Content Calendar Template: Backed By Data - CoSchedule

How To Rock A Data-Driven Content Calendar Template That Will Boost Results By 299% 70

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Content Calendar Template Header

More consistency. Better frequency. Clearer organization. Those are the exact things an overwhelming majority of you told us you’d like help with for your blog posting schedule.

I can see how those things are at the top of your list because problems in those areas prevent you from building the audience you need to convert into customers.

And it sounds like a content calendar template is the perfect solution to help you get out of your funk and focus on launching your blog and business forward. Well. Here ya go.

The Real Problem This Content Calendar Template Will Help You Solve

To answer your question of how often to blog, it’d be all too easy for me to just say, “Hey there, just do a blog schedule of one post per week,” and call this post complete.

But. I’m a nerd. And I don’t believe that every blog is created equal, nor does it have the same audience. So there is no one clear way to answer that question other than to use your own data to help you find the perfect frequency and consistency that will help you grow.

And to do that, we’re going to use maths. Yes. Maths. Now, I know you’re a creative person and if you’re anything like me, you probably loathed any class that had anything to do with numbers when you were back in school.

So I’m going to walk you through how often to blog by helping you fill out your content calendar template that will translate your raw data into some super cool insights. When you’re done reading this post, you’ll know:

  • How often you should blog to reach your goals.
  • How to change your blog schedule to publish super consistently and regularly.
  • How to improve the content you’re already creating to reach your goals.
  • How to save time by reworking your older content into your upcoming blog schedule.
  • How to be a data-driven marketer who can prove that your content calendar is driving real business growth.

This is the exact process we’ve used at CoSchedule to grow traffic to new blog posts by 299%. The idea is simple: Replicate the success from your best-performing content to improve every new post you publish. And you can do it, too.

Get out your calculators because it’s about to rain numbers up in here. (See, I can’t even make a good math joke.)

The Data-Driven Method To Find The Best Blog Schedule Frequency For Your Content Calendar

You’re about to go through a few steps with your data. To keep you from becoming overwhelmed, just know that the final outcome of this process will be the exact number of blog posts you need to publish to reach your goals.

When you follow these steps, you’ll solve the frequency problem which leads directly into solving the consistency problem.

1. Determine the broad goal behind your content calendar.

Brainstorm the reasons why you’re blogging. It sounds silly because it might feel obvious, but the practice will help you hone in on the right ways to measure your success.

For example, let’s say you use inbound marketing through your blog to sell a product. That’s terrific! While that’s your big picture goal, think about how your blog can actually contribute to that goal through traffic, email subscribers, and trial conversions.

For the sake of this post—and to give you an example to follow through this process—let’s say you choose to measure your success through increasing traffic. Judging from the data you gave us in the Better Marketer Survey, that’s why you blog—to introduce your business to lots of people online.

So: I am blogging to increase traffic.

Answer This: I am blogging to __________ {#1 reason}.

2. Know how you’ll specifically measure your goal.

Now it’s time to understand the exact metric you’ll measure and find the tool that will give you that data.

A robust and free tool to start with is Google Analytics. The tool will help you track general traffic metrics and also helps you track your conversion steps for goals like email subscriptions and trial signups.

In the case for the example you’re following, you can use Google Analytics to measure increasing traffic with the metric of page views.

So: For my broad goal to increase traffic, I’m going to measure success with this specific metric: page views.

Answer This: For my broad goal to __________ {#1 reason}, I’m going to measure success with this specific metric: __________ {metric}.

3. Figure out the baseline performance of an average month for that metric.

Look at the past several months to find the average amount you receive for that metric. You’ll use this data to help you understand how the changes you’ll make in frequency and consistency are helping you reach your goal.

For example, if you’re measuring page views, take a look at your past three month’s individual contribution to that metric. Then average the three numbers to gauge an average month’s performance over the past quarter.

So: I’m going to look at how many average page views I got per month over the last three months.

Answer This: I’m going to look at how many average __________ {metric} I got per __________ {time frame} over the last __________ {# sample size of time frame}.

Now all you have to do is gather the data for your metric and find the average. Use this equation to get started: __________ {sum of all metric in the sample} / __________ {# of months in the sample} = __________ {average month contribution}.

How to find baseline content performance

You just did some math. Very nice.

4. Find an average blog post’s contribution toward that metric.

You need a baseline number from an average blog post. That means that you’ll need to review the same metric from several blog posts, giving them all the same opportunity to be successful.

In other words, you need to find out the amount each post in a sample contributed to your metric within a certain period of time.

