When your content strategy is planned out on one calendar, it’s easier to keep organized, focus on deadlines, and be more productive. Your content calendar keeps your entire team updated with the latest and upcoming projects.
Just picture this:
You have a versatile content calendar that can help you organize your campaigns, track your projects, and easily collaborate with your team.
You’re provided with an easy-to-follow process for managing said calendar.
You have several examples of what a great content calendar looks like.
In this post, you’ll learn how to build the perfect content calendar, keep it full of ideas, and make it easier for your marketing team to do their job.
What Is A Content Calendar?
A content calendar is a resource to plan, schedule, and organize content creation and publishing.
Marketing teams rely on their content calendars to plan campaigns across different platforms—like the company’s blog, email marketing, and social networks. It’s their right hand for planning and creating a steady flow of high-quality content.
What Is A Social Media Content Calendar?
Content calendars are designed to organize all content formats, such as blog posts, emails, videos, social media posts, etc. A social media content calendar lists all the social media posts you plan to make and publish in the future. A spreadsheet, Google calendar, or a social media management tool can help you keep track of your activities.
It’s best to think of a social media calendar as a sub-calendar that falls within a content calendar. Again, a content calendar contains all types of content, while a social media calendar only organizes social media campaigns and posts.
The most successful marketers document their entire marketing strategy, not just a single channel like social networks.
3 Content Calendar Types
Now you know what a content calendar is, so let’s look at three different ways to plan upcoming content.
1. Content Calendar Software
The best way to manage your content calendar is through marketing calendar software. (No, Google Calendar doesn’t count.)
CoSchedule Marketing Calendar is free and the most powerful content calendar on the market. CoSchedule Marketing Suite builds upon everything in Marketing Calendar with advanced content calendaring, work management, asset management, and content management tools.
You’ll be able to see important dates on your content calendar (such as product launches) and how that slots within your upcoming content.
Plus, Marketing Calendar integrates with other marketing tools you’re already using, including:
Your CMS (like WordPress and HubSpot)
Social media platforms (including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest)
Your email marketing platform (like Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, and HubSpot)
This way, you can easily automate the planning and distribution of each new piece of content. Talk about saving time.
2. Content Calendar Kanban Boards
Kanban boards, which look like virtual whiteboards with mini post-its, can also be used to manage a content calendar.
They’re great for visually managing workflows and are especially suited for agile teams. You can use tools like Trello or CoSchedule Marketing Suite Idea Board to create columns for the status of a piece, the platform it’s on, or the week it’s being published to get an overview of your upcoming content. Just drag and drop the card to the right columnSource
3. Content Calendar Spreadsheets
The simplest way to create a content calendar is to use a spreadsheet.
Tools like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets make spreadsheets a free and easy way to plan upcoming content. It’ll take a bit of design work, but once you set it up, you’ll see your calendar at a glance and monitor the progress of each piece of content.
13 Best Content Calendar Tools, Apps, & Software To Organize Your Marketing
What tool is commonly used to create content calendars? With my decades of marketing experience, I typically see marketers begin content calendaring with free tools such as CoSchedule Marketing Calendar, Google Calendar, and Trello.
Of these three options, however, only one platform is designed for marketers to organize all of their content in one place—and that software is CoSchedule Marketing Calendar and its big sister, CoSchedule Marketing Suite.
1. CoSchedule Marketing Calendar Freeware
CoSchedule’s free marketing calendar offers well-rounded features for budding content teams.
CoSchedule’s free marketing calendar lets you organize marketing content, projects, and social posts all in one place. Attach tasks, files, descriptions, and other organization tools to your calendar items to stay on track.
Our free calendar works great for small-scale marketers who need an easy way to organize their content. Integrations with tools like Google Drive and WordPress let you schedule and publish your work in the same app.
2. CoSchedule Marketing Suite & Calendar Organizer
CoSchedule’s Marketing Suite and Calendar Organizer provide advanced marketing organization features for content marketers working at a large scale.
Once your marketing operations begin to grow, the CoSchedule Marketing Suite and Calendar Organizer will help you stay on top of them.
The Calendar Organizer adds collaboration features to the free calendar and helps you automate repetitive tasks. Meanwhile, our Marketing Suite offers more ways to coordinate your work, content, and assets.
