HER Digital Marketing

The Practical Approach to Creating an Effective Content Calendar

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Social media content planning can feel like a never-ending task list.

But what if you could streamline the process, make it more practical, and still deliver killer results?

Here’s the good news…

You totally can.

The solution?

Developing an effective content calendar.

To set the record straight, we’re not talking about some hastily scribbled, color-coded chaos on a whiteboard that looks more like an abstract painting than a content plan.

We’re talking about a structured, easy-to-use calendar that will make social media content planning a breeze rather than a burden.

The practical content calendar approach helps you consistently deliver valuable, relevant content that resonates with your audience, building relationships and trust.

You’ll get better engagement, more leads, and ultimately increase your revenue.

In this blog post, I’ll share how to create a practical content calendar that’s efficient, effective, and stress-free.

This approach works because it helps you plan what to post, when, and where.

And the cherry on top?

It drastically reduces time spent creating content.

 

 

Pinpoint your goals and objectives

Before you start throwing together a content calendar, you need to know what you want to achieve with your social media strategy. In other words, you need to pinpoint your goals and objectives. Goals, objectives, aren’t they the same thing? While they’re related, they serve different purposes.

Your business goals are your big-picture ambitions. Your goal could be to grow your brand by increasing brand recognition or increasing your conversions by booking so many clients per month.

On the other hand, social media goals (social media objectives) are specific to your social platforms, like spreading brand awareness, getting more engagement on your posts, or increasing conversions.

And then there’s key performance indicator (KPI) objectives. KPI objectives are specific, measurable outcomes, like getting 50 new comments on your posts each week.

KPIs aligned to social media and business goals

The tricky part here is to make sure your business goals, social media goals, and KPI objectives all align.

Actively reference your goals and objectives while planning your social media content.

For every post idea you brainstorm, you should be asking…

Is this post going to help me reach my KPI objective?

My social media goal for this platform?

My overall business goals?

Because if you aren’t using the goals and objectives you’ve set, then what was the point?

Choose your social media platforms wisely

There’s a tons of social media platforms out there: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, and now Threads! While it may be tempting to jump on every platform in sight, that’s no more than a direct path to burnout.

When it comes to social media, it’s not about who has the most platforms, it’s about who uses their platforms the most effectively. Start by selecting 1-3 platforms that you want to focus on.

There are two main guidelines to consider before choosing platforms. First, go where your audience is. If you’re a B2B company offering cutting-edge tech solutions, you’re probably not going to find your audience on TikTok. You’re more likely to reach them on LinkedIn. Do some research, check out where your competitors are, and listen to your customers.

Second, go where you can play to your strengths. Each social media platform has different content formats. If you’re a wordsmith, Facebook or LinkedIn is a good bet. If you’re a visual storyteller, Instagram or Pinterest could be your playground.

And if your platforms aren’t getting you results, don’t be afraid to reassess. Social media is always changing, and staying flexible will help you stay on top.

 

 

Identify your content pillars

Think of your content pillars as the foundation of your social media strategy – the broad themes you’ll use to build your content.

Figuring out what your content pillars should be starts with understanding your brand, your audience, and what you bring to the table.

Start by jotting down…

  1. Your brand values and mission: What does your brand stand for? What’s your ‘why’?
  2. Your audience’s interests and pain points: What do they care about? What problems can you help solve?
  3. Your unique expertise or offerings: What unique knowledge or solutions can you share?

Now, look for the intersections between these areas. Those are your potential content pillars.

Let’s say you’re a copywriter. Your content pillars could be website copywriting, email copywriting, brand voice, and entrepreneurship. Some sub-pillars for website copywriting could be homepage copywriting, landing page copywriting, and SEO copywriting.

Aim to have between 3-8 content pillars. Too few, and your content may become repetitive. Too many, and your message may become diluted.

Your content pillars should guide your content creation, not restrict it. They’re there to ensure that your content remains focused and relevant to your audience while staying true to your brand.

 

 

Select your social media content categories

In addition to content pillars, there are also content categories specific to social media.

