Do you spend a lot of time chasing down links when promoting your content?
Want to write new posts, but can’t remember all the things you’ve already written about?
Need to brainstorm new blog post ideas but feeling brain dead?
Then you need a content index! A content index will keep your blog posts at your fingertips, save you time, and keep you organized.
Read on and I’ll show you my favorite tool for creating a content index.
What’s a content index and why should I have one?
A content index is just that — an index of your content.
Sure, you have a list of all your blog posts inside your blogging platform. But that’s a bit unwieldy because you can’t filter, tag, or add notes to anything in your blogging platform. That makes staying organized a challenge!
Here’s a few things creating a content index will do for you.
A content index will make promoting your blog a lot easier. Instead of chasing down a URL every time someone asks a question in a Facebook group, you can open up your content index, search for the post, and grab the URL immediately.
If you use a social media scheduler to drip out your content, having a content index will help you add your posts and their URLs to the scheduler without hunting down the post in your blogging platform. Time saver!
Linking to your own content within your blog posts is good for SEO. But to link to your content, you must know what content you have.
And when the number of blog posts you’ve written is in the hundreds or thousands, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or forget.
A content index organizes your content by topic and allows you to filter out anything irrelevant so you can drop a link to one of your posts in the post you’re writing and move on.
No more busting your brain over “have I written a post on that?”
One of the best ways to come up with new content ideas Is by using the content you already have.
A content index will help you brainstorm new content ideas by allowing you to see all the posts you’ve written on a certain topic.
By getting this “bird’s eye” view of your content, you can see what angles you’ve taken on every topic and pinpoint areas where you could create more content, repurpose existing content, or expand on a topic you previously covered.
Now that you know what a content index is and how it can help you, let’s move on to how to use and set up my favorite content management tool.
Imagine a database and a spreadsheet had one night stand. The result is Airtable. Only without the hangover and the shame.
Although you could get drunk and use Airtable I suppose. Show me what databases you end up with if you do that, okay?
Airtable is a spreadtable. A databeet. A tool that looks like a spreadsheet and makes creating databases easy.
If you’re not a database rockstar and you’ve ever tried to mess around in a program like Microsoft Access, you’re familiar with what a hot mess it turns into.
With Airtable, all the technical stuff happens in the background. If you know how to enter information into a spreadsheet, you can create insanely useful databases.
The things you can organize with Airtable are endless, but you don’t have all frickin’ day to listen to my yapping.
So in this post, we’ll stick to how to create a content index and I’ll write more about Airtable in the future. Deal?
Getting Started With Airtable
Head over to airtable.com and sign up for a free account. It will ask you a few simple questions about how you intend to use Airtable and then you can name your workspace.
I recommend naming the workspace your blog name:
Airtable is organized in teams, and within each team there can be several databases, within each database there can be several tables, and within each table there can be several fields with several records. Airtable refers to databases as “bases.”
Okay spreadsheet junkies, I hear you. To compare it to a spreadsheet, folders on your computer would be teams, spreadsheet files would be bases, the tabs in a spreadsheet would be tables, and rows and columns would be records and fields.
Airtable will load a few sample bases into your workspace. You can keep these or delete them all and start fresh.
For your content index, you’ll want to click Add a Base and select “start from scratch.”
Setting Up Your Content Index
Now that you know more about Airtable and have your free account, it’s time to set up your content index.
After you’ve clicked “Add a Base” and “start from scratch,” give your base a name.
I call mine “Content & Promotion” because I keep more than just my content index in it.
Click on the square with the icon you chose and you’ll be taken to your new base.
Re-name the table by clicking on the tab that says Table 1 and name it Content Index.
Now it’s time to set up some fields in your content index. Airtable lets you pick a custom type for each field in a table.
This sets up some rules around the kind of information that can go in each column. For our content index, we want four fields:
- Title (single text field)
- Topic (multiple select field)
- URL (URL field)
- Published Date (date field)
To set field types, click the grey triangle on the right-hand side of the column name and choose “Customize Field Type.” Then choose the type from the dropdown menu.
The title area is a single text field. A single text field allows you to type one line of text and it’s great for short pieces of information.
The topic area is a multiple select field. This multiple select feature will let you apply one or more labels to a row. In your content index this will be the topic of your blog post.
Since a blog post can have more than one topic, the multiple select feature is perfect. I like to give each topic a dfferent color so I can differentiate them at a glance.
The URL area is a URL field. This will let you paste in the link to your blog post and make it clickable so you can click the field and go straight to the post without hunting around for the URL.
The published date area is a date field. This is where you’ll put the date your blog post was published on.
Once you have your content index table set up, you can start adding your blog post information.
Don’t worry if you already have a ton of blog posts and no content index. Start adding every new blog post to your content index from now on and when you have a few moments to work on your blog you can add the rest of your posts little by little.
When you have some blog post information in your content index table, you’ll start to experience the magic of Airtable.
Now you can sort and filter the information by any of the fields you set up.
For example, let’s say you only wanted to see what posts you wrote last month on the topic of Pinterest.
Use the filter button in your table to set up topic and date filters and Airtable will show you the blog posts that meet your criteria:
Add your blog post title, topic(s), URL, and publish date and you’re on your way to a more organized content promotion, creation, and management process.
Here’s what my content index looks like:
The beauty of Airtable is that it’s easy to change and customize so it can grow with you as your content management needs change.
Your content index may not look like mine, and that’s great! I encourage you to get creative with the types of fields you create and how you use them.
I hope this post gave you some ideas for getting organized in your content creation process!