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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!

Where Do I Start?

Where Do I Start? Tools To Help Launch Your Business Online

In this guest post, Kate Schell, aka Digital Marketing Momma shares an exhaustive list of resources to help you launch your online business. Dig in!

Are you ready to earn 6 Figures This Year In Your Business?

Learn The Techniques to Earn 6 Figures!

Join My Program And I’ll Show You How To Make Millions!

How many of these headlines do you see every day?  I know my inbox is flooded with emails and offers with experts trying to give me their secret to 6-figure success.

Truth be told… I fell for a lot of these marketing pitches.  I bought programs and listened to endless webinars about how to make the big bucks in my business.  I spent a lot of money trying to learn how to be rich.  Funny concept huh?  Spend a ton to learn how to make a ton.

Here’s what I found out.  Most of these high-level courses and programs are mostly strategy.  A system that was “created” by the expert that made THEM a lot of money.

Strategy is great, but what about the how-to piece of it all?

That’s where most of these programs were sorely lacking.  I love strategies like everyone else but if you’re not showing me how to do something, then I’m no better off and now I’m probably even more overwhelmed.

Here’s an example.  I studied an amazing program on Launches.  It’s a massive program that many many many people have studied and followed and succeeded using.

The content of the program is awesome, but here’s the thing.  At the end, I still wasn’t clear of where I should start.  Like, what’s Step 1?

Think about it this way – houses need a foundation.  A concrete, solid footing to hold it up.  It doesn’t matter the size of the house, it will still need a foundation.

Think about your business in the same way.  Whether you are just starting out or have built a successful business – you still need the foundation to support it.

What makes up the foundation:

  • branding and logo
  • website
  • sales and landing pages
  • email marketing program
  • a way to receive payments
  • social media profiles
  • a way to call/video chat with prospects and clients

These are the basics.

Then we get into the more specific needs of a business like:

  • a webinar program
  • facebook advertising
  • email automation
  • blogging
  • content creation
  • offers and packages
  • online trainings and courses
  • tracking online analytics

and so on…

Keep in mind, these are just some of the starting points for an online business.  It all depends on what type of business you have and what you are offering.

It also depends on your audience.  Maybe they aren’t very tech savvy so social media for them isn’t that important. Who knows? Your business set-up is just as unique as you are.

That’s why getting started can feel super complicated.  You are probably looking for someone to tell you how to set up YOUR business and that manual doesn’t exist.  You’ve probably been trying to piece together the advice of many and it’s confusing.

A very good friend who runs her own business said to me “I have this amazing network of entrepreneurial people and they all have amazing advice and feedback for me. However, I’m taking the advice of many and some of it conflicts and I’m getting confused.”

As solopreneurs we are in charge of it all and when it’s time to figure out how to do something for our business we go to Google and try and figure it out.  Do you remember the scene in Alice in Wonderland when Alice falls down the rabbit hole….  That’s what Google is.  The endless rabbit hole of information and it’s very hard to know what’s right and what’s garbage.

So What Do We Do?

The first thing to do is set aside so time (I know, time, haha, who has extra time?) and figure out what it is you NEED to run your business.

What systems do you need to move things along smoothly?

Let’s use a Business Coach as an example:

A business coach may need:

  • A Website/Blog
  • Email Accounts/Email Marketing
  • Payment Gateway/Online Banking
  • Intake Forms (preferably ones that can be e-signed)
  • Social Media Profiles
  • Dedicated phone line/Cell
  • Skype or a similar video conference program
  • Appointment Scheduler that links to a gmail calendar

What systems could this coach use?

  • Website/Blog – WordPress
  • Email Account – Gmail For Business
  • Email Marketing – AWeber or MailChimp
  • Payment Gateway – PayPal
  • Intake Forms – Google Docs
  • E-Sign Forms – DocuSign
  • Facebook Business Page (if applicable)
  • Twitter Profile (if applicable)
  • LinkedIn Profile (if applicable)
  • Instagram (if applicable)
  • Pinterest (if applicable)
    (why did you write “if applicable”?  Well, you should focus your social media efforts on the platform your audience hangs out in.  No need for social media overwhelm when you are getting started)
  • Dedicated Phone Line:  Very few of us have landlines these days BUT keep in mind if you are going to be interviewed for podcasts or radio shows a landline is more reliable than a cell.
  • Video Calls: Skype
  • Appointment Scheduler:  TimeTrade or ScheduleOnce

There are many “shiny objects” out there that will promise you “great results”.  Try not to sign up for all of the latest and greatest programs and platforms.  Figure out what you need as you get started and then when those systems are working well, consider adding more advanced systems.

