Ep 85 | Your 2021 Content Plan
I've shared with you how I plan for my year, now I'm giving you tools for creating your content plan for the year. It's an easy step-by-step plan that you can implement easily to simplify your content strategy and keep things moving forward.
In this episode you'll learn:
→ why content is important.
→ step-by-step instructions to line out your content ideas.
→ why batching makes content creation easier.
Want to skip ahead? Here are some key takeaways:
[3:47] Content creation is so important for the longevity of your business. It sets you up as a leader in your industry. It helps you build your social media strategy and it gives you information you can share in your email campaigns on a weekly basis. It also helps with your SEO which will help with long-term growth as time goes on.
[5:28] Start with reviewing what you've already planned out for the year. Remind yourself of what big events are coming up throughout the year. This can include personal and professional events. Determine when you're in sales/launch phases of your business and when you're in general brand awareness phases.
[7:15] Grab a piece of paper for each month and divide it half. On the left side you'll write out your content ideas for each week. On the right side you'll put the important events that are happening during that same time period so you can visualize what's coming up for planning. I also include what different social holidays make sense for you business to help with generating content ideas.
[11:09] Then start to fill in topics based off of the layout you just did. This can be for the whole year but I typically like to start with the first quarter and maybe some core things for the following months.
[12:18] Block off actual dates on your calendar for your content batching.
[14:48] Now that you know what you're doing it's time to enlist you team and share the load. Encourage everyone on your staff to start writing, researching or whatever to help support the strategy.
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[INTRO] Hey there, Sami here with another episode of Digital Marketing Therapy. And today I am knee-deep in organizing my 2021 content calendar. So for me, that means, what am I going to be talking about on my podcast, really through the rest of this year, but then also, now that I know what my plans are for 2021, kind of lining out my strategy episodes, plan, all of that good stuff. And so I wanted to share kind of my process with you. So hopefully, it will help you create your content strategy for your organization, whether it be a blog, YouTube, podcast, whether you do it weekly, monthly, whatever, having things planned out in advance can really be helpful. In staying on top of things, I have definitely gotten behind on batching my podcast episodes, and let me tell you, it just creates way more stress for me and on a week to week basis. And so I want to get back into my good habits and back into batching. And back into really knowing what's coming and really targeting the specific guests and things that I know are going to bring value to you guys. So that you have the best information at your fingertips when you're ready to kind of make the decisions that you're doing with your website with your online donations with your content strategy, with your email marketing, all of those good things. So that's what I'm going to talk with you about today.
But before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by our digital marketing therapy sessions, these 30-minute sessions are one on one with me via zoom. And so if you like what you hear in the episode today, I really encourage you to check it out, book some time with me. So I can help you create that content strategy for you so that you can go into 2021 with ease, understanding what you need to be doing have making sure you have the right resources, the right staff, the right whatever that you need to pull it all together, I would love to help support you in that. Because I really, truly do believe that having a strong content strategy can really help you out in the short term, but especially in the long run. And we're in this business to be in it for the long run, right. So knowing that some of these steps you're taking are really going to benefit you in the future. I am so excited to talk with you one on one about that. So https://www.thefirstclick.net/officehours. Book your digital marketing therapy session with me, I can't wait to get to know you and help you build your content strategy. But for now, let's get into the episode.
[CANNED INTRODUCTION] You're listening to the Digital Marketing Therapy Podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business.
[BODY] So back in Episode 79, I kind of walked you through how I plan for next year kind of how I take a look at the big picture and how I boil it down into what activities I'm going to do what might kind of overall schedule looks like launch events, promotions, whatever.
One of the big pieces of my strategy is creating consistent regular content. And I talked about that in that episode. And so I wanted to kind of dive deeper into that into how I actually kind of create my content calendar, how I go about finding people to be on my podcast, what that looks like. So I'm going to talk you through a little bit of that today. And I know I've talked about this on a lot of episodes.
