Content Calendars Made Easy: Save Time and Develop a Personal Brand | Chanel Hays | Skillshare

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Content Calendars Made Easy: Save Time and Develop a Personal Brand

teacher avatar Chanel Hays, Online Marketing Consultant

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Course Intro


    • 2.

      Course Materials


    • 3.

      Personal Strategy


    • 4.

      Template Walkthrough


    • 5.

      Monthly Commitments & Prompts


    • 6.

      Content Opportunities


    • 7.

      Live Demo


    • 8.

      Content Preparation


    • 9.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

This course is designed for small business owners, bloggers, or social media managers who not only need to optimize the time they spend on marketing, but also want to give their audience quality, consistent content.

Organize your online marketing efforts by generating a monthly system for scheduling and ideating.  By creating a repeatable process, you can save time and serve your customers (or Following) more consistently with less effort. 

After taking this course, you will be able to strategize a month of marketing in about an hour and have a better understanding of who you are (or who your business is) to your customers, clients, and Followers online.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Chanel Hays

Online Marketing Consultant


I left the world of big brand advertising to help businesses learn how to step into online marketing. It's a scary, ever-changing world out there and it's tough for small businesses and self-employed people to compete.  They are often wearing many hats and lacking time. Through my business, The Media Palm, I look forward to teaching (and even learning more!) on the Skillshare platform to help as many people as possible build their businesses using online tools. 

