“Content is king, but distribution is queen.” —Jonathan Perelman

Perelman’s famous Buzzfeed pronouncement is truer than ever in 2021.  With the proliferation of quality content competing for consumers’ attention across every platform and channel, the need for marketers to have a strategic, regular flow of content only continues to increase.  

It’s no secret that consistent, relevant content is crucial to build visibility, authority, engagement, and results for your brand. Regular content distribution is consistently ranked among the most important characteristics of successful content marketing.

But feeding the proverbial content beast is still a big challenge.

Sixty percent of marketers surveyed in a recent Hubspot survey said they had difficulty producing content consistently.  

According to Review 42, one in five marketers said they knew the best way to run a content campaign.  Only 46 percent had a documented strategy for content management.

The solution is a content calendar–a centralized planning tool for scheduling and publishing your content.  But while savvy marketers recognize the need, it can be confusing to navigate the options and the process.

According to the Semrush 2020 State of Content Marketing Report, “How to create a content marketing calendar” was among the top 20 content marketing questions asked on Google in 2020.

What’s a content calendar?

“Simply put, the content calendar is the implementation plan for your content strategy,” says Ann Gynn, Editorial Consultant for the Content Marketing Institute.  It’s an interactive tool for planning, organizing, and scheduling content. It’s a single, central repository for detailed, day-to-day content management, providing visibility, access, and accountability across contributors and teams.

An effective content calendar specifies content type, title, location or destination, writer, due date, status, and other critical information.

Depending on the size of your organization and the complexity of your needs, it may also help coordinate with other media and supporting campaigns and/or track results.

Why do you need one?

Content strategy and content management are not the same thing.  A brilliant content strategy alone is not enough without a system for seamless execution and distribution. An effective calendar is the planning tool that ensures consistency, and it’s crucial to your success.

Key benefits include:

  • A regular flow of strategically planned content  
  • A single streamlined system for tracking content creation and distribution
  • Consistency across channels and effective coordination with other media, supporting campaigns, and promotions
  • Improved search rankings
  • Ability to track performance and results

But content calendars aren’t one size fits all.  You’ll get the best results with a calendar customized to your specific needs, and there are many available options.

How do you create a content calendar?

With some thoughtful strategizing and planning, the calendar development process doesn’t have to be daunting. Let’s look at it step by step.

Determine your content strategy

First, define your strategy.  What are your content priorities? Traffic, lead generation, conversion? Branding or thought leadership? Improved SEO? Every piece of content you publish should have a specific purpose. Clarifying your objectives will help determine how simple or complex your calendar needs to be.

Decide on your time frame. Are you planning monthly, quarterly, or annually?  Gynn recommends quarterly, at a minimum.  She suggests planning annually by mapping out the first six months in detail on your calendar while keeping a general list of themes or topics you can flesh out as the second half of the year approaches.

Research industry and audience trends to determine content themes and topics. You can analyze top-performing content in your niche using tools like BuzzSumo or Social Animal to identify popular topics and formats as well as effective headlines.

Brainstorm with your sales, marketing, and customer service teams to develop content ideas. What issues matter most to your prospects and customers?  Identify the stages of your customer journey so you can map content effectively to meet leads, prospects, and customers at each step of the buying cycle.

Do keyword research to optimize search rankings. Search engines reward brands that publish consistent content. A regular flow of keyword-optimized content boosts visibility, page rankings, lead generation, and conversion. Keywords can also help you generate content themes.

What should your calendar include?

Now that you’ve laid out your content objectives, you can decide what information to track with your calendar. The basics include:

  • Content theme or topic
  • Title
  • Content type (blog post, video, social post, email, podcast, PDF, infographic, quiz, contest, email newsletter, whitepaper, case study, etc.)
  • Website location or destination (social channels, YouTube, etc.)
  • Frequency
  • Author
  • Due date
  • Publish date
  • Status
  • Assets needed (graphics or images)
  • Relevant links or resources

You may also want to specify supporting media, campaigns, and promotions; seasonal, promotional, evergreen, or repurposed content; and whether a Call To Action is included.  Consider including a space for future content ideas.

