As the Website Manager, Content Specialist or Editor in Chief of your website, you should be using a content or editorial calendar (at least one, perhaps multiple) to manage your content production.

Perhaps you are not using a calendar yet or you are evaluating whether your calendar is working for you and your team. In that case, I want to provide a list of some calendar tools that might help you get started. A sample content calendar can be found in my presentation on Effective Blogging in case you are unfamiliar with a content calendar.

Content Calendar Tools

There are many different ways to track the production of your content and I can’t cover them all in one post. I will however, be providing an overview of how you can use the following programs for managing content, as well as some of their pros and cons:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Google Docs
  • DivvyHQ
  • Hootsuite

Considerations for Evaluation

Let me first say that no one tool is the best for planning out your content creation. Each has some really great features but also some limitations. Things that you will need to consider in choosing a particular solution include:

  • Preference for online versus offline
  • Ability for a team to collaborate on the calendar in real time
  • Number of members on your content or web team
  • Level of complexity and customization you require in your calendar and process
  • Budget available for software

Microsoft Excel

I figured I would start with Excel because I use it most often to plan content schedules. The flexibility and customization available in Excel make it an easy choice. Most people already have Excel installed and are familiar with using it, so getting started with a calendar is fairly easy. In the example image you can see how we use Excel to track our blog posts.

There is really no limit to the fields of information you may want to track, it will just depend on your business needs and creativity. You can also create tabs for your different types of content like press releases, social media content and blog posts. One word of caution is to make sure you do not overcomplicate your calendar or it will not be used.

Example of the first 7 columns in our content calendar
        Example of the first 7 columns in our content calendar


Excel Calendar Pros:

  • Extremely customizable - add as many columns and rows as you need
  • Multiple tabs for various content types
  • Sortable columns
  • Fairly common and familiar software used in many organizations

Excel Calendar Cons:

  • Not easy to setup collaboration among multiple users
  • No tasks or reminders unless used in conjunction with Outlook Calendar

DivvyHQ

There is a good chance this is the first time you are learning about DivvyHQ. I first learned about this online tool in a discussion on LinkedIn. For a team that has a lot of content to create, I recommend taking a look at this option. DivvyHQ allows you and your authors to focus on creating content while the tool automates the reminder and review process for you. All that you need to do is setup your team members and assign them the tasks and due dates, email alerts are sent out by DivvyHQ. This software is recently out of beta but has made lots of great progress.

DivvyHQ Dashboard
                                                              DivvyHQ Dashboard

DivvyHQ Pros:

  • Very clean user friendly web interface
  • Excellent team collaboration functionality
  • Ability to have multiple users working with multiple calendars
  • Access from any location that has an internet connection

DivvyHQ Cons:

  • Monthly fees ($29.99 to $149.99 per month) for organizations with more than 1 user and 1 calendar – take it for a test run for free
  • Requires internet access to make updates

Google Docs

As a big fan of online collaboration, I do really enjoy working with Google Docs spreadsheets. If your team is very familiar with Google Docs and also Google Calendar you can easily setup automated tasks, reminders and links to your spreadsheets. While the spreadsheets are similar to Excel they are not quite as flexible, but they are sufficient.

Google Docs Pros:

  • Web based tool available anywhere you have an internet connection
  • Fairly customizable just like Excel
  • Multiple tabs for various content types
  • Connects to a Google account, Google Calendar, and Google Documents (like your content for example)

Google Docs Cons:

  • Not as much customization and formulas as Excel
  • Not as widely adopted among organizations, particularly those extremely concerned with security, like government agencies

Hootsuite

Another online tool, focused primarily on managing your social media content, is Hootsuite. I am including it in my list because it is capable of scheduling your Wordpress content as well, if you use that platform for your site. There is a free version of Hootsuite if you have a small team and don’t require a lot of reporting. The paid version allows you to assign content and provides much more detailed reporting, among other additional features.

Hootsuite Pros:

  • Web based tool available anywhere you have an internet connection
  • Scheduling your content publishing is very easy to do
  • Easy to add new team members
  • Reporting on the success of your content is part of the tool

Hootsuite Cons:

  • Primarily used for social media content
  • Monthly fees ($5.99 per month) if you want to access all of the tools available and have multiple team members managing the content schedule 

Want to learn more about Content Calendars?

In late February I will be hosting a Webinar, “5 Steps to Managing a Successful Content Calendar”. Follow me to find out the exact date and registration information.

Images: dream designs