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Systems and efficiency expert and the creator of The Daily Page Planner.
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When it comes to churning out content, we often hear the saying “quality over quantity”, and while I think there are exceptions to that rule depending on the platform, I find it to be especially true when it comes to blog posts and other long-form content (newsletters, eMagazines, etc).
If something you create will take someone more than 3 minutes to consume, it’s a pretty dandy idea to put some effort into making sure it’s high-quality and will provide them with value. Being thoughtful and intentional about what you put into the world, and taking the time to craft content that provides value should be a core part of your strategy
I’m a planner at heart, so having an organized and strategic way to organize my content is really important to me. Something I’ve found really helpful is having one Google Sheet where I can see the entire year in one place.
When it came time to start planning out my content for 2022, I decided to use a Google Sheet and was able to create a really strategic spreadsheet that not only helps you organize your content schedule but also helps you plan, publish, and promote each piece.
So let’s take a look at The Content Template. I’ll walk you through some of its features and show you how to plan out twelve months of content for your business in under an hour!
The first thing you need to do is create a list of content ideas. I’d suggest taking some time to poll your audience, clients, or customers to find out what types of content they want to see from you over the next twelve months. You can ask them to respond to your newsletter, or simply put a poll/question up in your Instagram Story. Other ways to gather ideas are to look through recent customer feedback/reviews to see what type of questions or issues they are having, look at Pinterest to see what topics are performing well in your niche, or even peek at what your competitors are talking about and what is performing best for them. Just remember that your business and audience are unique — and your content should be, too.
Once you have that list of topic inspiration, there are two more simple steps you can do that will help you create really strategic content: identifying the promise and the purpose of each piece.
The Purpose – Identify which aspect of your business each piece of content will promote or impact. Will it lead to sales, grow your email list, promote a partnership or upcoming course, or include commissioned links or affiliate products?
The Promise – Identify what your audience will learn or take away from this content. How will it serve them? What will they learn or how will they be inspired?
Identifying the purpose and promise will help you create content with clarity and intentionality. Now you know how each piece should serve your audience, and how you expect it to positively impact your business. These goals should be front-of-mind throughout both the creation and promotion process.
Now we’re ready to lay it all out in The Content Template.
Before we get to the planning part, let’s trim the fat from your list of content ideas. Here are a couple of tips for identifying which topics should be prioritized.
Once you’ve trimmed some of the fluff from your list, try prioritizing it. Which topics seem the most important or urgent? Note if any of them are time-specific (like for a certain holiday, event, or season). You should now have a pretty concise list of topics and a rough idea of what order you need to create and publish them in.
Next, I recommend organizing this information in a spreadsheet. I offer the exact one I use as a template called The Content Template, but you can also create your own using a service like Google Sheets.
The Content Template arrives ready to use. However, there are a couple of small adjustments you can make to customize it for your needs. For example, you can customize the categories that appear in the drop-down menu in Column H, or change the headers in the Creation or Promotion areas. Steps for making these changes are in the Tips tab of the Sheet, or can also be seen in this short tutorial video.
Now you’re ready to start planning — so let’s think about what your publishing schedule will be. My advice here is to focus on consistency. It’s better to create less content if it means you can create it consistently. So if you can publish every Monday or every other Monday, go with that. Once you’ve decided on your schedule, you can use Column F to set your publication dates. Just double-tap in Column F and a calendar will appear so that you can easily select the date.
Now you’re ready to plug in some content ideas. Let’s refer back to the homework you did earlier with your purpose and promise.
This part is pretty self-explanatory: simply plug each piece of information into its corresponding column. Your title (Column G), the promise (Column I), and the purpose (Column J) and then set a category for each piece of content using the drop-down in Column H.
And that is, quite literally, all you need to do at this point. You can now see your content calendar start coming together and can easily move things around within the spreadsheet until it feels right.
I like to use the Notes section in Column K to add any ideas, quotes, or links that might help me with writing the piece. If fully-formed ideas about the topic pop into my head before I actually start writing the draft, I’ll also organize that into notes. That way, when I start creating this content, everything is in one place and easy to grab.
You can use the Creation Section (the 7 columns to the left of 🕐 icon) to track your progress as you begin creating. As you check off each step, you’ll notice that the % in the 🕐 column will increase, and the color will change as you near completion.
You’ll notice the same feature once you’ve published the content and are progressing through the Promotion Section (the 7 columns to the left of the 📣 icon). The more places you promote your content, the more the % will increase and the color will change.
The progress under 🕐 (creation) and 📣 (promotion) can also be seen in Columns B and C at the front of the spreadsheet, to help you quickly see, at-a-glance, which stage each piece of content is at and can help you determine what needs to be created or promoted.
And that’s it! That’s the process I personally use for planning out tons of engaging content for my website + social media accounts! Hope it helps you plan out some really exciting, strategic, needle-moving content for the year ahead! But of course…planning isn’t the end of it. You also need to publish and promote each piece — so let’s take a quick peek at those, too.
The Content Template can help streamline the creation and publishing process by ensuring that all the information you need is in one place, and helping you stay focused and motivated from start to finish.
When it comes time to start writing, I like to open the spreadsheet and simply extract the necessary information — such as the purpose, promise, and notes.
Promise- Use this to form your opening paragraph and tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn/take away from this.
Purpose – Use this to form your closing paragraph. Give your audience a clear call to action on what you want them to do next (opt-in for my freebie, join my masterclass, visit my shop, learn more about the product etc).
Notes – If you utilize the notes section it can serve as an outline as you start the writing or creation process.
Once you’ve published the post you can add a link to it in Column E of The Content Template. That way it’s easy for you to access whenever you’re reviewing your progress.
You can’t just hit ‘publish’ and assume people will see what you created. You need to actively promote it! As you’ll notice in my template, there’s an entire section to help track the various ways you can drive traffic to each piece of content, and that’s the real magic of planning your content this way.
When you are sharing your long-form content across platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or your newsletter remember to refer back to the content you already created. Too many of us waste time and energy coming up with captions — when the captions have been written all along! For example, the opening paragraph of a blog post often makes the perfect caption for a Facebook post. If your piece is well-written, each paragraph should be able to stand on its own as a caption on Instagram. You can also create an outline of your main points to serve as a guideline for creating TikToks or Reels.
You can get The Content Template from my shop for $7.99. It is for use in Google Sheets only and will allow you to add a copy to your own Google Drive after purchase. If you have questions about any of my templates feel free to contact me.
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