By itself, the Calendar Organizer costs $29 per month per user. If you’d like to use the Marketing Suite on top of it, we suggest talking with us about your options.
StoryChief’s content calendar gives you control over your content’s CMS and social publishing.
StoryChief’s content calendar combines content and social scheduling to give you control over a piece of content’s entire lifecycle. You can plan, write, and publish your content from one tool.
In addition to its content scheduling capabilities, StoryChief has SEO writing and employee sharing features.
Like CoSchedule’s tools, this app suits marketers trying to manage their content from all angles. Its pricing starts at $100 per month and goes up to $400 per month for the highest plan for 25 users.
Semrush’s content marketing platform has plenty of SEO-focused content management tools.
Semrush’s content marketing platform lets you plan and schedule your content with a focus on search engine optimization (SEO).
It includes features for optimizing your content’s SEO performance before and after you write it. Generate an SEO brief, then analyze your draft.
Marketers focused on their content’s SEO performance who don’t mind publishing in separate tools may prefer Semrush. Semrush limits content marketing toolkit access up to the $229.95 per month ‘Guru plan,’ then opens up more features.
ClearVoice’s freelancer management platform includes an editorial calendar for managing your due dates and publish dates.
If you work with freelancers often, ClearVoice’s features integrate freelancer management with a content calendar.
ClearVoice has an editorial calendar in its brand management backend for companies working with freelancers through the platform. It’s not ClearVoice’s primary function, but it establishes due dates and publish dates for everyone involved in a piece of content.
Content plans from ClearVoice have starting prices ranging from $510 to $1,360 per month. Keep in mind that these costs cover content marketing services in addition to the calendar.
Loomly’s features help you manage your social media ads alongside your posts.
Loomly is a social media content calendar with features to manage your entire social brand.
It works well for marketers who use Facebook and Instagram ads. This platform allows you to schedule ads on Meta apps alongside social media posts.
Additional features from Loomly include post previews, an asset management library, and post inspiration resources.
Loomly’s monthly plans range from $35 per month to a custom enterprise quote.
Optimizely’s Welcome calendar provides large-scale and close-up views of your marketing schedule.
Welcome, Optimizely’s marketing platform, helps with the campaign, asset, and content management. Its calendar oversees all aspects of marketing, including content, for users managing entire departments.
On a large scale, it offers timeline views, Gantt charts, and time filters to give you a broad overview of your campaign progress. If you want to scope down, you can click on a specific activity to check its progress.
Welcome has a simplified free and basic plan for $79 per user per month. Higher plans require a price quote.
SproutSocial delivers a wide range of social media management features, including a calendar.
SproutSocial offers various social media tools, including a publishing calendar. This scheduler lets you see your posting frequency at a glance and add notes to specific days.
SproutSocial also includes features ideal for marketers who prioritize interaction with followers and team members outside of its publisher. It has a centralized inbox for engagement and a sub-platform for employee advocacy.
This app’s monthly plans range from $99 per user per month to $249 per user per month.
Hootsuite’s social media calendar is just one part of its well-rounded toolset.
Hootsuite’s social media publishing calendar presents posts through a column-based layout. Check your social content for the week on one page.
Other Hootsuite features help you optimize your posts. Curate a dashboard of content streams to share with your team, and post at the best times for your audience.
Since it has a well-rounded repertoire of social media management capabilities, Hootsuite works well for ambitious marketers. Its monthly costs range from $49 per month to custom enterprise prices.
Agorapulse’s social media publishing calendar includes different views and filters for your convenience.
Agorapulse delivers social media inbox, monitoring, reporting, ROI, and publishing features.
This tool’s calendar includes different views and filters to view your content. Choose between a monthly or weekly view, then set your filter to the pages you want to monitor.
Unlike many major social media tools, Agorapulse has a forever-free plan for three profiles and one user. Monthly plans range from $99 per month to custom enterprise prices.
SocialPilot’s social media calendar includes monthly, weekly, and daily views, plus re-sharing features.
SocialPilot’s social media content calendar has monthly, weekly, and daily views to display your schedule from multiple perspectives. If you decide to swap posts between days, you can drag and drop them at any time.
One standout feature of SocialPilot is its re-sharing. When you see a particular post performing well, you can add it back to your queue to get even more engagement out of it.
Prices for SocialPilot’s monthly plans range from $30 per month to $125 per month.
