Listen to this blog post:
So, I have a confession you guys. I’m NOT that organized of a person. Well, I am and I’m not. To run a business by yourself you do have to have some level of organizational skills, but I’m also one of those people that will jot down an idea on whatever paper or napkin is lying closest to them and then proceed to lose said piece of paper and never see that idea again. Hands down I feel so much better about life and about my business when I have some sort of system or workflow in place to help me stay organized. It’s a major relief to know that I can find everything I need in one place and not have to worry about things falling by the wayside. Now if only I could translate this idea to my office organization I’d be set. But what I’m actually talking about here is my content creation, specifically for this blog. This blog has been a driving force for my business for years now, even when I’ve neglected it. My posting habits from 2018 were downright horrendous but I’m glad you guys are sticking around.
If you haven’t noticed, I went from posting 1 to maybe 6 times on a good month last year to posting 15 times last month in January! This increase in blog posts has also helped me triple my blog traffic and double my pinterest traffic. Huge wins in my book. So what has changed??
I finally figured out a system that works for me that makes it easy for me to batch process and get more content created for this blog with about the same amount of effort it took me on those months that I only posted a handful of times.
Creating a Content Calendar has been a game changer. Not only has it saved me time and energy, but there’s also a peace of mind that comes with having posts already ready to post and I don’t have to scramble to get things ready.
What is a Content Calendar
As an overview, Content Calendars are just what they sound like. Usually on a calendar you plan out what content you will post so that you can view it all at a month’s glance. You can plan all of the things you will post during the entire month, social media, blog posts, advertising, etc. or you can keep a separate Content Calendar for each aspect of your business like I do.
The only two things I really plan out in advance are my blog posts and my instagram posts. I use two different apps to plan for each because I have my favorites for Instagram and for just general content creation. Planoly is just the best in my opinion when it comes to saving groups of hashtags and rearranging my Instagram posts so that they look visually pleasing in my feed. Unfortunately Planoly is only for Instagram, so that means I have to find something else for my blog post calendar.
That’s where Trello steps in. I’m sure that I’m not using Trello to its fullest potential, but it still does everything I need it to. It’s basically like a to-do list on steroids, allowing you to label different items, assign tasks to an individual item and use “Power-ups” to customize how you use your content. I use the Calendar Power-up specifically for my Content Calendar.
I also want to take a second and say that Trello is in no way sponsoring this post, I just genuinely love and use their software. This is also not going to be a step by step guide on using Trello, so just keep that in mind.
My Personal Workflow
Now that I’ve been doing this for a bit, I already have my Content Calendar saved as a template in Trello so that I can quickly jump into planning, but when I’m setting up my Content Calendar from scratch, this is typically what it looks like:
I first create a list for each of my main blog post categories. I then start populating each list with blog post ideas for the month. I also have another Trello board specifically for just dumping all blog post ideas I come up with and Trello makes it really easy to put these ideas into action by allowing cards to move from board to board.
So at this point I have a list for each individual category with blog post ideas created as cards under each list. Next I’ll go through those cards and assign a color to them based on what subcategory they fall under. For instance, for the major category of Blogging, I have several sub-categories like Blogging Basics, How-to’s, Blog Post Ideas, etc. so each of these gets its own color. When the entire board is done this way it’s super colorful, but also really easy to see what items group together.
Next I’ll enable the Calendar Power-up within Trello and start assigning posts a Due Date. This will automatically put items on the calendar so that I can view them at a glance and know what posts I need to be working on.
The way you assign your posts a due date may look very different than my way, simply because I go off of my numbers and analytics to decide when things will be posted. I know that my blog gets most of its traffic on Monday-Wednesday of every week, with weekends being my slowest traffic. I’m fine with that since I don’t have to worry about posting on the weekends. But what that does tell me is that my best content should be going out Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.
For me personally I don’t want to only post in the beginning of the week. I want to space my posts out. This way every post gets a day or two as being the newest post in my feed before a new one takes its place. So I opt for posting Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Like I said, this will look different for each person. Some people may think it’s crazy to try and post 3 times a week, others may be trying to post daily. Either way, your Content Calendar should be set up to match your own data and what you feel comfortable posting. Remember, quality over quantity, so don’t just post to be posting. Post stuff that you are proud to put your name with, always.
Since Monday is my highest traffic day, I always post my most content heavy posts on this day, and now why I chose to have these podcast come out every Monday. Wednesday is also a big traffic day for me so I always put out a Lettering Lesson on Wednesday because those posts help to build my email list. Friday I still try to put out helpful content that I think you guys will care about, but it’s always a little less content heavy and a little lighter of a read.
So when I’m setting up my Content Calendar I take all of this into consideration. I look for any holidays that may impact the content I’m posting and I always put in my Monthly Moodboards and Free Backgrounds on the first posting day of each month. That’s an easy one to fill in because, even if I post nothing else, I try to get out a Free Background for you all each month.
Next I’ll look at my Wednesdays, because again they are all the same with Lettering Lessons, and I start filling in my Wednesdays for the month with what words I want to cover in my lessons.
Then I’ll take a look at the Mondays on the calendar and try to find post ideas that I know I can write a lot about. This is my most content heavy day after all. If there’s a post that I already have a lot of ideas for, I’ll go ahead and put that as the most recent Monday, because I know I’ll be able to write it fairly quickly. I fill in the month with my biggest posts until all the Mondays are full.
Lastly I’ll look at the Fridays and fill them in with any post that I feel like won’t be long enough for a Monday.
