When I first started creating and posting content for Whale Tales I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know anything about the best times to post, or how much you should post, or really anything. As with most things, I just kept at it and saw what worked and what didn’t (as mentioned previously, photos of whales are very popular!) and adapted as needed. When I started working on new accounts I continued to produce content in the same way. These were small accounts and so having content to post is really what mattered most.
As my portfolio grew I was introduced to the idea of content calendars. Of course, I knew of their existence, but I hadn’t ever used one as there wasn’t a need. I was only posting a few times a week for most clients so a quick glance at the scheduled posts told me what was needed and when. But for my newer accounts I had other people posting and looking at what I was creating before it went out into the world.
When you are communicating with someone only electronically a content calendar is a great tool. You can all access it, sometimes at the same time depending on what cloud option you are using, making it easier to discuss the content and what issues there may be. I had some calendars that were super intense and detail oriented, and some that were just tables with cells where you could put what topic you were writing about that day. Depending on your needs, anywhere on that spectrum works as long as it’s clear and concise and makes sense to everyone using it (which was a problem I did have once).
Even though I am the solitary user for my latest accounts I have created calendars for them. Just for me so I can get an overview of the topics I have planned and the times I have scheduled posts in case I come across something I want to share right away. This has been extra helpful with the addition of my new clients because I have multiple accounts on different scheduling platforms (at last count I have 8 Hootsuite accounts that I manage as well as a Buffer and a Later account both with multiple platforms – and a TweetDeck I schedule posts on and the individual Facebook accounts I also use to schedule posts on sometimes! Phew!). Instead of logging into an account or trying to track down where I scheduled something I also put it in the calendar. This can be an extra step, but it actually is shorter in the long run. They are also great to jot down ideas for potential topics or themes, pencil in upcoming events or social media holidays, as well as keep track of stuff you have posted already in case something weird happens (which it will. Scheduling platforms are not 100% reliable).
I use Excel for my calendars-no need to shudder-they are just a spreadsheet with the few columns I need. Nothing fancy, no formulas or anything. Excel doesn’t scare me but then again, I am aware that I’ve only scratched the surface of its abilities in my experiences working in it (which is probably almost 20 years but let’s not think about that!). Its easier then using Word so that’s what I use. I colour code mine so I can get a quick glance to see if I need a post on a certain platform still that day, and even though I made up the calendar and the abbreviations and colour coding I still copy the “Legend” over every month. Guess that’s an old habit from working on shared tables left over from my previous life.
(why are there GIFs of Excel spreadsheets?? And I thought I had too much time on my hands)
This ended up being more about why I use calendars as opposed to how to set one up but in reality do what works best for you. If you want to follow a template, there are a million online but they all have the same gist. What are you posting, when are you posting it and where are you posting it. Fill in the blanks and add whatever other details you need. Make it fancy if you want but remember the time you spend fancifing your calendar is time you could spend writing content or engaging with followers so maybe don’t go too out of control. Focus on what you’re putting online, not the aesthetic of your work behind the scenes. Now go forth my children and colour code.