How to Build a Simple and Effective Content Calendar in Google Sheets
With many content calendar software available, it can be challenging to pick one. Some are overcomplicated, some are outside your budget, and others give you a suite of tools you’ll never use. It may even be that you’re still trying to pick your favorite and need a solution in the meantime—one without a paywall or trial period.
Whatever the situation, you can create one that offers what you need—and nothing more—using spreadsheet software. Keep reading to learn how to make and use a content calendar in Google Sheets.
Determine Which Columns to Use in Your Content Calendar Sheet
The purpose of your content calendar is to map out your posts, keeping all your work in one place. Doing this helps you find everything again later. Plus, it’s an excellent place to collaborate with your coworkers.
To get started, list out your columns. This will help you outline your posts later—much like prompts to remind you what you need and get you thinking.
For these, think of the common pieces you need to build each piece of content, for example, text, images, and the date you want to post it. Additionally, you’ll need a way to identify the post, such as a title or description, make notes, and show its status.
Some other ideas for columns are:
- An account column to indicate where you want the post to go—Instagram, blog, website, etc.
- Including multiple copy columns for different accounts—for example, Instagram copy, Facebook copy, etc.
- A link column for your long-form content drafts—it’s better to draft these in Google Docs or another word processor, summarizing them in your Sheet.
- A people column to show who is working on the post.
- A priority column to communicate urgency.
Once you know which columns you’d like to use, write them along the top of your Sheet. No worries if you keep it simple at first, you can expand later if necessary. It’s often the case you’ll think of new ideas as you work.
To freeze the top row, select it and go to View, Freeze, and choose 1 row. That way, the column headers stay with you as you scroll.
Add a Functional Status Button to Your Content Calendar Sheet
You can create a dropdown menu in Sheets using Data validation. It helps to keep communication consistent, especially when working with others. This comes in handy when you want to show the status of a post. You could also use it for a people or priority column.
To do this:
- Select a cell in your Status column.
- Click Data in the top menu.
- Choose Data validation from the list.
- For Criteria, use List of items.
- In the field to the right, enter the words you’d like to include—separate them with a comma.
- Hit Save.
Your list will appear in the cell once after saving. If you want to color code your statuses, keep it selected and add Conditional formatting.
To do this:
- Click Format in the top menu.
- Choose Conditional formatting from the list.
- In the sidebar, under Format rules, click the dropdown below Format cells if…
- Select Text contains.
- Type the status in the field that appears underneath.
- Change the background color or text color under Formatting style.
- Hit Done.
- Repeat these steps with the other statuses.
Once it’s ready, copy the cell and select the column using its letter at the top. Before pasting, deselect the title cell by clicking it while holding CMD or CTRL.
Later, you can use the sort function in Sheets to help you view all complete statuses and hide them. Alternatively, you can copy and paste them into an archive tab.
Include Ideas and Tracking Tabs in Your Content Calendar Sheet
If you want to map out ideas in your Sheet while keeping it tidy, use the tabs at the bottom of your screen to create a separate place for your drafts. Here, you don’t need many columns, but you’ll want to include a column to name or describe your post, write out your idea, and include thoughts on the visuals.
You can also create a new tab for tracking your results. Here, the column headers will be the name or description of the post, the date, and whichever key performance indicators you use to measure success—clicks, interactions, views, conversions, etc.
Keeping a record of how your posts will help you identify patterns and see which content types perform best on what platform.
Tips for Working Within Your Content Calendar Sheet
Here are some tips to help you plan your content:
- Block off some time in your schedule and work in bulk. That way, your posts are ready ahead of time instead of writing them and searching for images on the fly.
- Put ideas in right away, even if you don’t use them all—they could come in handy later.
- Tracking will help you know which posts perform best on what platforms and also identify what doesn’t work, saving you time later.
- Keep it minimal. It’s easy to want to build a massive Sheet with a column for everything, but try and think of it as a quick overview. What information do you need to see about your posts at a glance?
And some tips to help you format your Sheet:
- You can create a line break using option + enter or control + enter.
- You can adjust the height of your rows by clicking them and selecting Resize row—even if the wrapped text is making it tall, resizing will tuck it away.
- You can also adjust the height manually by clicking and dragging the row.
- Setting your Text wrapping to Wrap will keep your Sheet tidy.
- You can use the Vertical align tool in the top menu if you want the text to appear in the center, top, or bottom of the cell.
Get Creative With Your Content Calendar in Google Sheets
While there are many tools to choose from, you can tailor one to your needs in Google Sheets. With the right columns, you’ll have all the prompts you need to outline your posts. Plus, you’ll have everything in one place.
Mapping your content doesn’t need to be complicated. It just starts with a bit of planning, and you can build from there.
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September 17, 2022 at 10:02AM