Always waiting for inspiration before creating content is an unhealthy practice. Instead, you should be actively brainstorming content ideas and planning their execution. For this, a content calendar is absolutely necessary. This prevents writer’s block, keeps you consistent, and helps keep the audience engaged.
There are many content calendar apps out there, but if you don’t want to deal with complicated software and templates, Google Calendar is your best option. It’s simple, easy, and, best of all, completely free. We’ll show you how to use it to plan your content strategy in seven easy steps.
1. Create a new calendar
First you need to create a new calendar for your content. Open Google Calendar and navigate to Other Calendars on the left side of the screen. Click on the plus sign to the right of it and choose Create New Calendar.
You’ll see a new screen with fields for your calendar’s name, description, and time zone. Fill them accordingly. If you publish to more than one channel, we recommend that you create calendars for each publishing channel and name them accordingly.
If your team works in different time zones, or if you travel and need to plan around the time you get back home, you can select that time zone from the Time Zone drop-down menu. that you want to apply to your calendar.
Once you’ve filled out all the fields, hit Create Calendar, and your new calendar will be created automatically. You can also edit this information if you need to. Simply click on the three dots beside the calendar you want to edit and select Settings and sharing. This will take you to the Calendar Settings page, where you can make any edits you want.
2. Share your calendar with your team
Now that your calendar is ready, the next step is to share it with your team. Return to the Settings and Sharing page and scroll down until you find the Share with specific people heading. Click Add people, then enter your team member’s email address or name.
When you share, you can also set the level of access. As a best practice, each content team member should have minimal permissions to view all event details, while only a select few should be able to make changes or invite others. This way, there are no unwanted changes to your calendar, and every team member is taken along.
3. Color Code Your Publishing Channels
Color coding your publishing channels makes it easier for you to organize and keep track of your calendar. If you’ve created separate calendars for each publishing channel, you can easily do this in Google Calendar by assigning a color to each calendar.
Hover your pointer over the calendar you want to color, and click the three dots. Choose from any of the available colors, or choose a custom color. Also, make sure the colors you choose are sufficiently distinct that you can tell them apart at a glance.
4. Set Your Publishing Schedule
The key to being a successful content creator is consistency, and that’s what this step is all about. Here you will decide what type of content you will create, frequency and publishing time. Simply click on the date and time you want to schedule the event and create a placeholder.
Think of it like the skeleton of your content calendar. You don’t have to think of content ideas right away. Instead, you can simply use placeholders to represent each piece. The point is to create a structured schedule that is consistent and convenient for everyone on your team.
You can make this process a little easier by adjusting your calendar view. The Calendar view setting is located in the upper-right corner, next to the gear icon. If you click it, you can choose from several view options, including daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly views. Tweak this setting to plan as roughly or as detailed as you like.
5. Set up recurring events
If you have recurring content, for example, a newsletter you send out every Monday, you can set it up as a recurring event. Click on the related event and select the pencil icon to create a recurring event. This will direct you to the event details, where you can choose a predefined recurrence or create a custom recurrence from the drop-down menu.
6. Fill in your calendar details
Now that your schedule and recurring events are set up, you can start brainstorming content ideas and plugging them into your calendar. You can rely on idea generators, use some sites to get content ideas, or develop them yourself.
Once you have a big list of content ideas, start putting them into your calendar. Click the pencil icon in your placeholder event, and modify the name to reflect the title of the post. In the description, highlight what the post should include.