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Level: Beginner

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1. Course Intro: Hi, my name is Chanelle Hayes. And welcome to my Content Calendar Framework course. This course is designed to help you save time while creating consistently meaningful content. If you feel like you never have enough content or if you constantly have to create content on the fly, then this course is for you. First, we'll start by strategizing to create a framework and I'll put that framework into a template that you can use over and over again. This course is designed for current or future small business owners. People who are self-employed, bloggers, or even social media managers. Anyone who needs to optimize the amount of time they spend on marketing that still wants to give their audience quality personalized content. After taking this course, you'll be able to strategize a month of marketing in about an hour, and the class project is to do just that. Create your own personalized content calendar using the principles discussed in the following lessons. Let's get started. 2. Course Materials: For this course, I have provided a content calendar template that is free for you to use. If you've never heard of a content calendar before, then you're in the right place. Or if you have, stay tuned for directions on how to access it. To put it simply, a content calendar is the what, when, and where of the things you plan to distribute for your blog or business. What, is the topic or asset and an asset just means of video or a photo. When, is the date and time it will be distributed. Where, is where you plan to share it, and that depends on the various platforms that you have. We'll come back to the template and another lesson. But for now it's good to have a basic understanding of what we're working toward. To use the free content calendar, simply navigate to the your project tab in this course. Click the link for the google doc titled free content calendar. Then once you're in Google Docs, click file and then click make a copy. This copies the template over to your Google Drive. Give it a new name and you are ready to go. In order to plan our content, we first need to figure out what we're going to post, and the next lesson will help with the strategy. 3. Personal Strategy: In this lesson, we'll generate strategic pointers that create themes and trends that make your brand, blog, and business more consistent and easy to understand. Your clients and followers will know what to expect, and look forward to it, and you will too. We'll call them your top traits. So, what are the key features of your brand, blog, or business that make it unique or identifiable? Let's start by generating a list of about 10, and then we'll narrow it down to three or five. Discuss these with at least two people who know you really well. It's important to discuss it with others, because they actually have a better advantage point than you do as your audience. This should help you narrow it down a bit. But if you're still having trouble, pick the ones that are easiest to generate content for, whether it's photos or writing. I recommend picking these 3-5 things that you want people to know. Here's an example, for my sister, who's a hairstylist: She's gluten free, she loves her cat, she does event hair and makeup styling, like weddings, and she's a blonding specialist. Here's a second example for a coffee shop: They're dog friendly, they love their locals, they have high quality ingredients, they themselves are coffee lovers, and they love to celebrate the surf culture. To start off your project, type up your 3-5 top traits, and post them in the "Your Project" section. I love seeing what makes everyone different. To close out this lesson, I'd like to offer a fun tip. If your business has Instagram stories, these strategic pointers make great categories for Instagram highlights. 4. Template Walkthrough: As we walk through the template, it may be beneficial to have the content calendar template handy to follow along. But I'll also be showing it as we go. Just keep an eye out for the yellow highlighted sections. To get the template for yourself, click the link in the "Your project" section and follow the directions in the lesson titled Course Materials. Directions are also written in the Google doc for you. I personally like the Google doc format because you can collaborate with other users and always have access to make changes since it's stored in the Cloud. Okay, let's walk through the various areas of the calendar that will be filled in. Within the template and before you duplicate, you want to update the key on the right-hand side to personalize the platforms for your needs. For example, you might add Twitter and remove Facebook groups. Right below, you'll see the top traits and content prompts, which you will also want to personalize within the template itself so that it transfers to the copied version. We've just covered the top traits in the previous lesson, and will cover content prompts in the next lesson. Continuing around clockwise, we find the Content Opportunities. You'll wait to fill out this section until each new month once you've copied the template and changed the dates. This section holds events you've identified on your calendar that you can collect large quantities of content from. We'll discuss that in a later lesson too. Finally, there's the Notes and Changes section. I found this area incredibly useful if I get ideas for new themes or subjects, or if there's an event upcoming that might not have a date yet. Because things are destined to move and change, it's worth noting if you want to shift something to another month or if a date for an event changed. In the main calendar section, you can update the name of the month and then type in the first date on the first day of the month. The formulas should do the rest. If you need an extra row of days, simply unhide the hidden rows at the bottom. Remember to wait to update the main calendar until after you've duplicated the template tab. This template is a good starting point but feel free to add or remove pieces based on your industry and specific needs. Once you customize the template for you, always leave the template as is and then duplicate the tab to create a new month. 