Tips for Creating Your 2015 Content Calendar

As 2014 draws to a close, many professionals are scrambling to put the finishing touches on their 2015 marketing plans - and content is one marketing channel that should not be overlooked.

That said, it can be difficult to plan content for an entire year in advance. There are, however, many ways marketers can generate content ideas. For example, marketers can visit popular Q&A sites, like Quora, to find conversations relevant to their target audience. The topics discussed in these Q&A threads can serve as good subject matter for content creation in 2015 and beyond.

Read below to discover five additional ways to spark ideas for your 2015 content calendar:

1. Look Back at 2014

When coming up with content ideas for 2015, taking a look back at the performance data for individual pieces of content in 2014 is a great place to start. This is because some of the topics from a marketer's best performing content of 2014 may still be relevant in the New Year, which means that the subject matter can be recycled. If this is the case, marketers should still try to take a unique approach to the recycled subject matter. For instance, if a pet store retailer had a high-performing blog post in 2014 titled "3 Exercise Tips for Energetic Dogs," that retailer could take a different approach in 2015 by adding some new information to a fresh article or by creating an infographic instead of another text-based blog post.

2. Sift Through Social

Another good way for marketers to discover subject matter that will resonate with their audience is by sifting through chatter on the social Web. After all, social sites like Facebook and Twitter are full of relevant consumer conversations that can help marketers' generate content ideas. While marketers can leverage the search functionality of either social network to look for conversations that contain relevant hashtags or keywords, they can also leverage social listening tools like Trackur or Visible Technologies. Both of these platforms can be used to help marketers keep track of their audiences' social conversations, which can spark ideas for the subject matter of future content initiatives.

3. Check Your FAQs

Sometimes the most frequently asked questions by a marketer's audience base can make the best subject matter. This is why it is helpful to look through some of the year's most commonly asked customer questions when creating a content calendar. For example, if a shoe retailer receives multiple customer queries asking about the difference between running and basketball sneakers, the retailer could create a blog post comparing the benefits of each type of shoe. Doing so will likely reduce the amount of related questions the retailer ends up receiving on this subject in the future. Plus, the post is likely to perform well with the retailer's target audience.

4. Open the Digital Toolbox

Technology has made it much easier for marketers to come up with content ideas. Take content marketing platform Inboundwriter for example. The platform can be leveraged to take the guesswork out of content creation so that writers can spend more time producing impactful content for their audience. The platform does this by forecasting content performance before it is written based on things like the marketer's target audience and proposed subject matter. In addition to Inboundwriter, marketers can leverage a variety of other digital tools to help with their content initiatives, such as Portent's Content Idea Generator, which helps users come up with unique angles for subject matter, as well as Contently, which can be used to help brands create stories and engage audiences with captivating content.

5. Good Ol' Brainstorming

If all else fails, marketers should conduct a good ol' fashion brainstorming session to generate topic ideas for 2015. Fortunately, today's digital world provides many tools to help make brainstorming more effective than ever before. For example, mobile apps like SimpleMind and MindNode Pro can be leveraged to collect and organize ideas in a visual setting. Plus, users can share their brainstorming sessions through both apps, which makes it easy for marketers to get feedback and collaborate with colleagues while on the go.