How to Develop a Blog Content Calendar [Free Template Download!]

develop your own blog calendar

At any given time, the writers at TCF are juggling a dozen or more clients with content ranging from healthcare to internet security to personal lubricant (our jobs are the best, really). Our content gets funneled from about nine writers to a single editor that is charged with pumping through that content and pushing it to our clients on time. Pulling this off requires some serious organization, which is why we’re obsessed with our blog content calendar.

In fact, we love it so much, we’re sharing our template with our readers because treasures this valuable shouldn’t be hoarded.

A blog content calendar is, without a doubt, the best way to manage your business’ online blog content. Without a guide stuffed full of goals, SEO keywords and deadlines, you’re flying blind through the complicated web of online content strategy. It suddenly becomes easy to not write that post you were supposed to get to this week (stuff came up!) and before you know it, you haven’t posted a new blog in two months.

We have totally never been guilty of that. Ever. Okay, maybe a couple of times.

It happens to everyone. You’re busy running your business. Customers come first, right? It’s not as if small business owners have a ton of free time — in fact, we’re not even sure “free time” is a real thing. But neglecting your content strategy can have devastating effects on your website traffic, which, in turn, has a negative effect on your business’ reach.

Why You Need a Blog Content Calendar — Pronto

Based on our name, it may not come as a surprise to you that we’re pretty fanatic about content — and not just any content. We’re into search engine and keyword optimized evergreen content because that’s where your lasting SEO value truly comes from.

The TCF website generates over $60,000 per month in organic search value alone. This means that we’d have to invest more than $60,000 in Google ads every month to pull that kind of traffic into our website. Our 18,000 ranking keywords (183 of which are in the number 1 spot and 1,200 are in the top 10) bring all that traffic into our site for the price of having staff members take turns writing some content.

Why is this important? Organic SEO is one of the most effective (albeit time consuming) ways to generate sustainable, ongoing leads for your business. You can post as many ads as you want, but if you want potential clients to find you, no matter where they (or you) are, content strategy is the way to do it.

For example, one of the services we offer at TCF is content writing, so we want to reach audiences that are interested in outsourcing this aspect of their business. Content may be king, but like we said: it’s time consuming. We love taking this on for businesses that would rather focus on something else or perhaps don’t have strong writers on staff, so we wrote content for our own blog that discusses this very topic. If you Google “content writing rates,” we’re the first ones that come up.  

Sure, our post didn’t just rank that high in a day (or even a week), but ranking high in the search engine results pages (SERPs) isn’t something that happens overnight — it took some tweaking, some social promoting, and a bit of crosslinking to get that post where we wanted it. Likewise, this is just one post on our blog — all those keywords we rank #1 for? We went through the exact same process to nab them, and we don’t plan on stopping that process either. We want more traffic, more business, and more recognition — all of which means we have to keep this train rolling. This is where a blog content calendar comes in.

Blog content calendars keep you organized by laying out a content plan over a period of time (be it a few months or a full year). They hold you and your staff accountable to pre-determined deadlines and assigned posts. Best of all, they keep everyone on the same page regarding the status of each piece, so you can track each contributor’s progress.

Perhaps one of the best ways to use your blog content calendar is in conjunction with your business’ goals and marketing pushes. Are you planning to run a Black Friday promotion? Plug a post into your blog content calendar to promote it couple days before and then use social media to get the word out, both beforehand and the day of the sale. The same goes for other major events you have planned, such as eBooks, whitepapers, new product releases, and updates.

What Exactly Makes an Effective Business Blog Content Calendar?

Like we said — an effective blog content calendar will keep you and your staff organized, which is half the battle when you’re managing a small business. An effective calendar is all about who can do what, and what can be done when: after all, the goal here is to produce a steady stream of relevant content. To do that, you need to streamline the entire process of producing content so that your writers can write (without having to worry about juggling pitches back and forth internally).

Our blog content calendar template has seven major (but simple) elements that we feel are the most crucial for keeping everyone on the same page and your content strategy moving forward.

1.) Due Dates — This is relatively self-explanatory. This should be the date that the finished blog post is due to the person who will edit it, because yes — all online content needs to go through editing first.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean you must hire an experienced editor, you do need someone on staff with grammar knowledge and an eye for detail. This person should also make sure the tone of all blog posts is consistent with your branding guidelines. Because the editor will need some lead time, you should consider making the due date 2 – 3 days prior to your publish date.

2.) Publish Dates — This is the date on which the blog post will actually go live on your website. In our template, this cell is also a good place to copy and paste a link to the published post so you can easily reference the URL when needed (like when promoting the post on social media).

3.) Titles/Topics — Keeping all your titles and topics listed not only helps you stay on top of content under construction, but it shows you recently posted material so you can be sure to include variety in your postings. No one wants to read an article about the same topic four weeks in a row. Or even 4 months in a row. Varying your content is key to attracting new readers, as well as retaining current ones.