Back to the example you’re following—you need to look at a nice sample size of blog posts (10 at least), and review how many page views each post delivered in the first 30 days after being published. The 30-day period means each post got an equal opportunity (more or less) to contribute to the metric.

So: I’m going to look at how many page views 10 blog posts received in the first 30 days after they were published.

Answer This: I’m going to look at how many __________ {metric} __________ {# sample size} blog posts received in __________ {# days}.

Now it’s time to gather the data. Grab your content calendar template and enter in all of the URLs of the blog posts you’ll include in your sample, then grab the data for your baseline time period for each of those URLs.

Find the average metric number for all of the blog posts in the sample by using this equation: __________ {sum of metric from all posts in the sample} / __________ {# of posts in the sample} = __________ {average post contribution}.

How to find the contribution of an average post

5. Set the aspirational goal for your content calendar through the SMART process.

This is where it gets really fun. :)

Now you can actually set real goals based on data so you know they will be realistically achievable while also helping you shoot for growth.

If you set goals before this point, you have no data-driven way to understand how each post you publish will contribute to your larger picture. It would be a guess—which will make your content calendar feel a whole lot more stressful.

Anyway, SMART goals, as it were, stands for:

  • Specific: Clearly define your goal through the process you’ve been working through right now.
  • Measurable: Know how you’ll measure your goal. This means knowing the tool you’ll use, the exact metric, and the number.
  • Aspirational: Know the baseline of how you’re performing today, and shoot for 10x growth. You’ll learn a lot more about this in a second.
  • Realistic: You need to be able to do this with the resources available to you.
  • Time-sensitive: Give yourself a time period in which you’ll measure success.

The good news is that you’ve done nearly all of this already by walking through this process right now. It’s the aspirational side of things that makes a great goal and pushes you into continued growth.

A good goal is at least 10x growth month over month to keep you focused on projects that will help you truly grow. That means, you’ll want at least a 10% month-over-month increase with your metric.

Back to your example: Let’s say you get 10,000 page views a month. 10% more than that is 11,000, so that’s your aspirational goal for next month.

Do this: __________ {average month contribution} × 1.__________ {% aspirational growth} = __________ {new month contribution goal}.

How to set an aspirational content goal

6. Figure out how many blog posts it’ll take to crush your aspirational goal.

By this point, you know your aspirational goal for your content calendar for next month. Luckily for you, you also know how much each blog post contributes to that metric.

So now you can simply add up how many blog posts you need to publish next month to reach your goal.

Following your example, let’s say an average blog post of yours gets 2,500 page views. To exceed your monthly aspirational goal of 11,000 page views, you’d need to publish five blog posts next month (and you can realistically predict you’ll get 12,500 page views).

Just follow this equation: __________ {new month contribution goal} / __________ {average post contribution} = __________ {# of posts needed to reach your goal}.

Figure out how many posts it will take to reach your goal

Note: This formula completely leaves out long-tail metrics from blog posts you’ve published in the past. It is, however, a useful guide to help you understand how much more frequently you could blog to reach your goals.

Use your best judgment to understand how much more you’ll need to publish and remember: SMART goals have to be realistically achievable.

You’ll learn how to plan your calendar for long-term growth in a second, I promise.

7. Build up your tolerance as you blog consistently.

Now, this process will always suggest that you need to publish more content—increase your publishing frequency—to reach your aspirational goal.

Like doing anything new, there is a learning curve that suggests adding more new things to your plate takes a bit longer initially than after you master the craft.

You know those marathon runners? They don’t start out by running 26.2 miles on their first day. They train themselves by running shorter distances to build up the tolerance to make it all the way through the marathon. They’re strict on their running schedules and commit to success.

You need to have a similar commitment with your content calendar if you’re going to experience 299% more success than you are today. And that also means you need to schedule time for yourself to build up your publishing endurance.

Back to that example: Let’s say you normally publish four new blog posts that each earn 2,500 page views a month—one every week that bring in a monthly total of 10,000 page views. To reach your aspirational goal of 11,000 page views, you’d like to publish five posts next month. That means you’ll publish one extra post next month to exceed your aspirational goal of 11,000 monthly page views by actually hitting 12,500.

See how that works?

Plan content in your calendar so that you can build up the tolerance to publish much more content:

How to plan monthly blog goals

After you successfully publish your extra content, reflect on the process by asking yourself three simple questions:

  1. What went well?
  2. What went wrong?
  3. What could I improve next time?

Constant iteration and improvement will help you build up your publishing endurance to help you increase your blogging frequency while also sharing content regularly and consistently.

