As I started posting regularly on my website, I looked for a simple content calendar template. The purpose? My own sanity. I wanted to keep track of what I wrote and sent out each week to my blog subscribers. This way, I reasoned, I could keep my blog content interesting. And I could keep myself organized and avoid the weekly “what-do-I-write” panic.
But as I checked out one content calendar template after another, I felt both frustrated and intimidated. There were color-coded entries. Different sheets to use requiring that I switch back and forth from page to page. Shaded blocks for different days of the week. Special programs to create specialty calendars.
Ugh. I didn’t want to have to learn to use new software! Plus, so many of the elements seemed unnecessary for me and my circumstances. I don’t manage a large team – I’m a solopreneur. My goal was not to create more work for myself by having to fill in all kinds of columns that I didn’t use.
Am I a poor planner? I wondered. I didn’t think so, I just wanted a simple content calendar template that I could understand at a glance. I couldn’t find one.
So I created my own. (You can get a copy right here). I use it over and over each week and each month to plan my content and manage it easily. You can too.
I list the date I schedule the post to be published. I also include the issue number. This helps me keep all my publishing data in one place in case I need to refer back to after I’ve published a particular post.
I use this column to record the big-picture topic addressed in my post. Themes help me with planning.
My post themes correspond to the navigation tabs on my site. This way, I see where I need to mix up my content and offer posts on different topics (unless I’m writing a blog series.) At a quick glance, I can see what topics what I’ve written about recently and what I haven’t blogged about in a while.
In this column, I list the title of the post and the title of the email I use to distribute the post. Sometimes these are the same. But often, they’re different. I write post titles with a huge nod to SEO, since they’ll live on my site. I write headlines to capture attention in my readers’ inboxes.
In this column, I also include the post link on my site.
I use two columns to track the ads that I offer in emails for each post. Many ads are for my own products. Some are for appropriate affiliate products from vendors I trust and use myself.
I use this column to track the post’s links to related content on my site. Contextual links give readers more information. These links also have an added benefit: they increase traffic. Readers see related content and they click on topics that interest them, which increases the time they spend on my site.
By tracking these links, I have a record of what I have recently offered to readers so that I don’t unintentionally repeat myself. Plus, I can see what pages may be buried from my readers simply because I haven’t promoted them.
I use a small font (an 8 or 9 Calibri) when recording notes on my template. The font size each entry to take up just 2-3 lines. Plus, the document is formatted in a landscape orientation, which accommodates the columns I use.
You can get your own copy of this simple content calendar template here. It’s got fillable lines. You can re-use it over and over Adjust it to fit your needs. This way, you’ll be able to plan your blog content, email mailings, and social media posts and check your own history with a simple glance.
And you’ll avoid spending more time on your content calendar than you do on your content.
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Content by award-winning content writer and author Kathy Widenhouse, who specializes in writing for nonprofits and faith-based organizations.
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