How to create a content calendar

So, you’ve decided that digital marketing is your jam. You want to let the universe know you exist and start pushing content out into it. Take it from me: without a content calendar, you’re going to struggle. 

I launched a website three years ago called www.johnmccoywrites.com. I think I posted maybe 5-6 articles on it over a year. After 12 months, I canceled web hosting and closed the website. My fatal flaw was a severe lack of a clear direction. Would a content calendar have fixed that? Maybe, maybe not. But it certainly would have provided a clear vision, which would have defined the project. 

The point is you need to make a plan. 

Define your objectives

What do you want to do with your content? Are you planning on using social media to drive the bulk of your traffic through social media? Or are you using a WordPress blog like this one to generate traffic?

Or is video your prime mover?

And what is your long game, anyway? Are you trying to sell a service like content or copywriting, or are you monetizing a blog through affiliates?

Choose a platform and create a template

It doesn’t matter what platform you use to create your drafts. The important thing is to be consistent. If you use Word, stick with it. Notion is pretty cool, so if you like it, stick with it. I do really like how simple it is to create a template in Notion, and the free version is excellent.

Of course, the Google Business Suite is my favorite, and it keeps getting better with time. But again, it does not matter what you use that much; settle on one, create a reusable framework in the form of a template, and run with it.

Make sure to use something that has a calendar feature to keep track of your posting schedule. 

Identify the channels (blogs, social media, videos, etc.)

Where do you intend to focus your efforts? While relying heavily and strictly on social media for your outreach is tempting, remember that your reach can get throttled in the blink of an eye. You can be deplatformed with no recourse whatsoever, so you could end up treading lightly. 

That said, I still recommend using social media for reach. If you have an audience of one thousand followers, you basically have a cheat code to get eyeballs on your personal website or blog by sharing with them. 

Finally, you should be doing as many channels as you reasonably can to maximize exposure, but not at the expense of quality. And remember this: always, always, always recycle your content. A single blog post is also:

  • your weekly newsletter.
  • 3-4 LinkedIn posts
  • A couple of Twitter threads
  • Script for a YouTube video

You already did the legwork once. If you don’t reuse the heck out of it, you are just ignorant. 

Create content pillars or hubs

Now that you know where you’re going to keep tabs on your material and what you’re writing it on and have settled on your channels, it’s time to populate your calendar with ideas. Successful blogging is never the result of just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks; it is the product of careful and meticulous planning. 

One of the best ways to prepare your blog is to create a master topic: your pillar or hub. It is the one overarching topic that your website revolves around. In the case of this website, it is about how to write content and use SEO to optimize content. The pillar piece is a broad overview of the topic, like “Blog & SEO Content Writing for Business” or something like that. 

After the pillar piece is written (it is okay for it to be a long piece of content), you will want to break it down into smaller chunks that are much more granular in detail. 

Generate spokes or clusters

The next step is the spokes or clusters. These pockets of content pieces break down a broad pillar item. Oh, and going forward, about 90% of the time, content refers to blog posts. Blogging sounds boring, and a lot of misinformed people will swear it is dead. It is not. 

But anyway. To establish yourself as a topic authority, you’re going to write a lot about the same topic over and over again. This doesn’t mean you should copy and paste.No, it all needs to be fresh material. However, you need to find the most important material for your project and break it down. 

I have learned that after years of doing this on a full-time basis, your inspiration for further spoke articles generally comes from writing and researching previous ones. You’ll research something and find a rabbit hole that is too much for the current article, so it becomes a new one. Many such cases. 

Keep plenty of evergreen content or topics around

Thankfully, after a year of content creation, you will have dozens of pieces to work with (assuming you stay consistent throughout the year). Some items may be seasonal or situational, but a good chunk of it will be evergreen. 

Make sure to create a swipe file of good evergreen topics to pull from when you need inspiration strike. And feel free to use these liberally; nobody remembers what you post nearly as well as you do. 

Recycle the hell out of your work

Again, recycle your work. Take a good-performing tweet (as long as it’s not a shitpost) and expand on the idea into a thread. Cross-post the thread to LinkedIn. Send out chunks of your blog post to your email list. You get the point. 

People really don’t pay attention to you that closely, especially when you are small and are trying to break out. This is the perfect time to attack all available channels and produce content like a loon. You need to get your name out there so that folks will have a concept of who you are and what you do. Nobody is going to promote you for you, so you had better get to it and do it on your own. 


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