Replicate The Success From Your Top 10% Content To Reach Your Aspirational Goal

But what if you don’t want to publish more content, but rather, get more results from every blog post you plan to publish? It’s totally possible.

You’ve probably had a post or two hit it out of the park. So wouldn’t it be great if every post you wrote from this point forward had the same success?

It’s a question we asked ourselves at CoSchedule and figured out the process to help us strategically choose content to create that we know you’ll dig to help us reach our goals faster and make the effort of writing a blog post pay off that much more.

And, it’s a process you can do with your content, too. How? You ask. Well, allow me to show you step by step.

How to grade your content quality

1. Make a list of every post you published in the last nine months.

Whip out your content calendar template and create a list of every one of your blog posts’ URLs from at least the past nine months. You can go longer if you want—the point is to get a large sample.

2. Ask yourself four questions to grade your gut.

Critically think about what makes a successful blog post on your site.

For this exercise, I scrutinized CoSchedule content and came up with four categories I felt made our content successful. You can start with these questions for your blog, too; or if you feel there is something else unique about your blog that makes your content successful in a different way, swap out a question.

Keyword: Successful posts target a keyword and are optimized to rank well for that keyword to continue bringing in long-term traffic from an audience who often doesn’t already know you. By optimizing your content from the get-go, you continue getting traffic and building your audience well into the future without additional promotion.

Question to ask yourself: Was the keyword well-chosen (for search volume and difficulty) and optimized throughout the post to help me get long-term traffic?

Topic: Next, successful blog posts connect the keyword people use to find your content into the angle or unique value proposition for a problem they’d like to resolve. This shows your audience—even newcomers—that you’re deeply in tune with their challenges and you’re dedicated to helping them overcome their hurdles.

Question to ask yourself: Was this a topic my readers would be deeply interested in learning more about?

Research: Successful content backs up its claims with thorough research that proves why your advice is credible and worth following. Your credibility will build a following of readers who keep coming back.

Question to ask yourself: Was this post deeply researched to share unique and better information than any other source on the Internet?

Comprehensiveness: Call it complete, in-depth, or actionable. Comprehensiveness has nothing to do with word count, but rather, when you decide to tackle a topic that you give it everything you’ve got to go deep into the detail instead of just publishing catchy blog titles with content that barely scratches the surface of the promise you make in your value proposition.

Question to ask yourself: Did the post turn the research into actionable, exhaustive how-to advice and end only when the entire story was complete?

At this point, you’re basing all of your thoughts on gut instinct: Was this post successful or not? There’s no data involved whatsoever yet. You’re just aiming to translate your gut into a grade. Kinda like a teacher grading your homework.

For each of the questions, rank every post in your list on a 1 to 3 scale for each of the four categories of successful content: keyword, topic, research, comprehensiveness. 1 means the post is a stinker in that category whereas a 3 means it’s totally awesome.

Go ahead and use your content calendar template to grade your content in each of the four categories you feel make your content successful. When you’re done, add up each blog post’s grade with the highest score a single post can receive being a 12 and the lowest possible being a 4.

3. Review every post’s performance toward your aspirational goal.

Now it’s time to find the contribution each blog post delivers to your aspirational goal. In your content calendar template, track the metric for the first 30 days after a blog post publishes.

Additionally, grab the data from the following two months to give you a complete quarter’s worth of data.

Content marketing data table

From here, you can measure the return on investment for every blog post after its first month’s worth of performance to help you predict how your blog posts will contribute to your goals a full two months after they publish. This is where you’ll learn more about that part I noted for residual long-term metrics and can add it into play as you improve your content calendar.

4. Compare your posts’ actual performance to your gut.

Go into your content calendar template and sort your blog posts according to the grades you ranked them (12 being the highest and should be at the top of your sorted list).

use this content calendar template to translate your gut into data

Go ahead and highlight your top five blog posts with red (#1), orange (#2), yellow (#3), green (#4), and blue (#5).

Now sort all of your posts again according to the first 30 days they contribute to your metrics with the highest contributing post at the top of your list.

Color-coded marketing data table

You can see from your color coding how your gut actually translates into your most successful content. If your gut translated correctly, your top five posts should still be red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.

So… Were you right? Were you wrong? Either way, there are lots of lessons you can learn from this process with the two biggest ones being:

  1. If your gut translated into real data correctly: You’ve got it! Stick with your gut and plan more content on your calendar that reflects what you already feel will be successful.
  2. If data disproved your gut: Review the top five posts according to their contribution to your metric. What makes those posts really stand out versus what you thought was awesome?

