Do you prepare a content calendar? Its surprising how many publishers fail to plan out their content, even if only in pencil. Sure, plans change but at the very least having a rough outline is suggested. Why? Calendars help you organize ideas, prepare for busy times, avoid delays, and keep consistency and relevancy.Here are a few tips to help you along the way when you develop your content calendar.

Tip #1 – Research
The first step to developing a content calender is figuring out what type of content you’re interested in producing. Doing your research can help you undercover the right types of content and potential topics.

  • Examine the types, frequency, and style of content your competitors are producing and the topics they’re writing about.
  • Utilize Google Insights to view cyclical patterns with certain keyword phrases. Keywords that are popular during certain times of the year should be examined and integrated into content during those times of the year.
  • Pay attention to lags in popularity for terms. These are times you should hold off publishing and save budget and efforts for busier times.
  • Conduct keyword research to find long tail search terms such as questions and statements that your prospects may use during the research phase of the buying cycle.

Organize your content ideas and start thinking about how it might relate to certain months out of the year. Keep subjects and themes consistent throughout the months and making a rough outline will be a lot easier.

Tip #2 – Timelines
Understand how long it takes you and your team to come up with, research, develop and place content. This should dictate deadlines and help you fill in the content calendar outline you developed after doing research. Look for opportunities to make processes efficient to reduce delays and always plan ahead for delays as much as possible.

Tip #3 – Measure
Use an analytics program to help you measure the results of your efforts. Also look into measuring with third party tools. Account for this in your content calendar to help remind you.

  • Goals/Conversions/Price Per Visit – Figure out the conversion metrics you want to track to help you understand if any purchases, goals, etc… were completed after a visitor viewed your content piece.
  • Traffic – Determine where your traffic came from, paying particular attention to social networking sites and referrers. These metrics will help you understand which promotion efforts are working and which ones aren’t.
  • Time on Site & Bounce Rates – Are visitors finding the information they’re looking for? Examining time on site and bounce rates can help you answer this question. If users aren’t finding what they’re looking for then it might be time to revamp your content piece. Also look at the keywords visitors used to find your content piece and examine these factors.

Tip #4 – Promote
When developing your content calendar remember to account for promotion time in your calendar. Every piece of content should be good enough to be tweeted out, shared on Facebook, +1’d, bookmarked and linked to. Develop a promotion campaign around your content to include each of these methods along with others such as: guest blogging, press releases, social press releases, commenting, manual link building, and media outreach. Do your research to start a resource spreadsheet of all media contacts, website contacts in your niche, bloggers in your industry, websites to promote on, free resources, etc… The first few promotions you conduct will take longer, however over time you should save a bit of time by organizing your resources.

Have some experience developing content calendars? Add to the tips, in the comments below.