Had too much on your plate to devise a thorough content plan for 2023 that resonates with your target audience? It’s not too late to start now.
Plotting out pieces of content week by week or month by month might work in the short term, but isn’t an effective long-term strategy and can take time away from your other responsibilities.
Getting started is the hardest part of developing a content plan, which is why we’ve compiled a guide of five must-have content calendar templates for you to use. In this guide, we’ll show you a range of content calendar templates that you can fill in and rest easy knowing that your content is mapped out for 2023.
What is a content calendar template?
A content calendar template is a framework marketers can use to map out their content creation and strategy for the upcoming year.
To implement an effective content strategy, you need to think about your strategic goals. Posting a few blog posts in January that target a rising trend in your industry may create some traction and bring traffic to your website, but this doesn’t amount to long-term content planning.
You can break down a content strategy into three stages:
1. Establish your main strategic goals
Your strategic goals could be any of the following:
- Boosting brand awareness
- Climbing search engine rankings
- Appealing to new customers
2. Outline your techniques and tactics
The tactics and techniques you use will depend on your goals, and can include:
- SEO optimization
- Long-form vs. short-form content
3. Execute your strategy
Finally, you want to dive into the practical elements of how you’ll execute your strategy.
For example, you’ll want to establish whether you’ll rely mostly on contractors or stay with in-house copywriters. You’ll also want to figure out a timeframe for producing and releasing blog posts, factoring in turnaround time, the desired frequency, and alignment with the timeline you’ve created for your goals.
Using a content calendar template will help you in this final stage, as you attempt to put everything together and fill out your marketing team’s calendar with the relevant information.
With a content calendar in place, all that’s left to do is assign the content and create detailed briefs for each based on your company voice and guidelines.
A content calendar isn’t just limited to blog posts either.
There are content calendars for:
- Social media posts
- Video content
- Podcast episodes
You can plug any content your company puts out regularly into a content calendar in order to simplify your scheduling and create a reliable system for producing consistently.
Template 1: Wrike’s content calendar template
Wrike is a project management solution that encourages collaboration among teams and offers a variety of features to make producing, approving, and editing content easier.
One of those features is the content calendar template. With Wrike’s content calendar template, you can track your content from a shell of an idea to a fully fleshed out project ready for publishing.
One of the most challenging aspects of content strategy is organizing a steady flow of content throughout the month, quarter, and year. If you can’t visualize the whole process from ideation to publishing, you can lose precious time and quickly build up a backlog that creates a bottleneck.
Fortunately, with Wrike’s content calendar template you can see exactly what’s going on at every step of the way.
Specifically, you can:
- Speed up the approval process
- Manage team member and resource capacity
- Plan out your content using various filters
With the Wrike content calendar template, all you need to do is line up your content ideas as action items, assign them out, and then you can track them as they move along the pipeline.
If you have projects that require input from within the company, you can use the digital brief intake form. If you require external stakeholder opinions, then you can use Wrike’s visual markup tool.
Finally, organize and categorize your content into folders and projects, so you have everything you need right at your fingertips.
Once you put your content plan into place with Wrike’s content calendar template, you can sit back, monitor progress, and move resources around with dashboards in real time.
Explore Wrike today and use the content calendar template with a free two-week trial.
Template 2: Free content calendar template in Google Sheets or Excel
If you have the time and energy to create your own content calendar template from scratch, using a content calendar template for Google Sheets or Excel is another option.
With spreadsheet software, you can map out your content strategy for the foreseeable future and beyond in an easy-to-digest fashion.
Here’s how to make your own free content calendar template in Google Sheets or Excel:
1. Format your spreadsheet
Start out by creating a blank template in your preferred spreadsheet solution and adding the date (2023) in the first row. 2
2. Enter key information
Next, use the second row in your spreadsheet for the headings that will define your content plan.
Headings should include:
You can make individual changes such as splitting ‘date’ up into ‘start date’ and ‘due date’ or ‘client submission date.’ You could also change ‘title’ to ‘idea’ if you’re making a social media calendar.
3. Map out specifics
Once you have the main headings laid out in your spreadsheet, you can go in and add any specific information relevant to your content production and publication process.
For example, if you’re producing written content you may want to add in a heading such as ‘writer,’ which indicates who’s responsible for producing the content. You could also get more granular if you’re targeting SEO and add ‘keywords’ or ‘topic inspiration links’ for additional context.
When creating your own content calendar, you won’t have the benefit of a pre-organized format so, to make it easy to interpret, you’ll have to go the extra mile yourself.
Color-coding headings and months is a great way to create a user-friendly calendar that team members can scan to quickly find relevant information. If you use a specific heading such as ‘writer,’ then you could assign each writer their own color so they can find their tasks easily.
Of course, they won’t have the benefit of notifications indicating when it’s their turn to add their input, but it’s the best option for a spreadsheet-based calendar.
5. Enter publishing frequency
By now you should already have an idea of how often you’ll post, so this step should be straightforward.
You can either stick with months and break posts down into their release dates in another column, or you can add in a ‘day’ column if you prefer to post on a specific day every week.
For example, say you have a Thursday internet roundup series on Twitter and a funny screenshot series on Tuesdays, you can set your calendar up to reflect this.
Unlike with project management software, you won’t have reminders to prompt you to post on time but you can still check in with your spreadsheet regularly to jog your memory about when you should hit ‘publish.’