5. Monthly Commitments & Prompts: All right, welcome back. Now it's time for one of the meatier lessons of this course. We'll talk about a commitment base for the calendar, and then we'll get into creative ways to come up with content ideas. OK. Let's start with our base. We need to decide on the weekly and monthly commitments that can always happen. What can you commit to doing? This takes a lot of the guesswork out of planning, and for each platform I want you to make a list of commitments so you can understand the volume of what you're going to put out. Once you have it all written down, it will give you a better sense of what's actually achievable. For example, you may have a monthly newsletter that you send on the first of every month, you may have three social media posts a week, and also pump out a blog post every other week. Next, you might add Facebook and Instagram stories once per week, and you might want to feature a special customer on the 15th, and you gift them something like a free coffee if you own the coffee shop. Add your final list of commitments to the monthly prompt section on the template. If you need to pause the lesson now so that you can take some time and decide on these commitments please do so. Now, on a monthly basis, as you copy your template over and start your new monthly content calendar, plot out these commitments and here's an example of what that month could look like. The colors symbolize commitments for different platforms based on the key. The goal is to start each month with an outline, and you determine whether there are certain days that are better for you based on analytics or even just based on convenience. Remember this is your calendar. And if you aren't sure which dates to pick think about prompts like throwback Thursday, or make your own weekday theme like transformation Tuesday for a hair salon. By giving your content specific days and timing, you take the decision out of it, and decisions are a major time suck. So, next, we need to decide what's going to go into all those tiny little colored boxes. And to get you started, I'm sharing my special strategy of pairing your top traits that we discussed before with content props to generate tons of ideas. Here, I've listed a few creative content prompts which you'll brainstorm with your top traits each month. Here are my favorite prompts to get the juices flowing, historical or throwbacks which leads a little into theme days, and as we mentioned before it's great to come up with your own. Customer experience, so show your future customers or current customers what it's like to come into your business and work with you, show them in advance how great the experience will be. Frequently asked questions is a great opportunity for you to answer people's questions before they even ask them. You can also give them a behind the scenes look and make them feel special for following what you're doing. Client reviews that lets other people do the talking for you and essentially acts as a referral. You can show off your special monthly deals or promotions. You can give people tips for use, so especially if you have a physical product and this might even get them to use it more often. Quotes, everyone should have a quote strategy, what inspires you in each area of your top traits and you can easily share that and inspire people who follow you. Share your knowledge, show off your expertise, and that gives you credibility with your followers. Celebrate your wins because people want to cheer you on, we need more happiness and cheering on of other people in the world. And last, share your future plans, again, making people feel like following you and reading your content gives them the inside scoop. So, now let's put these side by side with your three to five top traits and start matching them up. Using the example of my sister, she could match her cat with theme days and post each caturday. She could get creative and match with tips for use, and she could share something about taking care of her cat, like her favorite cat food. You'll add most of your ideas onto the content calendar and then you can save any extra into your notes section. Take all of your favorite prompts from the list and add them into the monthly prompt section with your monthly commitments. We've covered a lot in this lesson so let's summarize step by step. First, write out all of your monthly commitments and make sure they're doable, then add them into the monthly prompt section. Pick out some of your favorite creative content prompts as well and add them to the same section. Generate ideas each month using the top traits times content prompts framework, and then assign the ideas to the commitment fonts on the calendar. Finally, save your extras. There is still one more content area we need to cover in the calendar using what I call content opportunities to help create en masse. This may shift a few things on your calendar around a little bit but you can always use the extra content in the next month. 6. Content Opportunities: The final content generation area is called the content opportunities. These are the events or smaller scale opportunities you already have on your calendar whether it's your personal or your work calendar. They are able to gather all sorts of images from and write about. These content opportunities can be anything that happens outside of your normal routine. So, some examples include meetings, or even coffee dates, trainings, birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays. They might be new releases that you have, or new offerings, or even special guests and visitors. Let's break down what this section looks like. First, you add the basic details into that chart. Which is, what the event is, when and where it's happening. Then, you can add a capture list. Then, the capture list column you want to put everything that you want together from the event. This of course depends on the types of platforms that you use, but I just want to stress that you're as specific as possible because this will serve as your checklist and save you from snapping away perhaps randomly at an event and then maybe not getting a great shot that you could have used later. If you use something like Twitter, Snapchat, or Facebook, Instagram live or stories, you may want to post some things on the day of, and that goes in the next column. This gives your audience live access to what's happening to make them feel like they're part of it. Then, bookmark a few things to save for later, and that goes in the last column. Either later in the month, or maybe even in a following month. For example, if you go to coffee with a friend you can take a photo with your friend and post that on the day of in the stories. Then, in the following month, you could use a photo of the coffee or the coffee shop. Last, I suggest adding a small note into the main calendar right next to the date so that you can build your content base around it. That includes your content commitments and any other content prompt that you have. Will go over an example of this in the live demo in the next lesson. 