This probably isn’t a great thing to admit as an entrepreneur, but I’m a bit of a procrastinator. Especially when it comes to the things I don’t like to do (ahem, writing social media posts). But I got sick of feeling like I was constantly on my back foot in my business, so I buckled down and got serious about planning marketing content in advance.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was a game changer for my business. Not only did it make me more organized, it helped me plan strategically versus just throwing up random content and it drastically reduced my stress level.
No matter how you slice it, marketing your business is work. Writing content, posting it, promoting it – it’s a job in and of itself sometimes. But it doesn’t need to run your life. By planning it and getting out in front of it, you can take control of your content, make it much more manageable, and make it work harder for you.
So how do you do it, planning marketing content in advance so it’s less of a headache? It’s actually easier than you think. Read on for all the steps and my personal tips!
Step 1: Plan your planning.
Planning doesn’t just happen. It takes time too. And if you skip on the planning step that makes all the other steps irrelevant. So plan you planning time! Put it on the calendar each month and schedule time for getting all of your content written and posted on your different channels.
Then – and this is the critical part – stick to your schedule. Treat your business like it’s just as important as any other business you work on, because IT IS! You wouldn’t stand up your client, so give your own business the same courtesy.
Step 2: Determine your channels.
Alright, you’ve carved out time to plan. You’re sitting in your comfiest chair with a piping hot cup of coffee. Pen is poised and you’re ready to roll.
The first step is to determine what channels you’re going to include in your content strategy. They could be (but aren’t limited to) email marketing, blogging, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, YouTube, a podcast, etc.
DO NOT try to tackle them all at once. Just because someone, somewhere said you should be on a particular channel, doesn’t mean you should. The only real channel every small business should be on, to some extent, is email marketing because building an email list is hugely important to the success of a business. It’s a group of people who have raised their hands and expressed interest in what you do or sell. And you have direct access to them. Why wouldn’t you want that? So start with email.
Beyond that, though, quality is more important than quantity. If you’re writing content for 8 different platforms but it’s all crap because you’re struggling to find the time, then it’s not doing you any good. Better quality content on fewer platforms will do more for your business.
Planning your content also makes it easier to repurpose content (new or old!), or use the same blog post for Instagram posts, Pinterest pins, or email.
So figure out what platforms your audience specifically uses and prioritize those.
Step 3: Determine your content pillars.
What are the things you’re going to post about in each channel? Outline some buckets. This will help keep you organized and also keep you from posting random stuff because you’re at a loss as to what to post.
Some great examples of content pillars or buckets are Brand Building (a.k.a sharing more about your business, how it came to be, what it means to you, what your mission is, etc.), Promotions, Products, User Generated Content, Tips & Tricks, Behind the Scenes, Launches, Inspirational Quotes, etc.
Have a handful of buckets for each channel you plan to post to (they can overlap!) and keep them handy.
Step 4: Keep an idea bank.
Once you have your buckets, create an “idea bank” for each one, which is really just a running list of ideas of things to post. As you come up with things, add them to the bank so you can use them later.
For instance, maybe you come across a really good Vera Wang quote on Pinterest one day while you’re just mindlessly scrolling, so you add the quote to your Inspirational Quotes idea bank. You may not need it right away, but it could be great to use in the future. And that’s what the idea bank is for – keeping track of things you think of or come across that would be good to post about at some point.
This is the best way I know to avoid sitting down every month to a blank sheet of paper and trying to come up with things to say.
It’s the worst, am I right?? Idea banks! They’ll be your new best friend.
Step 5: Figure out your cadence.
Here’s where a lot of people start to sweat because they think they need to be posting short monologues to Instagram everyday, writing a blog post every other day, doing a YouTube video, and sending out at least one email a week.
That sounds great – if you want to have absolutely no life or if you’re a super human, Spiderman level freak of nature. Because let’s be honest, that’s a s**t ton of content.
If there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s this – do what works for you. Take everyone else’s opinions out of it. You are only one person and you only have twenty-four hours in a day, and damn if you weren’t meant to live them strapped to your computer.
Be honest about your time. Start small with your commitment. If it goes well, increase it. If it’s too much, drop back.
I started out posting to Instagram 6 days a week, my blog once a week, and my email once a week. I burned myself out BIG TIME, friends. I was no fun to be around and my business suffered. I now post to Instagram 3 days a week, my blog once a month (if I can), and I’m trying to get back to once a month emails.
And guess what. Nobody cared. Nobody said anything. My business didn’t crumble. If anything, it got better because I stopped focusing so much on meeting my own ridiculous standards and started being okay with just doing what I could and being proud of that.
Moral of the story? You do you.
Step 6: Create your calendar (or even better, a spreadsheet).
Now’s the fun part. Or at least I think it’s fun, because I’m a visual person and I love to see things mapped out.
Put your calendar in front of you, get some different colored pens or some stickers, and prepare to plan. I actually have an entire automated calendar that I built out in Google Sheets and I do all my planning in there.
Start with doing just a month at a time. Write each channel in a different color, so it’s easy to tell what’s what. At this point you’re just mapping. Not writing. Not adding filters to photos. Just planning out when you’re going to post to each channel.
I like to make it easy on myself and start with the easy ones, like holidays. There’s a good chance you’ll have a post, maybe an email for Memorial Day, July 4th, Christmas, New Years etc. And we already know when those days are. So I add those to my calendar first.
Then I go to any major events for my business, which include launches, promotions, and content drops (for me, that’s blog posts, for others that might be podcast episodes or YouTube videos). Why are these next? Because my other content (like email newsletters and social posts) support and promote those events. So it’s good to know when I want those events to occur, so I can plan the supporting content accordingly.
Finally, I add in the rest, based on the cadence I established. I alternate between my content buckets, creating a pattern that’s easy to copy and paste. Consider this your game plan.
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Step 7: Writing it out and creating the assets.
Next up is actually writing the content. And this is the part that takes the most time. So break it up. Don’t feel like you need to get it all done in one day. I typically do social posts on one day, blog post another, and email on another. I block off an hour or two on my calendar and I stick to it.
Once you have your content buckets outlined and some ideas in your idea bank, you’ll find when you sit down to write, it’s a lot easier because the hardest part – knowing what to write about – is already done for you.
Step 8: Schedule your content.
The final step is to schedule your content. Getting it added to the appropriate platform and setting it to post automatically later on takes the pressure off of you when the time comes to actually set the content live. Because here’s the thing we’ve probably all learned to be true as entrepreneurs – no matter how good our intentions, things come up, the unexpected happens, our time gets overtaken by something else.
So do yourself a favor and post your content in advance. Don’t wait until the day of.
Step 9: Sit back, relax, and watch your content post itself.
Maybe pour yourself a glass of wine, because you’ve earned it.
Still overwhelmed about planning your content or confused about where to start? We can help! Drop us a note on our contact page and we can schedule some time to chat about how we can support you and your business!
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