Choose your calendar format

Once you’ve decided what information to track, you can decide on a calendar format.  The options range from simple spreadsheets to fully interactive content management platforms.


Spreadsheets like Google Sheets or Excel are popular free options for individuals and small teams because they’re simple, customizable, and interactive. They can also work in conjunction with calendar apps and content management tools, allowing you to coordinate information in multiple locations.

Calendar Apps

A traditional calendar or calendar app like Google Calendar is another convenient option. As a straightforward method of tracking what’s going out when, it can also be shared across teams and coordinated with Google Docs and Google Sheets. This format is well-suited to smaller teams and enterprises.


Templates like the one below from the Content Marketing Institute are essentially basic formats you can customize with your own categories, so you don’t have to start from scratch. 

This Hubspot article also offers a good overview of available free templates.

Source: Content Marketing Institute

Project Management Tools

Project management solutions like AirTable and Trello are more visually-oriented collaboration tools for tracking multiple simultaneous projects. Trello’s Kanban-based system uses moveable cards.

Content Management Platforms

Platforms like CoSchedule are more robust solutions that track every detail of planning, creation, and distribution. They’re generally appropriate for larger teams and more complex content management. 

Importantly, the more sophisticated platforms can also track content performance and measure results.  Analytics and metrics are increasingly important in content marketing. “There’s a growing expectation from business leadership that content must prove its value,” says Gynn. “You need to have some metrics, whether it’s website visitors, conversions, SEO, whatever it is.”

Regardless of which tool you choose, it should be interactive. Your calendar is a single source of truth designed to streamline communication and give everyone involved visibility and accountability. “Too often people think of it as a static document and don’t use it to their advantage,” says Gynn.

And keep it simple.  “Pick a tool that’s as robust as you need it to be, but also as simple as you can make it,” says Gynn.  If your only content is blog posts, your calendar may only need to include the title, writer, due date, and publish date.  As your content evolves and becomes more complex, you can add categories and functionality.  “if you’re a team of two and you think you might expand to a team of four, be thinking about room for growth going forward,” she says.

Your Content Calendar: Turning Strategy into Successful Execution

The best advice for creating your content calendar may well be the famous Nike slogan: Just do it. 

Gynn says the biggest challenge for marketers is often simply creating the calendar–and then actually using it.  Many marketers, initially enthused about the prospect of having fully planned and scheduled content, get busy with day-to-day demands and don’t always follow through. 

It doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With some upfront planning and the many available options, planning and executing a consistent publishing schedule is achievable—and well worth the effort.

With a clearly defined strategy, research, and an understanding of your needs, you know what content to publish, when, and why. You know what information to track with your calendar and which planning tool best suits your needs.

Now you can plan and execute your content strategy with every detail accounted for—and reap the rewards of content that delivers results.

The Hero’s Journey: Storytelling in B2B

Humans are storytellers from way back in the caveman days. We crave stories, stories drive us, and we immerse ourselves in stories. 

Children’s book authors like Maurice Sendak and Roald Dahl created worlds that we embraced in our youth and never forgot. Writers like Stephen King and Toni Morrison built stories that shook us to our core. Even the greatest speeches like Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” and Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” use powerful storytelling to motivate and even change us. 

A truly remarkable story draws the reader in and makes them feel like they are not just riding along with the hero; they are that hero. 

Believe it or not, you can use this same thinking in your content marketing.

But my marketing is Business to Business (B2B), you say? Great! Using great storytelling and the Hero’s Journey in your B2B content marketing can set you apart and make your brand an essential part of your business customer’s Hero’s Journey. 

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite from Pexels

What is the Hero’s Journey?

The Hero’s Journey is a storytelling model that you can find in tales from all over the world and any time period. A mythology expert named Joseph Campbell laid it out in his book “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” in 1949. He broke down the Hero’s Journey into three distinct acts:

  1. The Separation or Departure
  2. Trials and Victories of Initiation
  3. The Return and Reintegration into Society

Let’s simplify this by looking at a familiar story that leaned heavily on Campbell’s Hero’s Journey: “Star Wars.”