7. Live Demo: In this lesson, I'll walk you through a live demo of filling out a content calendar and we'll use the example of my sister who's a hairstylist to fill it out. So first, we're going to duplicate the template so it creates a new blank slate tab for us to work with. Then, I will change the name to June for the current month and then change the name at the top as well. Then we put in the first day of the month and press enter and let the numbers fill in sequentially after that. You'll see that a key of our top traits and our monthly prompts filled in as we copied over the template. Next what I would typically do is fill in the content opportunities for the month that I know about. I'm just going to copy and paste these in here to save us some time. Next, we want to make sure we fill in our notes from the previous month. So I go over to May and then I copy and paste them in here. Great. So let's add in the salon training and the wedding into the calendar, so that we can build some of our prompts around it and use some of our monthly commitments towards it. So on June 11, you have the salon training and then on the 16th, we have the wedding we are working. Perfect. So, let's go one by one here. In our prompts we have our newsletter on the first of the month and that's going to be orange. For the newsletter I typically write about our specials for the month and I like to feature a wedding from the previous month. Great. Then we'll do a client feature on Facebook and Instagram mid month. Great. For this month our feature her friend Jess. Perfect. Next we know we want to do three times per week of Facebook and Instagram post. I'm just going to copy this formatting here and enter in a few slots such as Monday and then I'm just going to delete the text, copy it over to a Saturday. Then actually a few Saturdays. I know we have our our theme days our #Caturday in there. So we'll put a few of those in, add a few more things that our salon training. So I want post a day after, maybe post a few things after the wedding. I've got a few more here. I'll post right here. Let's speed this up a little. Great. Then one time per week Instagram story. So, let's just add our story feature. Perfect. Copy that. I actually want to do a story on the salon training day and then maybe the day after the wedding. Yep. It looks like we've got that down here in our content opportunities and then one towards the end of the month. Perfect. So now what do we want to slot in off here. I think I've got a few things on my notes. There's a cookie really great cookie picture that we want to use from a gluten free bakery in L.A. and I can post that. So gluten free cookie and then we also might add in a few more things and I'll just do that very quickly. Now that we've got it all filled in with what we want to post, I want to go through and mark a few things. So, things that we are waiting on the content for before we can actually start creating. So some of those would be anything from the wedding. And so, all I do is I take it and I do an outline around it just to signal that I'm waiting on that content. It's going to be the same for all of the different stories. So I'm going to add that there and then actually my belly hosh training, I need to wait on getting a photo with the instructor. So, there's going to be a lot but I'm doing that I actually live in this month of June. Awesome. I already have a celeb hair inspo picked out and a picture of my favorite client Jess, so we should be good to go. As you can see it was pretty quick and simple to fill out once we had our content prompts and our commitment and our top traits and events all listed there for us. You'll be doing this on your own VR cost project. But first I want to share a few tips on the preparation that will help you out. 8. Content Preparation: In this lesson, we'll discuss preparing the actual content for your content calendar. I want to share with you some of the most important things I've learned while working with a content calendar. First, you should aim to complete your content calendar about two weeks ahead of the month, in order to give you enough time to create things in advance, which is one of the biggest advantages to planning. This is called batching, and it just means grouping work of a similar type together to complete in one longer session. If you're handling content creation one at a time every single day, it's going to take you much longer overall. So, you definitely want about your work. To make the batching process easier, start a list of your favorite resources for graphics and photos. So, when you don't have an image on-hand to go with that quote you really want to post, you don't have to spend an hour scouring the internet. Batching my work, assembling photos, and emails, and content is so important for me to save time. While batching the content creation, you can use the in-built scheduling tools of your email provider or Facebook. There are actually a lot of new social scheduling tools available like Hootsuite, that can push one piece of content onto multiple platforms, in some cases automatically. Hootsuite is free up to three profiles which is awesome. For Instagram specifically, there are plenty of apps like Plann and that's Plann with two ends or Plannly which will send you a notification when it's time to send out a scheduled post. But you already have the text written in, which will save you so much time. When you're short on your own content for posting, Unsplash is an amazing free resource for high-quality unique images. Canva is also a great tool that makes designing graphics incredibly easy. You don't need Photoshop and you can create Flyers, Pinterest images, social posts, and logos, all with their desktop site or their mobile app. If you're short on quotes or ideas, no doubt Pinterest has a million options for you, so, don't forget to check there. I hope these tips really help you as you are assembling all those great ideas that you slotted into your contact calendar. 9. Final Thoughts: As the course comes to a close, I want to remind you that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Does your content in your content calendar point back to you and your business? This course is designed to create something that serves you and your business uniquely. Make it personalized by being aware of your needs and trimming anything else. For example, I added the asterisk to the key so that I could remember whether or not I wanted to boost to post for a client. If this doesn't serve you, simply remove it or give it a new meaning. Streamline the document so it's as easy as possible for you to use. That's it. Now, it's your turn to make a content calendar. For the class project, build one as we've discussed, take a screenshot and post it in the project section. Thanks for taking this course. I really hope I've shown you how a framework can help you save time while creating a ton of great content.