I’ve mentioned previously why it’s a good idea to write blogs when you’re quiet at work, but planning and creating your content in advance is another way to get organised with your marketing.
You might have heard of a content calendar or an editorial calendar – this is a tool people use to plan and schedule their content, often at the beginning of the year. These can be basic – a spreadsheet or even a wall chart is more than enough. You need to list the title, the publication date and where you’ll share it.
However, if you’re just starting out with content, you’ve got a new site you want to drive content to or you want to communicate with your audience in different ways, you can implement a calendar at any time. Many people plan their content for a full 12 months, while others prefer to do it on a quarterly basis, to give themselves flexibility to add or adjust their content as the year progresses.
You may choose to allocate a theme to each month or quarter, or work in ‘seasons’ – a set period where you put out a lot of content and then slow the pace for the following few weeks. This is a strategy used by podcasters and vloggers, and is particularly useful as you get busier.
Advantages of Planning Content
So, how will it help your business if you plan your content? Firstly, knowing your topics makes you more prepared – you’ve got your blogs, videos or podcasts mapped out and know what’s coming next. It also means you’ve got time to prepare, and you can allocate time in your diary to produce and schedule your content, whatever it is.
Having a calendar or tracker allows you to find more opportunities to share your evergreen content – anything that’s helpful or informative that continues to provide value to new and existing audiences, no matter when it was created. Just make sure you give it a quick read or watch to make update or remove any outdated statistics or tools you’ve mentioned.
When you’re creating seasonal content (Christmas is the obvious one, but you might tie in school holiday or festival dates) you need to be ready to share with people well ahead of time. Take a tip from magazines and give yourself at least a couple of months to build up to the date. If you can build interest, your audience will come back to you for the next instalment.
You might make your content industry-specific, and talk about key dates and events across the year. November and December are good for accountants to start talking about annual tax returns, and in recent years pensions enrolment and GDPR have both been hot topics for almost all business owners – these had launch dates that required people to be compliant, but are ongoing legal requirements for new and growing companies.
If you’re going to a conference or event, there’s lots of potential to create content before, during and after. Write a blog about the speakers you’re most looking forward to, use live social media stories to show people what you’re experiencing (and what they’re missing) and find the event hashtag to use across platforms. You might interview some delegates, the organisers and even the speakers to get their view on the conference, and produce a summary to share afterwards in which ever medium/s you think will engage people.
Planning your content in advance means you’re prepared and you know exactly what you’ll be sharing throughout the year.
Similarly, if you’re planning your own event, start talking about it as soon as possible. Encourage attendees to share the booking link and info page as much as they can, and give them an incentive to do so (a retweet, an affiliate link, a competition for the most shares). This creates lots of material for you to reuse, too. And make sure you talk about other people’s local event too, where appropriate to your business.
You may also want to talk about national and international events – international women’s day or International Youth Day, or even something like Shrove Tuesday, to generate interaction on your social channels and show your audience a more personal side to your business.
Don’t forget, creating content around annual events also gives you opportunities for evergreen content and helps you fill up your planner or calendar. Try to be flexible with some of your plan, though, so if something crops up unexpectedly you want to respond to or talk about with your followers, you can move things around to fit it in.