6. Fill out the calendar
Now you’re ready to start adding your content to the calendar you’ve created.
Typically, this will be a case of writing a blog post title or a social media post idea (or the entire post if it’s short.)
Ideally though, you’d want to add more context and information. In Wrike, this would all be wrapped up in an individual action item that’s assigned to you, but when creating your own template you’ll have to add in an additional column to write out extra information.
If you make updates to the information after your team member has seen it, you’ll have to communicate the change manually as they won’t be automatically notified.
7. Add images
If you have images you’ve created or hand-picked to go with your content, you can add those into your calendar, too.
8. Label content
If you want to provide direction to your team on each piece of content, it’s worth adding in a label.
With an extra column you can add a tag or label such as ‘educational,’ ‘informative,’ or ‘compilation’ for additional context.
9. Identify platform
If you’re only producing blog content, you can probably skip this step, but for social media it’s essential to identify which platform the content will be posted to.
The type of content will vary significantly depending on the platform, so your team members will need to know which platform they’re writing for upfront.
10. Repackage content
If part of your content strategy is repackaging or repurposing content for other platforms, your calendar should reflect that.
That way, as your team members are working on content they can be extracting bullet points and statistics to use for other platforms.
Template 3: Wrike’s social media plan template
Knowing what — and when — to post on social media is a common cause of headache among marketers, which is why you need a plan for your social media strategy.
Wrike’s social media plan template can help you bring together all your great ideas for social media posts and create a logical timeframe for when you release them.
With the Wrike template, you can:
- Manage your social media teams
- Handle vendor contracts
- Set up and track performance metrics
Social media is a tough place to stand out with content, so it’s wise to not only map out your posts but to put in place performance metrics that provide real insight into what’s working and what isn’t over time.
With Wrike’s social media plan template, you or your social media manager can set up your social media marketing campaign from start to finish and monitor its success as you go. You can make real-time changes if engagement is low, such as publishing content at different times of day or adjusting your post frequency.
You can manage your publication schedule and review each post, so that you have both a macro- and micro-level overview of your social media strategy. Nothing gets left to chance when you use Wrike to create your social media plan.
Set up your own social media dashboard in Wrike with customized widgets to show exactly how each campaign is performing, which assets are overdue, and progress on individual projects.
Template 4: Social media plan template
Before you populate a content calendar, you first need a plan in place.
Here’s how to create a social media plan template for free:
1. Define your goals
No social media plan will be successful without a clear definition of what your goals are. Without outlining your goals, you’ll have no north star to follow and no idea which metrics are worth tracking.
From the outset, you need a solid idea of what you’re trying to achieve with your social media content strategy.
Your social media goals should align closely with your content marketing department’s key objectives. That could be to grow your brand identity and presence in the next quarter or to create X new followers over the next year.
Whatever the goal, be as specific as possible. To this end, SMART goals are your best bet, as they bring practicality and realism to the goal-setting process.
2. Identify relevant KPIs
Next, you can use your goals to inform your performance-tracking process.These key performance indicators (KPIs) will let you know you’re on track to meet your strategic goals.
For example, if your goal is to build your Twitter standing to where you have 1,000+ followers, then the most obvious metric to track is follower count. However, you can also get more granular and track how many followers on average you gain per post, to influence your strategy as you go.
Data analytics is much easier when you use a platform such as Wrike that’s built for processing and presenting performance metrics on ongoing projects.
3. Pick your platforms
Finally, you should identify which social media platforms you’re going to use.
Evaluate your current social media traffic (if applicable) and get a sense for which platforms will work best for your brand.
If you want to demonstrate authority, for example, you might be best served posting long-form, educational content to LinkedIn. If you have a fun brand with a lighthearted voice, you may prefer Twitter for publishing short, witty posts.
Follow the data, and use what you learn through tracking your metrics to inform your social media strategy going forwards.
Template 5: Editorial calendar template
For an editorial calendar template, you want to take a step back and see the bigger picture for your content strategy.
Here’s how you can create a nuts-and-bolts template for everything you need to pull off the content strategy for the year with Excel or Google Sheets:
1. Create headings
Start out by creating headings in the first row that reflect your content plan for the next year.
- Date of publication
- Assets required
2. Add context
When it comes to your specific content plan, there’s likely going to be additional information to fill in.
This could be anything from keyword clusters you want to target to other SEO optimization information. It could also include CTAs (calls to action) for the individual posts, or the target persona you wish to aim for with the content.
3. Fill out your template
Now it’s time to populate your template according to the columns you’ve added.
Add in the dates of publication, post titles, and all other relevant information.
Alternatively, you can plug all relevant information into one of Wrike’s content plan templates to save time on formatting and structuring your own template.
Now you have your templates, what comes next?
So you have your content calendar templates, but that’s all they are right now — templates.
If you want to turn your templates into live projects you can track, modify, and manage in real time, then consider using Wrike.
While populating your shared Google Calendar is a free and simple way to plan out your content, the information remains static. You can set up Google Calendar to email you with reminders, but it won’t send team members notifications on content updates, enable them to request approval on certain tasks, or allow for asynchronous communication on specific projects.
That’s where Wrike comes in.
Using Wrike, you can:
- Plan out projects from start to finish
- Track progress using dashboards and KPIs
- Communicate and collaborate as a team
Check exactly how much time and money you could save when you start using Wrike with the savings calculator.
Ready to build out your content calendar for 2023 with Wrike? Start your free trial today.