This could be a physical calendar (board mounted that folds in the middle is best), or you can use a digital one. It could be a spreadsheet you make yourself or one based online, like Google calendar. You can even use a simple notepad on your computer, but that gives less of an overview.
Each have their benefits. Google calendar has a lot of features and can be easily shared, a self-made calendar should fit exactly what you want to work with, and a physical one means you don’t have to sit at a computer or activate an electronic device to access it. Even if you have an electronic version I’d recommend printing out at least the current month so you see it daily without having to turn on your PC.
Having decided which type of calendar you are going to use it’s time to start filling it in. Start by identifying holidays, celebration days and whatever other fixed dates are relevant to your business. Also add holidays or long weekends you intend to have. It’s important to build in relaxation and recreation time and give them the priority they deserve.
You can do this for the entire year or just for the first quarter. If you decide on the latter schedule when you’ll plan the next quarter. Also build in a quarterly progress review, so you can see what is working. What works best can change online. This is why I’m suggesting you only plan the next 90 days in detail.
Once you have done this add any actions you do regularly. This could be releasing blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc. Include any regular social media posts you make, for example you might have Twitter Tips Tuesday or Facebook Friday. For now just record the times you want to publish or release this material. Don’t decide on the subject matter, unless there is a topic you particularly want to mention at a certain time of year.
Having set the release dates for your content look at what you plan for the next 90 days. Don’t look further than this in any detail as it’s possible timelines or objectives may change in the next 3 months. Work back from the publish dates and add when you are going to write, script and record your content. Build in some extra time to allow for delays or difficulties that may arise. If you are going to be trying methods or equipment new to you also build in time for the learning curve you will have to travel.
Next include any networking you do on and offline, regular ad campaigns that you run, and anything else that you plan to do regularly on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Once you have these dates in place you’ll need to think about how you’ll prepare for them and the time you’ll have to allocate to doing this.
Once you’ve completed these steps it’s time to look at your calendar with an honest and critical eye. Have you got the balance right between being too ambitious and making the next months too comfortable? You should have built in some buffer time to compensate for unexpected delays, but have you built in enough? Do you need to start tasks earlier, or should you reduce the amount of content you produce regularly?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting your content to appear in as many places as possible, but it’s better and more practical to make a good job of producing regular, good quality content for just a couple of sites than to spread yourself too thin and create weak content that is not going to help you at all.
By the end of this process you should have a calendar that shows you how you are going to produce and release content on a regular basis. Next week I’ll go over the final steps to completing your calendar.