There’s a reason the market is flooded with planners every winter. Successful entrepreneurs are planners and goal setters.
So if you spent the Christmas break and/or January busily deciding what you’re going to do to grow your business this year, I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and suggest you’ve included at least one of the following:
- Build your list
- Sign new clients
- Increase your income
- Raise your prices
- Grow your social media platforms
- Increase your website traffic
- Get on the first page of Google
- Blog more
- Start a vlog or podcast
- Be consistent in your email and social media marketing
- Launch a new product, service or eCourse
- Write a book
If any of these are on your To Do List for the year there’s one other thing you should be doing right now: planning your content marketing strategy.
Without an effective and well-planned content schedule you might achieve your goals, but you might not. And even if you do, the success you achieve can be greatly increased by adding a comprehensive content strategy to your marketing.
How Planning Your Content Makes You More Money
Last year I achieved every single goal on that list, and I didn’t use expensive advertising, complicated marketing tactics, or time-consuming networking and social media methods.
I did it all with one thing: a killer content marketing strategy that was very well planned at the end of 2016.
It was so successful I’ve redoubled my efforts and commitment to it this year, and took three weeks off from client work to batch all that lovely content and get super organised.
If you’re not already intending to use great content to grow your business this year, you’re missing the best and most effective weapon in the entrepreneurial marketing arsenal. And if you’re already hip to the content marketing revolution, but haven’t actually sat down and planned your content for the year yet, you’re firing a gun before you’ve loaded it. Properly planning your content will help you ensure consistency in your marketing efforts, clarity in your marketing message, and properly support all those lovely goals to maximise your success.
Simply put, a proper content marketing plan will:
- Build your list fast (like my client, Robyn, who more than tripled her list in the first 90 days of using The Divine Blogging Design).
- Convert more clients with creator ease (all but one new client I signed this year came from content).
- Increase your income (more clients and conversions means more moolah – I tripled my income in 2017 with nothing but content).
- Enable you to raise your prices (because effective content demonstrates your expertise and the value of your offerings, allowing you to command higher prices).
- Grow your social media presence at an astonishing rate (I attracted over 1000 new (and highly relevant!) Twitter followers in the first MONTH of using the plan, without any advertising and less than 10 minutes a day spent on Twitter).
- Give your website traffic a huge boost (I’ve ****** my traffic in the last year, while Robyn boosted hers by 156% after just four posts!).
- Boost your Google ranking and get you on the first page of Google (search ‘start a vlog for your business’ and you’ll find me!)
- Ensure you have consistent and regular content on your blog, vlog or podcast.
- Make your email and social media marketing ridiculously simple and consistent.
- Support the launch of new products, services and eCourses by raising awareness of your launch, driving traffic, demonstrating the value of your offer, maximising signups, and helping you nurture leads and convert them into paying clients.
- Enable you to write the perfect book for your tribe, which not only establishes you as a thought-leader in your niche, but effortlessly leads into your core offering and gives you an uber-powerful lead magnet.
How A Killer Content Schedule Will Create Additional Income Streams
The bottom line of every single point on this list is making you more money. Well-planned content not only increases your sales of products and services, it’s also capable of providing additional income streams that make you money in your sleep, in the form of:
- Passive income
- Affiliate income
- Advertising fees
Multiple income streams are the key to creating stability in your business, while passive income is vital to scaling it, especially if you have a service-based business model.
There are only so many hours in a day. Even working every waking hour, there is a limit to how much you can earn offering services. Charging premium rates for your time helps with this, but here’s another goal you’re likely hoping to achieve at some point:
Build a £100K business.
If you offer services alone it will be incredibly difficult to achieve that goal without either passive income or billing c. hours per day, every single day, and charging at least £40/hour for every one of those hours.
Why on earth wouldn’t you want to make some of that cash while you slept, or spent time with friends and family, or lounged about on the beach drinking mai tais?
How To Plan Your Blog For The Year In 5 Steps
So now that you’re onboard with planning your content for the year properly and maximising your income, how exactly are you supposed to do it?
The more content I created for my clients as a ghostwriter, the more I dug into figuring out exactly how to get the most out of the humble blog post in terms of marketing impact and ROI. This eventually led to the creation of The Divine Blogging Design (my signature content marketing service), the system that achieved such amazing result for me and my clients last year.
I realised three things about content marketing very early on:
- You have to create content that is perfectly tailored to your ideal client’s needs and wants. This is the part most people get wrong, even if they know who their ideal client is!
- You must be perfectly consistent in the content you put out, both in terms of the quality and the frequency of your posts, and post as often as possible.
- The amount of content you need to create on a consistent basis is phenomenal. Which means it’s vital for you to repurpose it as much as humanly possible to get the most mileage out of every single piece.