Think of content categories as the different rooms that make up your house, making sure your social media feed has plenty of variety to keep your audience interested and engaged.

It would get pretty boring if your house only had one room (no offense studio dwellers).

There are seven main social media content categories: 

  1. Educational – This is your chance to flex your expertise, offering valuable insights to your audience. Think infographics, video trainings, tips and tricks, or case studies. If your audience is hungry for knowledge, feed them!
  2. Inspirational – Share personal stories of triumph, sprinkle in some motivational quotes, or surprise your audience with fun facts and trivia. I mean, who doesn’t love a little lift when scrolling their feed?
  3. Interactive – Get your audience to play an active role in your posts. Create quizzes, polls, and contests or giveaways. Interactive content is a great way to boost engagement and make your audience feel like they’re part of the conversation.
  4. Connecting – This is where you pull back the curtain and show your audience the people and stories behind your brand and the human side of your business. This can be behind-the-scenes videos, personal stories, or even just thanking your fans.
  5. Promotional – This is where you get to showcase your products or services. Yes, we’re all in business to make a living. But promotional content isn’t just about selling. It’s about showing the value you offer through content like free webinars, challenges, coupons, discounts, or client testimonials.
  6. Newsworthy –  Share trending or breaking news related to your industry that shows your audience that you’re in the know and keeping up with the latest happenings.
  7. Entertaining – The entertaining category is all about adding a little laughter to your audience’s day. It can be puzzles, holiday-related posts, or memes.

While all seven categories are valuable, you don’t have to juggle all 7 of them at once. Instead, you should pick four or five that feel like a good fit.

Here are a few things to think about when picking your categories:

  • Which categories fit with what your brand’s all about?
  • What does your audience want to see?
  • What content statistically performs best on your social media platforms?
  • What do you enjoy creating?

These will be your primary categories – the main rooms you need in your house (like the bathroom). But you can still use the other categories when it feels right. You might share a newsworthy post when there’s a trending topic in your industry or an interactive post to keep your audience on their toes.

 

 

Set your ideal posting frequencies

As much as we’d all love to be the Beyoncé of social media – dropping content left, right, and center and watching the DMs roll in – that’s just not feasible for most of us, especially when we’re juggling all the other tasks that running a business entails.

Here’s the good news: you don’t need to be posting 24/7 to make an impact. In fact, it’s much better to focus on consistency and quality rather than quantity.

How often should you post on social media? If you were to ask 5 different social media strategists, you’d likely get 5 different answers. However, prioritizing sustainability over platform best practices and even audience preferences is by far the best strategy.

I know it sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out.

When you prioritize what’s best according to everyone but you, you tend to overextend yourself trying to meet these (often unreasonable) expectations. That means you get burned out, and your socials will suffer for it.

You’re probably going to struggle to post consistently, and even if you do manage to post regularly, there’s no way your content will have the same quality or energy it needs to.

Have a predetermined number of posts per week for each platform that you are confident you can manage.

Keep in mind, this isn’t set in stone. If you find that you have the bandwidth for more, by all means, go for it. The important thing is to establish a routine that’s sustainable for you.

 

Stay ahead of your content planning

We’ve all been here: It’s 11 PM, you’re tucked up in bed, finally ready to drift off, when suddenly it hits you – you didn’t plan tomorrow’s social media posts! There’s a mad scramble to come up with something- It’s not fun, it’s not productive, and not your best content either.

The best way to prevent the chaos is to plan.

This isn’t just to avoid that late-night panic, it also gives you the chance to think strategically about your content.

Plan your content in 1-3 month intervals. This might sound like a lot, but trust me, once you get into the swing of things, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

Not only does it save you time in the long run, but it also gives you a great overview of your content themes, so you can make sure you’re staying on topic and giving your audience what they want.

The other advantage of this approach is it gives you an opportunity to pause, review, and adjust your strategy at the end of each interval.

Maybe you’ve noticed that a certain type of post is really resonating with your audience or a new trend has emerged that you want to jump on. By planning in intervals, you’re giving yourself the flexibility to pivot  your content strategy as needed.

