well:
In other words, you should figure out the maximum number of posts you (or your team) can handle and use that as your benchmark.
It will be hard to observe the effects of one post per month, but four posts per month is a good start. If you can handle 8-12/month (2-3/week), you’ll get results even faster.
Once you’ve decided on a number, you can divide your posts between your goals.
For instance, let’s say I plan to publish a post every Tuesday and Thursday. That gives me 8 posts for the month. Now, I can assign each goal a fixed number of posts.
I’m eager to generate new customers, and SEO isn’t an immediate goal, so I’ll divide my posts like this:
- Get more customers: 5 posts/month
- Attract new backlinks: 1 post/month
- Get more social media followers: 2 posts/month
With these numbers outlined, my content production is now perfectly aligned with my business priorities. I can’t guarantee my results will be balanced, but I know that my efforts are. If I find I am getting lots of social followers but few links, I can adjust my schedule next month.
Once you have these numbers in hand, you can begin brainstorming post ideas.
Brainstorm post ideas
When I say “brainstorm,” you might picture yourself sitting around and typing out ideas as they come to you.
While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, you’ll likely get better results faster with a more focused approach.
Beyond using your own intuition, it’s a good idea to reference data about your customers. For example, you might want to use keyword research to develop new ideas for SEO content. If you are looking to make a post popular on social media, it would be wise to use a tool like BuzzSumo to see what is currently performing well for other websites.
You can also get ideas by referring to:
- Customer pre-sale questions
- Common support emails
- Questions clients ask on calls & webinars
- Directly asking your customers for content ideas
Rather than brainstorming in a vacuum, surround yourself with these references whenever you prepare to brainstorm new post ideas.
Once you have at least a month’s worth of content ideated, you’re ready to map it out on your visual content calendar.
Add a visual calendar to your site
WordPress only supplies us with a table of Posts, which makes it really hard to plan and edit a content schedule.
Can you tell me if I have a post scheduled for next Thursday?
You can’t figure it out without even opening a separate calendar app.
I hope you don’t mind me plugging my own tool, but this is why I developed a content calendar especially for WordPress, called Strive Content Calendar.
Unlike Google Sheets or third-party content calendar apps, the calendar added by Strive is available directly in your WP dashboard. It allows you to edit and schedule your actual posts, not a separate, disconnected representation of your blog posts.
It also adds some handy features like custom checklists and revisions, but we’ll just look at how to use the calendar in this tutorial.
How to add Strive to your site
You can signup for Strive here, and you’ll get an email with the plugin zip file and license key.
The zip file can be uploaded through the Plugins menu just like any other plugin. Once activated, you’ll enter the license key from the signup email and be redirected to the following success screen.
Now let’s take a look at how you can schedule your posts with the calendar.
How to schedule your posts with Strive
The calendar added by Strive will show all of your published and scheduled blog posts for the month.
The editorial calendar design makes it exceptionally simple to understand your schedule. Questions like “Do I have a post scheduled for next Thursday,” are easy to answer.
At this point, you should have a list of post ideas brainstormed for each of your business goals. You can now pick which ideas you’d like to pursue and begin adding the posts to your schedule.
To add a new post to the calendar, click the plus button in the corner of any date. You can then choose to create a new post or insert one of your existing drafts.
As you create posts and schedule them in this way, you’re likely to change your mind about the order.
At any point, you can quickly rearrange scheduled posts by dragging and dropping them into a new date.
Using this system, you can plan your content calendar weeks in advance and rearrange it as needed.
Since Strive adds new post statuses to WordPress and color codes posts based on their status, it’s easy to tell if your articles are finished or not.
And using the post statuses is simple too.
Use post statuses to stay organized
As you work on your posts, you’ll want to keep track of your progress.
Strive color codes the calendar based on the “editorial status” of each post. WordPress has “visibility statuses,” such as Draft and Published, but the statuses added by Strive are used specifically to understand the state of your drafts.
Post statuses are easy to change using the new setting built into the post editor.
Working in this way, you can be certain if you’re on track to meet your deadlines, whether it’s just you writing posts or a whole team.
Benefitting from your content calendar
That was probably a lot to take in, so let’s recap the steps.
To create a content calendar for your website, you should:
- Pick business goals for your content
- Decide how many posts per month to publish
- Divide your posts between your goals
- Brainstorm post ideas based on your goals
- Outline your content schedule with Strive
- Use post statuses to keep organized
Using this approach, you can create a highly productive and organized content publishing system that brings you new customers and profit each day.
If you liked what you saw of my plugin, Strive, you can use it for your content calendar by signing up for a full 30-day free trial here:
I have a feeling that once you try it out, you’ll wonder how you managed without it.
Thanks so much for reading this guide on how to create a content calendar for your WordPress blog, and please consider sharing it with the buttons below if you enjoyed it.