Key Metric: Content pieces published per month.
Why it Matters: Predictability comes from acting, not reacting. Content should be planned and created with intention.
Final Result: You know when new content will be published and you have a healthy backlog of content that is ready to publish.
You need a content calendar.
As a content marketer, your goal is to create a steady stream of new content that leads to a predictable number of fresh leads in your database each month. You also need to be able to report your activities and plans to the business.
Not every piece of content will be delivered on time, so your publishing dates can be somewhat fluid, especially at the beginning. That is okay, but over time, you’ll want to decrease the number of articles delivered (and published) late.
The goal is to create predictability in knowing “what is coming up.” This predictability allows you to plan ahead, orchestrate distribution waves to promote your content, be strategic about what you do with every piece, and transparently report your activities to the business.
A content calendar also dissuades you from the “inspiration strikes, let’s write and publish this article now!” approach. Rather, you will build up a healthy buffer of content that is ready to publish at predetermined times. One piece per week over the course of a month is better than four pieces in a week with nothing published the rest of the month.
Create your calendar before you lock in topics.
Even before you have your first topics ready, you can use your content calendar to put placeholders for each piece of content you want to produce in the upcoming year. If you’re starting with one piece of content every two weeks, you’ve got roughly 25 pieces to create over the next year. It doesn’t sound that bad when you think about it that way!
Publish blog content at least once every two weeks.
Having a consistent frequency helps set expectations with your readers and improves search engine performance. As you become more efficient with topic discovery and content production, your publishing cadence should increase.
Should you and your team not have the capacity to publish an article every two weeks, start by creating multiple articles (which you won’t publish immediately), so you have enough at your disposal. This allows you to buy yourself the time to create more articles while the ones from your “content buffer” are being published.
Once you know your team’s output capacity, look at your content calendar and start re-ordering the publishing dates of your placeholder slots. This will allow you to quickly see how many pieces you have in your content pipeline and exactly which ones will be published on which date. It might sound simple, but a content calendar is a very powerful tool.
Later in this course, you’ll learn more about the types of content you should create, but if you’d like to dive deep into topic discovery methods, check out our course on “Keyword Audits and Content Clusters.”
An example of a content calendar in action
Let’s say you want to publish one article every other week or roughly two articles per month.
Right now, you only have the capacity to create one article per month, so you should wait to start publishing until you have at least six articles ready.
These six articles buy you three months of time, and in those three months, you can work on finding additional writers, be it internal or external contributors, that allow you to ramp up content production. This will allow you to reach your goal of publishing two articles per month consistently.
In short, try to figure out your current capacity and reverse engineer how many content pieces need to be produced in advance to allow for a content buffer. This gives you time to work on topic discovery and content production before your content buffer runs dry.