Publishing regular content is one of the best ways to grow your audience, generate new leads and build a strong brand. But it’s not something that happens by accident.
Small businesses that produce the best content – the kind of content that makes you want to buy their products/services – is almost always the result of a strategically planned content calendar.
Don’t worry if you’re brand new to the idea of creating a content calendar. I know it can be a daunting idea so I’ve created a handy resource that breaks the whole process down into manageable chunks.
Meet the 2019 Media Diary: an A4 desk planner packed with awareness days, key business dates and useful templates that you can tweak to fit your business. The diary is based on a six-step process that will help you create content that is consistent, helps you meet your marketing goals and, best of all, provides your audience with real value.
Here’s how it’s done…
This is not a job that you can do in small bursts. To create an effective content calendar you need to be in that creative zone where the ideas flow freely, and that can take a little time.
If possible block out half a day for your planning session. I find it helpful to escape the office (and its many distractions) and go somewhere relaxing. For you this could be your local library, your favourite café or a hotel lobby.
This is the part where you want to think about your content strategy. You’re creating content because you want to be noticed but it can be useful to dig a little deeper than that.
Do you want to establish yourself as an expert in your industry? Maybe you want to develop new relationships with a certain audience? Or perhaps you’re trying to drive sales of a new product or service?
Knowing why you’re creating content, and who you’re creating it for, will help you decide which channels to publish on, how often you need to show up and the type of content you should create.
The 2019 Media Diary is full of key dates, both national and international, that you can use as a starting point for content ideas. Read: How the 2019 Media Diary Can Help You Create 52 Weeks of Content
Take some time now to tailor these to your target audience and update your calendar with the dates that’ll be relevant to your business.
It’s a good idea to start with the obvious ones like Christmas and Halloween because we all know how quickly these dates sneak up on you when you’re busy.
And if you want to get your new range of Christmas-themed luxury hampers into magazine gift guides in time for the festive period, you’ll need to pitch your idea a good three to six months ahead of the publication date. Forward planning is definitely the key here.
Next, add other events, from the sporting (such as Wimbledon, the Four Nations and the Rugby World Cup) to the political (Brexit, election dates, budget day, etc). They won’t all be obviously relevant but could spark interesting ideas and new angles for content that you haven’t previously considered.
The diary also contains hundreds of awareness days, from the serious to the frivolous (who knew doughnuts had their own day?), which can provide inspiration for content, or even a new product launch.
For example, Doughnut Day could be a great opportunity for a nutritional therapist to promote a recipe for low-sugar doughnuts or could even be the starting point for a new product launch, like a healthy dessert recipe book.
The Media Diary contains a handy proforma for your annual planning. If you’re a Media Diary Owners’ Club member, as well as additional support on how to use your diary and accountability based around your 2019 content planning, you’ll also get this page as a printable so you can create an overview of your business year, quarter by quarter. Read: Media Diary vs Media Diary Owners’ Club: What’s the Difference?
Note down the key awareness dates that you’ve decided are relevant for your content and add key dates in your business too, including any new product launches or events you’re planning to attend.
If you find this bit tricky, it’s possible that you need to spend more time defining your business goals for the year. Once you know what you want to happen in your business each quarter, you’ll find it easier to plan your content around it.
And remember that nothing is set in stone so be flexible in your planning and don’t overthink it.
Write down the most important dates and awareness days you’ve identified along with the launches and events you have planned for you own business.
With everything mapped out like this you’ll see any gaps in your content (for example, if you aren’t dedicating enough content to the promotion of a particular product) and since the ideas are already written down it’ll be a million times easier to create weekly content plans, even when you’re going through a busy period.
Your weekly plans are the final piece of the content puzzle. Thanks to your quarterly plan you know what you’ll be publishing each week. So now you need to break it down into a daily schedule, deciding what you can repurpose for your emails, your newsletter and your social media channels.
It’s a good idea to fill these in a couple of weeks in advance to give you the time you need to write, source images or outsource your content creation.
The Media Diary has additional pages that contain space for you to plan the content you’re going to share on each of your social media channels, which is great for a quick overview of how your content is going to look each week.
Following these steps may feel like hard work at first but once you get into the flow, you’ll start to feel more creative and there’ll be no stopping you. And with your 2019 content mapped out you’ll find you produce great quality content with the consistency you need to build authority and gain visibility for your business.