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If you’re using a spray-and-pray approach to content marketing and hoping to get the desired results, spoiler alert: you’re doing it wrong. This approach wastes precious time that could be spent driving actual impact and wastes resources that are already hard to come by.
But if you want to operationalize your strategy and give it a structure, a content calendar is the perfect tool to help you do that. There are many free tools like Google Sheets that you can use to get up and running in no time. But creating it can be time-consuming.
To help you hit the ground running, we’ve done all the research and tested the process ourselves. We’ll provide step-by-step instructions for creating a powerful content calendar using Google Sheets. You’ll learn how to set up a content roadmap, schedule your posts, and track your progress over time.
Before we get started with the process of building out our calendar, let’s look at what you need to include in it:
Do you want to skip the work and use our Google Sheets calendar template instead? Make a copy for yourself here » Content Camel Content Calendar Template.
Create a copy and familiarize yourself with the template
Now that you have access to the template click on the “Copt this template here” button and make a copy of the template. It’ll automatically create a copy in your Google Drive with the Appscript automations.
Format your calendar based on your preferences
At first look, you’ll see the “SEO Content Roadmap” sheet that gives you a high-level overview of your entire content strategy. We’ve included multiple headings to simplify the creation, audit, and optimization processes.
As this template is flexible, feel free to make changes to it, but it’s key to remember that as all the sheets are interconnected, it could break the automations and pivot tables on each sheet. So, we’ll walk you through each sheet and how the tables have been created so you can modify them as you see fit.
First, review the drop-down list for each column on the sheet named “Lists for SEO Content Roadmap.” Finalize the line items under each category and then fill them on the SEO Content Roadmap using the Data Validation feature.
We recommend changing the names of your assignees and writers along with the content workflow stages (Columns H, I, and J).
At Content Camel, we have seven stages but modify the stages if you have a shorter workflow. You can do that by doing the following:
Create a separate sheet for keyword data
Create a separate sheet with all your keyword data if your strategy is SEO-focused. The Keyword Universe, as we call it, includes columns for the following: topic, sub-topic, SEO target, keyword, title, keyword difficulty, keyword CPC, keyword competition, and keyword golden ratio.
For the keyword gold ratio (KGR), pull all the results from the SERPs using the “allintitle" function in the search bar and divide it by the keyword volume. We’ve already added the formulas for each result. All you have to do is pull the metrics from your keyword tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush and check the number of results for each keyword using the “allintitle” function on Google. Everything will be automatically generated for you—and you can prioritize the topics based on the KGR.
Create separate sheets for each stage of the production process
We know that a high-level overview can get overwhelming quickly. To resolve this issue, we’ve created individual sheets for each process step with custom fields to show you exactly what’s being worked on and when.
In the “New KW Research” sheet, we’ve included the date on which the keywords were added, along with the proposed title of the article. The SEO specialist or content manager is typically in charge of this process. Once you’re done, pass it on to the content manager to conduct research and create the brief.
Once the content manager reviews the keyword and completes the brief, they can change the status to “New Briefs Ready.” They assign it to a specific writer and project manager at this stage to get the draft done. That might be the same person in smaller teams, but as you expand your team, this feature will help you keep a tab on your entire team.
At the “Content WIP” stage, the writer has already been assigned the piece, and they’re actively working on it. You can see when the brief was complete and the draft is due, so the writer is accountable. Plus, we’ve added columns for the writer’s name and the content format to know what’s being worked on.
After the writer has completed the draft, it moves back to the content manager and subject matter expert (depending on the number of reviewers involved). This sheet includes articles in the “Content Review” and “Publish WIP” stages. In the latter, the content review is done, and the article is approved.
Usually, the content managers work with designers to get the graphics and with SEO specialists to get the on-page SEO elements right. You can complete these processes before pushing it to the Publish WIP stage. It depends on how you structure your workflow—but be extremely clear about it to avoid ambiguity for your team members.
The following sheet, “Ready for Publishing,” is only focused on those in the publishing stage. After all the checks are done, and graphics have been added, you can mark it as ready for publishing. Here, the content manager is responsible for uploading the article to the website’s content management system (CMS) and scheduling it. After completing this step, move it to the “Published” stage.
The “Published” sheet only shows the articles made live along with their published dates and URL path so you can monitor all the links in one place.
We know content audits and optimization are a massive struggle for content teams. To simplify this process, we’ve created a separate sheet for articles pending optimization. It pulls in the data under the “Freshness” column of the SEO Content Roadmap and only includes pieces that are over six months old. It’ll show the published date and funnel stage to show you which ones to prioritize. So, instead of conducting a complete audit next time, you have a starting point to jump off from.
Track your production and visualize the process
Apart from the workflow stages, you can monitor production based on assignees and writers. This sheet will help you control burnout in your team as you know who is working on which piece, allowing you to determine who has maxed out their workload.
If you’re a visual person or reporting on content production each month, use the “Content Production Tracking” sheet to see how many outlines and drafts are ready.
Add your branding and finalize the template
After you’ve modified and finalized the template, add your company’s branding and change the template’s color based on your branding palette to make it official. Share the calendar with relevant stakeholders so that everyone’s always on the same page.
Most content teams are overwhelmed with the number of options in the market. Even though these solutions are purpose-built, finding one takes time as you need to evaluate what works best for your operations. In the meantime, a simple Google Sheet calendar with automation capabilities can take you a long way. Here are a few more reasons why we should start with one:
While these benefits are worth the hassle of creating a calendar in Google Sheets, it’s important to remember that it’s not purpose-built for content management. As your content strategy changes and production scales, you’ll need a more robust option to manage everything. Most of your work will have to be done manually and can get challenging if you’re not a spreadsheet wizard.
Building an automated content calendar using Google Sheets is relatively simple as long as you know what to include and how you want to visualize the process. It streamlines your content creation process and helps you stay organized.
Make a copy of our spreadsheet template and customize it to fit your needs. It’ll take your planning process to the next level and allow you to quickly scale your production and content velocity.
Start a free trial of Content Camel today if you’re looking for a robust solution to manage your content assets after publishing it.
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Content Camel is a sales enablement tool used for sales content management. High-growth sales teams use our system to quickly find and share the right content for each specific sales situation and measure content use and effectiveness.