I spoke about content marketing at a seminar this week and the attendees were so engaged with the content calendar portion of the discussion that I thought it would be good to create an entire blog post on the topic.
First, I often tell my clients that, as a personal brand or a business, you need to remember that your content isn’t really about you. Your content is about your audience: What do they want or need or like to see? Next, I tell them that content is king and consistency is the key to growth. A content calendar will help you consistently produce quality content.
A content calendar outlines your goals for a set time of blog and social media content. Commonly, calendars are outlined for about one month in advance. Your calendar will break your monthly goals into individual posts. For the planning stages of my master outline, I use a large paper calendar that I can then post on the wall above my desk. From there, most businesses use scheduling tools to batch content that will post automatically as scheduled (I like Hootsuite and Later).
You might have heard this before: buying is emotional. Your audience wants to know you, like you, and trust you before they buy from you. That’s why storytelling is so important for businesses. Content marketing allows businesses to weave their story into free, valuable content on channels that their clients like to use.
For many businesses, content marketing (blogging and social media) is more about increasing awareness than making sales.
The only way to sell in a content marketing strategy is to give first—and give A LOT. You need to offer valuable content to your audience if you want them to engage. A balanced calendar looks a little like: GIVE, GIVE, GIVE, GIVE, sell, repeat. Planning your content ahead ensures this balance and eliminates the stress of looking for something new to post each day.
Your content calendar can be simple or detailed, but detailed is always better. I start each new month of planning by writing the categories I want to include in my blog and social media calendars. My content revolves around four categories, “Learn, Career, Lifestyle, Journal,” that I rotate through. From there, I brainstorm specific blog topics to cover within each category. All these ideas are included in a master list to draw from as needed.
I choose four titles and add these to my content calendar, typically on Thursdays or Fridays when I plan to publish them. I also schedule blocks of time into my Google Calendar on a weekly basis to set aside time to write these blog posts.
I fill in other topics to chat about on Instagram and Facebook each day to ensure cohesiveness across all platforms and my blog. For example, I write in any important events that I need to refer to on social media: promotions, workshops, exciting milestones, etc. I also pencil in what I call my “hype days” 2-3 days before I have scheduled a blog post. This is where I introduce the upcoming blog topic in my social captions and ask readers if they have any questions they want answered.
Next, I write a few “free value” days into my calendar—these are all educational in nature. I might use lessons from previous blog posts here (every business with a digital presence should repurpose content!). The final empty days in my master calendar are filled with “motivate and inspire” tags. These are the days I will share a personal lesson, advice, or words of wisdom—anything to encourage my audience.
Once my outline is filled, I take a step back to check that it is balanced. For example, I try to not schedule a sales pitch two days in a row. Instead, sales are sprinkled throughout free value for my readers.
I schedule each type of content on a different app when my master calendar is finished. I use Later for Instagram and Hootsuite for everything else. I refer to my master calendar when refreshing my memory about the topics for the week. I’ll usually chat about the same topic on Instagram, Instagram Stories, and Facebook within one day, although the content is slightly different. My readers can expect a blog post as well once per week.
With so much going on at once, having content outlined makes it easier to stay on track. Then batch creating as much as possible saves time and stress throughout the week so you can focus on the other aspects of running your business.
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