Content Calendar Template - Updated for 2021 [Free template]

Content Calendar Template - Updated for 2021 [Free template]

A free content calendar template to make sure your content strategies and plans are executed on time in 2021. Track blog posts, podcast episodes, marketing campaigns, and more.
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A content calendar is a
system
for executing
your team’s content, editorial, and social media strategies.

Whether you’re a solo operation or working with a team of writers, producers, and editors, a content calendar helps you stay on track. How many pieces of content are in the “approved” stage? Which campaign does a piece of content belong to? What are the distribution channels for a piece of content? These are all questions a content calendar can help answer.

Whether you use a Google Sheet or some other online tool as your content calendar, the most important part of your content calendar is that it
stays up to date
and it aids your team with
moving content from the idea stage to production
.

I’ve been creating content (blog posts, videos, social media) for my own businesses and for Coda. I created this content calendar template based on my experience using other content calendars and put the
best features
from these tools into this template. This template can be used by agencies, in-house content teams, and solopreneurs who have made content a key component of their marketing strategy. Get started with this template and
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.

Tutorial on how to use this template:


1. How to use a content calendar

I asked a few content experts about how they use their content calendars. The first theme I found is that everyone has their own
unique processes
for maintaining and updating their content calendars. The reasons for this variability in process results from two things: 1) content strategy might dictate certain types of content over others and 2) certain types of content do work better in the content expert’s industry.

Scheduling when content gets published is another key consideration in a content calendar. Dates will inevitably get shifted around as your colleagues might spend more time on a piece of content than originally planned. The content marketing manager at
explains how their team relies on creative to deliver assets to move content through their calendar:

The content operation is mostly a 1-person show (me). The biggest bottleneck/unknown is design, which means we have to plan and work around in a way that gives the creative team enough time to create any materials we need for content.
, Content Marketing Manager, ChartMogul

Before creating the content calendar, some experts said you should have a solid
first. Elements of a
content strategy
that can make their ways into a content calendar include:
Audience
you want to target
Cadence
of your messaging
Tone
of your messaging
Story or narrative
you want to tell your audience

, a freelance content marketing strategist, said that proper research ensures your content calendar operates smoothly:

Strategy - it’s part of the basis of an editorial calendar. It involves research - even if it’s just secondary (news outlets, Quora, etc). Your editorial calendar should be based on customer research and research with the company (e.g, what questions does the customer service team get asked and how can you use this info for content development?).
Kirsten Lamb, Freelance Content Marketing Strategist

2. The “work” and calendar live in the same tool

Your content calendar might live in a spreadsheet or some other tool, but where does the
actual work
happen? You’re writing drafts in Google Docs, Wordpress, or some other CMS. Social media posts might be created in Buffer or Hootsuite. You’re then
copying and pasting
links to these tools into a spreadsheet.

Instead of having a sea of browser tabs open with drafts of all the blog posts you’re working on or editing, they should be “stored” in the same place as your calendar.

This template allows you to
see your content drafts (
see
) in your
content repository
and you can do all the writing, editing, and proofreading in
one place
. In the gif below, you’ll see the draft for the
Behind the “Wheel”
content is hyperlinked in the row. When you click on that draft, it goes straight to another page where you can do all the planning and writing for that content:

cal.gif

3. Variety of content types

Your
for 2021 is all set. The most difficult part is
tracking and executing
to that strategy given all the moving parts of your strategy. Your content calendar should be flexible enough to handle all the nuances of your strategy whether you work at an agency with multiple clients or you’re working in-house for NASA.

What issues specifically should your content calendar solve? It should account for the
variety of content
types that your target audience wants to read and watch. While blog posts are still a great way to tell stories and good for SEO, your content calendar for 2021 should also include:
Podcast episodes
Virtual events
Infographics
Short-form videos (LinkedIn stories, Instagram stories, TikTok, etc.)
This template allows you to customize the
type
of content your team wants to produce. You can see the default types in the
table.

4. Setting up this content calendar template

Every content calendar tool I came across had one thing in common: a main table with every single piece of content, no matter the stage. That’s why the
in this template is the main view in this template:

Image 2020-12-16 at 5.15.26 PM.jpg

Many of the dropdowns in each of these columns can be customized depending on your team’s
unique
content processes
. You can see all the default values I’ve created in the
page.

Since your content calendar will include content across multiple
campaigns
, I created a table just for all the over-arching campaigns your team is working on (see
). Your
and
are connected so you can see all the content pieces associated with one campaign:

Image 2020-12-16 at 5.20.59 PM.jpg

Finally, viewing your content calendar in multiple ways is what makes this content calendar template
flexible
and
adaptable
to your team’s processes. You can view the content calendar
,
,
, and see all
(click each of these hyperlinks to go to that specific page).

5. Full content calendar view for 2021

Aside from the main table of all the content your team is working on, I think the main calendar view is the next most important way to visualize your content calendar.

In
, you’ll see the traditional calendar layout as well as a kanban layout of your content by the “estimated publish month.” While it’s important to have an exact publish date for your content in 2021, I think
visualizing your content calendar
for all of 2021 helps you find gaps in your campaigns or
.

Image 2020-12-16 at 5.27.23 PM.jpg


6. Conclusion: manage content calendar and drafts in one place

While you can replicate many parts of this template in a Google Sheet or another tool, the main advantage this template offers is the ability to manage your
content calendar
and
content drafts
in one place. Along the left-hand side, you can create multiple
nested pages
of your campaigns, drafts, and other work needed to execute on your content strategy:

Image 2020-12-16 at 5.31.27 PM.jpg


I hope this content calendar template will set your team up for success in 2021 and beyond! 🚀

Get started with this template:
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⏩ Quick start

Copy this doc (Create a Coda account if you don’t have one.) 👉
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Start adding content ideas to the
and fill out all the relevant columns and fields. Customize your broader marketing campaigns in
.
View your table of content
,
, and
.
Visualize your entire 2021 calendar in
.
Create sub-pages in the
folder which will contain the
actual draft
for the content (include images, videos, etc.) You can hyperlink to any of these “draft” pages by hitting
CMD+K
(Mac) or
CTRL+K
(PC) in this template. The “Draft/Outline” column in the
links to these drafts.
(Optional) Customize the dropdown menus that show up in your table of content in
.


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