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How to Plan a Content Calendar (With Template + Topics)

How to Plan a Content Calendar (With Template + Topics)

written by Houston Golden
Founder & CEO, BAMF Media
December 29th, 2021
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A content calendar is one of the most important tools that you have as a growth hacker and marketer.

It allows you to plan out your outreach, lead gen, and nurturing strategy, keep track of goals, and make the content creation process as easy as possible.

It doesn’t matter if you’re uploading videos on YouTube, posting on LinkedIn, or using mixed media on Facebook, you need to plan everything in advance.

It’s one of the surefire ways of increasing your odds of winning.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to plan a content calendar like a growth hacker and use it to power up your omnichannel marketing campaigns!

Start By Planning Your Goals

What do you plan on doing with your content?

Creating a content plan starts with the unique goals that your organization has.

It could be:

  • increasing traffic to your website
  • getting new leads
  • nurturing leads through your pipeline
  • raising brand awareness
  • providing free resources, etc.

Most of the time, it’s a mix of many factors.

And, that’s perfectly fine.

In fact, we highly encourage that you have multiple goals set up so that you can have a more efficient content plan.

Once you’re clear with your goals, assign a priority so that you can come up with a schedule of how you’re going to go about achieving them.

For example, you can start with a little brand awareness in the first two weeks then start leveraging your content for lead generation after that. Or you could assign fewer resources on brand awareness as soon as you started leveraging content.

It’s all dependent on the goals that you have.

Choose Your Channels

After planning your goals, your next step will be choosing your channels.

We all know that you shouldn’t be relying on one single channel for your campaigns.

That doesn’t work anymore.

The goal is omnichannel.

So, start working your goals into the channels that you want to use for your upcoming campaign.

If you’re first starting out you can do two separate social media channels plus your website that acts as a “base of operations” for your efforts. That’s a good way to spread things out without exhausting your resources.

You can always repurpose content from your website’s blog, too, which makes things easier.

Choose Your Media Types

You’re going to want to have text posts as a major part of your content strategy, of course, but you should also consider the rest of the content that you’re putting out.

Are you going to do animated videos, release infographics, take advantage of AR, do training videos, etc.?

Take a look at what type of content your prospects are consuming.

If it’s mostly short-form posts then make sure that your social media content takes precedence, if it’s videos and you can’t afford it then shoot for shorter videos or animations and so on.

Doing this doesn’t just help create content that resonates with your prospects but it also keeps your creative team prepared and prevents your resources from being stretched.

Topics

The next thing that you have to figure is the topics that you want to cover.

Nothing has to be specific just yet, you can start with general topics that you know have a bunch of subcategories.

For example, if you’re looking into LinkedIn lead generation, you automatically know that you can cover everything from InMail to LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

If you’re doing this for the first time, you have to pick topics that you’re familiar with to make things easier for you and your team.

Do Extensive Keyword Research

Now that you have topics down, it’s time for keyword research.

Keyword research does a lot of things for your content calendar:

  • Helps you determine what subtopics to cover under your topic
  • Shows you what type of content your prospects are demanding
  • Improves search engine optimization not only on search engines on Google, but also social media platforms such as LinkedIn

Your first step in keyword research is understanding your customer personas and their intent.

Are they facing problems and want to be educated? Do they need a boost to keep going with the things that keep them busy in their career? Are they curious?

Once you figure that out, it’s time to look for keywords from the topics that they could be interested in.

Now you want to focus on keywords that are getting a large volume of searches from your prospects and you also want to pay attention to what the going CPC is for these keywords.

If you’re in a highly competitive field e.g. personal injury law, insurance, real estate, etc., you want to go after keywords that are considered long-tail and avoid the broad approach.

Start grouping your keywords and prioritizing the topics that you want to cover using them.

ALSO NOTE: if you can’t think of topics, you can also use keyword research to discover subjects that your prospects could be interested in.

There are a lot of keyword research tools available, but even a basic one that just shows you keyword suggestions, search volume, and CPC should be enough to help get you started. You don’t need to buy all the extra add-ons if you don’t need them.

how to plan a content calendar, How to Plan a Content Calendar (With Template + Topics)
Here’s a free tool that you can use for your keyword research, it doesn’t give you suggestions, but it shows you volume and CPC.

Read our keyword research guide and check out our LinkedIn SEO manual!

Decide Your Post Frequency

Make sure that you spread out your content over the course of a week.

Weekdays are the most critical times to have content up, especially during the workday with some platforms such as LinkedIn getting a majority of their engagement then.

Weekends might not be a priority especially for smaller teams who might not be able to take the load.

Focus on the times where your prospects are usually on the platforms.

However, note that each platform requires a different frequency. Twitter for one, deserves a little more content than say your blog, and LinkedIn does better with a focus on weekday posts only.

Get Your Template or Calendar Ready

Next, you want to get your template or content calendar prepped and ready to go.