I’m sure you are now really curious about these “advanced systems” – here are a few that you may roll up into:

Opt-Ins and Lead Magnets:

If you are at the point where you may be considering doing webinars, or would like to create easy to use sales pages with opt-ins, or want to test a few different lead magnets (or freebie downloads), you may consider using LeadPages. The pro plan is $49/mo and is an investment, however, if you are ready to create some really cool and user friendly sales pages and opt-ins, this is a really great program to try.

Social Media Scheduling:

If posting to social media is becoming a pain, you may want to try these options for an all-in-one system for scheduling and managing all of your social media profiles in one place.

  • Hootsuite:  Easy to use.  You can manage all of your social profiles in one place.
  • Edgar:  Manage profiles and Edgar will recycle the content for you.
  • Beatrix:  Manage your profiles and Beatrix will recommend content for your to share.

Webinar Platforms:

If you are ready to start adding webinars into your marketing toolkit, here are some suggestions:

  • Zoom: Easy to use. Capable of screensharing or just showcasing your smiling face
  • GoToWebinar:  Expensive, but very user friendly
  • WebinarJam:  Has a ton of added features
  • StealthSeminar: If you’d like to run pre-recorded webinars

Advanced Analytics Tracking:

If you are a numbers lover and like to see the analytics on your website and social media posts you may consider some of these.

QuillEngage: An easy to understand report for your Google Analytics.  Report emailed weekly

Need Content to Share for Social Media?

  • YouTube:  Find a video that’s relevant to your business, share the video and comment.
  • Quora:  Want to know what your ideal customer is asking?  Go to Quora and find out.
  • Alltop:  Great source of content to share.  Search by topic.
  • Google Trends:  Why not go straight to the search Giant for top content?
  • Buzzsumo: With a free account you can search the top content shared.

Stock Photos:

Need some awesome photos for social media, blog posts or your website?

These are just a few of the amazing programs that are available out there. Trust me – new ones are popping up everyday!

Try some of these out. Jump over to Facebook and share any that I may have left out!

Good luck my busy entrepreneurs!!

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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!

It's Time To Play!

It’s Time to Play

On my way to share a blog post about being “blessed not busy”, I got sidetracked when I went to concert last night.  As I was dancing and listening in the awe of the amazing talent of The Lone Bellow – seriously having some soul stirring moments, I was reminded how much harder it is for us adults to play and how sad that it for our souls.

In our younger years, there just seems to be more opportunities to play – to physically move, to dance, to sing, to create music, to create art, to experience something so profound that it stirs your soul.  It was part of how we grew up. It was integrated into our schooling and our extra-curricular activities and our free time.  But as adults, we seem to get caught up in day-to-day trappings of being serious grown-ups with serious jobs and serious to-do-lists and playing seems frivolous.

So stop for a moment and ask yourself, “What stirs my soul?”

Now do it. Make it happen.

You can dance in your closet, dance with your kids, dance with your spouse, sing in your shower, sing in the car, color in your kids’ coloring book, paint pottery, book a concert, go to a museum or climb a wall.  Just do something fun for you! It’s good practice.

Whatever that “soul-stirring” creative play looks like to you – whether it’s drawing, crafting, photography, videography, singing, dancing, playing music – whatever it is, your heart and soul need it now.  We should be nurturing and stirring our souls a regular basis.  It’s what makes us who we are – our to-do list certainly doesn’t.

Though it sounds totally contradictory, I keep hearing the more you play and the less you work, the more successful you will be – I’m really starting to believe it.  The more we are aligned with the experiences that make us happy and heart-ful, the better we are able to give back to the world in a positive universe shifting way.

So I’m off to more concerts . . . what about you?  Please share in the comments what soul-stirring moments you will be experiencing or connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram.  Thanks!

8 Secrets to Successful Social Media Management

Earlier this month, I spoke at 341 Studios about “Social Media Marketing for Business” where I shared top trends, tools and tricks to help small business make the most of their social media marketing with an audience of small business professionals. It turned out to be a lively discussion, instead of a presentation! We covered the top social media platforms and strategies for making time for social media marketing.