Once my month is planned out, I click on each individual post and assign it a task list to make sure I don’t miss anything. Usually this looks like a simple checklist of things to get that post ready to publish. Something like:
- Write Content
- Take Photos
- Edit Photos
- Create Graphics
- Post to Instagram
- Post to Pinterest
But it can also be an area where I bullet point out my content for the post. This is especially helpful with my Monday posts where I have a lot to cover. My checklist for this article would look something like this:
- What is a Content Calendar
- How to Set up a Content Calendar
- My Personal Workflow
Giving each post a task list like this helps you visualize exactly what you need to do each week to get all of your planned posts ready and published. It’s the same idea as breaking down a larger goal into smaller action steps. Things always seem less daunting when you know exactly how to tackle them.
I always end up with posts on my Trello board that haven’t been placed into the calendar, and that’s totally okay because that means I already have some post ideas for the following month. However, I only plan around a month out on my calendar because things occasionally will shift throughout the month and I want to leave room for some moving around. That’s one of the great things about having a digital drag and drop interface like Trello. It makes it super easy to make any changes to my Content Calendar and still keep all my info. Also, since Trello comes as an app, I can have it on my phone, iPad and computer so that even on the go I can add content ideas to my calendar so that I don’t forget about an idea. Way way better than using a napkin.
Finding the Right Set-Up
I know a lot of bloggers prefer to have a tangible copy of their Content Calendar rather than using a listing program like Trello. I see nothing wrong with this so long as you allow yourself a way to easily move posts around. In other words, just don’t write in blog posts with a pen.
I’ve seen some really successful Content Calendars created with a huge wall Calendar and sticky notes. Different color sticky notes identify what category that post would be placed in. I tried this method in college and my posts were being moved so much that the sticky notes were losing their ability to stick at some point. But I can still definitely see this working for some people. You could also buy a whiteboard calendar so that you can easily write in the posts and move them around if need be. Of course a regular paper calendar works just as well, again just write in pencil so you can give yourself some room in case things need to shift around a bit.
All of these tangible calendars work great but I still don’t think I could give up some of Trello’s abilities like assigning a task list to my calendar items, having old months so readily available to look back through, or so easily color coordinating my posts.
Why is the color coordinating important? It’s a instant visual remember of if I haven’t covered a topic in a long time. Say, all of my SEO posts are in navy. If I scroll back in my calendar and don’t see any navy for the last couple of months, it may be time to include a post on SEO and bring some attention to that category of my blog.
Okay great, you’ve created a content calendar and have it looking all lovely and planned out, but now what? How in the world did all of this planning and setting up get you ready to post things?
Well this next step is the fun part, because now you actually get to do the creating. I like to batch create content for every two week period. This means I’ll create everything I need for the next two weeks worth of posts so that I can schedule them and not think about them again for another two weeks.
I usually start with my Wednesday, Lettering Lesson posts first, 1) because they are easy for me to create and 2) they are fun for me and ease me into the mindset of creating.
I will look at the words and phrases I have planned for the month and I will start creating all the graphics for my Lettering Lessons all at once. Again I’m working 2 weeks out, so I will create two Lettering Lessons for the next two upcoming Wednesday posts. Next I’ll write all of the written content I need for those two weeks. Sometimes I’ll bullet point out a longer post just so I know what needs to be covered before I dive into writing. Literally I will just sit down and write 6 posts all at once. Then I’ll come back and proofread and edit each one until they are all done.
Next, Mike and I will take some photos for my each of posts. Since I already have my content written I usually already have some idea of what the imagery should look like. We take all the photos I will need for all 4 posts for the next 2 weeks (this is only for my Monday and Friday posts because my Lettering Lessons are just graphics and not photos of me). Because we are taking all the photos at once I only have to get my hair and makeup photoready one time but then I’ll have images for 2 weeks! Once our little photo shoot is done I’ll sit down for about 30 to 45 minutes and edit my favorite photos so that they are ready for the blog posts and for social media. Depending on what kind of blogging you do this will look different for you. Fashion and beauty bloggers will typically take the photos first before writing their content. Whatever your focus is, that should be the thing you do first!
Once images are edited I will create my Pinterest pins, which I have saved as a template in Adobe InDesign to save me some time and I will drop in my new images and blog post titles so that they are ready to publish with each blog posts.
In the end I’ll schedule each posts and they will publish on the date I decided for them on my Content Calendar. This may seem like a ton of work, but when all is said and done I typically have spent a day and half creating everything I need for the next two weeks! Imagine if I spaced these things out and every time I wanted to take photos I had to get myself ready, clean up the apartment, make sure Mike was available, make sure my camera was charged, etc. Even with editing photos, every time you have to wait for you computer to boot up or open software, load in files, you name it, you are just tacking on time to your content creation that batch processing could have saved. PLUS it’s so much easier to achieve a uniform editing style when you are editing several post images at the same time.
Having a Content Calendar is such a useful tool for business owners and bloggers alike and whenever a client talks to me about posting consistently, the first thing I ask is, “Do you have a Content Calendar?” It helps you plan in advance, see all of your content at a glance, and batch process to save you time in your actual creating. Whether you are a full time blogger or someone like me that includes blogging as part of their overall business plan, saving time with Content Calendars and batch processing is a godsend and allows you to free up your time for other endeavors, like starting a podcast! 😉
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on How to Create a Content Calendar for Your Blog and I’d love to hear what method you’ve tried that has worked for your own content creation! Any other fellow Trello lovers out there? What Trello features do you love and think I should start utilizing as well? Leave a comment or drop us a line on Instagram. We’d love to hear from you!