Content calendars allow you, as the content creator, to be strategic about your content. It can also be a massive time saver and help you focus and stay on target. It helps you be consistent in the content for your blog. In other words, yes, I believe you probably do need one.
What IS a content calendar?
It's a schedule for your posts. That's it. It's that simple. It's a road map for what you post and when.
How do you know if you need a content calendar?
Three questions to ask yourself:
Are you trying to grow your audience?
Does your blog play a role for you professionally?
Do you struggle to be consistent in creating content?
If you answer yes to two of those questions, then you will find a content calendar beneficial.
Hold On: are you sure you NEED growth?
A common trap bloggers fall into is chasing a new audience without honoring current readers. I know this was a factor in the long, slow demise of my personal blog. If you already have a solid audience and great engagement and you're getting results, you might want to focus more on what's already working rather than pushing your blog in new directions.
This doesn't mean a content calendar won't be helpful. But growth isn't always everything. After all, a large audience doesn't always equal a bigger income, more success, or even professional respect.
A large audience without engagement and conversions is useless.
What Kills Bloggers Dead
95% of blogs are abandoned, most within the first three months. So what kills a writer's urge to blog? I've found a handful of things have consistently stopped new bloggers. A content calendar can be an effective tool to prevent most of these causes of blogger "death."
Yes, you have to edit for clarity and spelling. Yes, you want your posts to be well-written. But you must hold yourself to a reasonable and realistic standard if you want your posts to be posted. Too many beginning bloggers get stuck in draft mode. You have to set aside perfectionism and embrace that "publish" button.
Not Having Clear Goals
Why are you blogging? If you don't know, you're dead before you begin.
There are only going to be a few millionaire bloggers. Let that dream die. Instead, work toward having a small, engaged audience that meets specific reasonable goals.
Lack of Motivation
It can be exhausting, always coming up with topics, writing, sharing, moderating—the whole blogger package. Not staying on track and focused is a fast way to burn out.
You have to be unique. You can't be another Problogger or a Dooce or Seth Godin. Those roles are filled. Craft your own.
What does grow your audience?
These four things play the biggest role in steady and consistent growth in readership. A content calendar is an excellent way to stay focused on these key points.
One quick note: you do NOT need to post every day. You can post once or twice a week and still have a successful blog.
What goes into a content calendar?
If you haven't used a content calendar before, chances are you are already feeling overwhelmed by the WORK that goes into creating one.
Content calendars can be as detailed as you need them to be. If you're a social media native, you probably don't need to schedule every tweet or Facebook status update on your calendar (as many content calendar guides and templates suggest). If you're only using your calendar to stay on track and focused, you can make as broad or as specific as you need to be. It's your calendar, so make it work for you.
I know bloggers who simply choose a theme of the week and then come up with topics on the fly. I know others who schedule posts and sharing down to the minute. I've found I do best working on a weekly basis (for now). It's up to you.
Test a content calendar for a month.
If your goal is to grow your audience, a content calendar will help. If you want to free up time and headspace while staying focused and on target, a content calendar will help. If you want to stay motivated, a content calendar will help. Give it a shot for a month. I guarantee it will make your blogging life easier.