Crafting a good content calendar for a company blog is often the backbone of a content marketing strategy. However, many marketers struggle to come up with a variety of new and useful blog ideas. Maybe you think you’re not an ‘ideas person’ and are in a bit of a content marketing rut. Maybe you have 101 blog ideas but don’t know how to pick the best shortlist. Wherever you are on the scale, we’re here to help you create a varied and useful content calendar for your blog readers.
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar for a blog, also known as an editorial calendar, is a way to organise and plan the content you will be writing. This could span any given time frame, whether that’s a detailed monthly plan for frequent bloggers or an overarching annual calendar. Your content calendar will include all the blogs and other forms of content you intend to write about and when.
A content calendar is not just an organisational tool though. By planning out your topics in advance, you can strategise and target your content better, ultimately leading to better results. If you are just creating content on the fly, chances are you will cover similar topics to those you’ve written about before, or only focus on core services and keywords which have already been well-covered by competitors. By dedicating time to researching and curating a content calendar, you should have the chance to come up with more useful, original, targeted and varied content.
Tip: Covering the same blog topics repeatedly or focusing on the same keywords is not only monotonous, it is also highly likely you’re cannibalising your content. This means you’ll be competing against yourself for search engine real estate. If you don’t mix things up, you’ll be hampering your ability to rank widely, gain visibility and get valuable clicks.
How to come up with ideas for a content calendar
Coming up with ideas for a content calendar is a step lots of people struggle with. Thinking of lots of ideas may not come naturally to you or you may not be an expert in the field you’re researching. If you don’t live and breathe the sector you’re working for – that’s alright. It’s also alright to think of lots of zany and loosely related topics first before cutting down to your final list. Try not to be too hard on yourself or judgemental during the ideation process – this should help ideas flow more freely.
To get you going, here are some content ideation techniques I enjoy:
Rapid word associations/100mph thinking
This involves coming up with as many ideas or word associations as possible in a short amount of time. The point here is to come up with lots of ideas, rather than specific, polished ones.
Like with the classic word association game, you freely go where your thoughts take you and this can result in some interesting angles and related topics that aren’t immediately obvious. I like to go through this quick-fire process a couple of times with different starting points – whether that’s keywords, services or products – to try and create a variety of ideas.
Whereas rapid word associations may be a more solitary technique, brainwriting is great for groups. Following a similar principle, brainwriting aims to come up with a large quantity of ideas first, rather than a few polished ones.
With brainwriting, a topic is introduced and each member of a group writes down 3 ideas on a piece of paper. This is then passed to the next person who contributes another 3 ideas, based on those already written or completely new. This continues until you have your original paper back and the group has collectively come up with lots of ideas to consider.
Answer The Public, People Also Ask & Quora
If you want to know what people are actually looking for, Answer The Public, Google’s ‘People Also Ask’ boxes in SERPs, and Quora are great starting points. If you’re not clued up in the area you’re researching, these tools can help you see what those who are interested in the topic or field want to know. Start with a couple of top keywords and take a deep dive.
After employing some of the techniques above, I’ll carry out some more detailed keyword research into interesting and promising ideas. This can help develop your ideas or spark new ones. Your research will also establish keyword search volume, related keywords and should help to shape the direction of your articles beyond a single idea or title.
How to evaluate and select content ideas for a varied blog
After utilising some content ideation techniques, hopefully you’ll have a long list of content ideas for your blog! Now it’s time to evaluate these ideas to ensure your blog is useful and varied. There are many elements to be aware of when it comes to ensuring variety in your blog – it’s not all about titles and keywords. Here are some factors to guide you in evaluating and shortlisting your content calendar:
Sales funnel stages
Consider which stage of the sales funnel your blog ideas are targeting. Where are customers in their buying journey when they find your blog? Blogs, whose purpose is often to bring impressions and traffic to your website, are commonly targeted towards the top stages of the funnel. It is therefore natural you may find a lot of topics are around awareness, interest and consideration stages.
However, to create a more varied content calendar, you should try and explore some ideas dedicated to evaluation or loyalty as well.
You want your blog to provide value to your (potential) customers at every stage of the funnel. Let’s say you sell appliances. You may have a blog describing the benefits of American fridge freezers for customers at the awareness/interest stages. You could also have a guide covering the best ways to defrost your fridge freezer. This will help your customers who have already converted – encouraging repeat custom and brand loyalty.
You’ll want to ensure that your blogs target a variety of your company’s customer personas. Personas are designed to make your audience easier to understand and target. By evaluating which personas your blogs are aiming to target, you can understand whether your content calendar is covering a wide enough variety of people.
If you find your blog ideas are largely targeting just one section of your target market, you will want to do some adjusting. This may not mean going back to the drawing board – think about how you can reframe your ideas or shape them around the interests and pain points of your different personas.
Types of content
To build a varied editorial calendar, you should consider creating a variety of different forms of content. Not only do different types of content have their own strengths to capitalise on, but different people will prefer different types too. Customer A may want a straightforward blog to help them, but customer B may prefer visual formats and will be attracted to infographics or video content.
Different forms of content can take longer to plan and create, so scheduling them into a content calendar helps ensure you’ll have the time and resources to make them.
Different kinds of content you could incorporate into your calendar include: articles, guides, listicles, how tos, case studies, infographics, video content, quizzes and more.
Hopefully this article has helped you understand and consider the many ways you can increase variety in your company’s content calendar. Happy content planning!
If you would like the assistance of content marketing experts to make the most of your blog, the team at Boom can help. With experienced content marketers, copywriters and SEOs, we know how to create valuable content which performs well. Get in touch or take a look at our case studies to find out more.