Blogging is a cornerstone of content marketing – and for good reason. Statistics show that businesses that blog actively get 97% more inbound links. The key to success with blogging is having a well-thought-out strategy and plan, which is why so many marketers use a blogging content calendar.
In this blog, we are going to share why using a blogging content calendar is so important to blogging success and highlight 5 things that many planners are missing.
Using a #blogging content calendar is a great way to find success with blogging. Just make sure your planner isn’t missing these 5 essential elements! Click to tweet
We have been talking about the benefits of using a content calendar for strategic business blogging for years now. In a popular 2018 article, we highlight these 5 reasons every business should use a content calendar:
- It helps you stick to your publishing schedule.
- It gives you a birds-eye view of your content.
- It makes it easier to delegate tasks.
- It creates anticipation for your readers.
- It helps to generate social media content.
Four years later, we are happy to report that more and more business owners are using content calendars! However, we’ve recently taken some time to review and evaluate some of the content calendars our small business friends use, and we noticed a few essential elements that were missing.
It seems that most blogging content calendars out there are missing the entire point of a content calendar: to create a robust blogging strategy. Additionally, most content calendars (including the one you may be using) are missing other major elements needed for success.
Let’s dive into what those elements are so you can improve your blogging results.
Blogging Content Calendar Basics
Before we get into what many blogging content calendars are missing, let’s talk about the basic elements included in most content calendars used by small business owners.
For most bloggers, the content calendar is used to plot out blog posts being worked on or completed.
Although most planners contain a visual calendar view, most of the information in a content calendar is contained within a spreadsheet that tracks the following information:
- Publish date
- Due date and/or status (writing/editing/uploading/publishing)
- URL (when it goes live)
In addition to this basic information, a content calendar may include additional fields such as author, links to images/assets, and call-to-action (CTA).
Don’t get us wrong, this basic information in a content calendar is helpful and necessary. It SHOULD be part of any effective content calendar because it helps you plan out your monthly content and remain consistent in publishing.
But there is so much more that should be included in your content calendar to drive your blogging strategy and boost results!
Here are five things we believe every blogging content calendar should have.
5 Things Your Blogging Content Calendar Might Be Missing
An effective content calendar allows you to see your blogging strategy from both a high-level view and granular details. So, it should go beyond a ‘this is what we’ve published’ list.
To boost your results, consider adding these elements to your content calendar.
1. Your Blogging Plan
Having a list of published articles is great, but where is the strategy driving your posts? This high-level thinking is necessary to create an effective business blog. We firmly believe that it should be written down and kept right inside your content calendar.
Your blogging plan includes the elements that explain why your blog exists and how it will run. For example, your blogging plan should include:
- Mission Statement: Why are you blogging in the first place? What do you want to accomplish?
- Target Audience: Who is the audience or ideal reader for your blog posts?
- Blog Categories: What 5-7 overarching topics will you write about (which every article you write will fit into)?
- Blogging Schedule: How often will you post? What day(s)? What time(s)?
- Promotion Plan: How do you plan to attract readers to your blog posts?
- Measuring Success: How will you evaluate your blog’s success over time?
These are just some elements that make up a robust blogging plan.
They should be contemplated, written down, and placed within the content calendar. That way, all team members understand the guidelines and goals of your business blog and you can come back to this crucial strategy information as needed.
2. Keyword Planning
Many content calendars include a space to write the specific keyword for each blog post that is published. In our opinion, this just scratches the surface of what should be included in your content calendar.
According to a survey by Hubspot, most marketers (61%) agree that their top inbound priority is SEO, while 55% of them focus primarily on blogging. SEO and blogging are deeply connected to each other. That is why keyword planning is a big deal and an essential part of your content planning.
A thoughtful SEO strategy is necessary to choose the right keywords to guide search engine users to your website. The keywords and long-tail phrases you choose should capture the essence of your business and drive the right kind of prospect to your site.
Instead of thinking about keywords from a blog-by-blog standpoint, we believe that you should engage in thorough, global keyword planning. But most content calendars are missing space for such keyword planning—room to research and evaluate possible keywords for every category that you will write about. Adding space for keyword planning to your content calendar will allow you to get a feel for the interrelated web of keywords that work best for your business.
Having your keyword research and planning right in your content calendar allows you to select from this list as you write individual blog posts. And since it is always available within your content calendar, you can also track your performance on these keywords over time (more on that later).
3. Blog Brainstorming
We all know that coming up with what to write about is a difficult task for most business owners and blog writers. Yet most content calendars do not have a space to brainstorm blog post topics that you could write about each month.
Most content planners only provide space to list final topics and titles that you choose to write about. But without strategically considering many possible topics, you end up just posting what you ‘feel like’ every month. The result is a hodgepodge of jumbled articles that confuse readers and search engines alike.
That’s why we think that a content calendar should include dedicated space to brainstorm a large number of possible topics each month, after which you can strategically choose the best ones for writing and publishing.
Even better are content calendars that offer a space for guided brainstorming—sharing prompts and questions that will help you generate ideas. This way, ideas are logged as part of your blogging strategy—connecting the dots between your original ideas and what was selected to publish.
4. Annual Overview
Most content calendars give you a ‘blog post view’ of what is happening on your business blog by listing the details of each specific article that is published. For some calendars, all blog posts are included in one large list. For others, there are lists for each month.
While it is good to see what content is planned for your blog each week or month, you also need an overview of what is happening for the entire year. By having an annual overview, you can determine the blog strategy for each month in advance.
A good annual overview is sketched out at the beginning of the year (or as soon as you start your content calendar) and includes things like:
- What will each month look like?
- What themes, promotions, or events will you focus on each month?
- What are your short-term goals for each month?
Taking an upfront, strategic approach to the year has many benefits. It helps drive monthly blog post content, ensures that your monthly content fits together in a way that makes sense, and ensures you reach your annual blog marketing goals.
5. Metrics Tracking
A final element that we notice most content calendars are missing is a place to track metrics. How do you know what’s working and what isn’t if you don’t look at analytics along the way?
Maybe you’re one of the few business owners who regularly visits Google Analytics or other blogging metrics tools. If so, kudos to you!! Data is a key to marketing success.
But once again, we would like to argue that you need to track at least the most important content metrics inside your content calendar itself.
A metrics section in your blog content calendar can help you easily identify changes in things like blog subscribers, page views, bounce rate, and so on. It also allows you to keep track of your top-performing posts each month so you can continue to deliver topics that your audience loves.
Finally, remember those important keywords you plotted out in our suggested Keyword Planning section of your content calendar? You can keep track of your ranking on those, too.
Altogether, having a metrics section in your content calendar will allow you to better evaluate the content you are creating, allowing you to improve it over time.
A Better Content Calendar
We’ve been in the content marketing space for over a decade, and we feel that the five major elements we outlined above are necessary to have a truly strategic content calendar. They are essential to finding success in content marketing, and more specifically, blogging.
We created our own blogging content calendar that we use for our clients with the understanding that strategy is necessary for blogging success. After all, strategy is what separates those who see amazing results from their business blog from those who will sadly never see an ROI on their efforts.
If your blogging content calendar is missing any of these five essential elements, no worries. Because of the success we’ve experienced using our custom content calendar, we decided to make it available to all small businesses looking to turn their blog into a powerful marketing tool.
The different sections we include are NOT found in any other content calendar out there, and from our experience, they are the missing elements needed for blogging success.
Want to improve the results you see from your small business blog? Build more STRATEGY into your content calendar!
It’s that simple, and now you have the details (and the tool!) to do it.