content schedule calendar

HowTo create a content schedule

Why do I need a content schedule?

There are lots of benefits to using a content schedule, for me the most important reason is that it helps maintain my sanity. By scheduling my content I can ensure that I’ve got a constant pipeline of high(er) quality articles being published. I’m not rushing at the last minute to hit publish, and get plenty of time to review and modify articles. It also gives me the extra time that I need to research and source data & images for my articles. I’m going to assume you’re already sold, so let’s dive in and have a look at what a content schedule is and what’s involved.

You can download a copy of my content schedule here, the rest of this article will reference this document.

What should be included?

A good content plan should cover all the copy you’ll need to create over the next few months. It can include everything from you social media (twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc.) through to your press releases and blog posts. Different mediums will have different volumes of posts, so you may want to separate the content plans into multiple tabs to prevent things like your twitter updates from drowning out all your other content.
Do you really need to fill out all the columns in this enormous excel sheet? Ideally yes, but I know it’s not practical for everyone. So I’ve tried to color code the columns by importance & relevance. The blue fields are essential to making your content plan work, everything else is for tracking. You should modify the columns & the priority to suit you.

How far ahead should I plan my content?

Try to create a plan for as many months as is practical for you, this really will vary based on the amount of time & resource you have. Personally, I like to keep 3 months worth of article titles ready, and top-up every month. I try to keep 4 weeks of articles ready for automatic publishing, and begin fleshing the articles for the second & third month out as I go along.

content schedule

What do I put into my schedule?

Everything. All your content. Absolutely anything you want to publish at all, including anything that goes out in an ad-hoc, last minute manner.

Seasonal activities

I usually start my content plans by highlighting important dates the plans needs to accommodate. For instance Christmas, Chinese New Year, a significant Corporate launch or industry event. This allows you to create topical information on the approach to these activities, and illustrates how you’re connected to the industry.

Theme based content planning

I’ve previously talked about the benefits of using content themes, this is the perfect opportunity to create themes with ideas that flow neatly into each other. Here’s an example of how you might plan a series of articles in a theme:

  1. What is Omni Channel Retail?
  2. Examples of Omni Channel Retail
  3. Using NFC & QR Codes in Omni Channel Retail
  4. Using Email as part of your Omni Channel Retail strategy
  5. Creating your email schedule (this is the start of the next theme)

You could assign these the same category, varying tags, and deliver them as a series. Grouping related content together makes it easier to navigate content on your site, and allows you to deliver much more in-depth information without overloading any one post – enhancing your position as an authority in your field.

If you need some inspiration on what to write about, stay tuned. I’ll shortly be writing about different methods of sustainably creating content. There are lots of different methods & styles, I’m sure one of them will work for you.

Stay Alert

Just because you have a content plan doesn’t mean you should follow it blindly. Be mindful of current events and remember to consider the communities sentiments at large before allowing your content to publish. This is especially important if you’re using an auto-post system.

 

A guide to writing great Contact Forms

Contact form statistics infographic

Click here for full view

I was preparing to write an article about great contact forms, but stopped dead in my tracks. Victor has created a brilliant infographic that provides plenty of statistical data and practical insight into what should and should not go into your contact form.

Please don’t take it as gospel. As with all such data, you need to perform your own A/B testing and see what actually works for you. Hopefully this will provide you a good starting point though.

Responsive Mobile design

Mobile websites: An introduction to Adaptive & Responsive design

It seems like everyone’s talking about responsive design at the moment. A step beyond adaptive design, responsive design allows your existing site to dynamically modify itself to the size of the screen it’s being viewed with. So if you’re browsing from a phone you see a site optimised for a phone, and the same site enlarges when viewed from a bigger screen. Adaptive design works on the premise that a separate site, built with your mobile device in mind is presented instead of your desktop site.

You can add an (adaptive) mobile version of your WordPress site very easily, just install any one of the many plugins, or use the native JetPack features. Equivalently there are responsive themes you can download for free.

If you’ve already got a web site (and who doesn’t?), you might find yourself asking a couple of questions:

  1. Is it really going to help?This one’s easy, yes. People are increasingly browsing sites from their mobiles, tablets and a variety of other devices. It makes sense to accommodate this – after all the purpose of your website is to connect with your audience, so why not make it easier for them? There’s more conclusive (numeric) data on the benefits of having a mobile site here.
  2. How much is it going to cost to implement a responsive or adaptive design?An adaptive design can be bolted onto an existing website using (free) plugins. It won’t look as awesome as a custom built adaptive design but it’ll work ok. Whilst responsive themes exist, it’s not straight forward to customise a theme. You’ll likely end up spending some money to get this done. Services like psd2html can build you a responsive theme reasonably cost effectively – but you’ll have to invest some cash.
  3. How much effort is going to take to setup & maintain?Assuming you use plugins for an adaptive design, instead of building a second site from scratch, it’ll be very easy to implement and a no brainer to maintain. A responsive design will require some heartache to build. Even if you use a stock theme, you’ll have to put plenty of effort in (or hire someone) to get things the way you want. Once it’s your theme is configured and doing what you expect, maintenance is negligible.

So should you go mobile? And which option should you use?

You should probably already be mobile. Both questions can only really be answered by looking at your client/audience (or checking your google analytics for the volume of mobile browsers). If they’re going mobile, and are expecting you to be available via mobile platforms, then it’s time to gear up. Depending on what they’re using your site for (thank god for analytics) you can figure out how much effort you need to be putting into your mobile design. An adaptive mobile plugin might suit you if it’s specific content or a specific set of pages you need to serve up. A responsive design will likely be better suited to you if your clients are working their way across your entire site – or if the design elements of your site are more essential.

Whilst you’re mulling over your decision checkout the responsinator, it’s a great tool for seeing what your site will look like from a variety of mobile devices.
Are you planning on making your site mobile? What do you think the best way forward is?