Getting started with a content marketing strategy requires hard work, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. There are a lot of questions that have to be answered, like: Where do I find topics for blog posts? Should I stick to text-based articles or include visuals? Are funny GIFs appropriate for my brand? Should I adopt a formal tone or write more conversationally?

Take a deep breath and put your worries to the back of your mind because maintaining an online presence doesn’t have to be complicated.

The key is to create an organized and detailed way to consolidate all your online marketing activities, particularly those directly related to content management. You can do this by creating a content calendar.

So, what's a content calendar?

Essentially, a content calendar is a tool that allows marketers to plan all their content marketing tasks. A content calendar contains a list of blog and other content topics plotted on a specific schedule, and its main purpose is to guide your marketing tasks on a step-by-step basis.

Why do I need one?

When it comes to marketing, you have to plan ahead, even if you're not a terribly organized person. Since your brand's reputation is on the line, you need to put in extra effort to make sure that your message resonates well with your target audience.

The whole point of content marketing is to build a loyal online community, and a content calendar will help you through that. Specifically, it will allow you to:

Getting Started

This is probably the most painful part of content marketing. From the onset, you need to develop a clear and defined plan of action. Follow these steps as you create your content calendar.

1. Identify Your Target Audience

Every piece of content you post must be tailored specifically to your target audience. As you get to know your customers, think about the topics and content types that will appeal to them. If you have competitors who are already churning out content, take a look at what they’re producing and how successful (or not) it’s been.

2. Decide the Tone of Voice You Want to Use

The tone of voice you'll be using depends on two main things: your brand and the preferences of your target audience. Consider who you’re talking to – how they speak and what their goals are when reading your content – and the expectations they have for your company and brand.

3. Know Your Goals and Stick to Them

What are you hoping to achieve from your content marketing efforts? Be as specific as possible so you can measure your performance later on. This way, you'll be able to spot the loopholes in your online marketing campaign as well as your strengths, and switch up your strategy if goals aren’t being reached.

4. Familiarize Yourself with Different Content Types

Aside from text articles, there are a variety of content types you can play around with. You can create infographics, posters, comic strips, GIFs, videos, and memes, among other things.

Even text-based posts come in different forms, such as how-to's, listicles, and in-depth articles. Remember to consider what the message is before deciding which medium to use. For example, if you’re writing about the complex field of small business taxes, an in-depth article is probably a better option than a comic strip.

5. List Broad Topics You Can Write About

You can craft content about anything related to your industry and your target audience. What information are your customers looking for? What are their challenges?

Keep a running list of the topics you’ll write about, so you won’t miss or forget anything. Brainstorm to come up with an extensive list to pull specific content pieces out of. This is a good way to ensure you won't run out of things to write about (or end up duplicating old content).

6. Specify, Specify, Specify

Next, narrow down your topics. Specific subjects will allow you to discuss your ideas in detail, and your audience will love this! Detailed articles are much easier to understand and often offer very practical ideas. These types of content usually perform better than those with a broader scope.

7. Schedule Your Content

Try to vary the content that you post. You may alternate between serious and fun pieces to give your readers some breathing room. On the other hand, if you're breaking down a broad topic into snack-sized bits, it's better to post them consecutively.

Watch out for industry-related events, holidays, and other notable occasions. If you plan your content around these events, you can capitalize on all the buzz around them.

8. Publish, Monitor, and Update Your Content

Content management is a continuous process. As part of blog and social media upkeep, you’ll need to monitor the performance of your posts, update old content, and respond to comments. Constantly seeking to improve older posts is a good way to ensure they'll continue to generate attention, traffic, and revenue.

Schedule brainstorming sessions so you can compile potential topics and content ideas. Be sure to stay on top of your content’s performance so you can tailor new ideas to the topics and content types that are resonating with your audience.

Details Your Content Calendar Should Contain

After going through these steps, you're now ready to plot the ideas you generated on a content calendar. Create a spreadsheet and include the following details for each piece of content.

Get Started

When you’re first putting together a content calendar, it can seem time-consuming. But the very next time you sit down to create a new piece of content you’ll feel the sweet, sweet relief of having planned ahead.

Ready to create a calendar for your social media content, too? Resident social media queen shows you how.

Alistair Roque works as a content writer and blogger for Open Access BPO, a Makati-based outsourcing firm. He spends most of his time writing about modern marketing tools, customer service, and customer experience. He also gives tips on branding strategies, outsourcing, and content marketing.