We all have a love-hate relationship with the content calendar. Love the organization. Hate the upkeep.
The hardest part of all is getting one started. If you are building a new content calendar, particularly for advocacy, there are many traps ahead. But you can avoid them with some forethought.
The best way to pull together a content plan without problems is to follow a logical progression. You can learn more on how to do that by reading the free Advocacy Edge report, How to Build a Content Calendar for Advocacy.
Meanwhile, here’s a list of eight big mistakes you can and should avoid when launching your content calendar.
- Avoid the Grandiose. Many calendar efforts collapse under their own weight. People try to do too much, can’t keep up and then abandon the effort. Sound familiar? Start with a simple calendar and simple systems to update it. You can always grow in sophistication and complexity. When product professionals launch new stuff, they consider the MVP: Minimum Viable Product. You should launch and MVC: Minimum Viable Calendar.
- Avoid Big Proclamations. Soft-launch your calendar. No big announcements. No trumpets. Get it running and work out the problems. Keep the circle who use it tight as you can. Then, when it has been operating for a few weeks (or months), you can roll it out with whatever fanfare is necessary. You’ll know it works, and you’ll have more confidence.
- Avoid the One-Day Calendar. You cannot create a realistic content calendar in one day. You can make a start, but a real content plan evolves over time. Give yourself that time and be deliberate. You can learn how to do this by reading How to Build a Content Calendar for Advocacy. It takes a measured approach.
- Avoid Being Needy. You don’t need special AI-powered, encrypted, nano-spectral ultra-ware to get the job done. You can do it with a Google Sheet or a whiteboard. Special apps are great. But they are not required. Create your calendar with what you have, then agitate for better tools. Don’t wait to get the budget for tools first. That’s a train that may not come.
- Avoid Bullshit Ideas. If you have no hope of producing it, then it does not belong on your calendar. Keep wildly aspirational stuff on a separate list. The calendar is for things you intend to create. It can contain creative and mildly aspirational assignments. But it is not a place to list content dreams.
- Avoid Crazy Timing. Do not slate a 10-part video series to be completed in three days. The calendar is useless if the plan it portrays is not realistic. Consider this as well: a calendar item can be seen as a commitment. If the boss wants your 10-parter and gets excited, you may go 72 hours without sleep.
- Avoid Starting Tomorrow. Make the first entry in your calendar a month down the road. Do not start it with tomorrow’s content, or you’ll be adjusting like crazy as your plan comes together.
- Avoid Office Goofery. We shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously—except in the calendar. This is your organization’s content plan. Make it a serious document. No goofy slugs. No screwy descriptions. A good rule: you should feel comfortable showing this to the CEO.
Of course, there are many other things that can befall a content manager who is trying to leash a wild-ass content machine that has been living feral. Stay flexible. Try new things. Embrace ideas that work and dump those that don’t.
For a really good discussion of how to do this, read the free Advocacy Edge report, How to Build a Content Calendar for Advocacy. It’s a comprehensive guide that walks you through the entire process. We’ve said it three times now. So, go! Read!