6 Content Calendar Strategies That Work Better Than Waiting For Inspiration






Update May 27, 2021


You have a documented content marketing strategy. You've drawn up a quarterly plan, tailoring your messages and goals to needs, sales, customer success, and other groups. But you still have room to fill in editorial calendar mine.


Most marketers have gone through this moment. Overall, you know what you need to produce, but specific story ideas seem out of reach.



When this happens, you have two choices: Wait for inspiration to come in or develop a system to find great ideas to fill your calendar.


This post is not for those looking for creative inspiration . It's for anyone willing to do the dirty work of finding hidden content opportunities to shape and polish into something brilliant.


RELATED CONTENT TO BE CLICKED: 4 questions to help test your content ideas

1. Frack this (aka reuse it)


I know of a content team that plans a piece of “big rock” content every quarter. They then create a “frame map” that captures all the ways the big rock can be “framed” – that is, broken down and reassembled into new pieces of content. (Think of fracking in terms of the oil and gas industry, not of Battlestar Galactica.)


Fracking is a great strategy to fill your #ContentMarketing calendar – Break up your content and reassemble those pieces into new content, @KMoutsos via @CMIContent said. Click to Tweet Fracking is the standard method at CMI (although we are more likely to call it repositioning).


We've framed writing tips and exercises in eBooks this from a series of blog posts by CMI editorial advisor Ann Gynn and other contributors.


CMI General Manager Stephanie Stahl gathered insights from one of our digital events to create her article on live streaming in this CCO issue. (We also published it as a blog post .)


Click to read CCO March 2021: Inspirational Matters (TOC Preview)




And every month, we put together a video program about Marketers by Robert Rose into a blog post companion .


If you haven't tried jailbreaking your content (eBooks, whitepapers, Research report documentaries or other feature-length content ), it's time to break heavy gear. You might be surprised how rewarding it is to smash things and put them together in new ways.


RELATED CONTENT TO BE CLICKED:

2. Check out the evil twins


Head hat for Andy Crestodina for this method and its impressive nickname. Here's how the two-way content development approach works:



  1. Identify a common doing best practices, or article recommendations you've run.

  2. Write a new piece on the subject from an opposite angle. (Thoughts: what not to do, mistakes to avoid, etc.)


Atlassian used a version of this method in a recent online publication. The Work Life team has written many articles on making the most of remote work over the past year.


The Evil-twin approach gives you a fresh take on familiar #content topics (e.g. @crestodina for the name and @Atlassian for example) via @KMoutsos @CMIContent. Click to Tweet With businesses moving towards a mix of remote and in-person working, the team may have turned to writing about making the most of hybrid working models. Instead, they create and think about All ways of working together can be wrong – then offers tips for avoiding pitfalls.






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3. Create (or test) your pillars


HubSpot's Justin Champion recently sketched something useful method of creating pillar pages to help with SEO and organize your content in a way that helps your audience find your best content on different angles of a topic.


His approach includes:



  • Define a leading term – usually a two-phrase your audience will use when searching for information (e.g. “gum disease”).

  • Determined core theme to provide additional context for the main phrase – these are related terms with less search volume than your main topic (e.g. “gum disease prevention”).

  • Break core topics into subtopics – make sure the content supports each.


If you have a good, in-depth piece of content around a key phrase, you can stack it up into sections to create your pillar page, supporting the core topic and subtopic sections. If you don't have the right in-depth guide, Justin recommends creating one as you build your pillar-based content cluster.


# Content pillar pages can be a blog post or a web page, @JustinRChaosystem said via @KMoutsos @CMIContent. Click to Tweet



4. Get (ie, organize) other people's content


The content is a technique that all content marketers should master , Jodi Harris wrote in a recent article. Much like jailbreaking or repositioning your own content, content curation allows you to fill your calendar without having to create everything from scratch.


Managing relevant work by respected third parties is a great way to keep your audience informed, @ says joderama via @KMoutsos @CMIContent. #ContentCuration Click to Tweet Content curation involves gathering content from a variety of sources and presenting it to your audience – ideally with your commentary on what makes the tip, idea, or example relevant. interesting, interesting or useful to them.


As Jodi wrote, “getting value from this technique requires your brand’s unique stamp on curated content.”


For example, every Friday we publish an article that includes content marketing examples. Some examples come to us from audience suggestions (you can submit one here ). We take others from articles or examples that the CMI team noticed on social media, in email newsletters, etc.


We add our take on why it matters to other content marketers and what they can learn from every curated example.


If you take this approach, you must include proper attribution and comply with all copyright laws. Jodi gives examples and Do's and Don'ts list in her post.



5. Look over your competitor's shoulder


Who doesn't love a good content audit? OK, most marketers probably don't love the process. But they appreciate the insights an audit generates.


Here is some good news. You don't have to limit analytics to your content — and you shouldn't either. You should also inventory and check your competitors' content.


Why spend time checking out what some other brands are doing? It allows you Use your competitors' work to your advantage wrote Ellie Mirman.


Structure your competitor's #ContentMarketing strategy to identify gaps your content can fill, @ellieeille via @KMoutsos @CMIContent. Click To Tweet Deeply understanding the topics your competitors cover, how your audience is reacting to them, and what channels they're using will help you identify opportunities to overtake them. You might find a topic that you can elaborate on, or a format, type, or channel that they don't optimize for.


Explore # of your competitors' content to discover topics, audience reactions, and channels. Then get past them, @KMoutsos says via @CMIContent. Click to Tweet Whatever they can do, you can do differently and better, right?



6. Ask if you need a new piece of content


Whenever possible, try to avoid creating something new. Don't worry, I don't recommend shirking your duties or leaving them to someone else. I suggest that you can sometimes get more profit for your editorial dollars by updating and republishing something than by creating something from scratch.


Updating and republishing #content (instead of creating it from scratch) can make you more profitable for your #ContentMarketing, @KMoutsos via @CMIContent said. Click to Tweet I explain how to find worthy candidates for republishing in this post (updated and republished) .



Meta warning: My 2019 old articles are inspired by this one from 2017:



TIP: If you haven't tested your content recently but still need to find republishing candidates urgently, try the approach described in this article: Simple content test with 6 questions .


Roll up your sleeves and get to work


Remember, when you're staring at those gaps in your content calendar, don't just wait for an idea to come to you. Dig deep to find content gems planted all over your property (and possibly your neighbours).


I'd love to hear where you look for ideas. Let me know in the comments section.


RELATED CONTENT TO BE TREATED: How to create a strategic editorial calendar

Update all content marketing examples, tips, and ideas in curated and original content. Ordered to the daily or weekly newsletter.

Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute








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