4.) Target Keywords — Having the keywords associated with each post right in front of you is helpful for organization, but again, for variety. If you use the same keyword in every single post, you and your faithful readers will grow tired quickly. Hitting similar keywords is not a bad thing at all (especially when targeting potential clients), but doing so for multiple posts in a row will get boring. (Also, from an SEO perspective, you should try to cast a wide net by hitting on a bunch of keyword variations — not just the same handful.)

5.) Word Count — Knowing how long each post will be can help you mix up your content in terms of scheduling. Some companies switch between posting 1500 and 2000 words each week, with maybe a short post here or there. For maximum SEO value, we recommend long posts — at least 1500 words (preferably over 2000, if you can handle it).

6.) Status of Each Post — We use a five marker system here:

In Progress — the assigned writer is working on this post

Written — the writer is finished and has handed it off to the editor

Edited — the editor is finished and hands it back to the writer for revisions

Approved — images are placed and the post is scheduled for publishing

Published — the post is live on the website

Each writer updates this cell accordingly as the post moves through the process. This way, every member of the team knows the status of all the content currently in the pipeline. This also lets us see how ahead on content we are, or how busy we can expect to be on specific days. For entrepreneurs, a system like this is useful to keep an eye on your content (without having to constantly ping whoever is supposed to be writing it).

7.) Links to Assets — If your blog post contains any downloadable assets (like how we’ve included a link to our blog content calendar template), put the link in this cell for easy access. If you link to the same asset in a different blog post, you’ll be able to quickly find it here instead of scouring your website for it.

How to Develop Your Own Blog Content Calendar in 6 Simple Steps

 

develop your own blog calendar

  • Download our blog content calendar template. Open it up and get to know it. Go ahead and plug in some upcoming blog posts if you’ve already developed some ideas — or even previously published blog posts so your staff sees what it should look like and how they should use it.
  • Do your keyword research. If you need help figuring that stuff out, we have a handy guide on keyword research. And a template! Spending all that time writing online content will be fruitless if it isn’t keyword-based.

    You don’t need to rank for “best coffee maker” if you sell internet security tools. Not that IT pros don’t need coffee, but people looking for a new coffee maker are probably not looking to purchase identity theft protection. Your keywords should be centered around what is most likely to convert readers into customers.
  • Brainstorm some ideas for your blog content calendar. For our clients, we do this monthly or quarterly and we recommend you adhere to a similar schedule so time doesn’t slip away from you. In order to form a schedule, you need content ideas and they need to be written down — not just floating around in your head. Not doing so will eventually lead to simply not writing the content. We keep a shared document of TCF blog post ideas so our writers can choose from the topic list when it’s their turn. As we think of ideas, we write them in the document.
  • Schedule your topics for the month in your blog content calendar (and make sure each post has an assigned author). Open up your ideas document and select the month’s blog posts (remembering to be timely with holidays or pertinent “national days,” like International Women’s Day). Remember to choose a realistic goal. It’s easy to say you’ll post weekly, but we all know that isn’t possible for everyone. If you have the (wo)manpower, you should definitely post once or twice a week, but if you don’t, twice a month is better than nothing (as long as it’s rich in keywords and more than 2000 words).
  • Stick to the schedule you set for yourself. Remember those deadlines we talked about? Put those into your blog content calendar so you have goals. If you publish on Fridays, but one Friday in a particular month is a holiday, schedule that post for Thursday. Do not miss a week because you “got busy” or “the office was closed.” All content publishing platforms allow you to schedule when posts go live, so use that to your advantage. Being consistent in your posting helps develop domain authority and shows Google that your website is active with new information on a frequent basis.
  • Keep on top of it. Keep writing down topics as they enter your brain. Keep choosing topics every month. Keep updating your blog content calendar. Keep up on your content. And don’t forget to promote it on social media.

Download our Blog Content Calendar Template to Get Started!

Even if you’re outsourcing your content writing, having a blog content calendar is a good plan. It will help you keep track of when content will be posted, who is writing it (especially if you’re splitting the work with an agency), and whether or not it’s scheduled in your publishing platform. Again, it comes back to accountability.

You’ve read all about why we love our blog content calendar and how you can develop your own, so the only thing left to do is download the template and get started. Follow the easy steps we’ve outlined here and again — make sure you stick to your schedule. We’re confident this template will help you kickstart your online blog, as well as give you some motivation to keep up with it.

Do you like our blog content calendar template and want to share it with fellow business owners? Let us know on twitter — and make sure to tag us @ContentFac!
Still have questions about blog content calendars? Leave us a comment below or send us a message. We’ll see what we can do to help!

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