Trello’s calendar view presents its kanban tasks in a calendar format.
Trello provides two ways for you to view its board as a calendar: a view for Standard and up plans and a power-up for free plans.
Both options display the app’s kanban tasks in a calendar format. Click on a task to view its description, checklist, and people responsible.
The view offers a little more detail through a daily view; you don’t have to worry about using your allotted power-up. However, free users get most of the same capabilities.
Either of Trello’s calendar options could work for someone looking for an affordable calendar with collaboration features. Monthly plan prices range from free to $17.50 per month.
13. Google Calendar & Drive Freeware
Google Drive and Google Calendar are simple and free options for content calendar management.
Google Calendar and Google Drive allow you to manage schedules and files for free. As part of Google’s free software suite, they are already installed on many Android phones.
You might do well with these tools in your stack if you only need to track due dates and collaborate on files. You can also integrate them with many of the apps discussed in this blog post.
5 Content Calendar Templates: Spreadsheets & PDFs
What is a content calendar template? Templates are frameworks to help you organize your content, plan ahead, and literally get on the same page with your team and stakeholders.
The following five content calendar templates include four spreadsheets and one PDF. While these are not tools or software designed specifically to boost content efficiency and productivity, they are a good starting point for getting your thoughts out of your mind and into a tangible resource.
You can download these templates at the top of this blog post.
1. Annual Content Calendar Template Spreadsheet
Our annual content calendar template shows your content schedule in a monthly format.
This spreadsheet file includes some solid organization tools to coordinate your content on a monthly scale. It lets you perform these tasks to schedule your content:
Note tasks, due dates, and publish dates in a traditional calendar format
Color-code tasks and dates by team or project
Sort projects in a checklist by the deadline, owner, and status
Add general notes on your content plan for the month
2. Advanced Content Calendar Template Spreadsheet
Our advanced content calendar template presents all the project specs you need in chronological order for the year.
Our advanced content calendar template will fit the bill if you need to organize detailed project specs. It achieves these goals:
Organize projects in order of their publish month or content details
Notes each piece of content’s start date, finish date, and publish date
Specifies a piece of content’s headline, topic, and link so you can find it easily
Lists a project’s SEO, team assignment, and marketing specifics to help you understand its context in your strategy and schedule
3. Basic Blog Content Calendar Template Spreadsheet
Our blog content calendar organizes your blog posts by month and keeps every post’s most important details in one place.
Looking for a tool to oversee your blog content? Use our basic blog content calendar to:
Organize your blog posts by month to see how your strategy evolves
Link to the image files and CMS posts for all your blog posts for the year
Sort your posts by headline, keyword, and author
Monitor the status of your blog posts for the year
4. Social Media Content Calendar Template Spreadsheet
Our social media content calendar template provides in-depth, daily social media post organization.
Trying to manage all your social media channels’ posts daily? Our detailed social media content calendar enables you to:
Schedule a post by its channel, day, and time
Sort your daily posts by channel
Zoom out to a monthly view to find gaps in your posting schedule
Color code your posts by category to see how you implement your social strategy
Add monthly notes on topics you don’t want to forget
5. Basic Content Calendar Template PDF
Our basic content calendar template features two calendars and a worksheet to organize all of your content ideas.
The last template in our content calendar bundle includes the following three worksheets:
Annual calendar: Write down all the content themes you want to cover for the year by month.
Ideas worksheet: Keep an inventory of your content ideas before you move the best ones to your calendar.
Monthly calendar: Track your content tasks, due dates, and publishing dates for the month. Think of this worksheet as your go-to for your daily content work.
3 Content Calendar Examples From Leading Brands
1. Red Bull
Red Bull is a massive media powerhouse that just happens to sell an energy drink. As you can see from their content calendar, they publish a lot of stuff, including blogs, social media messages, videos, and more.
What conclusions can we draw from Red Bull’s content calendar?
Post your content where your audience is most active. Red Bull’s audience of 20- to 30-year-old males is most active on Facebook and Instagram. Therefore it makes sense that Red Bull would publish more content on these channels.
Reuse video content on social media. Red Bull is known for their incredible video content. Much of that gets shared on Facebook and their other social platforms. You might not be able to shoot the same kind of video, but if you have video content at all, repackage it for social media for maximum mileage.
