4 Inspiration Sources Marketing Pros Use to Build Great Content Calendars

The most important tool for building up your business is content. And the most important tool for building up your content is a plan. But not just any plan. A calendar.

Does the idea of creating a calendar for all the amazing content you're going to make completely overwhelm you? Are you staring at the screen saying, what the heck is a content calendar anyway?

That's ok. Creating a content calendar is easier than you think. And you already know all the stuff you need to know to do it. As you'll see in the four inspiration sources the pros use to build great content calendars for you. 

 Four inspiration sources for your content marketing. 

But first...what do I mean by content marketing?

What is content marketing?

For the purposes of a content marketing calendar, we’re talking about every type of content and every tactic you use to get that content out to your people. That means stuff like:

  • Blog
  • Video
  • Email {outbound, newsletter, etc.}
  • Social media {any and every channel you’re on}
  • Downloadable content {aka, gated content}
  • Advertising {any type of social media advertising, LinkedIn InMail, etc.}
  • Events {live events, webinars, tradeshows, etc.}

How can you possibly plan all your content marketing at once?

Short answer: Start out with a bird’s eye view of the whole year.

I get it. That whole list can seem like a lot to plan all at once. Eventually, you want to have a fully-formed three-month calendar. It should be detailed enough to guide you through what needs to be done when, which blog topics to focus on when, etc.

But we don't start there.

We start with the bird's eye view of the whole year.

It’s as simple as creating a list.

List every month. And start brainstorming what happens in each month that would be important to your business or your people. Think:

  • Seasonal events
  • Holidays
  • Industry events
  • Historical dates to observe
  • Anything else you can think of!

Want some inspiration? I've got you covered!

Content Calendar Source Inspiration Source #1: Your People + Your Industry

First, think through the seasonality of your business and your people. For example:

  • If you’re a test prep coach, are there certain times of year that people tend to be most stressed about preparing for those SATs and ACTs? When do students tend to plan their tests, take their tests, apply for colleges, get college response letters, etc.?
     
  • If you’re in the child care business, what’s the lifecycle of the typical American family? Think - back to school, planning for summer camps, summer vacation, spring vacation, winter break, holidays, etc.
     
  • If you’re in mortgages or real estate, there are definitely hot times of year for buying and selling houses, right?

Ok. once  you’ve exhausted all of your knowledge about what your people are thinking about, worrying about, or planning for, at various times of the year, it’s time to look for outside inspiration. Take a look at religious or government holidays; and special dates, weeks, and months, that might be relevant to you or that you might be able to find overlapping with your own content themes.

Trackmaven's downloadable calendar of national days, religious holidays, plus monthly and weekly observances, is pretty great. Not only can you download it as a Google calendar, but you can click around to browse it by month. One drawback - it only includes June - December. So, for ideas for January - May, you’ll just have to keep on reading.

Content Calendar Source Inspiration Source #2: Holidays

Of course there are the well-known Federal Holidays and other U.S. holidays:

  • 3rd Monday in January: Martin Luther King Jr.

  • 2nd Sunday in May: Mother's Day

  • last Monday in May: Memorial Day

  • 3rd Sunday in June: Father's Day

  • 2nd Monday in October: Columbus Day

  • November 11: Veterans Day

  • 4th Thursday in November: Thanksgiving Day

  • Friday after Thanksgiving: Native American Heritage Day {yes, and Black Friday, too}

Content Calendar Source Inspiration Source #3: Month-Long Observances

There are plenty of month-long observances to consider, thanks to WikipediaDiversity Central, and Trackmaven. Here are just a few examples:

  • January is International Creativity Month
     
  • February is African American History Month
     
  • March is National National Women’s History Month, Irish-American Heritage Month, and Youth Art Month, and National Reading Month
     
  • April is Volunteer Month, Jazz Appreciation Month, and Stress Awareness Month
     
  • May is Asian Pacific American Heritage, Older Americans Month and Jewish American Heritage Month
     
  • June is Gay Lesbian Pride Month and Healthy Homes Month
     
  • August is {apparently} Sales Enablement Month {really? Yes, apparently National Sales Enablement Month is a thing that exists outside of Wikipedia...or this was created by the authors of the Sales Enablement Playbook to boost sales. Wikipedia weirdness, PR conspiracy, or actual thing? You decide. }
     
  • September is National Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15)
     
  • October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and National Italian American Heritage Month
     
  • November is National American Indian Heritage Month

Want even more months? Who doesn’t want more month-long celebrations?

This Wikipedia list of observances in the U.S. and list of observances in the United States by presidential proclamation each list special months recognizing so many things. Practically all the things. Here’s a few: Mentoring, Financial Literacy Mental Health, Physical Fitness and Sports, even Ice Cream. Basically, we have like five things to celebrate every month. There’s got to be some inspiration for you there.

{PS: ThoughtCo has some interesting background on where a few of these months got started, if you’re thinking about writing about any of them.}

Content Calendar Source Inspiration Source #4: Weeklong Observations and Even More Special Days

Surprise! Back to those ever-growingWikipedia lists of observances in the U.S. and observances in the U.S. by presidential proclamation. Plus that Trackmaven downloadable calendar. They’re too numerous to list here, but they include:

  • International Coffee Day {it's in October}
  • World Kindness Week {in November}
  • Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day {Dec. 8}

Seriously. There is something for everyone. Special days for Religious Freedom, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Cesar Chavez, Armed Forces, Women’s Equality, Good Neighbors, and more. Special weeks of observance for Volunteers, National Parks, Public Service, Minority Enterprise Development, and beyond.

Still feeling overwhelmed about your content marketing planning?

OK. Look. Sometimes you just have to start. And remember this: having a plan frees you to think about other things, and still allows you to change the plan whenever you need to.

Or...if you just don't want to deal with any of this madness, that's ok. Give me a call. I love building three-month content marketing plans for people.