Managing social media across multiple platforms can be overwhelming, particularly when it's a side hustle. Whether you're running a blog or retail business, it's hard enough to come up with content let alone create a cohesive brand narrative. That's where a content calendar comes in. As a media pro, I've never not had one. Managing a content calendar means I can:

  • Instantly organize my ideas

  • Keep my posts cohesive - but not redundant - across multiple accounts

  • Balance the subject categories I share

  • Effectively schedule partner promotions

  • Start each day knowing exactly what I'm going to post

Despite all those plusses, creating a content calendar may seem like one more thing you don't have time to do. But here's the thing: building one will save you tons of time and stress down the road. And I'm here to make it easy for you with these five tips for creating a social media content calendar.

  1. Look on Pinterest for content calendar templates. Every business and brand is different, so your needs are unique. Start by surfing through other people's calendars for inspo. Would it help you to color code your calendar? (I don't.) How much time do you want it to cover. (I create a new one every quarter.) Do you want one file for each platform, or one calendar that covers them all? (I prefer to have one file that includes all of my accounts: blog, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.) There's no "right way" to build a template, so get creative and don't be afraid to tweak it as you go along.

  2. Have a Category 5 Brainstorm. Now that you have your calendar template, it's time to start thinking about what you want to post. Do you have a product you need to sell? Information you want to share? Make a list, then hone it down using the four U's of copywriting: urgent, unique, useful, and ultra-specific.

  3. Create your keywords. In the world of SEO, timing is everything. You can have the sexiest post or product and nobody will see it if it's not timely. Just as you wouldn't post a recipe for hot apple cider in May, you shouldn't post content when it's not trending. Before I sit down to create my content, I brainstorm a list of related keywords and plug them into Google Trends, search for them on Pinterest, and cross-reference them using Instagram hashtags to find out if and when my idea has traction. Because it doesn't matter how great I think my idea is; it won't be successful if no one is searching for it. I also record keywords within my content calendar so I can look back at them when I pull my analytics. This helps me learn more about what kinds of keywords are most successful for my brand.

  4. Research your competitors. When you're thinking about scheduling an item on our content calendar, do a quick search see when and what your competitors have posted about that subject, category, or product type. Competing brands can be great sources of inspiration. Look to them not only for ideas on timing, but also to inspire your angle. And no, that's not stealing. As Mark Twain once noted, there are no new ideas; only those you've made your own. Not only will this help you build a unique brand identity, it will also keep you from posting the same content as a much larger competitor (who will automatically get the traffic).

  5. Check to see where you already have content. By this time, you should have your calendar penciled in Now it's just a question of tweaking. Go back through your photos, rough drafts and other media. Chances are you have at least some ready-made content that fits an item in your schedule. In that case, all you have to do is plug and play! Your content calendar also enables you to do the reverse: since you know what you'll be posting in the coming weeks, you can use content creation sessions to build a more useful media library.

Those are my five basic tips for creating a content calendar. Need more help? Contact me for an in-depth consultation.