But before we really kind of dive into that I do want to talk about why content is important. And there's so many reasons why. So I just kind of want to boil that down real quick. But number one, it helps you become a trusted authority in your field or your niche. So it gets you out there It gets you talking or writing it gets you building that reputation, which helps other people get to know you trust your organization and kind of build that base with them. And really get people excited about who you are, what you do what you serve, and keep coming back to your website for more. It's also great for SEO, because you have content that's living and breathing and new and on your website for search engines to really understand more about who you serve, how you serve them. And while you're a trusted resource. And it's also great for your social media. Whatever your social media plan strategy, your email marketing plan or strategy is having a content plan helps you build out all of those posts. So you're not have to not having to sit there and think about like, what am I going to post today? or What should I talk about, you can have a dedicated plan for things that you want to push out to your audience and share with them. So all of those reasons are great reasons and why we love content. And also as you build these things up over time. It's really just going to start to pay off in generating leads, generating donations, generating sales, generating customers, because the more information you have available for them to the better off you are. So that is why this content piece is so important. And I understand that it doesn't always pay off immediately. But I promise you over time, you will really start to see the impact that creating consistent regular content can have on your organization.
So how do I go about producing my annual content calendar? Well, the first thing I do is take a look at what I have kind of planned out annually. And I've talked about this briefly on other episodes. Because you're going to have different phases in your business, you're going to have phases that are just kind of brand awareness, where you're kind of in a lull, and maybe your outward sales part of your calendar. And then you're gonna have periods of time where you're in launch mode, maybe you're getting ready for a big event or, for us, we're planning on running.
Now planning, don't hold this, don't hold this 100% to me, because you know, we'll learn a lot throughout the year. But we're planning on holding four virtual summits next year to educate nonprofits on a couple different topics. So leading up to those summits, my content is going to be very different, and include different people compared to in between when we're not getting ready to go into registration and watch all that. Plus, each of my summits has different topics. So leading up to those summits, I'm also going to be focusing on the topics that we're going to be sharing in the summit, to engage people to try to get them excited about it to get them ready to go and sign up for more, to get more information to dive deeper.
So I start out with my annual calendar, and I haven't done it this year yet. But in years past, I've literally gotten the giant pink, post it notes from whatever your favorite office supply store and put them on my wall and had 12 of them up there and had one for each month and mapped out the weeks. I'm a visual person in that way. And I love to handwrite things. So I don't know what I'm going to do this year, I might just use computer paper and line it out. But I like to have one page for each month. And on each page, I'm writing the month. If I know what my sales goal is, that month, I will write that on that piece of paper. I'm also working on my budget, but that will be a whole nother I have way more fun planning my content than I have working with my financials. So that's like my work in progress. And my goals for next year is to help or to become better at that. But I digress.
Okay, so each month has the month, the budget goal for that month financial goal, it could be whatever you're tracking, but something that you know, you're tracking monthly, it could be new email subscribers, if that's your big goal. It could be net sales, it could be expenses if you're trying to keep expenses down, whatever. But there's some big numbers, something there that's tangible that I can track. And then I put each week and leave a space afterwards. So that I can write in the topics and things that I'm thinking about talking about on the left side. So I'll kind of split the paper in half. And on the right column, I will put what events what key events are happening on those same weeks. So if I know that I my summit is that week, then I will put that on that week for that month. If I know that I am going to be on vacation during that time I write that down on like the event side, just because it also helps me visualize, okay, well, if I know I'm going to be gone, then I need to record X amount of episodes prior to that so I can have everything done and ready to go.
So I lay all that out. So then I can really easily see big picture. Here's when all the big things are happening. Here's when big things are happening professionally and personally. And start to fill in some dates. I might also at this time, look at some of the social media holiday calendars. So let's say you're really, really, really into coffee. So national coffee day, if there's a way that you could spin that and turn that into a blog post or an episode that might be a great way for you to be like okay, yeah, I want to launch an episode or I want to write a blog post about you know, maybe you're an environmental organization, and you want to write a blog post that goes out on national coffee day that talks about the best companies that grow sustainable coffee beans, or whatever. Maybe it's national donut day, and you are a kid's organization. And so you want to write a write up of the kids in your organization and their favorite places to go get donuts. I know that's not the healthiest thing but just you know, bear with me.