Do you see where you’re going with this?

5. Plan to create new content like your top 10% truly knowing what will make a difference and what won’t.

No more guessing. No more getting close but not quite right.

Dissect the top five posts according to their contribution to your aspirational goal and replicate the success from your top-performing content.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself as you review that content:

  • Where did the referral traffic come from? Was it from the keyword like you thought?
  • What was it that made this topic super popular with my audience? Was it the value proposition or promise?
  • Was this post well researched? Did the post back up the claims it promised in the headline?
  • Was this post complete? Was the bounce rate low? Did it provide actionable content?
  • Who was the author? Did they attract a following to this post?
  • What type of blog post was it? Was it a list post, step-by-step guide, infographic, etc.?
  • What was the tone of the post? Was it authentic, humorous, or super straightforward?
  • Did the post have additional media in it? Were there images, videos, or bonus content that influenced its success?

You get the picture. Figure out all the reasons why your audience loved those posts and repeat those elements in the new posts you plan on your content calendar.

This process will help you get more out of every blog post you publish so you don’t have to publish more content, but rather, improve the quality of the content you publish.

Who Said Everything On Your Content Calendar Has To Be Brand New?

Well, you’ve just gone through a lot. You know:

  • How frequently you need to blog every month to hit your aspirational goal.
  • How to build up your endurance to publish consistently and regularly.
  • How to optimize each new blog post to contribute even more to your aspirational goal.

But here’s the thing: You just found your best-performing blog posts that you can optimize even further and republish to get even more out of them.

This simple republishing process will help you:

  1. Fill up your blog schedule while saving a ton of time you would have spent creating new content.
  2. Become friends with search engines like Google that reward content marketers who update their older content.
  3. Optimize your best content to contribute even more to your aspirational goal.

Yeah, sold you, right? Finally: Something easy to fill up your content calendar. :)

1. Find a top-performing, older blog post.

Lucky you! You already found your top-performing blog posts according to your aspirational goal. The only other qualifier for republishing is to make sure that the post you choose is at least six month old.

The older, the better, since you don’t want to accidentally share something that’s somewhat new with your audience who may have already seen it.

2. Refresh the old blog post with 5 pieces of new insight.

Adding more relevant content into your older blog post adds tons of value for your readers—even if they saw the original piece in the past. And according to Brian Dean’s research on the top 200 ranking factors Google uses in its search algorithm, Google also likes to see you refreshing your content.

Chart showing how long content performs for SEO

To top it off, when you add more actionable advice to your content and increase the length of your blog post, you have a higher likelihood of ranking well in search engines.

Add new data: There came a point when you had to publish the post originally. There were probably other sources of data that you didn’t include in your initial content because you didn’t find them at the time or they didn’t even exist because they’re so new.

That type of research can help keep your advice relevant—or could even help you make a couple new points that you didn’t think about before.

Replace outdated information: When you continue researching your blog post, you might find new information that disputes your original suggestions.

For example, in a post we republished called “25 Growth Hacks That Will Amplify Your Content Marketing“, I found out that one of the growth hacks from the original post wasn’t valid anymore because the website we referenced went out of business. I replaced that outdated information with a new growth hack that was similar but much more timely than the original idea.

Add more awesome advice: With time comes more experience. Think about how authors re-release their books several years after their original version with new edits and insights they’ve learned after getting published. Use the same process to add additional advice that builds on your original thought process to add more value.

A way we do this at CoSchedule is by analyzing all of the how-to information in an older blog post before we republish.

If we give advice on, say, “make an infographic to get more social shares”, we’ll back up the claim with new data that proves infographics still get more social shares than any other type of visual content. Then we’ll also give the step-by-step guidance on how to create that infographic (or link to a new blog post with lots more detail).

See what I did there?

You can apply the same process to your blog post before you republish it by analyzing areas you can flesh out with further step-by-step, actionable guidance.

Optimize the post for keywords: Yeah, you probably targeted a keyword in your blog post originally. But the keyword game is changing a little bit, and it turns out you can target multiple related keywords in one blog post to get traffic from several different search terms.

While I’ve taken a stab at keyword optimization, I’ll let Rand from Moz teach you how to do this because he’s wicked smart:

Essentially, based on your original keyword, find synonyms or related keywords that will help you rank for a category-type of search.

Optimize for email subscriber conversions: A lot of you are building your email list to keep your readers coming back for more of your awesome content. That’s a terrific idea, so you’ll love hearing that adding content upgrades into your blog posts can help you increase the number of email subscribers you receive from any blog post—including the ones you’re optimizing and republishing.