At first, Luke refuses to go off to save Leia because he has obligations at home. But Imperial Stormtroopers take away his home and relations, freeing him up to go, though at great cost. Then, he undergoes a remarkable series of trials as he learns to harness the force, face his father, and defeat the Empire. By the end, he has made a new home for himself and established himself as a Jedi and a hero. 

Another aspect of the Hero’s Journey storytelling paradigm is the use of archetypal characters. In other words, you’ll see very similar roles appearing in these stories. There are really eight, but these four form the backbone of the Hero’s Journey:

  • Hero
  • Mentor/Guide
  • Ally
  • The Shadow

Here are a few fun examples of these archetypes.

How Can the Hero’s Journey Work in Content Marketing?

In B2B marketing, you are trying to solve another business’s problem. Whatever you make or do, the only reason for another business to pay for what you offer is to solve that problem. Think about the Hero’s Journey. The hero has a problem and must go to great lengths to fix it. 

Make your customers the hero of their own stories.

As you craft your marketing, from blogging to web copy and advertising, keep this idea in mind and structure your message around it.

Hero: Your customer. Yes, B2B still has customers; they’re just other businesses. Your customer has a problem or will soon have a problem that your product or service can fix. Remember, they may not even know they have a problem. Did Frodo know anything about the Rings of Power or Sauron before Gandalf clued him in? Nope. Speaking of Gandalf…

Mentor/Guide: Your brand! You understand the stakes and have answers. That doesn’t mean the customer won’t have to do some work or make some sacrifice, but you can help guide them to the right answers. Your marketing needs to convey this message!

Allies: Your products and services. They can, and will, help your customer reach the end of the journey with a remarkable victory.

Shadow: Don’t forget the conflict! This is the customer’s pain point. What is the problem they face, and what will happen if they do not address it?  Heroes need to overcome struggles to reach their goals. What are your clients’ struggles? How can your brand guide them through that to a big win?

Be Creative, But Not Too Creative

You want your marketing to create a story, but it needs to ring true and represent your clients in real life.

Think about your customer and the things they are going through on their journey. Break it down as much as you can so you can tell each piece of the story individually. Your marketing should educate and, when possible, entertain. 

Another reason to keep your creativity in check is to retain integrity. You also don’t want to make outlandish promises that you can’t back up. Think creative non-fiction rather than fiction.

Remember the Differences Between B2C and B2B

The target audience for B2B marketing may be smaller and more niche, depending on the industry, than for a typical B2C (Business-to-Consumer) campaign. That’s okay. In fact, that’s great. It makes it even easier to zero in on your hero and tell that story that will strike home. 

B2C tends to be based on emotionally driven decisions, while B2B strives for rational decisions. Improving the bottom line is always a factor. However, emotion is still essential. After all, your B2B client’s decision-maker is still a person. That emotion just needs to be backed up with a solid rationale. 

You also want to keep in mind your own brand’s goals. B2C is more about brand awareness. B2B is lead-acquisition-driven. You want new clients or to convince your current clients to spend more. The Hero’s Journey can be a great way to introduce a new product or service. It’s the tool that your brand, as the mentor, can provide to help the hero defeat the shadow.

Photo by gryffyn m from Pexels

It’s all About Goals

Remember, in any good Hero’s Journey, the hero and the mentor have the same goal. If the hero is successful in the quest, the mentor is also successful. And, while the relationship is symbiotic, neither can reach the goal without the other. It is the mentor’s responsibility to convince the hero to trust them and accept the offered help. 

By thinking about the Hero’s Journey in your content marketing, you can help your clients envision the successful conquering of their pain points and convince them that you have what it takes to help them reach that goal. As an added bonus, it will make your content more interesting and enjoyable.

How to Position Yourself as an Industry Expert Through Content Marketing

We are all good at something.

Some of us are naturally good cooks, excellent writers, or born leaders. As we progress in our careers, we develop proficiency in subjects germane to our jobs.