Create content that looks and feels authentically like the non-branded content that your audience seeks out. Red Bull is so successful because it looks like content from a publishing house. They don’t feel like they are being sold too.
Takeaway: Organic social media content doesn't always need to sell directly to succeed.
Content Calendar Cadence:
Blog Posts: 11-12 pieces per day on redbull.com
Facebook: 9-11 posts per day
Instagram: 7-8 posts per day
Twitter: 1-2 tweets per day
LinkedIn: Less than 1 post per week
Reverb.com is an e-commerce website that sells pretty much any music-related instrument you could think of. They know their audience well and have created a reliable and consistent publishing schedule that’s jam-packed full of content about musicians, new and old instruments, and techniques their fans would find interesting.
What conclusions can we draw from Reverb’s content calendar?
If you publish a lot of content, ensure you do it well. One of the reasons that Reverb.com is so successful with their content is because of their ability to tailor it to their audience. They publish a lot of information, but everything is executed well.
Establish trust with your audience. They can establish trust with their audience by talking to industry experts, popular musicians, and more. People can drop a lot of money on their sites because they can trust what they find.
Create content that makes it easy to understand how to use complex products. Reverb does a great job explaining what their product does and how to use it. Their product base can get overwhelming and stressful, so Reverb makes it easy to understand and find the dream product their audience is searching for.
Takeaway: Earn your audience’s trust through the content you create.
Blog Posts: 2-3 pieces per day on reverb.com
Facebook: 5 posts per day
Instagram: 2-3 posts per day
Twitter: 5 tweets per day highlighting various artists, gear, and instruments
LinkedIn: 2-3 posts per week
3. Disney Parks
Disney is a behemoth in the hospitality and service world; needless to say; they publish a lot of content. The Disney Parks blog is just one of several blogs, Facebook pages, and more that Disney runs.
What conclusions can we draw from Disney Park’s content calendar?
Create content that creates FOMO. Disney's theme parks are full of attractions and fun family things to do. Their content creates FOMO or the feeling of missing out on all the fun. This move creates urgency and a longing for your audience to take action.
Show them what they will experience. Create content that shows your audience what they will get or experience when they purchase your products. Instead of letting them guess what will happen, show them instead.
Help them have the best time when they do business with you. Disney’s content focuses a lot on the experiences that their customers have. You can also let your content show them how working with you creates the best possible experience they’ll ever have.
Takeaway: Show your audience how to create an experience when they visit you.
Blog Posts: 5 pieces per day on the Disney Parks blog
Facebook: 1-2 posts per day
Instagram: 3-4 posts per day
Twitter: 5 tweets per day sharing news about events and magic-filled photos
LinkedIn: 7-8 posts per week
How To Create A Content Calendar
How do you structure a content calendar? What should a content calendar include? We hear these questions often.
Here are five easy steps to creating an effective content calendar.
1. Platform Information
To help you plan your content schedule, list all the channels you want to publish to. Try to match your channel with your target audience. TikTok may help reach a younger audience, but the channel won’t get much traction among B2B buyers.
If you take the time to understand the benefits and shortcomings of each channel, you may avoid spending time and money promoting to people who aren't interested in your product or service.
While it's possible to use a single calendar for many platforms, it's not encouraged. For example, if you plan to post on numerous channels, you may want to create a separate social media content calendar and a blog content calendar.
2. Publish Deadlines
A content calendar must include deadlines for all tasks that help you produce content. Deadlines are a tool to control the chaos and guarantee a consistent flow of published content.
Be realistic about the time it will take to complete tasks when establishing deadlines. The date and time of the content's publication should be made public.
3. Campaign Attribution Information
As a content marketer, you can help with many business goals, including increasing brand recognition, traffic to your website, sales opportunities, converting leads into customers, and improving customer relationships.
Place each content idea on your schedule after mapping it to your sales funnel:
Top of the funnel (informs the audience)
Middle of the funnel (offers possible solutions)
Bottom of the funnel (encourages potential customers to buy your product or service)
It's wise to incorporate the campaign type directly on the calendar because various campaigns require distinct content planning. You can use separate tags for outreach to bloggers, SEO campaigns, paid advertisements, and off-site content, among other things.
To avoid any last-minute confusion among marketers or writers, you should also carefully note which target vertical or campaign the content belongs to.