 

 

Repurpose content across platforms

Content creation – It usually involves staring at a blank screen as you struggle to come up with a post-worthy piece of content.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could use the content you already have?

It’s called repurposing, and it’s about to become your new best friend.  

First off, let me acknowledge that creating fresh content for each platform is great, but it’s also time-consuming. And when you’re juggling a million other tasks (because running a business is no joke), something’s got to give.

Repurposing content is about smartly using your resources. It’s taking one killer social media post on Instagram and tweaking the format so it fits Linkedin and Pinterest like a glove.

Repurposing content isn’t just efficient, it also helps reinforce your message. Studies show that a person needs to encounter a piece of information 7 times before it really sinks in. By sharing your content in different formats across various platforms, you’re giving your audience multiple opportunities to absorb it.

What makes the practical content calendar approach so practical is that its centered around repurposing your content effectively. I’ll explain how it works in the next couple sections.

 

 

Embrace calendar planning tools

As a busy business owner, you don’t have time to be juggling twenty different documents, emails, sticky notes, and random napkin scribbles. And gone are the days of using printable social media planners. Not only is it a recipe for a migraine, but it’s also incredibly easy for things to get lost in the shuffle.

Digital calendar planning tools are an excellent way keep all your information in one place. Plus, they’re cloud-based, which means you can access them anywhere, anytime.

Tools like Notion and ClickUp are great if you’re looking for a comprehensive solution that can manage everything from your content ideas to setting up a visual content calendar. If you’re more old school, Google Sheets and Google Docs are also great for planning content.

Either way, you want to find a tool that helps you organize your content plan in a way that makes sense to you.

How to set up your content plan

 

Creating a posting schedule

Up to this point, you’ve probably had the image of a traditional content calendar in your head- The kind with monthly view of  boxes for each date.

The practical content calendar approach uses one for publishing, but first you’ll need a weekly schedule.

Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Do the prep work. Choose your platforms, determine your content planning interval, set platform posting frequencies, and select your content categories.
  2. Set up a table in your calendar tool with channels listed down the side and weekdays running across the top.
  3. Highlight boxes for the days you’ll post each week. Try to spread your posts evenly throughout the week, avoiding posting all your content on the same days.
  4. Decide which categories you want to post on each platform, keeping in mind which perform best. You can use categories more than once per platform if you run out of categories, one performs well there, or your other categories don’t perform well on that platform. You can also choose to add more categories than your posting frequency.
  5. Fill in the boxes with categories. If you have more categories than days to post, give the boxes 2 categories. Try to avoid posting the same content on the same days. For example, try not to post all your promotional content on Wednesdays.

By knowing what type of content to post where and when, you can easily plan how to repurpose your content.

My weekly social media content schedule

Planning your posts

Once you’ve fine-tuned your weekly posting schedule, you’ll need to do some to figure out how many posts you need to plan.

The goal is to create as few posts as possible by using the same posts across all your social media platforms.

The first step is to calculate how many posts you’ll need in each category per week.

For example, on my weekly schedule shown above, I only have one educational post per platform per week. I need to plan one educational post per week that I can share across all my platforms.

Then calculate the number of posts per category for your content planning interval.

I chose an interval of one month, so I plan 4 educational posts, 4 inspirational or connecting posts, and 4 Interactive posts a month, sharing promotional content when I have something to promote.

Now that you know how many posts to plan, you’re ready to start scheduling them.

Set up a traditional calendar in your digital planning tool that you will use to plan the dates you’ll publish your posts. You can use multiple calendars for different channels or one master calendar, just make sure to note the channel for each post.

Follow your weekly schedule to add content to your calendar. Now you have an efficient and effective content plan that takes a ton of work off your plate and weight off your shoulders.

 

 

Stay flexible by incorporating one-off posts

You’ve planned your content in advance and got your schedule looking like a well-oiled machine. But what about those unexpected moments that just beg for a social media post.

There will be times when something newsworthy happens, like a hot topic starts trending, you’ve got a new product launch, or there’s an important date or holiday your audience cares about.

These are perfect opportunities for one-off posts. One-off posts keep your social media presence dynamic and responsive.

