How to Plan a Year of Content Marketing [+ Free Template]

An Easy-to-Use Tool for Planning Your Brand Content

Content marketing is a must for so many reasons - brand awareness, thought leadership, customer engagement, and of course, SEO. But without thoughtful advance planning, it can be challenging to keep all the moving parts of your content strategy on track.

 

Why You Need a Content Calendar

Content marketing is only effective if it is linked to your overall company goals. Creating a calendar helps ensure that your content creation is in sync with your marketing campaigns and overall company roadmap. When you lay out your content for the year, you’ll have a big picture of what resources you’ll need and be better able to plan your time.

 

6 Tips for Maximizing Your Content Calendar

Keep these tips in mind when populating your content calendar in order to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible.

1. Plan ahead.

It may seem overwhelming to try to plan a year of content all at once, the earlier you can plan, the better. That doesn’t mean you have to have every single post nailed down, but you should at least have a basic framework in place. With that said, know that you will likely need to tweak your plan as you go. Plans and priorities change throughout the year, so revisit the calendar at least quarterly to make sure your content is still in line with your strategic roadmap. 


2. Include guest posts, sponsored content and advertising.

When planning out your content, think about other opportunities that will support your campaigns - like guest posts, sponsored content, and ads - and include them in your calendar. Guest posts typically require some advance pitching to secure a spot, so you’ll want to factor that into your plan. 

Sponsored content from FBR can also be a tremendous boost to your content calendar. Unlike other publications where you have to write the content, FBR’s editorial team creates the content for you and because it’s written by an unbiased  third-party expert, it has even more credibility.

Finally, include advertising deadlines in your calendar, too. You’ll likely need to coordinate copy and creative for your ads, so adding dates to the calendar can help you stay on top of it.

 

3. Look for unusual holidays.

Most companies do some sort of campaign around one or more of the standard holidays - like New Year’s, Thanksgiving, etc. But you can also take advantage of some of the more unusual or wacky holidays to create content or social media posts. For example, did you know that March 23 is Puppy Day? If you’re a pet services franchise, that’s a great day to leverage with special content. Depending on what franchise sector you’re in, you might plan content in your calendar for days like: Donut Day (June 7), Grandparents’ Day (September 8) or Taco Day (October 4). 

The key is to research potential holiday, come up with topics ideas, and plan what content to publish in advance. This National Day Calendar and this list of Weird Holidays are a good place to start.

 

4. Align your social media posts.

One of the benefits of a content calendar is to make sure your content is not organized and published, but also successfully distributed and promoted. A big part of that is getting it out via social channels. For every piece of content you create, you’ll also want to plan several social posts to promote it over the following days and weeks. Read Top 3 Secrets to Innovative Social Media for ideas on making your social media strategy more effective.


5. Make sure you optimize your content.

It doesn’t make sense to create a lot of content if no one finds it. When planning your content, make sure you write it for SEO: Think about the audience you’re trying to reach and choose topics and keywords that align with their interests and questions they’re searching online.

 

6. Reach out to your team.

When creating your calendar, reach out to other teams to make sure you don’t miss important dates. For example, if your CEO is speaking at a franchising or industry event, you may want to plan a blog post teasing or recapping his or her presentation. Similarly, if you’re planning a new product roll out, you’ll want to coordinate plan content and social posts around the release date.

 

Creating a content calendar doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, we’ve made it easy for you by creating a customizable template, pre-populated with key dates, to help you plan for your goals, stay on track, and save you time and stress. You can request your free template here.

2020 Franchise Editorial Calendar

About the Author:Ali Forman

Ali Forman

As the Marketing Director for Franchise Business Review, Ali’s role is to educate franchise companies about and inspire them to participate in FBR’s research in order to grow and improve their brands. Ali lives in Maine with her husband and two sons.