Now is the perfect time to create your content calendar for 2017. Your calendar will be your roadmap for the year ahead. You’ll always know where you are and where you are going.
Creating your content plan for the year ahead might sound time-consuming. In the end, however, it will save you time and worry. And here are some amazing tools that will speed up the process of filling your editorial calendar. These tools will streamline the process of identifying your audience, generating ideas, designing your calendar, scheduling your posts, and boosting your posts via social media.
Create a Buyer Persona
Modern marketing places the customer at the center of your business. Unsurprisingly, then, your buyer persona – the ideal member of your target audience - is at the center of your content calendar.
MakeMyPersona - this will create a Word document based on your answers to questions about your customer, such as his or her position and who they report to. You need to sign up in order to receive your word document. The questions are a little dry, but if you have a good idea who your ideal customer is, and they are a professional, this can be a quick way to flesh out some details. You can also put a face to your buyer persona, which is a nice touch.
Marketo Marketing Persona Cheat Sheets - this is not so interactive as MakeMyPersona, but it’s more comprehensive. Download your cheatsheet as a PDF and learn how to create your own buyer persona. It has useful information on the buyer’s journey, too, and will explain how to use that information when planning your content.
Free Target Audience Templates - this downloadable template will help you look at your product or service, your business values, and the needs of your customers. It’s easy to use and includes a questionnaire that you can edit and distribute for market research.
Content Marketing Institute Content Marketing Program - This is similar to Marketo’s cheat sheet, but much more in-depth. It contains 46 pages of easy-to-digest information, plus exercises. It will help you to understand your business objectives and match them to your client’s needs. You'll find it ideal if you want a holistic look at your marketing and content creation.
Perform Topic Research
No matter how often you plan to post content to your site, you have a lot of thinking to do to generate content ideas for a whole year.
Think about what your future clients are likely to search for and use the tools below to explore and develop those keywords.
Uber Suggest - type your keyword into the search box to receive a comprehensive list of related searches. If you think the keyword well is running dry, this tool will show there are plenty of topics to try. You can even explore public interest in the keywords via Google Trends Data.
Moz Keyword Explorer – at first, this tool seems to prioritize quality over quantity. Type in a topic and it will suggest the best keywords by volume and offer you an interesting SERP analysis. A link will take you to the next 1000 suggestions, however, which are accompanied by helpful popularity/volume statistics
BuzzSumo - use this tool to find out which topics are performing best and to discover the key influencers who might promote your content. Buzz Sumo measures the popularity of keywords by looking at recent articles containing those keywords and how people shared them. It breaks shares down by major social networks and shows you their backlinks.
EPICBEAT - this tool features a handy key for making the most of your keyword searches and truly epic content insights, which include data on who shares similar content and the best times for posting it. You’ll quickly use up your daily limit, but sign up is free.
ahrefs Content Explorer – uses social shares, organic traffic, and backlinks to determine the most popular content for any topic. It’s most similar to a resource like BuzzSumo. The interface is very clean and easy to use, but you’ll have to sign up for the free trial. It has a great index and is accurate. It’s flexible and easy to use.
Get Content Calendar Templates
You can take needless stress out of creating your content calendar by filling in a template. If you want more from your template, you can add the necessary columns or boxes so that it is customized for you.
CoSchedule Editorial Calendar Template – the downloadable templates consist of an annual calendar worksheet and 12 monthly calendars. They are flexible because they allow you to fill in your own dates. Sign up for the online calendar and you can drag and drop ideas, apply color labels, and filter the calendar entries. Its text editor allows you to create content directly on the site, it works with Google Docs and Evernote, and has a built in headline analyzer. If you use WordPress, this will connect very nicely.
Convince and Convert Content Calendar - You can keep things super simple with this spreadsheet. If you are a fan of spreadsheets, this color-coded sheet is easy to understand, and can be expanded to suit your needs.
Hubspot Editorial Calendar – this is similar to the Convince and Convert offering, but with more columns to populate. You can keep track of such elements as topic/titles, target persona(s), and calls to action.
Content Marketing Institute Editorial Calendar Template - this is another spreadsheet, with some very nice formatting. It’s all set up for multiple authors should they be required. There are separate pages for scheduling, ideas, and blog posts in progress. If you have lots of ideas and you want to get them into a spreadsheet fast, this might be the template for you.
Schedule Your Content
The beauty of planning your content is that you can create it and schedule it ahead of time. Explore the optimum times for posting and then let your scheduler do the work. It will hit the send button so that you don’t have to, and much, much more.
G Suite Calendar - Google’s Calendar works with Gmail, Drive, Contacts, Sites, and Hangouts. Designed to be shareable with a team, it’s part of G Suite, Google’s cloud-based productivity package, which is free for 14 days. While it will not post your content for you, you can set up reminders to keep you on track with manual posting and social media marketing activities.
Trello - this is a good-looking and easy-to-use tool. As well as helping you with scheduling it will also make a good content calendar, allowing you to track content from the idea stage to publication. Teams will be able to use it to see the big picture or the small details of projects at a glance.
Edit Flow - if you like to collaborate and you use WordPress, this might be the tool of your dreams. This plugin offers an easy way to view your content, with a content calendar that shows you scheduled posts. You can also receive notifications regarding content that you are following.
DIVVYHQ - used by brands from Samsung to National Geographic Channel, DIVVY HQ aims to simplify content creation and workflow. This is a one-stop shop for content strategy, editorial planning, and creative production. Its streamlined content marketing software allows direct publishing to content channels and effective collaboration.
CoSchedule - this is similar to DIVVYHQ’s offering, described as a hub for the entire inbound marketing process. It has powerful scheduling tools and social automation.
Plan Your Social Media Posts
It is said that you should spend as much time promoting your posts as writing them. With a social media scheduling tool, you can make the most of the time you invest in promotion. Reach more readers, gain perspective, and have more control over your web presence.
Buffer - this is an easy-to-use tool that allows you to connect various social media accounts. You'll be able to schedule posts months in advance, in the correct formats. The Optimal Timing Tool ensures that every post gets good engagement. If you want something simple to use that does the job well, this might be for you.
Sprout Social - like Buffer, Sprout Social offers analytics and scheduling tools. It is more in-depth, however, and is good for those who want to collaborate. It empowers users to make social connections by offering the ability to not only schedule social communications but to manage them too.
Social Pilot - this solid resource offers everything a social media scheduling tool should and more. If you’ve been using a spreadsheet to organize your social media posts, you can upload hundreds at once. You can also take advantage of a flexible social media calendar, custom Facebook branding, content suggestions, and collaboration features.
everypost – a tool that will do everything you need for the social media aspect of your content, including collaboration, social analytics, and, of course, scheduling. Rest assured that you can create your content when it’s convenient for you and have it delivered when it’s convenient for your audience. You’ll also benefit from post customization, so your posts are optimized for every relevant platform.
Hootsuite - In addition to the usual resources for social media, Hootsuite offers exemplary social media monitoring. Find out what people are saying about your brand and engage with them accordingly. If this platform isn’t powerful enough – it is – you can also plug in more than 80 apps, including Instagram, Reddit and Marketo.
Creating and sharing content has become more complex since blogging started in the 90s. Fortunately, various individuals and businesses have made tools that make it easier to find visitors, please them, and connect with them. Whatever your topic, whatever your platform, there is a way to connect with your audience seamlessly and meaningfully.
These tools should provide you with the ability to engage your clients and gain a good perspective regarding your content over the year. Use them well and they will reward you with extra time to focus on content creation and the core values of your business.