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If you know me, you know I love a good organization system. 

I look for ways to systematize nearly everything in business, and in life, to free up my brain power from thinking about what to do next to actually creating the next thing. 

One of my favorite systems is planning content. Because actually producing great content takes so much effort, who has time to waste thinking about what to do next?!

Instead of thinking about it post by post, dedicate some time to figuring it out for a longer stretch of time. Then you can spend your time creating and promoting instead of planning.

PSSS….if you’re looking for my free marketing guide mentioned that’s designed to help you pull your marketing to-do list into a strategy, you can grab it here!

Alright, back to organizing…

A good content planning session needs a content calendar. You can find content calendar templates EVERYWHERE these days. But everyone seems to skip the part about how you fill it in. Staring at a blank calendar with the best of intentions, but not sure what to do?  No worries, I’ve got you!

First, grab a pen and paper.

No need to put anything on a calendar just yet.  First, we need to get organized. So grab your favorite notebook (paper or digital) and take some time to do some brainstorming on content topics.

Create a master list of content ideas.

Write down questions you commonly answer, and those pieces of knowledge you just can’t wait to share. Look in places where your ideal customer is hanging out online, like Facebook groups, for questions being asked that you could answer. You can even poke around and look at what your competition is doing to find gaps in what’s not being shared.

If you have content, dig into your own archives. 

Are there pieces that you audience loved that you could update? Are there pieces you can expand on to help your audience take it one step further?  Are there pieces where it would be helpful to take it one step back? Leveraging your own content in this way can help you stay consistent in topics covered, but also give you great opportunities to literally link your content together (search bots love this!).

You may have strong themes throughout your content ideas, or you may have already decided on which themes your content would be focused on that are complementary to your products or services.  Using content themes, or pillars, can be helpful in creating consistency so your audience knows what to expect.

For example, my content pillars are: Planning Marketing, Producing, Promoting and Measuring. I can easily balance what I’m sharing by creating one content piece for each pillar each month.  So my audience knows that each month they will get helpful insights for each phase of their marketing efforts.

Note: I only use these content pillars for my big, weekly content pieces. For social media, I use different themes that help me stay focused on building relationships, like: why I love what I do, introduction for new people, or a look behind-the-scenes.

On the day my weekly content is published, I align my content to promote it.  I may also pull a small insight from my weekly content and use it as a tip that week in social, driving people to my free weekly content for more.

If you want to create your own social media themes, here are some ideas. I recommend using between five and seven themes:

  • Your Why
  • Introduction
  • Behind-the-Scenes
  • About Your Product/Service
  • Question/Poll
  • Live Video
  • Inspirational Quote
  • Entertaining meme, gif or video
  • Resource You Love
  • Tip, Trick or Life Hack
  • Customer Spotlight (share a win or testimonial)

Next, grab your calendar.

Whether you’re a pen-and-paper kinda gal, or all-in on digital solutions, now’s the time to make notes on a calendar.  I prefer digital, as I can see things in list and calendar form. I can also put them on both my content calendar and in my project management task list in one fail swoop, saving me time and keeping me on track.

Drop your major calendar dates in.

Have a launch or a webinar?  Write it in. Creating content weekly? Mark the day of the week you’ll publish. Then you can mark the days of the week you’re dropping social posts in. 

After you’ve written in when you want to publish your content, you can start filling it out.

Again, start with the biggest content pieces.  This will help you choose smaller content pieces that align with the bigger events, like a launch. For social, I don’t write in the content of each post but instead the theme I’m aiming for.

You can organize it on paper calendar, a spreadsheet or in a digital project management tool.

If spreadsheets are your jam, you can grab my free content calendar template and dive right in. 

I mentioned digital project management tools.  Options for that include:

  • CoSchedule:  They have a beautiful interface! They have a cheap “individual plan” with only their marketing calendar, which includes cool features like scheduling right from the service. Their other solutions are AMAZING but not a beginner price tag.
  • Trello: The card-style layout is handy for visual people, with the ability to move it through phases. Many love Trello for all their organizational needs, and it’s freemium service makes it affordable to get started.
  • Asana:  This project management option for creating either list-style or card-style layouts puts a focus on getting things done. The fun unicorns and rainbows that appear when you check off tasks are a fun reward themselves!  Asana is a freemium service as well.
  • ClickUp: My personal favorite, I’ve found this freemium project management options more dynamic out-of-the-box than the others. It allows for more customization in a free account than Asana, and allows me to switch how I see my task list with the click of a button. I love that I can put my tasks through phases, rather than breaking down individual subtasks. And if you’re looking for some copy inspiration, whoever writes their emails is awesome!

Lastly, set yourself up for future planning success.

Mark a date in your calendar when you’re going to plan your next round of content. (And be sure it make it a few weeks before this content runs out!)

In between content planning sessions, keep a running list of ideas.

Answer a question for someone that would make a good content piece? Write it down.  You can keep a notebook, use a notes app on your phone, or keep a list in your project management system. Organize yourself in whichever way works for you.

By regularly dropping an idea in as they pop-up, you’ll make putting together a content calendar a much faster process the next time!

What content pillars did you choose? Drop me a DM on Instagram. I’d love to know what you’re focus is!