Have you ever sat down at your computer with the intention of writing (whether it’s an Instagram caption or a sales email) and come up….blank?
It suuuuucks. (I’m not one to mince words.)
I can almost guarantee the people you see on Instagram with unfocused, lackluster content are the folks who don’t have a marketing plan in place.
A marketing plan is like the bird’s eye view of your year (or month or quarter) so you don’t feel like a tiny worm trying to tackle a year’s worth of content and getting completely buried.
I don’t know about you, but I find it much easier to write when there’s a topic already picked out.
Don’t take my word for it. Think about people making a movie. There’s a storyboard.
Someone writing a book? She has an outline.
Your social media is just a smaller version of a book. It’s paragraphs in a chapter instead of chapters within a novel.
Make sense? Good. Hopefully with this short yet powerful visual, you’ve seen…you need a plan.
And here’s how to do it easily!
Seriously. This is exactly what I do with myself and my clients. It helps to:
- Focus your writing so your marketing is also focused (no one is going to read a rambling Instagram post with no point – or, if they do, they won’t take action on it.)
- Ensure your Why is baked into every delicious thing you write (remember your Why? It’ll inspire your customers to take action and follow an enticing leader.)
- Guarantee no marketing moments are missed (nothing like remembering the day before an event to start promoting that you’ll be speaking there!)
- Add humanizing elements into your daily content (people buy from people, remember?)
- Give you a starting place to being writing (AKA: removes the Blinking Cursor Syndrome so you can get to work.)
Before we dive in, I made you a handy workbook with fillable spots for you to do this as you read, or come back to it later. Either way, it was created to be used so you can create content that you want to share and that’s valuable to your audience!
Step 1 | Identify Categories, Pillars, and/or Topics
What areas do you write about with authority? What topics will you explore in your social media, blogs, and emails?
These are things that you can talk about over and over, find different ways to share similar ideas about this, and so on.
Pillars and categories are generally the same thing. They’re topics you focus your content around. Think of them like blogging categories that you extend to social media, email, podcast interviews, etc.
They also are the pillars, or backbone, of your content.
For example: If you’re a florist, you may talk about:
- Arrangements: making monochromatic arrangements, how to start arranging flowers, using unique plants to add visual interest to your arrangements
- Cut flower care: how to care for all the different kinds of flowers, ways to make your flower arrangements last longer, how to cut flowers from plants in your yard so you continue to get beautiful blooms
- Making things with flowers: creating wreaths, making a wall garden, what to use to make a desk-top zen garden with succulents and cacti
Is there a florist reading this because I just gave you GOLD and I didn’t have to think for more than maybe three minutes!
Pick 4-6 final topics. The more focused you are, the more people will associate you with those areas of authority (AKA: you’ll be “known for something” and not “that person with the stuff doing the things.”)
Step 2 | Plan Out Themes for Each Month
When you have a monthly theme, everything will revolve around that and take away some of the Blinking Cursor Syndrome. They give you a direction on which to focus your writing.
These are overarching ideas (think: organization, inner wisdom, and so on) that are broader than your categories.
Remember: your categories will relate to your business and are things you can never run out of ideas to talk about (even if you just repurpose them in different ways. We’ll get to that!)
While your monthly themes will be broad, try to pick topics that relate to your business in some way. Even if it’s in abstract ways, make sure you can bring them back around to your business.
For example: my monthly theme for March is Spring Cleaning, so most of my content will focus on refreshing, cleaning, and organizing in some way.
Step 3 | Brainstorm Blog Titles and Specific Posts
Look at your categories and themes. What are the specific posts you’ll write that fit with your topics?
Pick a theme and start jotting down titles; just generate ideas and write, no censoring yourself or overthinking it here!
Even if you think something doesn’t have enough to be a full post, it could become a point within another larger post, so write it down.
Be as specific as possible. None of this “What’s my favorite flower” nonsense. No! Your titles should be strong and compelling. They should have a clear topic and drive the post.
For example: let’s say your monthly theme is Roses and your category is Arrangements.
