Why Sticking to a Content Schedule Is Important
Learn more about the value of sticking to a content schedule and why consistency really is key for content creation and distribution
As you put together a content strategy, you might think carefully about the kind of content you want to publish. However, it may be just as important to think about when you want to publish that content. Most businesses and organizations implement a content schedule, which ensures that content is consistent and reliable. A consistent content strategy can keep readers coming back, maximize engagement and lead to more cohesive content overall. However, there are also some drawbacks that must be considered as you lay out your content schedule.
The Benefits of Creating and Sticking to a Content Schedule
In almost every case, having a content schedule is a good idea. Although planning out months or even a year of content at once can feel overwhelming, there are clearly many compelling reasons to take on this task and put it to use within your company.
Keep Readers Coming Back Consistently
Whether your content is visual or written, users will come back time and time again if they enjoy it or can learn from it. Having new content at regular intervals is positive reinforcement that encourages people to return to your blog, website or social media platforms. A consistent content schedule becomes something that users can rely on, which means they are more likely to make it a habit.
If you publish a new blog post every Friday afternoon, for example, readers will start to be conditioned to visit your website at the same time each week. This is a very positive step because they are learning to rely on your content and your brand in a real way. If your posting is sporadic, users are less likely to get in the habit of visiting. Sticking to a structured posting schedule is a smart and relatively easy way to make a good impression on your readers, followers and potential client base.
Attract Readers at Peak Times with High Engagement
If you don’t have a content schedule, you might find yourself — or other members of your team — posting at odd hours or whenever it is most convenient. Many people find themselves doing this at slow times like evenings or weekends. In theory, this can be a great way to utilize slow work periods. In reality, however, it means that content is being posted at off-peak times for your clients.
If you regularly post on a platform like LinkedIn, you may already know that the peak times to post content are during office hours in the week. If your goal is to maximize engagement — and it certainly should be — then posting on the weekends or the evenings is less than ideal. While the peak hours for engagement will vary depending on the platform, the audience demographics and the geographic location, the sentiment remains the same. A regular content schedule means that you can be actively posting at times that will increase eyes on your content and engagement with your brand.
Create More Content on a Regular Schedule
Without deadlines and schedules, it is easy to let time slip by without making content a priority. Over a day or two, this might not lead to any serious problems. If it becomes routine, however, it can mean that your company’s content creation decreases. With a content schedule, you have plenty of time to plan ahead. You know what is due and when it needs to be completed.
Keep in mind that a content schedule isn’t just for one person. Instead, it should be accessible to anyone who has a role to play in the content strategy. Whether you hire authors or have an internal marketing team, allow everyone involved to have access to the content schedule. This adds a level of accountability to the schedule, and it also ensures that no one is left in the dark about what needs to be done and when each project has to be completed
Plan Out Your Content Strategy More Effectively
Content ideation is routinely mentioned as one of the most challenging aspects of content creation. Many individuals know that content is such a key part of their online strategy, but they don’t know exactly what to write about. Although there are many great tools out there that can help, it can still be a daunting task. One of the best ways to handle content ideation more effectively is to do it all at once.
Instead of trying to think of one or two new content ideas each week, spend a few hours and come up with all the content titles at once. Doing this can actually be a more efficient strategy, and it means that you won’t repeat ideas or develop content that is too similar to previous work. In short, this approach can allow businesses to think ahead and set up a big picture strategy that can guide their content ideation and creation for weeks or even months at a time.
What Your Content Schedule Should Look Like
The format of your content schedule is entirely up to your own personal preferences. There are lots of editorial and content calendar suggestions that can guide you, but most people find that a standard calendar works best. In this style, it is easy to see what content is coming up and what needs to be completed on each day.
Another great tip is to color code the calendar to help differentiate between content for social media or for your website. If different people are responsible for them, it helps to keep everyone clear and in the loop. Plus, this structure works well if you plan to repost content across multiple platforms or share evergreen content at a later date.
The Pitfalls of Sticking to a Content Schedule
Clearly, there are many reasons why sticking to a consistent content schedule can be beneficial. However, there are also some pitfalls to consider. By being aware of these common pitfalls, you can avoid them and work toward a better content strategy.
Can Be Overwhelming All at Once
A lot of content managers want to work with one piece of content at a time. When that is done, they move onto the next project. These are smaller goals and deadlines, so they can feel a lot more manageable. When you set a goal like establishing a long-term content schedule, the idea alone can be overwhelming. At this stage, many people fall off track and decide not to pursue a consistent schedule for content.
To avoid this pitfall, try to break down the schedule into more manageable pieces. For example, you could schedule all your blog content for 90 days at once. Then, you can come back and add in social media cross-posting schedules. Or you could stick with creating one month at a time in advance. Don’t feel like you have failed if you don’t structure all your content at once. Setting up your content schedule might take time, but in the long run, it will create less stress and make your day-to-day content strategy implementation a lot easier.
Might Restrict Creativity
Another common pitfall to a set content schedule is the potential to limit creativity. There may be a concern that if you handle content ideation and scheduling weeks or even months in advance, you might be stuck with a concept or an article that is subpar. This is a valid concern, but the solution is to allow content creators to make changes.
If you have an entry in your content schedule for a blog post about the best dresses of 2019, your content creator might want to tweak it to reflect their interests or passions. In this case, allow them to do so. As long as you are hitting your desired SEO keywords, content creation should be fluid. Sticking roughly to the plan but allowing for changes along the way leads to the best possible results. Don’t stifle creativity in the name of efficiency!
A Consistent Content Schedule Doesn’t Take News or Big Changes Into Consideration
Sticking to a content schedule might be the goal, but too much automation can be problematic. There are many software programs and apps that allow you to schedule the release of content well in advance. These are a fantastic way to save time, but they can cause problems. For example, you might not want to post an article about a shallow topic minutes after a major political debate or a natural disaster. Doing so can seem out of touch or even unkind, depending on the situation.
For that reason, it is smart to be flexible. Stay ahead of what will be posted, and make adjustments as necessary. At the same time, don’t be afraid to inject new, timely content at the last minute if it is socially and culturally relevant. One great example is when Oreo tweeted out, “You can still dunk in the dark,” moments after the 34-minute blackout of Super Bowl XLVII. There is no way to pre-plan content like this, but it was instantly viral and a memorable experience for Twitter users.
Overall, there is no question that sticking to a content schedule is important. The right tools allow you to stay on schedule and create relevant, timely content throughout the year and across multiple platforms.
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