Content marketing is an important part of any business, especially if you're looking to drive traffic and sales through optimizing search engine traffic. So what better time than now to start the new year off by establishing a content calendar? At our business dashboard startup Dasheroo this is exactly what we've been working on, and even though this provides a great blueprint for what we'll need to produce, it's just the starting point.

I've created 12 ideas for 12 months in this article but you'll hopefully augment these with other amazing ideas that you and your team come up with. Let's begin!

January

It's not too late to jump on the Super Bowl bandwagon. Of course you have to be careful with using anything "NFL" but you can still come up with some fun content around the "big game," especially if your audience is largely in the U.S. Create a "big game" video ad that could go viral, especially if it's clever and funny. For inspiration next year? Look at Intuit's "Small Business Big Game" contest where they buy an ad slot for a small-business winner!

February

February would be great for an "interview style" video with one of your customers or partners about how they use your product or service and how it's changed their lives for the better. Make sure you post this on all of your social networks! Ramon Ray of Smart Hustle Magazine does some really great and fun videos right from his smart phone!

March

March would be a great time to publish an NCAA bracket-themed infographic. (Again, no specific mention of NCAA!) Where do you start? Why not send a survey to your customers. Ask questions about their spending (B2B) pattern for the new year, find out who they are, and ask what products they'll be purchasing in the coming year, all with an eye towards finding out who might be interested in sharing your infographic. Then use a tool like visual.ly to create your "bracket-themed" infographic. Turbotax has a great infographic on March Madness and its effect on the morale of employees.

April

Reach out to publications and sites popular in your industry and ask if you can contribute an article to them. Being a regular contributor is great for your résumé but also awesome for inbound links and search engine optimization (SEO), especially if it's a quality site.

May

Make the month of May customer outreach month! Ask 10 customers five questions. Have them fill out a questionnaire and publish their stories on your site. This is especially good if you have different customer segments. You can illustrate their problem and how your solution solves it. Make sure you've optimized the page for your target market keywords as well.

June

June is podcast month. People need something to listen to at the beach or on a long car ride, right? Start a regular podcast that focuses on your industry. Then put the episodes up on iTunes for anyone to listen to. For inspiration, check out Duct Tape Marketing's series or Content Matters with Barry Feldman and Andy Crestodina.

July

If you've been publishing great content to a blog why not take five related posts and create a themed e-book? Hubspot does a great job with their step-by-step guide on how to go about doing it, including templates you can use. Make sure you're optimizing the blog posts and your e-book with keywords and phrases you want to be found for.

August

Another infographic? This is super simple. Take nuggets of information from other companies' published reports that illustrate your story. Cite where you got each piece of info from and flow it into an infographic with your logo front and center. Then make sure you get it out into the wild! Since it's summer and content is scarce, there are a lot of sites looking for great content to republish, so make it be yours!

September

Create a video about how to use your product or service. One way to do this is to create a presentation, like a Slide Share, and then video yourself taking your audience through the presentation. Then post it to your own website (maybe in the help or FAQ section), publish it on YouTube, and share it.

October

October might have an up and coming movie launch that's going to be big. Think 50 Shades of Grey or Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Get in on the game and do some fun blog posts, promotions, or landing pages around these launches. At Dasheroo, we wanted to do something around Data Wars: The Metrics Awaken! It would have been fun but we were too late, don't let the Force leave you behind!

November

Create a contest where you ask people to post Instagram photos of themselves using your product or that feature your logo and hashtags that matter to your business and your industry. Head on over to this awesome article on Social Media Examiner for a step-by-step guide on how to do it successfully.

December

If your company lends itself to capitalizing on anything holiday-related, why not build content around it? My last company, VerticalResponse, launched an "Everything Holiday" site where they offered email marketing templates and a marketing calendar for small businesses.

Of course you'll need to work with laws and regulations and copyright information. Plus, you'll need to optimize every piece of content for the keywords you want to be found for. And you'll need to keep posting this content to your social networks, over and over. But this is a great foundation you can build from right now. What are you waiting for?