Let me explain a bit about content upgrades: Since we started including bonus content like infographics, templates, worksheets, guides, and checklists in every blog post we publish here at CoSchedule, we’ve been able to increase our email subscribers by 552% in one year. Seriously.

And you can experience similar success:

  1. Review your top-trafficked blog posts and choose a couple you could easily translate your step-by-step advice into a worksheet, template, checklist, tear sheet, infographic, or tool of some kind. Formats could include Word Templates, Google Sheets Templates, PDFs, images—the sky is the limit.
  2. Next, simply open up an Evernote note, pick out the big takeaways from your content, and write the content upgrade. The goal is to help your readers turn your advice into a game plan to experience the success you promise in your blog post. Include areas to write and brainstorm, checkboxes to mark tasks as complete, fill-in-the-blank sections, tables, and other tools to help your readers literally work through your advice to end with the desired outcome you promised.
  3. Either work with your in-house designer to turn your note into something awesome or find a freelancer to design it for you from a site like Behance or Dribbble.
  4. Add the content upgrade into your WordPress media library like you would with a normal blog post image, then grab the URL of the file name. Use a tool like LeadPages’ LeadBoxes to embed a signup form right inline in your blog post to trade your content upgrade for your reader’s email address.

Here’s how Neil Patel does this exact content upgrade process using LeadPages’ LeadBoxes:

Update old content on your calendar with upgrades like Neil Patel

Neil Patel uses LeadBoxes from LeadPages to add content upgrades into his content to turn traffic into email subscribers.

You can do it, too. And it’s especially handy for turning your high-trafficked posts into subscriber-generating machines.

3. Republish the blog post as if it were brand new.

You can keep the republishing process simple to work through these projects faster than you would when you’d write a brand new post. This is how to republish a blog post in WordPress:

  1. Add a new WordPress post onto your CoSchedule content calendar on the day you’d like your old blog post to re-launch.
  2. Copy your old blog post in its entirety and paste it into your new post. The reason you’d do this is that the old post is still live on your blog and is still generating traffic—you won’t want to confuse your readers with edits you’re making on the fly, especially if you plan to republish the post later in your editorial schedule.
  3. Work through the post adding in all of the advice you just learned: Add new data, replace old info, add new advice, optimize with more keywords, and add in your content upgrade.
  4. When you’re done and ready to republish it, change the URL of the new post to match the one that is currently live on your blog. So, if your URL of the live post is, enter your slug for the new post as WordPress is smart and will auto-magically change your URL to Don’t freak out, because that’s exactly what you want to happen. That means WordPress recognizes your original post and is confirming that it will republish your new content over the old stuff on the specific date and time you have your new post scheduled for. Just leave the new post in draft mode, and when that day and time rolls around, your new content will show up on that old URL.

How to republish a post in WordPress with your content calendar

Now, if you’d like to get a little picky about your blog and have that republished post show up on your home page, you could always go into the original post and change it to a time in the recent past (like say 30 minutes ago).

Just be weary about accidentally changing the date on your already-published post to republish in the future—it’s no good unless you’re Michael J. Fox. :)

Now You Have A Data-Driven Content Calendar Template

Listen, I know this sounds like a lot, so hear me out:

Why this process is worth every second you spend doing it even though you’re probably scared of what you read.

You’re thinking right now:

This guy’s crazy. I don’t have time for this!

To which I’m thinking:

How will you be able to improve without knowing how what you’ve done—and what you plan to do—has impacted your goal?

And my bro Abraham Lincoln is backing me up:

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

If you really want to throw efficiency in the mix, consider this: Productivity is only as good as the content you produce and how it reaches your goal. Using your time to create effective content is far better than being efficient with your time.

Using your time to create effective content is far better than being efficient with your time.Click To Tweet

Heck, Todd Henry sums it up best in his bookThe Accidental Creative: How To Be Brilliant At A Moment’s Notice:

We must learn to spend our time effectively rather than obsessing about efficiency.

Do this, and I guarantee your content calendar will deliver the results you’re looking for.


I wouldn’t give you any advice I wouldn’t follow myself. This process is exactly how we plan our content calendar at CoSchedule, and it’s helped us keep our content calendar on track and reach our aspirational goals to grow super fast.

Good luck with your content calendar!

PS—When you’re ready to get out of your content calendar template and into a tool designed to help you plan your content more efficiently than ever, try CoSchedule. It’s your social media and editorial calendar.

About the Author

Demand generation enthusiast, content marketing advocate, and team player. I love new ideas, strategy, and efficiency.

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