Instead of “Why I Love Roses,” your title could be:
- 5 Reasons Roses are the Best Cut Flower for Arrangements
- The Number One Reason to Add Roses to Your Arrangements
- 10 Non-Cheesy Ways to Use Roses in Your Flower Arrangements
They’re specific, they tell the reader the benefit or knowledge they’ll receive, and have a strong point of view that correlates with your florist business.
Seriously, any florists want to work with me? I am a treasure trove of topic ideas!
If you need some inspiration to get started…
Think about your industry and the things you do in your business. Can you expand them into blog posts that your audience will find helpful?
The idea with sharing content is to position yourself as an expert and give away information. Yes, give away.
Use this as an opportunity to show people why they want to work with you instead of telling them, “Hey, work with me. I promise I know what I’m doing.”
You don’t have to give away all your secrets if you don’t want to. Truly, most people don’t care how you do it, they just want to know some insider info and feel special.
I mean, don’t you feel special knowing this is my exact process for generating a ton of ideas?
I bet it’s making you say, “Damn, I need to talk to her and see if she can do that for me.” (PS: we can totally sit – and work – together!)
Look at other blogs in your industry. Can you put your own spin on what they’ve started? Link back, of course! Stealing shit is so not fetch.
(Okay, I’m done with the Mean Girls references.)
Look at what you’ve already written. Has anything changed and you want to write the post fresh? An alternative is refreshing the current post with new information.
Is there anything you could follow up on? Maybe there’s a series idea in there, like a series on caring for succulents. Water, light, soil, and so on.
Perhaps you already have enough content to create a series, so your new post can be a roundup of your 5 best flower care posts.
Step 4 | Sort Your List by Category
When you have a substantial list, go back to your categories and color code.
You can do this on your page with markers or write each topic on a colored Post-It Note. Mark each topic idea you generated with what category it would fit in.
This is also the time to look over the topics and cross off or combine anything that doesn’t stand alone.
Assigning categories to posts now will help as you build your calendar in the next step. You’ll quickly see if you’re too heavy in one topic area at a time.
Step 5 | Assign Publish Dates
Give your posts a job and assign them a publish date.
But first…. Be realistic about your posting schedule!
Try to do less than you think you’re capable of doing. Essentially, don’t overcommit yourself.
There’s a good chance you’ll get behind, overwhelmed, or skip a day or two and don’t get back on track if you give yourself too much too quickly.
(Hello, Speaking From Experience Party of 1, your table is ready!)
When you batch plan, write, and schedule your content, it’s less likely for that to happen. But still. Don’t borrow trouble.
Set yourself up for success and little wins, especially if you’re just starting or recommitting to this muscle of writing.
If you have a fear of running out of ideas….that’s totally valid and that won’t happen. You just generated a huge list of topics and you’ll probably generate more ideas as you begin to outline.
You’ll see that one post is long or find a topic that could be split in two.
Pick a good, better, and best number for posts you’re holding yourself to producing. I learned this from Steph Crowder of Courage and Clarity. This always works for me.
Start filling in with the “good” number, then add to it until you have topics assigned for each day with your best number.
Now that we have had that conversation…
Plan your posts out on a calendar. Do it on paper, move it into your calendar, or add it to your project management tool (hello, Asana!)
Now, look at the color coding from the categories and vary your posting so you don’t have all flower arranging tips in one month and nothing about cut flower care.
The easiest way to do this is to mark Topic 1 on your calendar, then Topic 2 for the next date, then Topic 3 for the next, and so on.
Make a series and just go through each category making sure each one is represented, then repeat from the top.
And that’s that.
Everyone will tell you that you need to plan things and your editorial content is no different.
Whether it’s social media, blogs, and/or emails, having a schedule and knowing what you’re going to write helps the actual writing process.
I made you a handy workbook for you so you can print it out and do this on paper as you go through the practice of creating a content calendar for your marketing (I’m a total pen and paper gal) or fill it in and save it to your computer.
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