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Content planning tips

Time for a Plan! What, Why and How of Content Planning

Do you find yourself scrambling every day, week, or month, trying to figure out content planning (i.e., what you are going to blog, post or email to your fans and customers)?

How would it feel if you had a schedule and system, where your content was all planned out – so that every day you and your team would know what was posting when? Awesome, right?

Say goodbye to stress and feeling guilty about neglected social media platforms and blogs. Say hello to organization for you and your audience in providing consistent valuable and engaging content that will leave your fans wanting and expecting more.

Let’s dig in to the WHAT, WHY and HOW of content planning:

WHAT is content planning?

Content planning – sometimes known as editorial planning or editorial calendar – is the system of planning out all of the your content (blog posts, promotions, campaigns, newsletters and social media posts) ideally in calendar format (or spreadsheet, or Word docs) so that you are constantly and consistently delivering valuable, timely information to your peeps.

For example, I try to blog at least once a month about something I’ve been working on with clients or something that I think needs explaining to my followers who are interested in learning more about online marketing and social media.

I then create a monthly newsletter to share the most recent blog post(s) and any other recent online marketing and social media news and trends as well as upcoming events. And for my “secret sauce” – try to include a playlist!

Typically, I plan this for the middle of the month, because I’m usually busy at the beginning of the month working on client work (their newsletters, etc.). Then, I share the blog/newsletter on all of my social media posts, for people who might not be on my email list.

Example of my typical content planning:

Example of content planning and scheduling for my blog

 

REPEAT!

That’s a very simplified version of my content planning and scheduling for my blog, newsletter and related promotional social media!

WHY should you plan your content?

The main reasons you should plan your content marketing are:

First, you will eliminate the stress of always feeling like you should be more to communicate with your ideal audience. Once you set up some sort of system, you can rest easy that you have a plan to make it happen.

Second, planning makes it easier for your team (admin, designer, web person) to support you. If you have your content planned out, then you can enlist the support of your team to potentially help with research, images, posts and scheduling, etc.  Heck, you may even be able to delegate the whole process. Many hands will make light work, especially when they are working with your new schedule.

Lastly, your audience will love, expect and come to rely on your regularly shared insights and expertise with your blog and newsletter delivery. With consistent content, you’ll become the teacher, adviser and coach constantly engaging and delighting your clients with valuable information that further establishes you as an expert in your field. 

HOW do you create your content plan?

First, decide what kind of content will you be creating, curating and sharing? – For some, it’s easier to think about what they want to say, share, teach, or promote. For example, you might have a series of “how-to” videos, timely tips blog posts, a project portfolio or seasonal promotion or campaign with a countdown. If you are stuck, I often tell clients to think about the top 10 questions that they get asked by their clients.

Related Reading: Blogging When You Hate to Write

Second, establish when will you be posting and sharing your content – While it’s important to consider how frequent your audience wants to hear from you, it’s equally if not more important to answer the question – how often can you/your team reliably and consistently deliver?

While many “experts” advise that weekly is the ideal frequency to stay in touch with your tribe, I advise starting with what feels like a manageable schedule. You are much better off to commit to a monthly schedule and consistently deliver for a year, than to dive into a weekly commitment and peter out after 2 months.

NINJA TIP – Batch your content if you can

Instead of writing a new blog every time you have one scheduled, consider writing them in batches. Why not bang out 3-4 blog posts then you would be done for the month or the quarter depending on your frequency.

The same can be said for social media content. You should consider posting at least a week’s worth of your social media in advance. This is particularly good for evergreen and/or promotional posts that aren’t tied to news and trending ideas. If you can schedule the bulk of your

SUPER NINJA TIP – Schedule your content

Most of your online marketing platforms like WordPress, MailChimp, Facebook and/or third party apps, like Hootsuite, Buffer, SproutSocial, and CoSchedule all have super helpful scheduling features so you don’t feel tied to your computer when you need to post.

If you can plan and schedule your online content, it will become part of your business activities, instead of an afterthought that never happens.Click To Tweet

 

Sign up below to get your own free Content Calendar from me:

 

Please share in the comments below what your favorite tips, tricks and tools are for optimum blog and social media content planning. Or connect with me if you need some help planning your content calendar. Now get planning!

