An easy guide for beginners – part 1

Can you imagine what the early explorers thought as they were mapping out their world?

When they reached what was believed to be the edge of the world, they issued a caution: beware of the dragons living there.

Now, in today’s business world the dragons are in cyberspace. They’re in the black holes you’re disappearing into.

Why? Because no one’s noticing you. Why? Because you’re not publishing content.

So, be adventurous and develop your map into the online universe to avoid the dragons.

Your map is called a content calendar.   

  • It’s going to help you be noticed by search engines
  • It’s going to show your expertise because of the value of the content
  • It’s going to show your personality and authenticity

The reason is simple.  If you want client to find you when they are searching the internet, you need to be found by search engines. To do that, you need to publish valuable content.

What’s a content calendar

A content calendar is an outline of the information you’re going to produce over the next 3 months, or six months, even a year. 

It’s the info you publish for your website pages (all of them), blogs, newsletters, video/podcasts.

Your content calendar is your guide to knowing:

  • what information you are sharing
  • what form to use (written, video, podcast)
  • what call-to-action
  • what bonuses (or incentives) you’re going to use

Now, I know for some of you the idea of planning stuff out is horrifying. 

You think you can’t do it. That doing it diminishes your creative spirit and your love of spontaneity. 

Not quite true. The benefits of creating your calendar will make your life easier and give you more time.

You’re simply creating a plan of when you’re going share useful information with your clients and attract new ones. 

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” Eleanor Roosevelt

3 benefits of crafting a content calendar

  1. Using a calendar drops your stress levels. Why?

Because you no longer will avoid writing your content because you have no inspiration that day, or you will stop avoiding writing because you can’t decide what to write about (too much choice!). You can limit writer’s block.

You can gather as you go…collect visuals, quotes and have them ready for your posts in your calendar.

  • You can have more free time.

Ok. While you can revise you calendar when you have the urge or need to, you can put it on the backburner and focus on other things you need to do (in private life or business life).

Having your calendar as your guide means you can plan ahead for days you’re ‘offline’ and out fishing or taking a holiday. 

You can be prepared for the days you’re sick and need to sleep.

You can be ready for the unexpected and just be able to ‘click’ on the copy you have ready.

You can even tell someone else to publish it for you because all they need to do is follow your plan.

  • It helps you avoid overcommitment while consistently building your reputation.

Sometimes we get too excited about what we can do in 24 hours – aside from sleeping, taking care of families, taking care of business, meeting clients.

In advertising and marketing today, content is incredibly valuable so you will benefit by having a clear understanding of how much time you need to plan and write your content. 

Using  content calendar means you have an easy plan to show your expertise to the world.

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”– Benjamin Franklin

How to start

I know the first time I sat down to do this, I felt like I was briefly losing my mind. But for good reasons. 

While it took a few minutes to get into the flow, once I started listing out my ideas for content, they just kept coming.

It was hard to keep up with all the ideas that were building of each other.  It’s fun! Crazy, right?

Your calendar can be a notebook, an agenda or spreadsheet or chart on your computer.  Choose what’s most comfortable for you and easiest to use.

All you need to do is settle down for a couple of hours and brainstorm all the ideas you have for content.  Use your computer, use sticky notes, use whatever lets you do this quickly.

Now, skip overthinking and drop the ideas into your calendar. You

Then, fine tune them: 

  • draft a rough headline
  • identify key words (for now) and
  • the take-away message your want your customers to take

When and where and how

Next just choose where, when and how you’re going to publish the content – in your website, blog, social posts and what media (if any) your using.

How often are you going to publish new content? This is what you calendar guides you through.

A word to the wise, be reasonable here.  Don’t over commit especially if you’re an entrepreneur doing this all by yourself. If you have a team of writers and designers, you can do more.

If you’re a seasoned writer and researcher, you might aim for a couple of articles a week, or maybe three (because you’re doing all the other aspects of running your business).

If you’re new, aim for one article.  You need to think about the time your need to gather your research as well as the time to write, rewrite, and write again. That’s what behind your choice of how much you can produce. And that sets the guidelines for your calendar. 

Or, if you think you’re going to do three 5-minute podcasts a week, identify in your content calendar when you’re going to write the notes/script and when you’re going to record. Everything takes time.

The content calendar helps you see where you might accidently bottleneck yourself so you can avoid having too much too do.    

It’s better to start a little lightly rather than taking on what you cannot manage in your schedule.

Finally

A content calendar is your personal guide created by you for your business.

At the end of a year, you’ll have an exact history of what you’ve done, what you liked, what you customers responded to (check your likes on your media platform), and you can seed new ideas for the future.

You’ll be able to see patterns that will help guide you in more aspects of your business strategy.

My best recommendation, try it for about a year and see what happens. That means you’re only planning a about 30 minutes a month once your have your first three months set up.  You just keep adding ideas onto your calendar as you move through publishing.

“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” -A. A. Milne

If this feels like it’s too much, or it’s too confusing, connect with a copywriter.  They’re trained to work with content calendars and can help you or do it for you.

Life gets a lot easier with a content calendar in place.