5 Tips to help you organise your time using a content calendar
If you are serious about making the most of your website and using content and inbound marketing to generate sales or leads you will have to get organised. A content calendar is a great first step to get you on the right track.
If you are lucky enough to be responsible for content marketing and nothing else in your organisation you are no doubt already doing this. However, most of my clients and most small to medium businesses have to add responsibility for online to the myriad tasks they already perform, spanning many business functions. In this case it is even more essential to be organised and a publishing calendar will allow you to gain control and manage your time effectively. Read my five tips to create a useful and realistic publishing calendar.
Life goes on. Add all important dates, business and personal, into your calendar. Be realistic about the time it will take you to research, write, edit, proof and collect imagery for your content and schedule time for ALL of these tasks seperately. There is no point kidding yourself that you have three hours every Monday to research a blog post. I find Google Calendar is excellent for this because you can create multiple calendars which you can view separately or in tandem to allow you to schedule. This means if you need to focus on inputting, for example, online marketing tasks into your calendar you can switch off other calendars. Switch them back on and tweak if your scheduled content analysis session clashes with your monthly business network. If you find that business gets busy in the lead up to Christmas, for example, adjust your research and writing schedule NOT your publishing schedule. You can either write the content in your favourite word processing package or, if you are one of my clients, right into your WordPress CMS and save as draft. During busy periods schedule time to review that content to ensure it is still pertinent and that the links are all still working.
Don’t look back and wonder. It is absolutely key, if you are going to develop as a content creator for your business, that you track how your content works. You can then tweak your calendar and your content based on the insights gained. Therefore include specific time, say an hour or two per week, to collect and analyse data about your content.
- Check Twitter Analytics to assess how the post landed and travelled. Consider tweeting the content more than once after tweaking the tweet content as a form of A/B testing to see what type of language captures your audience’s attention.
- Use Facebook’s (new-ish) Publishing Tools to gauge whether your post is gaining the reach and engagement you hoped for. Consider posting to your page with different content using Interest Targeting to see if certain parts of your audience prefer certain content. (I’ll write about this in more detail next week.)
- Use Google Analytics to understand your users’ behaviour. Again, if you are one of my clients, you will have access to this information in your WordPress Dashboard. If not, ask your developer for a weekly report or access to your site analytics. If your developer can’t give you this, find out why. If there is one thing that should be installed on any website it is Google Analytics.* Put simply, this is a free tool that allows you to understand how your website is working for your business.
- If you are sending a regular newsletter, access the reports in your newsletter interface. With certain caveats, this will let you know how many newsletter recipients are opening and clicking through on your newsletter, which calls to action are working, and which content they are sharing, and on which networks. This data can help you segment your audience and understand their interests in more depth. I wrote an article for Pixel Design on Email Marketing Strategy: Next Steps if you would like to delve into this area in more depth.
Writing is not enough I. Schedule time to research your article. If you can do a Google search at the tap of a finger to corroborate or contradict your viewpoint, your readers can too. Read around the topic and make sure you understand what your readers might have flicked through before arriving at your content. How will you make your content more compelling? How will you offer a unique insight? Your experience makes your content unique so don’t be afraid to have an opinion, share an anecdote or a customer testimonial to add a dash of reality to your point.
Writing is not enough II. Source good quality, captivating imagery but try to avoid using stock photography but in a pinch it’s better to have an image then none.
Reuse. Recycle. Consider syndicating or sharing your content to group blogs, blogging networks or sites such as Medium. Include the time in your schedule to undertake this task and review the return on your investment in this task. I would recommend publishing your content on LinkedIn’s Pulse if you have time. Once the content is written it takes very little time to tweak it and publish it on their platform. While I wouldn’t prioritise this, you will gain some insights about the interest in your content in a large business market.
*There are, of course, Google Analytics Naysayers but like many free products online, you pay for Google Analytics with information. It’s that or $150k per annum for an analytics package according to this article.