Maybe your Um, well like for me, for example, I might do things around like national tech day or things like that. About what are my favorite tech tools? Or, you know, what are great resources and apps that people can use online. So well, like looking at those social calendars will also help you like you can write those key dates in on your event side of each piece of paper. Don't go crazy with that don't do that too often really find the ones that you can hone in and create like a really fun message and a really fun piece of information. But something that's also still impactful for your organization, maybe it's the anniversary, one year anniversary of when you guys started, and you want to do a milestone report and say, Okay, well, you know, not your annual report, but something that's more kind of a marketing piece that's like, you know, here's all the things that we're celebrating that we've accomplished this year, and, and thanking your donors for their support. Okay, so I start there. So I start putting all of those things down on each individual piece of paper. And sometimes this takes a couple passes, sometimes I have to do it a couple times. Because new ideas will kind of come to me, I you know, reach out to certain people because I know I want this particular topic, who do you have for this, and then it sparks other conversations. So you know, I definitely like to do it one time, and then revisit it about a week later.
But then I start to actually fill in topics. So I know, these are the dates that I want to start to talk about certain things I know prior to the launch, prior to my virtual summit launch my six topics, six podcast episodes before that are probably going to be summit speakers, hopefully, people that are going to be there that could talk a little bit about maybe the intro piece to what they're going to be talking about during the summit. So you guys could get to know them. You could say Oh, yeah, I really like that topic. I want to know more.
So that kind of blocks out that period of time. And then right after the summit, it might be you know, more me and less interviews. But who knows. So I start to play with that and see what what's happening.
And then the next step that I have never done, but I'm going to do I know and this is terrible for me to say because we are what in Episode 85, yikes. We've been doing this for about a year. Let's see, when did our first episode came out, our first episode came out in May of 2019. So we've been doing this for about a year and a half. And I have been terrible about batching content here. And I know I talk about all the time, but I've been terrible. So what I want to do. Now especially because my kids are still in online learning my husband's still working from home, it looks like we're going into another kind of mini shut down here, at least in Oregon. So it's hard for me, I'm recording this on a Saturday, so my kids can be next door at their uncle and grandma's house just hanging out.
And so I'm going to really mark calendar dates and block them off on my schedule. So I want to go ahead and do that in advance. Because the beauty is you can change your calendar, right. But I have people that schedule automatically through my schedulers I have, you know, consultation links. On my website, I have, you know, the office hours that you heard about the digital marketing therapy sessions earlier. So people have the ability to pick the times and choose on my calendar to meet with me. So I really want to go ahead and block off, you know, at least two times a month, you know, recording days so that I can get two or three episodes done. Now the interviews might be a little bit different. But at least on those days, I am recording the intros and outros, you know, making sure my editor has everything that he needs, getting the descriptions done, the titles done, and all of that good stuff. So that hopefully we only have to do the show notes also, one or two times a month.
So that's kind of the the last step, making sure you have content ready. And there are days ready where you can batch the content. And then I guess the final piece is really just reaching out and trying to find the folks that you know, are going to be the right fit. And I'm talking more about podcast here. So but the same rings true. So the beauty is if you're writing blog posts, it's almost easier because maybe it's you know, maybe you have several members of your team. And you can say, Okay, here are all of the topics that we know we want to talk about for the first quarter. Right. And I'm not suggesting that you have to have weekly topics for the entire year. And I tend to kind of just like to have it written out. I like to have my first kind of couple of months solid, maybe the first quarter if I can, knowing things are going to adjust and change. But anyway, maybe you say okay, here's our quarter one topics for 2021. Who feels most inspired by whatever, you can start assigning them out. People can start writing them ahead of time, and you can share the load in that regard. But everybody knows, okay, now I've got this blog post that's due on this date, that has to be turned in and then if you use a project management tool, like you know, we love ClickUp, but Asan, Trello, whatever. They're all great.
