Planning your content – the first step to success.

As the age old saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know how to get there or when you arrive! And the evidence consistently shows that those people who have a clear goal or goals are significantly more likely to achieve major milestones.

content planning

Knowing what you want to achieve is particularly important when it comes to your content writing and in fact helps inform all sorts of other decisions that you need to make. You’ll find it much easier to come up with ideas and know where to post if you have a clear idea of what you’re going to write when and better still, you’re much more likely to get stuff written!  So if you haven’t got a plan yet, here’s how to get started:

1. Give yourself a content audit

Before you start thinking about objectives, take a moment or two to think about what you’ve done thus far. What content have your produced and how frequently? What worked, what didn’t? What did you enjoy and what felt like pulling teeth? Did you have any aims, did you meet them and how did you monitor your results?

Were the blogs you’ve written successful? If not, why not? Was it your content, your writing style or perhaps where you were posting them? Did you post frequently enough and if not, was it time, inspiration or because you hate writing that held you back?

If you think your could be a success, what do you need to do now? Outsource the writing, make a commitment and find more time or perhaps find out more about your target audience and what they need or want.

2. Setting clear and specific aims

A thorough audit of what you’ve been doing will help to inform your decisions when it comes to setting goals and your plan will almost write itself.  Add into the mix what you want to achieve and by when. Be as specific as you can be. Then work out what you need to do to achieve it.

content planniing

Set goals and plan your content accordingly

Do you need to write a newsletter more frequently, run a very targeted campaign, work on pinning down your target audience and where they hang out? You should have some bigger goals too, perhaps as part of your one year or three year plan. If you do, then it may help to  break these down into 3 month or 6 month targets.

3. Use a content planner and calendar

In my view, a content planner and calendar is essential and it isn’t hard to set up. Below is a screen shot of a very simple excel spreadsheet which allows for a weekly blog. You want to include a column for: the date, the topic or content idea, relevant keywords, the date to be published, where it was published and how successful it was (likes, shares, comments etc). It’s also worth prepopulating your calendar with relevant events.

Finally build in quarterly reviews of your website content. It’s easy to forget to update or refresh your website and this acts as a reminder. Then stick it on the wall so it’s easy to view.

content planner

Create your own content planner

It’s up to you exactly how you create your calendar but I find planning 3 months in advance works well. And don’t panic. You don’t have to write all your content this early. I prefer to map out 3 month’s worth’s of ideas and then write in blocks of 4, once a month.

4. Now you’ve got a plan

The final element of your plan is making yourself accountable. Buddy up if that works for you, pay someone to act as a reminder or just announce it to the world. Once you’ve expressed your intention you’re much more likely to stick with it.

You’ve taken the trouble to read this far (and I thank you) so now, don’t go to the pub just yet or back to your work. Spend a little time planning your content. It won’t take long but it will pay dividends.