You also must note your postings' broad subject matter or category in the content calendar. Write down the key points you want to bring up in your content. Focus on topics relevant to your target audience and align with your brand's message.
4. Asset Links
The content calendar should include links to the content brief, which the writer must follow to adhere to the content guidelines.
Since content briefs are typically extensive, the most effective way to integrate them is to upload the brief somewhere else and then link it to the calendar. For this, you may use Google Docs.
The intended visuals for a post must also link to the content calendar, preferably within the brief itself. Adding the URL of the article to the calendar after the content is published will allow you to discover past posts without searching through the archives.
When defining your content workflows, calendars will have the most significant influence on the production process. Repeatable workflows are the key to having a successful content calendar where each assignee will know beforehand which tasks they must complete. Examples include:
Task Assignments: Set a deadline for each piece of content and hold each team member responsible.
Writing: The writers write the first draft.
Deadlines: The writer must comply with the deadline given in the content calendar.
Review: Managers, lawyers, compliance officers, product managers, or subject matter experts are among those who may need to review the content.
Edits: The writer updates based on reviewer input.
Design: Every piece of content will require some form of design.
Publication: The content is live!
Measurement and review: Analyze how well your content is performing in terms of SEO rankings, social media interaction, page visits, and conversions.
Why Use A Content Calendar?
Why are content calendars important? Here are five good reasons to begin your content calendar as soon as possible.
1. Get Organized & Be More Successful
Marketers that proactively plan their marketing are 331% more successful than their peers. A content calendar is crucial because it will provide you with a better picture of your complete marketing plan. It will help you fix content gaps and prevent missing a deadline.
2. Save Time & Gain Free Time
Planning your content ahead of time can save you plenty of time and effort. You'll be able to upload and go about your day if you have your content ready every scheduled day. Using a content schedule will also give you time to develop new marketing ideas for content.
3. Reduce Stress & Minimize Mistakes
Planning posts for weeks or even months reduces the stress of figuring out what to write on a given day, which is time-consuming and a productivity killer. Making and scheduling posts in advance also decrease the chance of forgetting to post, ensures that your material is released when your audience is engaged, and eliminates the concern of forgetting significant dates.
4. Increase Consistency & Cohesion With Your Marketing Strategy
With a content calendar, you can ensure no days or weeks go by where no new content is shared on your various platforms. Writing a blog article or creating an infographic at the last minute can result in grammatical errors and other issues, ruining your brand’s overall marketing strategy.
A content calendar allows you to plan and devote time to consistently creating high-quality content. As a result, your company's platforms will have a steady stream of activity, which will help create your brand's voice and keep the audience engaged.
5. Capitalize On Seasonality, Holidays, Events, & Trends
You won't miss an opportunity to ride the wave of any critical events if you build a content calendar. It is easier to prepare and arrange around significant dates that might affect your content if you plan ahead. For example, holiday shopping content will do well during Christmas or Thanksgiving.
Creating a content calendar with CoSchedule Marketing Calendar takes less than five minutes. If you are talking about a personalized content calendar, the major work will start before you get to organize it. You'll need 10 to 15 days to write and publish the pieces for the following calendar month.
How Do I Create A Content Calendar In Google Calendar?
Instead of “meetings,” use the event cards as pieces of content. Color code them by initiative or business unit, and name them according to the piece, such as “Content Calendar Blog Post.” You can also create a new calendar on Google Calendar.
How Do You Prepare Content?
First and foremost, you must have a clear content marketing goal that can be broken down into smaller, more manageable steps leading up to the final goal. Then you'd want to conduct research and understand your audience with the help of audience interaction, comments, and guidance from the audience. Educating your audience on their most pressing concerns should be your first objective.
This piece was originally published December 13, 2018. It was updated May 7, 2019; December 2, 2019; March 24, 2021; December 30, 2021; and October 25, 2022. Leah Dekrey, Elise Dopson, Nathan Ellering, and Melissa King contributed to this piece.
Elise Dopson is a B2B content marketing expert who writes for SaaS and eCommerce companies. She’s written for sites like Content Marketing Institute, HubSpot and Social Media Examiner, and loves nothing more than a good cuppa tea. (She is British, after all.) Follow her, and her tea obsession, on Twitter @elisedopson.