How to structure your content calendar

How Do You Decide What Goes into a Content Calendar?

Your content calendar should help you to identify the core pieces of content that you need to publish, as well as the supporting items you need. Done well, it all works together to help you connect with your audience and earn some traffic.

Early enthusiasm could have you saying, “I want to publish a blog post a week, a case study each month, and a white paper every other week;” That’s fantastic. Run with it! Just know, it is an entirely different task to put those elements together and keep up your pace.

If you structure your content calendar with the following guidelines, it helps you stay on schedule and cover the important points. Here’s how to build one that keeps you focused without overextending yourself.

 

Choose the days based on your audience’s needs. Choose the actual pieces based on your overall content strategy.

Once you have a general list of topics to cover, look at your available resources to figure out your how often you would schedule a new post.

It’s best to start with a pace you can keep up with. If you share something every other day and then burn through your backlog of content, you might get discouraged more easily than just sharing something every week or every other week.

Also, consider the target dates for your audience. Are they tied to a more traditional Monday through Friday work week, or is this an industry where they work weekends and need to focus during traditional off-hours? That’s going to help you figure out how many pieces you really need each week.

Rule of thumb: start with a “hub and spoke” approach.

Schedule a few substantial pieces of content on a core topic–a relevant term that gets a high number of searches each month–and support it with smaller, more specific pieces that extend from it, like a spoke.

hub and spoke content use a central piece with supporting elements

Hub and spoke pieces complement each other

For example, your Monday morning blog post might be a 1,500 word article that speaks about college financial aid. During the week you might use social media to publish supporting statistics and relevant quotes that can be linked back to the article.

Then, you can follow up with smaller articles that take a detailed look at specific components of the initial post. Those smaller (500 word) articles could discuss new rules about applying for certain grants or scholarship opportunities.

On Thursday, you might publish an infographic blog post that gathers together the statistics published on social media throughout the week. Finally, you might use a video that examines student loans vs. student grants.

  • Monday – 1500 word article
    • Social media posts during the week
  • Wednesday and Friday – Smaller 500 word articles on specific details of the main post
  • Thursday – infographic
  • Friday – video

The calendar should work for you. Not the other way around.

If this pace is too fast then stretch it out. As long as you keep the goals of your content marketing efforts in mind, you can create a calendar that focuses your attention on both core content and supporting content pieces.

Use placeholders if your content is still under construction. In fact, writing “1000 word article on core topic” works as both a calendar marker and a reminder of what to work on. Pending work can help you plan and prioritize.

schedule your content calendar on a grid layout with color coding

Change it up

Make sure that you’ve got diversity in your formats. Plan for social posts, videos, short announcements, and infographics.

What type of content should you be publishing?

By “type” I mean more than just a big article. You can decide the actual topics that make up your content when you have the bigger picture.

We elaborated on that in this article. It was written as a companion piece to this article, and it expands on taking your audience, resources, and time limits into consideration. That helps you answer what you should be writing about. The focus right here is how you should organize and express those thoughts.

Remember to think of the goals of your content marketing campaign as well as the needs of your audience. A social-only campaign might not be right, or you maybe infographics are gold. Insights like that come from putting out content and measuring your audience reactions. These insights come from ongoing data, and yes, they also come from that magic sense of knowing what makes your customers tick. (But mostly data.)

Here are some formats that you try to see how they fit with your audience (and your content style). Bonus — they help you expand one topic into multiple pieces.

  • Slide decks from internal training sessions;
  • Product demos that can be transformed into infographics;
  • Customer survey results that can be used for white papers or case studies;
  • Press releases that showcase product or service updates, or vital company news;
  • Newsletters that provide valuable insights;
  • Email campaigns;
  • Blog posts; and
  • Social media posts that link to relevant content, statistics, or industry news.