3 Ways To Optimize Your New Website Launch

3 Ways to Optimize Your Website Launch

I’ve been knee-deep in new website launches with clients and with my own website, recently.  After months of fussing over getting everything just right, it’s totally understandable to want to get that new baby out into the world. I get it – you can’t wait to finally share your new look and branding with everyone.  However, here are a three steps you should consider taking so that your fantastic new website gets maximum exposure and visibility.

1)   Get your website Google-ready.

As important as it is for your new site to function properly and be easy to navigate for new users, it is just as important for it to work well for Google and the other search engines. Make sure that you have created the best headlines, meta descriptions, and keywords for all of the content on your site so that the search engines identify your website as one that is reliable, informative, and appropriate for searches in your areas of expertise.

yoast

For most WordPress sites, you can add in plug-ins (Yoast is the most popular) to help you do this. However, if it sounds too confusing, I advise hiring an SEO (search engine optimization) expert to help you with this process – ideally before you even design your new site.

2)   Carry your new design across all platforms.

No doubt hours and hours were spent thinking about the images, color, fonts, and the look of your new site – right? Keep that awesome design going with your branding for your newsletter, social media networks, and online presentations. You want your fans and customers to feel like they are in your world with your consistent look and messaging no matter where they are in your online space.

branding

Create new newsletter header, and new (and appropriately-sized) social media images (both profile and cover images) using your brand’s new look. Also, make sure your website and looks good when it is shared. Get your designer to help you, and use social sharing plug-in (my website designer  recommended Social Warfare) and set up your social cards on your website so that you can control the look and specific content that is shared.

3)   Let your tribe help spread the word and engage with your new website.

Nothing is as infectious and engaging as a happy excited employee or fan, so let them help you share your good news. Encourage them to share the new website with their networks. If they have been involved in the process, this shouldn’t be difficult as they are probably as enthusiastic to get the word out.

stats

In one recent launch, the team was so excited and proud of the new website, the employee team shared it on Facebook and encouraged all of their friends to like the company’s Facebook page, nearly doubling the the audience in one week!

Or make a game out of it. My friend Patty Lennon just launched a gorgeous new site and to get her people to check it out, she created a treasure hunt on her site – hiding a phrase that she rewarded people for finding.

It could be so easy to finally flip the switch and just let your site be your new site. Often, people choose to forget these extra steps or they wait until they realize they are not getting the traction they expected.  But taking the time and implementing these critical to-dos into your launch strategy will most certainly give you the wider visibility and engagement you are seeking for your most important online marketing tool – your website.

Want to learn more about maximizing your new launch? Schedule a clarity call with me now.

When you dont know what to write

Blogging When You Hate To Write (or You LOVE To Write, But Don’t Have Time)

In this guest post, Kate Schell, aka Digital Marketing Momma shares her best tips on how to come up with ideas for your blog:

Let’s face it!

We are running businesses and families.  Time is LIMITED!!

It’s hard enough trying to find time to manage doing the work and juggling kid/husband/life stuff, but we also have to find time to promote, market and share our wisdom with the world so more customers and clients find us and want to hire us.

When I tell people that they “should” blog I can feel their insides groaning.  I know because mine do too and I enjoy writing.  Blogging feels so….Big.

What do you write about?

It’s going to take a long time?

What if no one reads it and I’ve wasted my time?

Where do I post it?

My challenge with blogging is that usually when creative inspiration strikes, I’m not in the right place to stop everything and write.  Like…when I’m making dinner for 4 hungry kids.  “Sorry gang here’s some cereal without milk because I forgot to buy it,  Mommy’s gonna go write”… Say wha?!?!

Of the flip side – when I do have some time to write, I stare at a blinking cursor for an hour and nothing comes.

Here are some tips!

Tip #1: Remembering a great blog idea

Create a google sheet or excel spreadsheet (for you Microsoft users) that’s called “Blog Ideas”.  When inspiration hits and you can’t stop, just add it to this spreadsheet to reference back to when you do have some time.

It can look at simple as this:

blog tracking

Tip #2:  Do a voice recording

If you can’t stop what you are doing and add something to a spreadsheet, BUT the ideas are flowing and you need to put them somewhere. If I’m in a jam and need to capture some ideas I plug my earbuds into my iPhone and use “Voice Memos” on my phone.

