How to Organize Your Content in a Spreadsheet: 7 Steps

You have a million great ideas for your blog or social media content. You jot them down on sticky notes, scrap papers, or your notepad thinking they're the best, only to lose track of them later. While you want somewhere to sort and plan them, you aren't quite ready to invest in another software. There's also the problem of wanting to share them with a coworker.

You wonder how you're ever going to get your content ideas happening.

Why not use a spreadsheet?

I know, it might sound pretty old school when there's plenty of great, new software out there, but hear me out.

Not only do you likely already have a spreadsheet software available to use, but you might also know how to use it already, and the same goes for your coworker. It can definitely help bridge the tech gap, especially when working with someone outside of marketing.

In this post I'll show you how to make a layout you can organize your content into in 7 steps. I've decided to keep the layout simple, but this is to get you started. Perhaps another time I can share a more complex version, or maybe I'll spare you. Regardless, here's how to create a simple spreadsheet layout that will help you sort your content ideas and start putting them into action.


Example content spreadsheet


1) Get Started.

Start with a blank sheet and fill in your titles. For this example, I have "type" meaning type of post, image, Facebook copy, Instagram copy, blog/ other copy, status, and notes. There's no correct way of organizing your sheet; it's what works for you. As you work with it, you'll likely think of more columns you want to add, or you might find you can combine or take some away.


Titles added to content spreadsheet


2) Select and freeze the top row.

Freezing the top row will keep your title at the top of the document as you scroll down. Do this by selecting the row, then "view" in your menu, and next "freeze." Choose "one row" to freeze only the top.


Freezing the rows of the content spreadsheet


3) Add a dropdown menu.

Next, you want to add your dropdown menu under "type." To do this, right-click the cell under the title to bring up the context menu. Select "data validation."

In the data validation panel, set your criteria to "list of items" and type the items you want to include in the field. Separate them with a comma.

In this example, I used social, blog, web, and other.


Adding a drop-down menu to the content spreadsheet


Now your drop-down menu will be there. Give it a click to test it out. Copy and paste it into multiple rows in the first column.



4) Add colour coding.

To add your colour coding, right-click all of column A and head down to "conditional formatting" in the context menu.


Adding colour coding to the content spreadsheet


Make sure the range says "A:A" so that it applies to the whole column and not one cell only. Under format rules and "format cell if..." there will be a drop-down menu. Select "text contains" and in the value field add the type you want to colour code.

You can give the entire cell colour by clicking the little paint bucket or you can give the text colour by clicking the A. Keep in mind it's best to keep it something that's easy to look at. Yellow on orange might be a bit tough to read.


Where to find conditional formatting


This is what it will look like colour-coded.


What the colour coding looks like in the spreadsheet

5) Repeat.

Next, you'll want to repeat the previous two steps to create the status column. This is where you'll mark your progress and / or communicate it with your team. For this example, I used to-do, in progress, drafted, complete, and posted. Other suggestions could be "please revise" or "for review" if the process involves proofreading.


What the content spreadsheet looks like with statuses


6) Add your work.

Now you can start filling in your ideas.


What the content spreadsheet looks like filled in


If you aren't familiar with how to insert images into Google Sheets, you select insert in your menu, images, and insert image in cell.


How to fill in the blanks

7) Filling in the blanks.

This step is optional, but you can do it to see if you like it better or not. If you aren't a fan of the blank spaces, you can use conditional formatting to fill the cells if they're empty.


Example content spreadsheet



You won't be able to pull a quality image from your spreadsheet later, so keep them all together in a folder where they're easy to find later. This column is more for reference. If you're collaborating with someone, they'll need access to the images folder as well.

Long-form content is best kept out of the cells of a spreadsheet as it will be difficult to format in spreadsheet software. If you're working alone you can have your drafts in an easy-to-find place on your computer. If working with someone else, you can add a link to a shared document.


Now that you've created your own content spreadsheet, it's time to take those content ideas from your sticky notes and start putting them into action. If you're new to content marketing, or you feel stuck on ideas, one place to look for inspiration is your customers. Are there any FAQs you can address in your content that might be helpful?

I'm still working on getting more tutorials up that might help with content marketing. For now, if you're interested in reading some of my other posts, you can find them here.