Content Marketing

How to Create a Content Calendar That Aligns Your Team and Drives Results

Like many professionals in the digital era, I live and breathe by my calendar. If it’s not on my Gcal, it’s not on my radar. This holds true for everything from client meetings to best friends’ birthdays.

For content marketers, dialed-in content calendars are even more critical. Just as you can’t miss your college bestie’s bday again, your brand shouldn’t be silent on International Women’s Day or miss an opportunity to promote a new product roll-out.

Below are a few tips for how to create a content calendar that drives engagement and growth and keeps your whole team on track.

Content Calendar 101

First things first—below are some basic concepts to understand before diving into the nuts and bolts of content calendar optimization.

What Is a Content Calendar?

It’s a dynamic blueprint that guides content creation, publication, and management—often across multiple platforms. Not only does this North Star help you prioritize tasks and manage workflows, but it also ensures consistency and strategic alignment with larger marketing objectives.

What Should a Content Calendar Track?

Whether you choose a specialized platform like Contently or a more general tool like Google Sheets or, your calendar should track:

  • Title: The name of the piece or campaign
  • Description: A brief (1-2 sentence) overview
  • Publish Date: When each piece of content is slated to go live
  • Contributor: The person responsible for creating the content
  • Status: Current progress (e.g., brief ready for review, assigned, in edit, published)
  • Links: Links to the draft, final version, and published piece

Check out this simple content calendar template for further inspiration.

How to Create a Content Calendar That Drives Results

Below are four tips for crafting an effective and easy-to-follow content calendar.

1. Determine Your Publishing Cadence

The first step is determining the right cadence, or the frequency with which you publish content. This sweet spot is often a balancing act between what your audience (or, perhaps more accurately, your executive team) wants and what your team can realistically produce.

Your cadence will vary depending on the outlets you plan to publish on and the dynamics of your social media calendar. (You’ll definitely want to collaborate with your social media team, if your company has one, when planning and synchronizing content across platforms.)

There’s some high-level expert guidance in this arena: Hootsuite advises three to five Instagram posts per week and two Stories per day, one to two LinkedIn posts per day, and three to five TikToks per week. For blog content, HubSpot suggests smaller organizations publish three to four times per week, and larger ones aim for four to five new or updated posts per week.

But in truth, your ideal publishing cadence will fluctuate based on your brand’s resources and goals. Quality should always trump quantity—a deluge of keyword-stuffed, obviously-AI-created content is probably going to be less effective than a trickle of carefully crafted, strategically sound posts.

Realistic goal-setting is a key piece of the puzzle. Assess your team’s bandwidth and budget to determine a sustainable publication frequency. If your team can only produce one high-quality blog post per week, plan your calendar around this capacity.

2. Ideate Through Keyword Search

The second step of how to create a content calendar involves understanding what your audience is searching for. Keyword research tools like SEMrush offer insights into popular queries related to your business. For instance, if “budgeting for a home purchase” is trending, you might create articles or videos like “The Ultimate Guide to Budgeting for Your First Home” or “5 Budgeting Mistakes to Avoid When Saving for a Down Payment.”

Keep in mind that content calendars are dynamic—don’t get married to an exact publishing order. Leave wiggle room for timely events and trending topics in addition to tentpole or expected occasions like holiday-related content or seasonal themes. Conversely, it’s a good idea to have some evergreen content on deck in case a time-sensitive campaign falls through.

3. Tailor Your Content Calendar to the Sales Funnel

An effective content strategy caters to potential customers at different stages of the sales funnel. Let’s say your product is a budgeting app. Broadly, your content should address:

  • Awareness: This may involve informational content that addresses the problems your product or service solves. Blog posts like “10 Tips for Efficient Budgeting” can attract audiences in the early stages of the buyer’s journey.
  • Consideration: Here, content should showcase the value of your solutions. Comparisons, case studies, and how-to guides (e.g., “How to Choose the Right Budgeting Tools”) may be an appropriate tack.
  • Decision: Content at this stage should drive conversions, such as product demos, testimonials, or special offers—perhaps a piece on “How Our Budgeting App Got These 5 Young Professionals Back on Track” paired with a discount code in the CTA.

Different stages of the sales funnel lend themselves better to different content formats—a blog post may be just fine for an Awareness play, but a conversion-focused campaign might be a better fit for an influencer campaign. Your brand may also want to focus more heavily on one phase of the funnel versus others, depending on your key performance indicators (KPIs).

This is where an efficient, cross-functional content calendar is indispensable. If your brand has an omnichannel strategy, multiple publications, several social media accounts, or experiments with multimedia, you’ll need to bake in enough time to complete these initiatives—with a buffer. A planned video series should be on the content calendar several months out, for example, to ensure all parties have adequate time for production and promotion.

4. Write Thorough Briefs to Keep Contributors on Track

All this planning is for naught if you’re consistently behind schedule because of excessive rounds of revisions in the content production phase. This is where writing clear, thorough, and effective briefs plays a critical role.

An effective brief should include the content’s purpose, target keywords, desired calls to action, brand guidelines, and specific points or questions that need to be addressed. By providing this information upfront, you help ensure the content aligns with your strategy from the outset—and set yourself (and your writing team) up for success with meeting deadlines.

Calendars dominate our lives for a reason: They help with everything from managing daily commitments to marking milestones. But no matter how you choose to remember your wedding anniversary, be sure you’re keeping track of your content in a strategic and systematic way—like with a well-organized calendar.

Ask the Content Strategist: FAQs About Content Calendars

How do you balance between quality and quantity in content production?

This juggling act ultimately depends on your brand’s goals, resources, and the specific preferences of your target audience—but in general, aim to produce the best content your resources allow as consistently as possible.

How do you measure the success of your content calendar strategy?

On top of tracking external metrics like engagement, conversion rates, and overall content performance, take the pulse of internal indicators that your content machine is purring along—like team feedback and overall sentiment about the production process.

How do you incorporate feedback and analytics into content calendar adjustments?

This is another area where having flexibility is key—be sure you’re consistently monitoring analytics across the board, so you can identify what resonates with your audience and tweak future topics and strategies accordingly.

For more tips on how to build a content calendar and editorial strategy, subscribe to The Content Strategist and follow us on Instagram.

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