Why plan your content marketing in advance?
When I started at my in-house content marketing job, the role I was filling was brand new. I was working across four teams who previously had little to no regular content in place; so, if I hadn’t established a plan and schedule pretty quickly, I’m fairly sure my head would have exploded within the first month!
Getting those plans in place meant that by the time I left the company four years later, my work had expanded to cover six teams on four different continents. Everyone knew what to expect from me and when to expect it, because things were consistent, every single month.
Setting up a content plan at my corporate job, allowed me to produce content for six teams across four continents.
The thought of ‘just winging it’ for those four years still strikes fear into the pit of my stomach to this day, and yet I see people taking that route so often. My job was purely content and it still needed a firm plan. So, it boggles my mind to see business owners trying to do content on a whim whilst also fulfilling the core of their business, plus all the other bits like finance, website maintenance, attending events, resolving IT issues etc.
If you find content leaves you feeling like a hamster in a constantly spinning wheel, putting a clear plan I place could calm your mind in no time.
Chances are, you’ll only need to block out one day to get a good few months of content sorted and then you’ll know exactly what, when and where to publish.
I offer three different levels of content planning package to support you along the way, which you can find out more about by clicking here.
If you need a bit more convincing that advance planning is the way forward, here are my favourite reasons to have a content plan.
10 REASONS TO HAVE A CONTENT PLAN
1. Save time
Be honest, how many hours have you wasted staring at a blank screen or piece of paper, waiting for inspiration to strike for a blog post, podcast, video or lead magnet?
By setting time aside to plan in advance, you’ll have all your ideas ready to go, so all you have to do is write, record or design whatever it is that you’ve scheduled for that day. Doing this means you’ll have more time to invest in other areas of your life and business.
2. Stop the cycle of endless brainstorming
I know that coming up with a constant stream of content ideas can be tough. When I first entered the world of content marketing, the ideas didn’t just instantly flow to me. I had to practice and train my brain to spot opportunities.
If you take some time to really focus on your content, you’ll find that you tend to get into a flow with ideas and one can often lead to another. So, instead of sitting down daily, thinking to yourself, ‘Urgh! Not this again!’, you’ll have just one concentrated, regular period of time, where you’re truly focused, rather than just snippets of time where your mind might struggle to zero in on the task at hand.
Having things done in advance means you could automate some aspects of your content to allow yourself the freedom to travel.
3. Reduce overwhelm and shiny object syndrome
Plenty of people worry about their content either not being up to scratch or that they won’t be able to keep up with it all. Planning puts a stop to feeling like you need to be everywhere and do everything.
Firstly, you don’t need to grasp absolutely every content opportunity out there. It’s far better to focus on two or three first and build more into your strategy as you progress.
Having a plan will stop that looming fear of ‘what am I going to post on social media about tomorrow?’. You’ll have chosen your content platforms in advance and can work on honing your ability with those, knowing that every piece of content you publish has been carefully thought out.
Keeping to just two or three options also means there’s less chance of falling victim to shiny object syndrome, which can mean spreading yourself too thinly over social platforms or trying to produce too many different types of content.
4. Create more freedom in your life
Planning pretty much anything in advance will save you time, which in turn leads to you being free to use that time for other things. You could put that time towards family, friends, self-care, travel, learning or re-invest it in your business.
It’s important to not forget the other types of freedom planning can give though. You won’t just gain time but you’ll also have the freedom of flexibility in your time. Having things done in advance means you could automate some aspects of your social media for example, so if you want to meet a friend for lunch, you know your social audience won’t be forgotten.
You could also use planning to allow you some location freedom too. Travelling for work can be a wonderful perk of entrepreneurship and I don’t know about you, but when I visit a new location, I want to get out there and see the sights, not just work in a hotel room.
If all your content is planned well in advance, you’ll know exactly what’s in your schedule for the period that you want to be away travelling. So, before you jet off, you can easily get ahead by prepping your content in advance, which means you can either automate it or simply hit ‘publish’ whilst you’re away exploring new cultures.
5. Give yourself and your business a clear sense of direction and purpose
There’s no point in publishing content just for the sake of it, you need to know why you’re doing it. Chances are, you didn’t just set up your business off the back of a spur of the moment decision, so think about what your ‘why’ is.
What do you hope to get from your business? What do you want to give your customers when they encounter your business? What are your long-term aspirations personally and from a business perspective?
Once you’ve established your ‘why’, including it in your content will help people to get to know and understand you and your brand, but it will also give your content a purpose.
Once you’ve established your ‘why’, including it in your content will help people to get to know and understand you and your brand, but it will also give your content a purpose and direction.
6. Achieve your goals
To help you and your business head in the direction I mentioned above, you’ll need to set some goals to aim for. Content can play a big part in this, especially when it comes to things like sales, building an audience, gaining authority in your industry and developing a personal brand.
7. Increase consistency
Consistency is key in content marketing but it’s also one of the biggest sticking points for a lot of people. Lack of ideas, feeling overwhelmed or not understanding the purpose of content, can easily lead to people simply giving up or sharing content very sporadically.
If you have a plan in written down, it effectively acts as a checklist. All you have to do is tick things off, and because the tasks are laid out in advance, it makes it all seem much more manageable on a daily basis.
Having your content calendar filled out, allows you to gather any information you need in advance – such as comments from industry experts.
8. Keep things in-line with your values
Setting values is a must for any business and they should be reflected in your content as often as possible. If you’re writing content simply when the mood takes you, there’s a high chance it won’t tie in with your values because there hasn’t been a clear thought process behind it.
I’m not saying that if inspiration strikes suddenly, you should ignore it. In fact, I encourage my clients to leave some room for flexibility in their content schedules, because you never know when a golden opportunity might arise. However, planning the core of your content means you can keep your values running through as much of what you publish as possible.
9. Get resources in place in advance
Let’s say you’re a graphic designer and you have an idea to publish a blog post that is a round-up of opinions from 10 key players in your industry, about whether they think it’s good or bad to follow design trends.
It’s a brilliant idea but that needs some serious advance preparation. Round-ups like this can be pretty easy to pull together and they mean you don’t have to do a lot of writing yourself, but you can’t contact those key players at 9am and expect to have all the replies back by lunch time.
Having your content calendar filled out ahead of time, allows you to gather any information or resources you might need in advance.
10. Improve the quality of your content
Cobbling a blog post together in-between photoshoots or frantically recording a video before you dash out the door to a client meeting, is rarely likely to result in your finest content.
By scheduling each item into your content calendar, you’ll know exactly what is needed and when, but you’ll also know that every piece of content has been well considered and put together with care.
Content is about consistency but it’s also very much about quality over quantity. Posting to social media daily is great but If it’s going to be low quality, you’d be far better off to do it just four days per week and do it really well.