Sometimes, that proficiency and specialization becomes the core competency of our career. That proficiency and specialization can move markets, get interviews, get you quoted, sought out, and recognized. That “something” we’re good at becomes “expertise.”

As comedian Chris Rock was recently quoted in a CBS Sunday Morning interview, “You can be anything you’re good at, as long as they’re hiring!” And as long as they’re hiring, or looking, your skills can help you get recognized.

Once we have achieved marketable expertise, though, how can we position ourselves to benefit from this recognition? The same way that businesses generate leads, turn leads to customers, and expand customer sales – through Content Marketing!

Let’s take a look at content marketing and learn how we can use content marketing concepts to position ourselves as an industry expert.

What is Content Marketing?

According to HubSpot’s The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing in 2020, “Content marketing is the process of planning, creating, distributing, sharing, and publishing content to reach your target audience. It can boost factors like brand awareness, sales, reach, interactions, and loyalty.”

Linda Welch, Director of SEO & Content Marketing at Unisys Corporation, a global information technology company that delivers successful outcomes for the most demanding businesses and governments, says that definition is missing one important concept.

Content marketing, according to Linda, includes “how to reach your target audience and then get them to look at your content, appreciate it, share it, recognize your expertise and come back and engage with you for more.”

When applying content marketing concepts to the promotion of industry expertise, we are exploring the use of content marketing in a non-traditional way.

Rather than traditional Business-to-Business (B2B) or Business-to-Consumer (B2C) applications, we are using content marketing for personal promotion. In this case, an “Individual-to-Business” or “I2B” model, allowing an individual to promote their expertise using content marketing concepts.

How then are we to be recognized as an industry expert?

Chris Hornyak, Senior SEO Analyst at The Content Factory, a digital PR agency specializing in SEO, content writing, social media marketing, and making their clients (more) famous, puts it this way:In the same way that content marketing “fundamentally uses creative assets to reach people,” building industry expertise recognition involves content that “the audience wants to see and the audience interacts with.

Putting your expertise out there, using content marketing, is key to recognition. Chris Hornyak says that “the focus should be on building the individual’s name brand and name recognition.”

For Linda Welch, recognition as an expert is an extension of her work responsibilities. “I look to be recognized as an expert within Unisys where executives and co-workers know your talents, reach out for you for support/ideas, and ultimately get recognized for your expertise/efforts through verbal recognition or awards. Early in my career, my external opportunities to be recognized came from my interactions with clients, for solutions I helped develop, which turned into opportunities to speak at our user group conferences.

Strategies to Position Yourself as an Industry Expert via Content Marketing

Bringing the two together – content marketing and industry expertise – one supports and strengthens the other. There are a number of content marketing strategies that individuals can employ to become known as an industry expert.

Linda Welch at Unisys says, “I think being able to create a wide variety of types of content (article, blog, infographic, webpage, etc.) shows that you have a diverse set of capabilities. This includes not only the topical area, but the types of content. The more partnerships and connections you can build internally or externally will help increase your credibility and references.”

Here are a few content marketing approaches that you will recognize, but with an I2B slant.

Blogs and Posts

Writing and publishing a blog or a post can be a very effective step in establishing your brand.

Publishing your own content helps you to establish relevancy, build a following, and provide a continuum of subject matter.

Blogs and posts help people find you and follow you. Choose content that reinforces your brand and your skills, and motivates your followers to come back for more.

Chris Hornyak suggests three important concepts to employ around blogs and posts: “(1) Speak in a definitive voice that can be direct, playful, informative; (2) provide value and build trust; and (3) provide a way for the conversation to continue.”

Thought pieces and whitepapers can also provide additional information about you and your skillsets in a longer, more robust format.

Social Media and Personal Websites

Having a personal website allows the messaging to be all about you. The issue, of course, is getting viewers’ eyeballs on your content.

Using social media sites such as LinkedIn, for example, allows you to control the narrative and provide personal information, including your web address as well as posts and blogs that you write and publish. Think of LinkedIn as your personal online resume. You can put your LinkedIn profile address in your contact information, so it is easily found.

