Do you ever wonder how other businesses and entrepreneurs seem to have a never-ending stream of content showing up on their social media feeds? How they can be constantly publishing updates, yet also do the work they actually get paid for?
The key to achieving this is to create a content plan and batch as much of the updates as possible. A well thought out plan will give you a task list to complete, making it much easier to promote the right thing at the right time in your business without always needing to be thinking it through.
I’m going to suggest planning your next three months of content all at once. I’ve done this for my own business as well as for clients, and it’s always been a good amount of time.
Why three months?
- It’s enough time to make the whole process worthwhile. You’ll see that there is a fair bit of work involved, and to be honest the plan should take almost the same amount of time for 3 months as it would for 1 month.
- It’s not so long that your plans will change dramatically. In business, we have to be nimble – yet even if you decide to change your core offer or run a different promotion, it will likely take a few weeks to plan and implement that change.
Creating a Content Calendar
There are a couple different pieces to a content calendar, so it can be a bit overwhelming to get started.
You can have a promotional calendar, content creation calendar, and social media calendar all working within your content calendar.
A simple way to get started is to create a spreadsheet with the days of your calendar (start with 3 months) across the top and your different marketing platforms (e.g. social channels, email marketing, blog, digital ads, radio ads, print ads, etc) down the side.
I like to start with my conversion-based content. After all, there’s no point in creating content for people to know, like and trust you if you’re never going to ask them to buy something or at least sign-up for your email list.
Starting with your promotional calendar, mark the dates that you plan to be selling and fill in the cells with a quick description of what you’ll do on each channel to share your campaigns.
If you follow a launch model, you’ll have periods of highly concentrated promotions followed by longer periods of blank space.
If your products and services are evergreen, you’ll likely sprinkle the promotional material throughout the calendar, thinking about the seasonality of what you offer (think pumpkin spice latte) so you can focus on one feature at a time.
Highlight the cells of the promotional pieces in a single colour. Later, you might use different shades to denote different campaigns.
Content Creation Calendar
If you create original content (blogs, videos, graphics, etc.), start by scheduling them out on their native platforms (e.g. video on YouTube, blog post on your website). How often do you currently produce content on average? Try to keep your first 3-month plan as close to your usual pace as possible (because if it’s not realistic, you’re never gonna stick to it for 90+ days).
If you have different categories of content, you can identify these in the cells descriptions (e.g. email newsletter vs. drip campaign) with a number next to them (e.g. marketing video 1, marketing video 2).
In the past, I’ve put in specific titles of what I was supposed to write about, but I have found that it makes content creation pretty dry. Instead, I try to draft pieces when I’m inspired and jot down ideas as they come to me. That way, when I have to publish something I’ve got a pretty good starting point.
Next, plan how you will market your original content on the other channels. You might choose to schedule the same piece multiple times on social media the week it is published, then once a week for the rest of the month, then once a quarter after that. This will depend on the platform, type of content, and audience – but most people spend too much time creating content and not enough time promoting it.
When you promote your content, you might straight-out share a link or do something more custom like creating pull-quote graphics.
Again, highlight all of your content creation in a single colour. You might use different shades for promoting different original content, but you should be able to clearly distinguish your original content from your promotional marketing.
Social Media Calendar
The easiest way to create your social media calendar is to audit what you’re already posting. Do you share a lot of timely content or personal stories?
If so, highlight cells on the different channels in a new colour in a pattern that reflects the number of posts you put up so you can see how often you need to post in that feed.
You might distinguish certain goals (such as doing live video every week), but otherwise, you just need to be conscious of getting on there and posting.
If you post shared media (links to external content), you can simply highlight the cells you’ll be sharing links in another shade of the same colour.
I use Pocket to bookmark and tag articles/posts/etc that I think are relevant to my audience. Later, you might use those tags to categorize your shared media.
Another often unlooked source of content is informative or inspirational status updates. What types of things do people ask you that you can answer quickly and easily? What types of things anger or inspire you? Use these to write updates in the form of tips, statements and quotes.
I find it’s easiest to use a social media scheduler to batch my links and preplanned updates for the next three months, leaving gaps for real-time content to be shared.
The trick is not to be overly ambitious with your plan and to focus on consistency rather than volume. Don’t start out planning to create more than you currently create and keep a little extra content in the bank for a rainy day. You can always add more as you go.
Just as a budget is meant to help you get the most out of your money, a content calendar is meant to help you get the most out of your marketing.