I wouldn’t trust it for a long recording because if you have a ton of photos, apps or “other” on your phone you may not capture a long recording.  But, it’s great for a quick memo.  The sound quality is pretty good.  Here – listen to my test I did.

If you want something fancier, there are several apps out there that have more features and can save in different formats. Here’s a great article on those apps.

By now you may be saying, “That’s great if I KNOW what I want to write about, but what if I have no idea (or time)?”

Here are some ways to get a blog published if you are stuck thinking of what to write about.

Tip #3: Ask your audience a question and then answer it

I discovered this beautiful book on Amazon.

4,000 Questions

Inside are some really great ideas that can inspire some creative writing.

For example:  let’s say you are a life coach – Ask your audience this little nugget of goodness:

“What do you need changed in your life before you can have more fun?”

Then write a blog, answering that question.

REMEMBER:  Blogs don’t have to be insanely long! Think about your readers attention span when writing.

Tip #4: Do a little research:

Go to www.buzzsumo.com and type in your topic you’d like to blog about.  The results will be the top shared articles and blogs based on that topic.  Use that article or post as inspiration.  It’s been shared a lot for a reason.  Can you put your own twist on the content?

BuzzsumoBuzzsumo

 

Tip #5: Go to the search God – Google

In the search bar, start to type a common question your clients or customers ask.

For example:  What is an autoresponder?

Screenshot 2016-03-17 13.11.17

As you are typing this, Google will make suggestions.  Those suggestions are commonly searched questions/phrases/words.  That means a lot of people are searching those suggestions.  Write a blog post based on those suggestions and put those keywords in the post.

 

Tip #6: Go to Google Trends 

See what’s a hot (or trending) topic.  Or see if a topic you want to write about has any interest.  You can also get some ideas for other keywords and topics that are popular. (see third image)

Here’s an example using email marketing again:

Screenshot 2016-03-17 13.18.10

Screenshot 2016-03-17 13.18.18

Screenshot 2016-03-17 13.18.30

 

Tip #7: Go to YouTube:

You can search by trending videos or search by topic. If you are going to use a video, make sure to watch all of it AND make sure it’s not done by someone who could be considered a competitor.

For example:  Let’s say you are a Fashion Blogger.

A trending video (today) is a video on Vacation Make-Up

Screenshot 2016-03-17 13.21.52

(SOURCE )

You can add the video to your blog and comment on it.

NOTE: MAKE SURE TO ADD THE LINK BACK TO THE VIDEO!!

All you have to write is “SOURCE” and hyperlink it.  Then you can use the video. (see below the image above)

TIP #8: Do a quick review on something you use everyday in life or business

Why not write up a quick review on something you love?  Is there a certain App that’s made your life easier?  Write about it and share the info.  Is there a Podcast you love?  Tell people about it.  If you share on your social media pages, try to tag the person who’s doing the Podcast.  You never know, you may get some social media love back.

Try those tips out.  See what works for you.  Let me know what you think over on our Facebook page!

Best of luck busy entrepreneurs!! Blog away!

XO Kate

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Kate Schell, aka Digital Marketing Momma is an entrepreneur and crazy busy mom to four. Digital marketing, online business models, funnels and sales strategies are her drive and passion in business! She gobbles up anything and everything that has to do with online business and backend technology systems. But her true passion lies in supporting women entrepreneurs in building their businesses and CRUSHING their fears around technology and digital marketing!

Content creation and Twitter tips from WEN Meet-up

One of the best parts about speaking to groups about social media and online marketing is that I always learn as much as I teach.  Not only do I get the opportunity to hear about the current challenges entrepreneurs and business professionals face but everyone shares best practices for solutions.

This past Friday was no exception when I spoke with the Westchester Women Entrpreneurs’ Network (WEN) on “Best Tips for Getting Connected Online.”    This dynamic, super-smart, well-connected group of small business owners, wellness practitioners and marketing professionals taught me a few things that are well worth passing along:

1)   Creating content with ease – If you are in need of some writing help with your business blog, WEN organizer Kathy Perkal recommended using Zerys, a content marketplace for writers and marketers.