And all of that requires a hell of a lot of planning! I named my system very carefully to reflect these three core requirements:
Divine – is a reference to the archetypes I use to identify and understand your ideal client, and perfectly tailor your schedule to their psychological makeup.
Blogging – reflects the fact your blog is the heart of your content strategy, and the focus of your creation efforts (even if it’s in video or audio form!), with every blog post repurposed to create the additional content needed for effective social media and email marketing.
Design – acknowledges that none of this happens by accident and in order to achieve total consistency you need to plan everything meticulously, and stick to that plan.
While I’m perfectly happy to plan and create your content for you, I’m well aware that a lot of entrepreneurs prefer to do it themselves, or can’t afford to outsource it. So here’s a rundown of the five steps you need to take in order to effectively plan your content for the next year.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter when you’re reading this, you can start any time, and don’t have to stick to a calendar year! To help you totally nail this process, I’ve put together a completely FREE five day video challenge, which also gives you access to the Divine Blogging Facebook group and a great community of other entrepreneurs working on their content marketing.
But for now, let’s dig into those steps…
Step 1: Create Content For Your Ideal Client, Not Yourself
It’s natural to write about what you’re trying to achieve. You want people to buy your stuff, so you write about how amazing your stuff is. You’re trying to get people to signup to your newsletter, so you ask them to signup using the handy box you’ve provided.
You’re not doing anything wrong: you need to create great content, and take every opportunity to convince people to signup to your list. The problem is, you’re making it about you, and it’s really not.
When you’re running a business the need to convert clients is endless.
That’s what you need; it pays the bills.
But the key to growing a healthy tribe for your business is understanding that you are, first and foremost, here to serve.
Your tribe will only hand over their hard earned cash if you can convince them that you’re going to meet their needs. You may need them to signup to your list or buy, but your content needs to solve their needs, not yours.
If it effectively solves their problems, they will happily solve yours.
So when you plan your blog your content needs to be created with your ideal client in mind, which means you need to have a really deep and thorough understanding of who they are, what they need, what they want, where they hang out, how they speak, what entertains them, what inspires them, which motivates and drives them.
In short, you need to crawl inside your ideal clients’ head and create exactly the kind of content they need most, precisely when they need it.
Step 2: Plan Your Blog Posts To Support Your Goals
As much as your content should be created for your ideal clients, it is still intended to market your business, which means it needs to support your goals. It’s not enough to brainstorm stuff your ideal clients would like to read about.
People are complex beings, they’re interested in a lot of stuff! The trick is to find the point where their needs and wants directly overlap with your goals.
For example, I know a lot of entrepreneurs are desperate to rock their content marketing, I also know they can’t all afford to outsource it, which is why I have a book and eCourse version of my paid-service in the works. But I also know that one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is planning their content. So while one of my goals for the year is to launch my Divine Blogging book, and the Divine Blogging Academy, you don’t want to read a post about that!
You do, however, need practical and actionable help planning your content.
That’s the crossover between your needs and my goals, which led to me writing this post, and creating a free mini-course that goes into even greater detail.
I’m still writing a blog post that touches on the products I’m hoping you will eventually buy, but I’ve done it in a way that provides you with great value and a solution to your need, even if you never buy either!
So where’s the overlap between what your ideal clients need/want, what your skills allow you to offer, and your marketing objectives?
This can be a tough one to visualise, so here’s a handy Venn diagram:
Step 3: Work In Your SEO While Showing Your Value
Now you know what you’re writing about it’s time to work in the SEO that’s going to get your content found. SEO is, hands down, one of the biggest benefits to content marketing. It’s also a huge part of making all the other benefits happen. The whole process hinges on driving traffic and conversions. You can do that in several ways, networking, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising, but the most effective of all of them is SEO.
Working your SEO into your content shouldn’t be an afterthought. Do your research, find the best keywords for the topics you have decided on (based on the needs of your ideal client, your skills and goals), and plan content that hits all those keywords. I’ll be doing a really in-depth post on SEO for blogging really soon, but in the interim make sure you’re hitting all these key things while you’re brainstorming post headlines:
- Create enticing and clickable headlines that happen to include your keywords – don’t stuff the in, include them in your headlines naturally.
- Plan out topic clusters; a series of posts each optimised for related but distinct keywords, all of which can be linked to from a single ‘pillar post’.
- Vary your headline types to keep things interesting, and vary the subjects you post about from week to week.
- Use CoSchedule’s free headline analyser to optimise every single post on your schedule.
- Think of ways to link your SEO to the questions your ideal clients have about your products, services and offerings, in a way that fully demonstrates their value.