In addition, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and others can reinforce your messaging. It is important that each of these venues consistently present you and your industry expertise. Make sure that postings, photos, and images on social media sites portray you in the most positive light.

Videos and Podcasts

Both can be effective in broadcasting your expertise and capabilities, but both require an investment of time and money. As Chris Hornyak puts it, “the juice has to be worth the squeeze!”

One potential use of video is a short vignette, highlighting you and your expertise. These are often seen on LinkedIn as you scroll through the home feed. They are short, 1-2 minutes max, and very focused on capturing the viewers’ attention. Often encapsulated with a short message, the viewer can click for more information.

Linda Welch points out that, “we have successfully utilized different length videos for each target audience,” allowing an ideal focus of time/money against intended content marketing results. The same is true for podcasts. They can reinforce your personal message and capabilities, but require scripting, producing, and deploying to be effective.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

To be recognized as an industry expert requires content marketing that allows your target audience to find you, follow you, and want to follow up for more. SEO is the “secret sauce” that allows this to happen.

Chris Hornyak says that “good SEO is good content and good content is good SEO.” These two concepts interlock.

When we post, write, video, or record, our audience is not only the people we want to reach, but also the search engines those people will use to find us. The goal, according to Linda Welch, is to utilize SEO concepts so that your target audience can “find you, follow you, and stay relevant.”

Yes, we are all good at something.

When that “something” we are good at becomes expertise, we can use content marketing concepts to be recognized, followed, and sourced. It’s not difficult, but using the techniques described in this article can move us to the top of the search page. And recognition as an expert will surely follow.

Copywriter Q&A: Repurposing Marketing Content with Merrisa Milliner

The Writers For Hire (TWFH) team member Merrisa Milliner has a background that makes her uniquely suited for content creation: She got her start as a magazine editor, where she honed her skills developing content and maintaining an editorial calendar. From there, the self-described “big-picture thinker” moved into a series of corporate communications and marketing positions, where she combined her editorial acumen with her gift for planning and strategic thinking.

Merrisa sat down with us recently to discuss fine art of repurposing content. The quick-and-dirty takeaway: If you follow a few best practices and choose the right pieces, repurposing content is a great way to get the most bang for your marketing and copywriting buck.

TWFH: First off, let’s define “repurposing.” What is repurposing, exactly? How is it different than simply duplicating work you’ve already done? 

MM: A lot of times, the format is going to dictate that. For example, if you have three existing blog posts, add an intro, and put them together into an eBook, that’s repurposing. Or, vice-versa: If you have, say, an eBook and you take a couple of individual chapters and edit them slightly for your blog, that’s repurposing. You’ve packaged the content differently. I don’t consider that duplication.

TWFH: What is the benefit of repurposing content, from an internal perspective?

MM: You save time and money; you get more bang for your buck, marketing-wise. You can use the content you’ve created to serve different purposes and to help you further your marketing strategy. You can repurpose content to meet certain goals. For example, if you have an eBook that’s a free, downloadable pdf it’s serving as a lead magnet. But if you’re pulling it apart and using it for blog content, it’s more about informing customers, staying in touch, and helping your SEO.

TWFH: What are some types of content that can be repurposed?

MM: One thing that immediately comes to mind is a company history book. That’s a great example of something that can be repurposed. You’ve spent time and money on a massive company history book, and you’re searching for blog or newsletter idea — why not pull something out of the book and use it?

Or let’s say you have a blog post with four images or infographics. Can you pull out those images and use them to create four new social posts that direct traffic to your blog? You could also take information from your existing content and use it to create an infographic. Infographics are highly shareable. People don’t read as much anymore, but infographics and images are very popular because they’re easy to scan and they grab the eye.

TWFH: How do you decide if something is worth repurposing?

MM: Most companies have some standard keywords or hashtags they’re using for SEO. That’s definitely a relevant thing to look at. It’s worth repurposing a piece of content that can help in any of those channels. And, obviously, anything that you think would be interesting to target audience.  

TWFH: Is there any type of content you would NOT repurpose?