Keep a monthly calendar to jot down important dates and events. This way, you’re not caught off guard when Mother’s Day rolls around or when it’s National Donut Day (yes, that’s a thing, and it’s a day you don’t want to miss if you own a donut shop).

 

 

Track your post production stages

You’ve set up a calendar with a good framework, but there’s more information that needs to be added to make it even more effective and efficient.

First, you should implement a way to track post production stages. These stages tell you whether your post is an idea, whether you’ve started on it, if it’s in progress, scheduled, or published. You can also make them more specific, like adding drafting, editing, or review stages, etc.

Tracking post production stages allow you to stay on track with content creation and publishing. It prevents you from realizing you still haven’t created a post at the last minute or realizing that you were supposed to publish something that was ready to go but forgot.

If you’re using a calendar tool like Notion or Clickup, there are tons of sophisticated ways to visualize post production stages: dropdowns, checkboxes, Kanban boards, etc. But you can just as easily track them in Google Sheets with a color-coding system.

For example, you can mark posts that are still ideas in blue, ones that are planned in yellow, ones that are in progress in purple, and ones that are scheduled or published in green.

 

 

Include post hashtags and keywords

If you’ve ever felt like you’re playing a weird game of social media bingo when it comes to hashtags and keywords, you’re not alone. Hashtags and Keywords are like the secret code that helps your content get discovered by new audiences.

As you’re planning your posts, take a moment to also record the hashtags and keywords you want to include.

Instead of slapping random #s on right before you hit “post,” you’ll have the opportunity to be strategic about your hashtag choices. You’ll also be able to include keywords in your posts as you write instead of creating content that won’t appear in search results.

Pro Tip: Keep a record of the ones that have performed well in the past and consider using them again.

 

 

Include links in your calendar

Imagine this…

You created an excellent piece of content, but when it comes time to share it on social media, you’re rummaging through your files, wasting time trying to find it.

Adding links to your content drafts lets you immediately pull up the file  when you need it. It’s a small step, but it can make a big difference when it comes to streamlining your content production process.

This is especially relevant to Google Sheets users, since it can get crowded writing all your content in a spreadsheet.

If you’re using Notion and Clickup, you can draft your posts straight into your content calendar, but you should still add your post media (images and videos) as a file upload

Another way you should incorporate links into your calendar is storing post links to blog posts, booking calendars, product pages, or wherever you want to send your post viewers. This way, you don’t have to go find it while you’re trying to publish your post.

 

 

Wrapping up

A practical and effective content calendar isn’t just a chart with dates, it’s an invaluable tool.

It keeps you organized, saves you time, and ensures your social media efforts align with your business goals.

A good calendar helps you create content that resonates with your audience, maximizes your reach, and drives real results.

In short, it makes social media more manageable.

With a practical content calendar, you’re not just posting on a whim.

You have a strategy, a plan, and most importantly, more freedom to focus on other tasks.

It’s about working smarter, not harder, so you can spend less time stressing over what to post and more time engaging with your audience and growing your business.

 

Key takeaways:

  • Align your business goals with your social media objectives and track progress with KPIs.
  • Use calendar creation tools like Notion, Clickup, or Google Sheets + Google Docs to keep everything organized and accessible.
  • Choose your platforms wisely, focusing on where your audience is and what formats play to your strengths.
  • Identify your content pillars and select your primary content categories to give your content structure and relevance.
  • Set an ideal posting frequency that doesn’t overwhelm you so you can show up on social media consistently.
  • Plan your content ahead in 1-3 month intervals to ensure consistency and allow room for analysis and adjustments.
  • Use the practical calendar strategy to repurpose your content across platforms to maximize reach and efficiency.
  • Stay flexible and incorporate one-off posts for events, holidays, or trending topics.
  • Track your post statuses to get content published on time.
  • Include post hashtags and keywords in your calendar to save time during publishing.
  • Add links to your content drafts and links to be included in posts for a streamlined workflow.

 

 

Would you like to have your practical content calendar planned for you? I’d love to help. Learn more about my social media strategy package here.

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