Step 4: Include Regular Content Upgrades And Lead Magnets
Just as your SEO is essential to driving traffic to all your lovely content, it’s equally important to ensure you there are ample ways to entice your readers onto your list. List-building should be a huge focus, over and above social media, because you don’t own your contacts on social media, and it can cost you a fortune (in time or money) to get them to see your stuff.
Your email list is always available to you, allowing you to nurture leads, send them offers and sales pitches, and completely demonstrate your expertise.
Once they’re on your list, you can convince them to buy, but you need to get them to signup.
As I said at the start, simply asking them to optin to your list isn’t going to work.
Not even if you assure them it will mean they never miss a post from you.
It’s not enough, people need more.
They are giving you something hugely valuable (their contact information and permission to market to them directly), and they expect something in return.
Something more valuable than the free content available on your blog.
There are two types of freebies you should be using:
- Content Upgrades
- Lead Magnets
What’s the difference? Content upgrades are basically an extension of your blog posts. You write a high-value post, but reserve a little of the value and package it up in a pretty download (a PDF checklist, workbook, guide, cheat sheet etc.). A content upgrade is really effective because it offers people more of what you know they’re already interested in.
They wouldn’t be reading your post if they weren’t!
It’s an easy yes for them, because they’ve read your post, know you have great value to offer, and want more.
Lead Magnets are a lot more comprehensive. Rather than simple freebies that are relatively quick and easy to put together (not to mention cheap!), Lead Magnets require a bigger investment from you. The most popular ones are:
- A mini-course (usually four of five videos).
- An eBook (not to be confused with a guide or workbook which are only a few pages long – eBooks are more substantial, c.10K+ words).
- A quiz (this should offer tangible value, something practical and useful).
- A chapter or two of a paid book.
Your content upgrades will naturally be relevant to your offering, because they’re an extension of your core content, all of which you’ve planned to support your goals. But it may be tangentially related – something your ideal clients are interested in, which crosses over with the offer you want them to accept, but isn’t a direct lead-in. Your lead magnets, on the other hand, should offer a ‘lite’ version of the offer you will eventually make.
Take a look at my lead magnets. The mini-courses teaches you the beginning of The Divine Blogging Design, the first stage in the process (planning your content). The quiz helps you do one thing that is fundamentally necessary to make Divine Blogging work – figuring out your ideal client’s archetype so you can tailor your content to them – that is also valuable information that can be applied to other areas (your ideal client affects all areas of your business!). The free chapter is a ‘try before you buy’ for the full Divine Blogging book. The free blog post is in the same vein, allowing you to sample my service before signing up.
They were all very carefully planned to provide a massive amount of value while directly leading into the offers I’d like to make.
Lead Magnets are big investments and tend to take a lot of time and/or resources to create. Don’t skimp on them, they should be as good as you can possibly make them, even though you’re giving them away for free.
This seems really counter-intuitive, but I promise you they are phenomenally powerful and well worth it!
Step 5: Batch It!
This is the hardest part to plan but in many ways it’s the most useful. Consistency is a really difficult thing to achieve. Life is busy and distracting, and as entrepreneurs we always have a million things to do. Friends, family, clients, health all take priority over creating content, despite the fact it’s our content that gets us our clients and ensures we have the money to pay for everything else!
This is where I really fell down last year. Everything would have worked a lot better had I been able to completely batch all of my 2017 content at the start of the year. I got three months of content done over Christmas and New Year, and it all worked like clockwork. But then I was busy and dealing with health issues and it was really difficult to find the time to batch any more. I did one or two posts at a time and struggled to keep that up throughout the year, before finally being forced to take a break. I got back to writing content but was forced to stop recording videos completely for the last couple of the year.
I just didn’t have time.
This is the their major obstacle people have (other than failing to plan), they create content one piece at a time, as and when it’s needed.
Part of your plan should be how you’re going to efficiently batch your content, ensuring you get everything done in the most time-efficient, resource-efficient way possible, and ensure perfect consistently.
I took three full weeks off from client work at the end of 2017 and batched everything I possibly could for 2018. There are some things I couldn’t do, as they need doing at the time, and other elements that I would ideally like to include in my content schedule, but are stretch goals – extra posts that will help boost my SEO and support my main launches for the year, but that I can cope without if it turns out I don’t have time to do them.
Batching takes time and planning. Get super organised. And if the thought of creating a whole year of content in one go is too much for you, aim for six months at a time, or do what the amazing Marie Forleo does and have one batching session every quarter.
If you follow these five steps you’ll have an absolutely killer content schedule that fully supports your goals, and ensure you’re not leaving any money on the table! To really dig deep into each step, sign up to my FREE Divine Blogging Challenge now, and let me walk you through creating your content marketing plan in detail…