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Here are some of the “secrets” we discussed:

1.     Choose 1 or 2 platforms and use them well: Be where your clients will be. Don’t try to be everywhere.

2.     Each platform has its own language: Try to customize content (tone, text and images) for each platform.

3.     Use feeds, searches and lists for content ideas: This is much easier with third party social media platforms like Hootsuite, Buffer, PostPlanner, and Sprout Social.

4.     Use monitors to listen: Set up alerts to email you when your brand name or company are mentioned on the web. www.socialmention.com and www.google.com/alert are great listening tools.  Also, follow keywords and hashtags related to your business.

5.     Automate promotion of your blog posts via email and social media: WordPress assigns a special email address to post by email, or you can use RSS feed-based campaigns with your email program to get your blog posts out in a timely manner.

6.     Work ahead, schedule some posts in advance: You don’t HAVE to start your social media efforts from scratch every day, but always be ready to adjust to unexpected world and local events. Your social media cannot be entirely run on autopilot.

7.     Set time aside to engage and make sure your content is easily sharable: Don’t forget the social in social media! Make it a conversation, not a billboard.

8.     Take advantage of mobile: Your ability to interact quickly to mentions or posts can boost your brand and grow your audience.

What are your secrets for successful social media management?  Please share them in the comments below.  Interested in more tips and news, please sign up for my monthly newsletter and follow me (@sheesalt) on Twitter.

An original version of this piece appeared on 341 blog.

The Top Social Media Posts Shared This Year

As a recap for 2014, here is compilation of the most popular articles and posts that I have shared this year.

Feel free to bookmark this page as useful tool and go-to resource for all of your social media information.

Social Media – General
Which Social Network Is Best For Your Business – CNN Money

10 Surprising Social Media Statistics That Will Make You Rethink Your Social Strategy – Fast Company

12 Essential Social Media Cheat Sheets – Mashable

Men Are From LinkedIn, Google+ & YouTube, Women Are From Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest – MediaBistro

30 Little Known Features of the Social Media Sites You Use Every Day – Buffer

How to Create Perfect Posts on Social Platforms v.5 – Socially Stacked

Social Media 2013 by Erik Qualman – You Tube

Online Marketing
Propel Your Content Marketing to New Levels – Huffington Post

3 Essential Tools To Rock Your Online Marketing – Nancy Sheed Blog

5 Easy Ways to Freshen Your Digital Face – Yahoo Small Business

What Does Your Email Say About You? Free Is Fine But . . . Nancy Sheed Blog

Facebook
Converting Facebook Likes to Subscribers – AWeber

How Facebook Calculates What Appears in Your News Feed – Mari Smith

10 Facebook Hacks – Techlicious

Facebook Housekeeping: 5 Things You Can Do Right Now – Hongkiat

Twitter
The Top 10 Reasons I’m Not Following You On Twitter – LinkedIn

11 Things You Didn’t Know You Were Doing Wrong On Twitter – HubSpot

9 Small Business Twitter Marketing Examples to Study – Social Media Examiner

23 Seldom Used Ideas for How to Use Twitter Lists – Buffer

Understanding Twitter Lingo – Nancy Sheed Blog

3 Reasons People Will Follow You on Twitter – Nancy Sheed Blog

The 7 Key Ingredients of a Powerful Twitter Bio – Buffer

15 Tips to Get and Keep More Twitter Followers – Kim Garst

LinkedIn
How Do You Measure Your LinkedIn Worth? – Social Media Impact

Three Things You Must Do On LinkedIn Right Now – Nancy Sheed Blog

10 LinkedIn Blunders That Make You Look Like An Amateur – Forbes

17 LinkedIn Profile Must-Haves – Entrepreneur

How to Write the Perfect LinkedIn Headline – Top Dog Social Media

7 Simple Ways to Rock Your LinkedIn Personal Profile – Social Solutions

How to Lose Jobs and Alienate People on LinkedIn – Fast Company

Admin / Privacy / Productivity
Target hack: Tips for all customers – CNN Money

How To Survive The Snapchat Hack (and-others) – TIME

New Start-ups: Here’s Your Digital To-Do List – Inc.

4 Online Business Tools That Will Make You More Productive – Nancy Sheed Blog

Social Media Privacy Settings – Social Media Examiner

Planning for a Productive Year – Nancy Sheed Blog

Which one did you find most useful, interesting or surprising? And what types of articles and posts would you like to see more of in 2015?  Please share in the comments.  Thanks.