You can create a template around each blog post. And I'll go deeper into this on a nother episode about how we kind of template out and how we're templating out our social media and our content strategy. But it could be okay, you have your template for your project management tool, and it says, okay, blog post is due on, like rough draft is due on this date, and then so and so has to edit it and approve it on this date graphics are created on this date, social media graphics are created by this date, and then you know, so it's the same deadline. So you can duplicate all of those tasks in your project management tool and assign it to the appropriate people. And now, not only are you sharing the load, but you have a tracking mechanism that makes it really easy to stay on task and understand where people are if things are falling behind, so that you can stay consistent.
Okay, I'm not going to dive too much into that. Now, we'll do that in a separate episode.
So if so, if you've got a blog, you can share the load, if you're doing a YouTube channel, same thing, like you can go and record a bunch of episodes all at once and get them to your editor all at once, get the graphics created all at once. So that maybe you're only doing that content creation on a monthly basis. Now, again, it depends on the format of your show. But maybe you have only one interview, a month, or whatever, but figure out what that schedule looks like for you and how you can automate it as much as possible and how you can pull it all together and batch it as much as possible, so that you don't find yourself stuck. That has been the biggest hurdle for me, since COVID, like getting organized around my podcast, getting things ahead of schedule, especially with everybody being home. And, you know, we're also recording my daughter's podcast at the same time. So that time management piece has been tricky for me, but I feel like we're gonna get through it. I'm working on doing the same stuff that I'm telling you guys to do this week, to get 2021 all done and scheduling those days so that I know when I'm creating content, because I will say while blogging can be easier, you still have to have that time and space to be able to sit down and write. If you are getting interrupted all the time or you know, if you're rushed, sometimes that's when the content doesn't come together like you'd want it to. So scheduling those writing days is crucial can be critical in getting that content out and ready to go. So that is how I put my plans together for my content calendar.
That is what I'm going to be doing this week. So I will try to share some of that with you guys on Instagram, over the course of the next week. You know, it's all the things and we're doing the best we can. So get out there, figure out your content strategy, how often you're going to be posting First, we talked about that in Episode 79. Like I said, How I plan. But get that going and then get your strategy lined out and ready to go so that you have you have a path, and you know where you're going. And one other thing I do want to say that I have often found that when I do this exercise, when I brainstorm like this,
it helps me to just brain dump a bunch of ideas that are in my head. I mean, how many times have you sat there and been like, Oh, I have this really good idea for a blog post. And then I lost it right. So I'll keep those sheets in a folder next to my desk so that I can just kind of jot notes down as I go and say, Oh, yeah, this would be great for this time. And I can put them on that particular month. And I can't tell you how many times I've gone back to those sheets on that given month and been like, oh, like, Thank you like, I'm so thankful that I have these notes here because I had totally forgotten about some of these ideas that I had putting down, had put down putting down three that I had put down and they're still great ideas and things that I can utilize. So whether you use that as an Excel spreadsheet, whether using air table, a piece of paper or your planner, whatever I don't care do what makes the most sense for you and your and the way that you work that I highly recommend continuing to drop those notes down and keep those pieces of papers that you can continue to have a space to put all your ideas so you don't lose them. Because that's that's the worst. Yeah. Anyway, that's how I do it. Get a piece of paper out, put the month at the top, whatever the big goal is for that month, but your paper and half left side has the weeks so that you can put the content that you're actually doing right side has all of the events that are happening at that same time so that you know how to match things up. And then schedule your time to batch your content and get your team and board members, whatever in terms, get them all involved and have them help in creating this content for you.
[CLOSING] That's it for today. I hope this was super helpful for you. Please make sure you subscribe, wherever you listen, I would hate for you to miss out on a single episode. And if there's something you would like us to talk about that we haven't covered yet. Please hit us up. We would love to you know learn about that @thefirstclickmarketingon Facebook and Instagram, but for now we'll see in the next one