Planning an entire year in advance – who DOES that??
You should – if you want to stay focused and on track to meet your marketing goals. To be more specific – if your marketing strategy includes blogging, sending e-newsletters, or any other form of content that you share digitally, a content calendar is a powerful tool to make your online marketing more effective. And without one, you could be just another boring fish in the online marketing sea.
As someone who does nearly all of my business online and connects with thousands of people every week using online tools, a content calendar is a no-brainer. Knowing what I want to share with my audience ahead of time makes my writing more efficient and my work less stressful. It keeps me organized. It keeps me focused on the bigger goal of constantly finding new ways to serve my best customers better.
Think of it like this: let’s say you live in Oklahoma City, and you plan to drive to Los Angeles, somewhere you’ve never been. Even though you have the fantastic invention of GPS, plus a paper map and a good friend who knows the city well to help you get to your destination efficiently and safely, you simply get in your car and start driving west.
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You don’t even consider what asphalt cooking in 115-degree heat could do to your tires. You ignore the signs that read “next gas station 158 miles”. You just drive aimlessly, surviving on cold fried chicken you bought at the Albertson’s in Needles because there was literally nothing else open. You’re not sure how or when you’ll get to LA.
You’ll probably still get there… but it could be a much longer and more frustrating trip than it needed to be, all because you didn’t take a few minutes to plan.
Content creation is like that. Without a clear path to your destination, it becomes a vicious cycle that alternates between writer’s block and hopelessness.
Thankfully, a bit of planning will keep you from getting lost in the Mojave Desert of content development.
If you’re reading this with a sceptical eye, then you’re probably someone who struggles with the question “But how do I know what to write about?” The answer is simple: ask your audience.
If your audience is engaged with you and asks you questions, you can build your content calendar to address their needs. Your audience is probably the most powerful planning tool you have at your disposal. The more engaged you are with them, the more they’ll tell you what they want, and the easier it is to plan your content strategy well in advance.
Wondering how to create a content strategy that has your business’s longer-term objectives in mind? Here are a few tips:
- Focus on monthly themes. You don’t have to have every blog title, and every YouTube video script written out. But by choosing a general theme for each month, you have a framework around which to develop each piece of content. As you come up with new ideas, slot them into the most relevant themes to start building out the calendar.
- Plan content around your launches. Are you planning to launch a new product or program this year? Up to a month before your launch, start promoting content that relates to whatever you’re going to be selling; it brings more people into the fold who are likely to buy from you.
- Solve your audience’s problems. Survey your email list or Twitter followers; find out what they want to know and use that information to create your themes and your content.
- Be flexible. Just like a business plan, it’s impossible to stick to your content plan like glue. Be responsive to your audience’s new questions, and pay attention to current events to see if you can leverage those to make more people aware of your brand.
Ready for a smooth ride on the content creation highway? Take ten minutes today and create your monthly content themes for the rest of 2015. Your audience will thank you.
When Jessica Oman (the Renegade Planner) isn’t busy helping her clients start and grow businesses that earn them a 6-figure income, she’s road-tripping in the USA with her hubby and pooch, or developing her appreciation for a good West Coast IPA. She’s written the Ultimate Guide to Leaving Your Job and Planning a Business you Can Bank on, which you can download free by clicking here.