1) Builtvisible – Flexible Content Strategy Template
First up is our very own template, created by Emily Clayfield, Head of Content Strategy here at Builtvisible. This flexible content strategy template is designed to help marketers create a successful content plan while also serving as a framework to highlight what you’re doing well and what you need to do to reach your marketing goals. Initially created during 2020, the key purpose of this template was to help brands plan and navigate their goals and priorities during times of uncertainty and change. Flexibility in any strategy is still crucial today, especially when it comes to planning and producing engaging content.
Our plan is gated, but you have the added bonus of signing up to the Builtvisible newsletter, which provides regular content strategy updates, SEO gold dust, and other industry news.
Why we like it: We may be biased, but we think that our template has everything you need to re-position and re-build your content strategy. With its 7 simple steps that consider everything from contextual relevancy of content to audience demand and brand values, this plan asks the bigger questions that are essential to understanding your content marketing strategy.
Its versatility makes it equally useful for those who don’t know where to start as well as experienced strategists who want to revamp an existing plan. Plus, it’s in Google doc format for easy access, with example forms and tables that you can edit easily.
What it’s missing: While it doesn’t feature a calendar template, our guide equips you with everything you need to take the right steps in creating a plan of your own.
2) HubSpot – Content Marketing Planning Template
Next up is this content planning template from HubSpot and Litmus. Presented in a comprehensive e-book that covers areas such as SWOT analysis, KPI objectives, content mapping, and timelines, this Google document-based template has something for everyone —even if it is gated.
Why we like it: Within the template, there are lots of example tabs detailing instructions for use, relevant examples and fillable forms that you can emulate your content marketing strategy on. With this framework, you can organise your content on a monthly or quarterly basis, and it also includes a planner for organising a specific campaign.
What it’s missing: This template is very inviting and intuitive, but it’s missing distribution channels and action items that could be useful for those working across multiple platforms or teams.
3) Moz – Content Strategy Template
Moz provides a free content strategy template in a MS Word format.This template is five chapters long and chock-full of useful advice. It’s ungated and available for download as a 17-page Word document.
Why we like it: Moz always gives you your money’s worth—especially in this case, because the template is completely free. Not only does this huge doc walk you through content creation, but it also explores branding, goal creation, background research, and useful tools.
What it’s missing: Despite the huge amount of best-practice advice here, this download doesn’t include any customisable examples or blank templates that you can adopt for your own content marketing strategy. That said, it easily gives you the know-how to create your own.
4) Xtensio – Customizable content strategy template
Xtensio is a platform that helps teams to create, share and manage documents, and it offers a free online template to create your own content strategy. This planner allows you to edit and create your content strategy online and download it in a PDF or PNG format.
Why we like it: This tool lets you create a live content strategy document that’s visible to your whole team. The interactivity of the platform is great for aligning everyone’s objectives and optimising your marketing efforts.
What it’s missing: Although this template is good for inspiration, you have to create your own project, and it may take a while to get the hang of using the different features.
5) Content Marketing Institute – The Essentials of a Content Marketing Strategy
The CMI’s guide to the essentials of a documented content strategy equips you with plenty of knowledge to kickstart your strategic planning process. Though this guide is gated, it doesn’t ask for a lot of information before letting you download a huge PDF guide of useful tips and How-Tos.
Why we like it: There’s lots of value here, and it’s laid out with plenty of visuals to help you arrive at your own content marketing strategy. This guide also breaks its advice down into 36 essential questions that will help you arrive at a better understanding of your audience and your content offerings.
What it’s missing: Between gated access and another huge document (16 pages), it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the scope of these “essentials” and to be scared away from ever starting your Content Marketing Strategy. But, if you can overcome that hesitation, there’s great value to be had here.
6) Smart Sheet – Editorial Calendar Template
This template includes customisable blank worksheets for multiple different needs editorial planning, content brainstorming, and archived content. The simplicity of the worksheets allows you to quickly adapt the the framework to your needs and key in on different plans for multiple calendar types.
Why we like it: These templates are easy to download and use. All you need to do is click the button and open the template file in Excel, and that’s it – the document is ready to edit! The content brainstorming worksheet is also a nice touch which can help you collaborate with your team and manage content ideas.
What it’s missing: The simple design leaves a lot to the imagination, so they may not be the most useful at the beginning of a strategy. But if you’ve got ideas and need to establish some kind of structure, these templates can help you refine your thoughts into a basic plan.
7) Jotform – Content Calendar Template
This interactive template helps you to create a content calendar and organise publication for your brand’s online content. You can view your content in a table format and schedule your posts in advance. This tool allows you to easily share your content plan with other team members, and you can also view and edit it from any device.
Why we like it: This digital content calendar template is fully customisable and lets you view your projects in an itemised manner, with the option to categorise content by elements such as team member, due date, and social platform. You can include links and media, and add different labels to your projects.
What it’s missing: Some people may find the many different interactive elements difficult to navigate at first, but once you get to grips with it, it’s fairly easy to use.
8) Hootsuite – Social media calendar template
More interested in social media strategy? This free calendar template from Hootsuite allows you to both improve your current social media marketing strategy and identify new content opportunities. This gated template contains different tabs to make notes of your social media goals. It’ll help you plan and schedule all your social content in advance for maximum impact.
Why we like it: This calendar template is a Google Sheet Excel that allows multiple people to edit the same file, allowing for real-time collaboration. It also contains a worksheet where you can keep track of valuable and successful posts you might want to recycle or repost in the future.
What it’s missing: As with most of these templates with multiple features, they could be challenging to organise and manage at first. If you don’t have many social channels, it may overcomplicate your plan, but it’s great if you want to visualise several channels at once.
The list above includes both content strategy and editorial calendar templates, as there’s definitely not a one size fits all solution when it comes to strategy.
Instead of trying to mash your business into someone else’s template, create your own “perfect fit.” Consider which elements will help you:
- Keep multiple writers spanning different departments on the brand.
- Communicate to employers, business partners, and clients why content marketing is key to their success.
- Retain your existing customers and reach new ones.
Of course, we think that using our flexible content strategy template is a great place to start. Find out more about the benefits of our template here, or get in touch to find out how we can support you with your content strategy objectives.
The major problem in our company and in our team was that we were using several different tools and platforms to manage our work. While we were communicating through so many channels, emails and messages were getting lost, we were forgetting important dates, content was often late, and from time to time we were missing out on events and dates which are important for our industry. We’ve realized that not one calendar out there didn’t suit our needs, so we’ve decided to create our own. We’ve gathered the whole team there and now everything is in one place and our tasks and dates are clearly defined. So, it’s really important to know what your needs are and then decide which tool to use.
Absolutely agree with Sandra – our internal strategy work is based on our own templates – all of which fit with ours or our client’s processes. They’re often unique to that particular project, too.
That’s an excellent point, Sandra.
You need to have your strategy pinned down before you can pick a template (or any tool for that matter). If you grab every free tool, but don’t understand how they fit into your plan, you’ll just bog down your process. I’m sure many companies will be in the same boat as you, and need to create their own calendar or content strategy template that’s either something wholly new or a Frankenstein-ian mashup of a number of other models.
I am glad your team arrived at a working solution, though!
I think you should mix them and create new one !