Brainstorm Titles and Concepts

You have your content rules, you have your topics, keyword research is also ready, and you’ve gathered the creative team.

Now it’s time for you to focus on creating specific titles and concepts for the content you’re putting out.

This is where most of the great ideas come out and you need to get the entire team involved here. You can also use this time to start dividing concepts over specific periods in the quarter or year.

Take your time to discuss each concept that the team suggests with each other. You want to come up with specific titles here and make a list out of everything.

Populate

Now grab that template or calendar that you have and start dividing the content up for scheduling!

Create

Now that you’ve got your plan ready, it’s time for you to get to the fun part.

Content creation.

Ideally, you want to have a week’s worth of content ready at any given time. This prevents you from running into content production bottlenecks if ever anything unexpected happens …and we all know Murphy’s Law always applies to content production.

If you have a team of creators, you should also assign topics for the next week on the current week. This ensures that you always have a week of prep time if you experience delays.

If you’re running a multidimensional campaign – which you should by the way – then make sure that you also account some time for tasks such as content repurposing, editing, proofreading, and the like.

For one-person operations, you’d still require to create posts ahead just in case.

Preparation goes a long way.

Automate

Now that you have posts up and running, it’s time for you to add a little bit of automation to really make sure you don’t miss out on your publishing times.

This is especially critical if you have a multinational audience and you’re running content for multiple platforms.

Remember the best posting times on LinkedIn are different from Facebook.

We have guides on those two topics if you want to check them out:

Best Posting Times for Facebook

Best Posting Times for LinkedIn

Automating allows you to put out posts regardless of whether you’re in front of your computer or not.

This makes the process extremely efficient for teams that are working on multiple creative projects at a time and it minimizes menial labor.

There are a lot of apps that host a ton of features for social media automation with built-in trackers and other nifty features. For automation tools, your primary concerns should be limited to cost – of course – and tracking.

And, this leads us to the next part of the planning stage which is…

Monitoring and Tracking

Your methods for monitoring and tracking should be planned in advance because they form a critical component of how to plan a content calendar.

If you don’t have any tools set up yet, now would be a good time to get started.

Automation tools should provide a lot of detail on to how your post is performing, individual platforms also come with some form of tracking (even Twitter shows your impressions nowadays), and you should always use UTM tools to make sure you can append tracking to content that’s being hosted on your website.

You can’t growth hack if you don’t track!

– Sincerely, The BAMF Team

Make sure you have a schedule for content review with not just your high-level growth managers but also the content creation team as well. The people strategizing should have synergy with the people creating because that’s how you can create an agile and lean framework.

These should be scheduled every month, at the very least, but you can get away with a meeting every two weeks.

Why should you do this?

It allows you to be efficient with your marketing efforts, if something doesn’t work out for you then you can make edits on the fly.

Also, take this as an opportunity to check on the A/B tests that you’ve been running.

Tweaking

Now that you have a full system in place, it’s time for you to start tweaking.

No template, even the ones we provide, is perfect. Everything has to be adapted to the needs of your organization.

You should always look at your content calendar template/plan as a document that is constantly changing.

And, keep tweaking until it’s perfect for your organization.

***Get Your Own Content Calendar Template!***

Do you want your own content calendar?

For the first time, we’re making our BAMF growth content calendar template available to all our readers.

Click on this link to find out out how you can get access to it for only $7!

Bonus: Developing an SOP for Your Content

Now that we’ve shown you how to plan a content calendar, your next step should be developing an SOP alongside the content planning and creation process.

Standard operating procedures make your team’s life easier and it allows you to onboard a larger team and scale with a lot of ease.

It also allows you to handle human resource concerns or productivity issues properly since you have a guide to defer to.

How do you develop one?

Talk to your team about how they see the content moving forward and align rules and vision.

Takeaways on How to Plan a Content Calendar

Planning a content calendar is one of the keys to growth.

It allows you to be proactive to your market’s needs, be flexible to change should the need arise, and increase the efficiency of your creative team.

There’s no other substitute for it.

Some might argue that having a strict plan might starve off creativity, but we find that it’s not usually the case, a content plan serves as a harness for creatives to leverage to make the most out of their work.

The truth is you need to plan everything when it comes to growth hacking.

It doesn’t matter if it’s just your tweets or simple engagement, everything has to be structured.

It might be difficult especially if you’re first starting out, but it’s one of the keys to growth.

Have you created a content calendar in the past?

We’ve included our content calendar here that you can download!

Let us know what your thoughts are.

About the Author

The name's Houston Golden. I'm the Founder & CEO of BAMF — a company I've grown from $0 (yes, really) to well over $5M+ in revenue over a span of 5 years.

How did I do it? Well, it's quite simple, really. I've helped hundreds of business owners and executives get major traction (because when they win, we win), I tell all on this blog.

Growth hacking is a state of mind. Follow along as I explore and expose the unknown growth strategies and tactics that will change the way you think about marketing.
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