2)   Twitter tracking – To more easily track your Twitter reach, Suzanna Keith of TechandTravelMom, suggested trying either TweetReach or HashTracking for insight, analysis and reports of Twitter campaigns and activity.

3)   LinkedIn resumesLiz Dowling of Sweet Marketing Associates shared the advice that profiles on LinkedIn shouldn’t show time gaps.  It is better, she advised, to note a career gap with details of volunteer and unpaid work than to show nothing at all.

If you are in the Westchester area, I highly recommend you check out this network of movers and shakers.   Next month, they will be hosting Emily McKhann, co-founder of The Motherhood, a digital PR and marketing agency with a network of thousands of highly influential online moms.  To make it even sweeter (pun coming), monthly meetings are held at Chocolations in Mamaroneck.  Yum!

Curious – What networking groups do you belong to?  Do they meet in real life or virtually?  What do you find most useful?  Please share with a comment – thanks.

Planning for a productive year

Hopefully, by now, you’ve given some thought to several things that you would like to achieve this year.  Are you planning to roll out a newsletter, become a regular blogger, learn about social media (– or maybe you just want to simply commit to exercising more).  If you haven’t given it any thought, then take a few minutes to look at your (probably pretty blank calendar) for 2014 and think about what you would like to be doing and achieve this year?

Got your goal(s) in mind?  Great!  Write it down where you will review regularly so that you can remind yourself on a consistent basis what you are working toward.  You don’t want to get distracted by the everday-ness of life and loose focus on the big picture.

Now it’s time for the “secret sauce second step” as the big disconnect for many is getting from goal setting to actually making it happen.

Break down your goal into manageable steps – Many times we don’t reach our goal or even get started on the goal because it seems too lofty, unattainable or overwhelming or we don’t know where to start.  Breaking your goal down into manageable bite-size steps will help you get started quicker and more than likely will help you create productive habits that support your goals.

For many, Step #1 is simply doing the research.  As you are figuring out your steps also think about what other resources might be involved in reaching your goal.  Can you do this by yourself?  Will you need the help of others?  Are there costs involved or set-up work that needs to happen?

Here’s an example:  Let’s say you want to get 200 followers on your social media sites or your email list, your basic steps might look like this:

  • Step #1 – Research using the Internet, attend social media class or webinar
  • Step #2 – Set-up social media account or email service
  • Step #3 – Create profile or templates
  • Step #4 – Follow or subscribe to others in your space, to figure out best practices
  • Step #5 – Introduce promotion/announcement to encourage followers
  • Step #6 – Figure out how and where you are going to source and save content and content ideas for posting and sharing
  • Step #7 – Create a regular schedule* for sourcing, posts and responding.
  • Step #8 – Review what is working best for you and adjust accordingly.

As you can see, breaking down what might seem to be an overwhelming prospect now becomes an actionable attainable process.  The key is to ensure you make time for the process.

Put it on the calendar – Now you have laid out the steps required to achieve your goal, it is very important to make the time for each of these steps.   Get that 2014 calendar back out and start scheduling realistic time for each of these steps.  Don’t just write it down on your calendar as a “to-do”.  You should literally create an actual time slot or appointment for each and every step.

For some, planning forward scheduling time for each step in a manageable sequential time frame is the best approach.  For others, it works better to set a deadline date by which you would like to have the goal achieved and work backwards to the present day building in each step.  Either way you should ensure that you have a clear picture of the time frame you are committing to achieving this goal.

Think of it this way, it is not just a calendar, but it’s your life.  “Fill it with the things that deserve to be there,” advises time management guru (and a client) Laura Vanderkam.  Having a plan will not only make you more productive, it will lead to more fulfilling life.  You will be amazed what you can achieve in a year!

Here are some resourceful articles and downloads about planning, scheduling and executing particularly for small businesses focused on their online marketing and social media.

* Want to Be More Productive? Build Your Editorial Calendar – Dorie Clark
* Don’t Let The Small Business Time Vampire Drain The Life From Your Social Media Presence – Social Collectives
* Your Daily Blogging Checklist – The SITS Girls
*Online Marketing Calendar & Checklist (Click to download) – NancySheed.com

Please leave a comment below sharing your big plans for this year.  Thanks!