MM: I think that depends on a few factors. Is the information still relevant and useful? Is your audience is going to be interested? Before you say, “Hey, I think our blog post could make an eBook,” ask yourself, “Will my audience read X number of pages about this topic?” If the answer is “no,” don’t do it. 

TWFH: Is there a “waiting period” for repurposing content?  

MM: No. The reason for that is, very often, you can use repurposed content to cross-promote. Let’s say I just launched my new eBook. Now I’m going break it apart and pull out some pieces for a series of blogs — and in each one, I’m going to promote my new eBook. In that case, I wouldn’t actually want to wait. I’d want to do that pretty close to launch. Really, you want to be thinking about how your pieces of content all play into each other and how you can use them and re-use them to get the most bang for buck.

TWFH: So, do you always create new content with an eye toward repurposing it?

MM: Yes. That’s partly because that’s just how my mind works. I’m “big-picture.” But I think it would make sense for anyone to do that.

TWFH: Do you use any strategies to make sure that a piece is easy to repurpose?

MM: I think some of it can come down to the format and style you use. For example, if you want to create an eBook that will be easy to break into blog posts, format it accordingly. Use lots of subheads and bullet points. Keep chapters and sections brief. It’ll be harder to do that if you’ve got something that’s very dense and text-heavy.

TWFH: It seems like this is where planning might be helpful. Do you find that you draw on your experiences creating editorial calendars?

MM: Yes. It’s easy to overlook all the different ways you can use content. But if you purposely set out with that in mind, that’ you’re going to see opportunities for repurposing right away. If you don’t plan, you’ll often end up with a bunch of blogs on random topics. For example, if you have a blog, you can create a 12-month editorial calendar and organize it with the goal of creating a series of e-books. You can plan to do three or four blogs per month on a specific topic, and then at the end of the year you can combine them and re-purpose them into an e-book. You could also do this on a quarterly basis. What’s really important is that you have content that fits together.

TWFH: What about industries or companies that rely on very timely blog content that’s hard to plan? Or departments that don’t do editorial calendars?

MM: If planning is not your forte or if it’s simply not the way you do things, I’d suggest taking a look at your existing content once a quarter or so. Some of your content might seem a little random and unrelated, but then you might notice themes that show up naturally. For example, you might notice that you’ve got three articles about manufacturing. Can you combine them and repurpose them into a single eBook? 

TWFH: Is there a limit to how many times you’d repurpose something? 

MM: I think it depends. For social media, you can repurpose content several times and just take a different angle each time. For blogs or e-books, on the other hand, I would recommend repurposing the content just once. There aren’t many to change it up so you’re not just saying the same old thing or duplicating your content. 

TWFH: So, how do you avoid saying the same thing? How do you keep repurposed content fresh?

MM: This is another reason an editorial calendar or quarterly review is helpful. This gives you an opportunity to get purposeful and go back through your content. Have there been any new developments? Is there anything you can add to refresh or make this content more relevant? 

TWFH: What about unsuccessful content? For example, a blog post that never really attracts readers — how do you know if it’s worth trying to repurpose? How do you know if it’s NOT worth trying?

MM: I think most people have a good feel for whether content should succeed. Ask yourself this question: Were you surprised that the content didn’t succeed? If your post was unsuccessful but your gut is still telling you it’s good, interesting information, you should look at different ways to present that information. But if you look at it and say, “That’s not very interesting, and I can understand why it didn’t succeed,” it’s probably not worth it.

TWFH: We’ve talked about the “standard” sources of content for repurposing – blogs, eBooks, social, etc. But are there any surprising, under-the-radar places to find reusable content?

MM: When I was working at in marketing at an engineering firm, we entered a lot of industry competitions. Typically, you’d have to fill out these huge entry forms, and they ask for detailed descriptions of past projects and areas of expertise. There are some really good stories in there, and they’re not typically published anywhere else. Another surprising source is proposals. They can be kind of dry and technical, but sometimes they have good information and good stories. Because again, a lot of times when you’re writing a proposal you’re thinking about successes you’ve had, or you’re presenting case studies.