A content calendar sounds simple: it is, after all, just a list of content that you will publish along with a schedule. Why, then, can it be so difficult to use? It often comes down to the way you structure your calendar.

If you’re starting from scratch, you’re in the ideal position to create a content calendar that works.

1. Organize Your Ideas

Before coming up with titles, think about your ideas and divide these into themes. Turn to your keyword research to plan how search terms fit with these ideas. When you put the two together, you’ll never be stuck for titles. Plus, you’ll know that you’re covering a range of topics.

2. Assign Tasks

Another way to make sure you have the right balance of content is to think about who is responsible for each task. If one team member has a huge workload, you need to rethink your schedule.

Give your team access to the content calendar to allow everyone to start planning in advance. In addition to letting team members know what content they are creating, assign roles to help manage content publishing. This could include editing, curating, syndicating, and analytics.

3. Creating Content for Your Audience

You’re always going to discover fascinating new ideas, and often you may feel compelled to use them as topics for your own content. Before adding anything to your content calendar, however, think about whether the idea is really aimed at your audience or if it is something you want to explore. If it is more the latter, leave it out.

Furthermore, make sure that your content calendar considers all buyer personas equally. Some personas may be more interesting or easy to create content for than others. Still, you need a balance of content that will allow you to attract all types of leads.

If you are struggling with a certain persona, conduct extra research. See what content your audience responded to in the past and find out what questions users are asking.

4. Timespan

Your content calendar needs to span at least one month. If you are creating mostly evergreen content, you can plan for as much as six months in advance. A long-spanning content calendar reduces the need to frequently come up with more topics.

5. Be Flexible

Remember, nothing is set in stone. You can always shift topics around to make space for more important releases, such as interviews, conferences, and webinars. A new trend or breaking news story may take priority over something you previously scheduled.

6. Prioritizing Content

To be able to shift things around, you need to know what is time-sensitive and what you can leave for publishing at a later date. Use a system that expresses the priority of each piece of content, such as color coding.

7. Go Big and Small

Be realistic about your team’s capability to create content. You cannot expect a constant flow of ebooks and long videos. Besides, this will be overwhelming for your audience. Determine the ideal balance of short and long articles, guest posts, slide presentations, infographics, and more.

8. Seasonal Content

Around the holiday season, most businesses expect to see an increase in sales. Depending on your industry, there may be other times of the year when customers are more interested in your offerings. Your content calendar needs to take this into account.

Using a keyword research tool, you can find out if any search terms are particularly popular at certain times of the year. Assign content with these keywords to the most relevant week or month.

9. Content Promotion

Posting content to your blog gains you organic traffic but little else. Important pieces will fail to make an impact unless you have a plan for promotion. Write on your calendar how you plan to promote each. If you’ll be promoting on social media, note which platforms and what hashtags. If you’ll be promoting through advertising, you’ll need to determine budget and ad targeting specifics in addition to platforms.

10. Note Posting Times

On social media, it is important what day of the week and time of the day you post. You will receive the most attention if you publish when your audience is active. Although you can find out what times most users are active on each platform, it is better to know when your followers are online. You can figure this out by monitoring engagement on posts.

11. Learn from Your Content

Your content calendar remains useful after you’ve published a piece. Note which topics and formats were the most popular to plan to create more like these.

If you already have a content calendar but it lacks many of the above, scrap it and start over. Unless you take all these points into consideration, you will find it difficult to stay organized, you may publish the most important content too late, and your strategy will have a lower impact.