How to Plan Your YouTube Content: The Best Tools and Management Strategies

how to plan your YouTube content

Planning your YouTube content a few weeks or months in advance has a double benefit. It helps you to produce consistently high-quality videos. And it cuts back on the stress of living a creator’s life. 

Setting up a content calendar isn’t all that easy, though, and sticking to it can be a bit difficult. Especially if you’re used to following your instincts and coming up with content on the fly

This article takes a closer look at why content calendars are worth the hassle, and what the best strategies and tools are for maintaining one for your channel.

plan your youtube content

Why Use a Calendar to Plan Your YouTube Content?

To start with, your content calendar is an essential part of your content strategy and helps you streamline your production process. 

Specifically, it ensures that you have enough run-up time for elements like content research for complex topics, or filming challenging shots. 

In addition, a content calendar helps you with your personal time management. In particular, it makes it much easier to build a content buffer, which lets you take more time off to recharge and enjoy your life outside your channel.

And that is super important for you, because constant content hustling puts you at risk of creator burnout.

Plus, it makes it possible to bundle similar tasks for efficiency.

a content calendar is a great way to plan your channel
Save time by setting up just once for several videos.

For example, you could set up your equipment only once and shoot your monthly fill of content in one or two days. But that’ll only work if you’ve also done the appropriate planning, such as scripting, first.

Another reason to use a channel content calendar is that it makes consistency easier.

Instead of flitting abruptly from topic to topic, you can plan gradual transitions, and topic focus periods. This sort of consistency usually results in a more engaged audience, which YouTube’s algorithm rewards with more visibility.

plan your youtube content

How to Populate Your Content Calendar

The first step in setting up a content calendar is to come up with content ideas. Luckily, there’s a wide range of tools, resources, and strategies you can use to generate ideas for captivating videos

To get an idea of what a good posting frequency is – which determines how many ideas you’ll need – check what’s usual in your niche. 

Identify your main competitors and see how often they upload new content. If you’re a vlogger, for example, posting three times a week isn’t unusual.

frequently posting channel
This channel uploads 2-3 times a week.

For most other niches, weekly or even biweekly schedules are fine. Posting more often does get you slightly more viewers, but often not enough to make it worth the tons of extra work.

 

This gives you a target upload schedule. It can also be a first reality check. You’ll have to ask yourself: Can you realistically stick to this pace in the long run?

When you’re coming up with content ideas, aim for a mix of lower-effort standard content, content that may pull in new viewers, and the occasional high-effort piece. 

YouTube’s creator academy uses the hero, help, hub framework to show you how to generate such a content mix.

hub, help, and hero content
The 3 Hs - YouTube's suggested content mix layout

“Hub” content keeps your existing audience happy. 

“Help” attracts a larger audience by answering some specific need, and bolsters your subscriber numbers. 

“Hero” videos, finally, are where you go all out on effort and social media promotion.

different kinds of content planning
Personal, regular "Hub" content in red. Can you spot the "Help" content a new viewer could be searching for?
plan your youtube content

Managing Your YouTube Content Calendar

Once you’ve come up with a few ideas, you can start mapping them to your calendar. 

Begin grouping ideas together in topic clusters – those can be great for series. Don’t forget to take holidays and seasonal trends into account. 

In addition, you can take a look at internet event calendars to structure your content ideas over time. 

Let’s say your niche is food-related. In this case, you could mark out World Coffee, Chocolate, or even Rosé Wine Day as occasions to dive deeper into each topic.

list of world food days to help you plan your YouTube content
Why not check out Wikipedia's List of Food Days?

Besides scheduling the production and release times of your videos, your content planning should also include promotion and monetization strategies. 

Ask yourself:

  • Are you announcing your videos on other social media channels?
  • Do you have to coordinate certain content with the release of merchandise?
  • Are offering previews, making-ofs or similar extras for platforms like Ko-Fi or Buy Me a Coffee?
  • How far in advance will you ask your viewers to save the date for a live stream?
 
plan your youtube content

What Are the Best Tools for Planning YouTube Content?

Now that you’ve seen the kind of work that goes into creating and managing a calendar to plan your YouTube content, there’s the question of what tools you can use for it. 

What works best ultimately depends on your individual needs and preferences. 

If you’re running a solo operation, using your favorite calendar app to double as a content calendar is usually fine. Plenty of creators love planning on good old paper, sometimes in the form of a bullet journal.

One example of manual content planning

As soon as you’re extending the scope of your channel, though, and starting to collaborate or outsource, you’ll need a more flexible solution. 

Shareable spreadsheets like Google Sheets can serve as a solid basis for smaller teams. 

However, there are also a number of well-designed collaborative calendar tools that you can use for broader functionalities, such as Calendly and CoSchedule. They’re usually paid subscriptions.

Specialized Tools for Video Content

If you’re outsourcing substantial parts of your content creation process, try out bespoke tools for major tasks. Their bulk features for editing, scheduling, and automation can streamline routine processes.

Here are a few common areas where they can be especially effective:

  • Video Content Collaboration:  When you run a channel, dedicated video collab tools outclass email and file sharing for speed and ease. A main benefit is that working with your editor becomes a lot more productive.
  • Team Collaboration: With a dedicated collab tool – Trello, for example – you can assign tasks like research, script writing, admin work, and editing to your team. This ensures that everyone’s on the same page on what to do, and until when.
  • Channel Management: TubeBuddy or VidIQ are popular tools that simplify collaborative content management. Bulk thumbnail or end-screen editing, for example, can be real time-savers.
  • Social Media Management: Hootsuite or Buffer help you manage, schedule, and edit content for your profiles on other major social platforms.
there are some excellent tools for collaborative content planning
Got a team? Take advantage of video collab tools.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, creating a calendar to plan your YouTube content is a great way to streamline processes and cut back on stress.

It’ll help you consistently deliver high-quality content, grow your audience, and increase your visibility. 

That said, it is well worth taking the time and energy to vet various tools, generate ideas, and shape them into your very own content calendar.

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