If ‘create more content’ is one your To Do list for 2016 but you’re kinda stuck on the how of it all then read on my friend.
In this epic post I’m going to take you through my process to come up with a full year of content for your online store in just one day. Or two if you’re feeling particularly frisky.
Oh and I’ve thrown in six free worksheets for you to plan out your content calendar. Just pop your details in the box below to get instant access.
But why do this, you ask?
Well I kinda think the benefits are pretty obvious, but let’s go through them.
First up, you’ll never miss an important shopping date because you’ll already have every single one in your calendar. Just imagine being one of those people who starts planning for Christmas in August.
Never again will you have that moment where you sit down to write your monthly newsletter and think, what am I actually going to write today? Because you’ll already know the answer.
Plus you can get ahead on creating your content. Heck, take all of July off if you want because you can pre-write (and schedule, but more on that below) everything in the months before. (Of course you’ll need to outsource your other biz stuff like sending out products and what-not).
Get a bird’s eye view of your year. Are you releasing products to coincide with special events? You know, the Rio Olympics are on this year, right? Maybe you could have a mini-release to celebrate our sporting peeps?
Add more marketing channels into your mix. When you stop stressing about getting stuff written for your blog, newsletter, Facebook, Instagram you can start to explore new places for your brand to hang out. Like Snapchat. Or the next-new-thing the cool kids are on.
Then it’ll be heaps easier to recycle your content as you’ll be able to plan where and how you use each piece of content.
Finally, batch process your little heart out. Write 4 blog posts at once. Spend an entire day filming YouTube videos for the next 3 months. Get a bunch of photos done for social media.
See there’s a heap of reasons why you’d do this. But the major reason: for that smug feeling you’ll have knowing your content is S.O.R.T.E.D.
Okay so this process does take a little while. I suggest allowing at least a day, or maybe a whole weekend if you’re feeling particularly ambitious with your content.
Also, you won’t actually be writing all your content at this time. You’re just planning it. But once you’ve done all the thinking, I promise the actual creation of it will be 100X easier.
Make this fun. Put on some music. Surround yourself with your favourite products. Clear your space to start with (it’ll probably be filled with paper by the end of the day but I always like to start with a clean slate). Buy yourself as many markers, post-its and poster board as you possibly desire. You totally have my permission to hit up Kmart for this activity.
For a head start, download these worksheets to help take you through the planning process. Then let’s get started.
Step 1. The Big Picture
Before you start getting into the nitty-gritty of your content, you’re going to review your overall business goals and your customers. For some people this is the funnest bit (you big dreamers, you). For others, this is the worst-est. But either way, it’s an essential part of the process.
Get out your worksheet or piece of paper and start writing.
Goals – really everything you do in your business should start with the question of why. Why are creating the content you’ll be creating? What is the purpose or the ultimate goal of it?
- How many followers and people on your email list do you want to have by the end of the year?
- How many sales do you want to make this year ($ or a % increase on 2015)?
- What goals you have for your following (okay so likes don’t always equal sales, but it helps)
Who – who exactly will be seeing your content? Some old school customer profiling asks you to go into soooo much detail on ideal customer (IC). I kinda eschew that for a wider view (I don’t think it’s that important what my IC ate for breakfast, unless I’m selling them breakfast cereal).
You’ll probably come up with a few IC profiles, depending on your business and products. Focus on creating content for the two main ones.
- What they love
- Their aesthetic
- Their location
- What they do online
- How much money the make
- Their family status
Once you’ve brainstormed this out on a big picture of paper, write out a succinct 3-4 sentence paragraph describing them on your worksheet.
Then it’s time for a dance break. I suggest Tay-tay’s Shake It Off.
Step 2. Themes and Categories
Once you’ve thought about why you’re creating certain types of content you want to get into the details of it.
At the end of last year I totally upped my Insta-game (plus that of my clients) and how I did it was by getting super-specific on the types of posts I’d share. I came up with a bunch of categories and a number for how many times I’d post within each category a month. Yes it sounds super-nerdy. But it’s also an amazing way to stay on track and avoid the dreaded ‘should I post a picture of my lunch? Or no?’ thought process.
Brainstorm all the possible categories and then whittle it down to around 6-8 categories for your content. It might vary a little across each platform, but it’ll follow some broader themes.
Speaking of themes, I suggest coming up with an overall theme for each month of the year. Sure this sounds like creative overkill. But, if it’s good enough for Vogue…
Make sure your categories and themes match your brand and are the type of things your customers want to know. Anything that helps them make a decision to buy, gives them insight into your business/products or helps inspire them.
Tip: Just because you come up with these themes doesn’t mean you’re locked into them. If you’re inspired to write or share something outside of your theme in a given month, that’s totally cool. Not every post has to fit into the theme. Aim for 40-50% and you’re golden.
Once you’ve come up with around 6-8 categories and your monthly themes, it’s time to take a break. Why not try making yourself an origami flamingo.
Step 3. The Details
Once you’ve got your categories, themes and overall goals for your year it’s time to get specific. This step is really important, mmkay. Don’t skip it and think you’ve done enough. If you don’t plan out what you’ll write and when you’ll write it you’re less likely to do it (read, probably actually not at all).
Grab your calendar and put in every important date. You can totally grab my important ecommerce dates calendar here.
- Major shopping dates
- New product releases
- Markets and events you’re involved in
- When specific campaigns will start (and end)
- Promotions you’re planning or competitions you’re involved in
- Any holidays you’re planning (yes, seriously put these in)
Make sure you also schedule out when you’ll be creating content. For example, maybe one Friday a month you write all your blog posts. And every second Monday you schedule out your social media for the fortnight.
Also make time to create your content – photoshoots, etc. If you’re working with a copywriter or content creator to create your content then you could totally bring them on board for this process (or in fact the whole day if you’ve got that kinda relationship).
Put in place some deadlines for the content. Write out the specific blog posts, emails and videos you’ll be writing for the next 90 days. For the months after, your broad themes should suffice, but schedule time to plan out your next 90 days in early-March so you’re always ahead of yourself in terms of content planning.
Whew, you’re almost at the end of the day my friend. And look how much you’ve achieved.
The final step is to save your work somewhere you can refer back to it throughout the year. If you’ve written it on paper, scan or transfer the information to a working file online. Save it. Save your calendar.
The final piece of the puzzle and the part that makes this truly epic is making use of scheduling throughout your year. This is what will help you get ahead of yourself (and take that break off).
There are a whole heap of schedulers out there depending on what ecommerce platform you use and the type of content you create.
I’m putting together a massive post with my favourite scheduling and content tools for your ecommerce biz. Make sure you don’t miss out by signing up to my email list if you’re not on it already.