Content strategy. It tends to be one of those love/hate relationships, right? In theory, you know it could be fun, exciting and creative, but on the other hand, it likely gets pushed down your list because there are more urgent things to tackle each week.
In this episode, I want to show you how you can sit down and plan a year’s worth of content in just one or two sittings, and how to schedule it so it fits around your own schedule as well as your audience’s. And what better time to do it than at the end of 2019 so you’re set up for a killer 2020, hmm?
We’ll also talk about…
How to brainstorm countless ideas with very little effort
How you can use other peoples’ profiles to generate even MORE ideas
How to assign your content to the right platforms
How to ensure your strategy is cohesive across all platforms
And why the timing of your content matters
So let’s dive in!
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READ THE TRANSCRIPT
You’re listening to episode eight: how to create a kick-ass content strategy for 2020. If you feel like anytime you try and come up with some sort of content strategy, it really involves just throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks and creating your content and ebbs and flows — some weeks you’re feeling it, some weeks you’re not and you just really struggle to stay consistent and to feel really confident in what you’re creating. Then this is definitely the episode for you. Welcome to the personal branding project. I’m your host Kat Elizabeth, an actor and personal branding coach who is obsessed with helping creative entrepreneurs like you build personal brands that change your life for good, from attracting bigger opportunities, more joy and freedom in your life and the ability to get paid to do the things that you love most. Each week I’m bringing you inspiration, practical advice and the occasional dose of tough love so you can stop dreaming and start doing what it takes to make those dreams a reality.
Welcome back and thank you so much for being here. This is definitely going to be an important episode because I feel like just about everyone I’m speaking to at the moment is really struggling with their content strategy. They just have a lot of overwhelm and self-doubt, imposter syndrome, which in turn leads to inconsistency and feeling really gross about even posting on social media or writing emails and as someone who is definitely been there and done a lot of work around this, you know, I look, I am far from perfect with this, but what I have been learning is I guess a framework that I can use to stop second guessing myself and just get all the ideas on paper, map it all out and have a plan in front of me that I just know that if I follow it, it’s going to work.
And I think that’s what we all want. I think it’s the not being sure about if it’s even going to work and not being fully committed to the plan that leads us to not doing what it takes to really see those results and, and to really stay consistent on social media and in your emails and with your big pieces of content. And as you probably know, consistency is kind of everything in this game. I mean obviously you want quality of content, but if you create great pieces of content once in a blue moon, those kinds of things aren’t really gonna move the needle in your business or your brand.
Whereas if you have a plan to create very high quality content but on a consistent basis, it’s mapped out in a way that’s logical, that takes your audience on a particular kind of journey and fits in with their own schedules as in thinking about what’s going on for them at that point in time in the year, then you have got a recipe for success. So today I am going to give you the framework that I have been working on myself. It’s what I’m using in my own content creation process and it’s what I’m teaching to my clients and hopefully you will find it helpful. So let’s first start by talking about why we even create content. I know this sounds very 101 but we need to start with the why because that I really use that as a compass as to what kinds of content I’m going to be creating moving forward. And so there were a few different ways that reasons we create content. One of them is to get found. So some content that we create is actually going to help get us in front of new faces, new eyes, new ears, people that wouldn’t have already found us.
And that is such a huge part of this process because it’s just going to make your life easier. Like if your content is getting you found organically, then you don’t have to stress as much about paying for advertising. So that’s one thing. The next thing is to actually demonstrate your authority. And obviously this can be done in different ways. Sometimes it’s by you know, showing off your, your knowledge and teaching people how to do something and therefore proving you know how to do it. And sometimes it’s showing off the results and sometimes it’s about showing empathy and talking about your story and how you’ve been there versus you know where you are now and all of those kinds of things build your authority and another reason we create content and when all of the content we create is going to be about adding value to the people who who have watching, reading, consuming it.
But ultimately it’s to stop taking them along that journey of transformation that you are promising them so they’re in a certain position right now in their lives or businesses and whatever it is that you create, whether that’s a product or service or a hybrid, it’s really designed to transform them in some way and what you need your free content to do is start bridging the gap between where they are and what your paid offer is like where you’re going to take them and in time that’s going to build more trust with them. It’s going to prepare them to work with you on a high level and that is a really key reason for creating free content. Again, this is like a really 101 type thing but if you are not creating those hero pieces of content that really like a highly valuable that are evergreen, I’m not just talking about day to day type stuff like a status update or a quick tip on Instagram, but some stuff that you know your audience can really sink their teeth into, then you are going to have a much harder time eventually turning them into customers or clients.
Of course there are going to be – there’s going to be – a huge percentage of your audience that never turn into customers or clients and that’s fine. That’s just how the numbers game works but you are definitely putting yourself at a disadvantage if you are not creating very valuable content, which is why we to now get stuck into how you even go about this. Now I could literally talk about this for hours. But what I’m going to try and do is give you a nutshell version where you can just map out a high level blueprint and start filling it in for yourself and hopefully get the ball rolling. So essentially I’m going to say that if framework has four main phases. So the first phase is going to be the research and brain dump. The next step is sorting out all of your ideas into categories or themes.
The next step is having a look at your 12 month calendar and starting to look at those key points in time that you need to be aware of that need to be worked into your content strategy. And then finally we’re going to look at getting into the specifics of how you break up these content ideas across your chosen platforms and and create like a content hierarchy where you have something that’s up the top that can then flow down onto other platforms to create more pieces of content. So let’s dive in to point number one, which is the research and brain dump. This is one that is not a one off that you’re going to do. I am constantly going back to basics with the research and brain dump. I have a document that I set up to do this and you are going to want to keep checking in every couple of months.
Stay on top of things like continuing to do this process and you’ll find that you know even if you have a high level strategy in place, you might start making tweaks based on what you’re learning. So the kind of research that we need to be doing starts we thinking about, okay so where are your people hanging out and what kind of content are they consuming? What influencers are they following and what can you learn from the things that they are learning? So you know the content of the influences are sharing. Like have a look at what it is they’re talking about. What is getting the most engagement? What kind of format of content are they sharing? What do the posts look like? Are they videos, are they more in podcasts? Can you find out if they are reading any blogs? Are they reading magazines. It’s really important to do a bit of a recce here, a little reconnaissance mission and take a bit of a deep dive into a few different platforms.
I find that Instagram is a great place to do this. Facebook groups is a great place to do this. You know, if you’re into Twitter you can definitely do it there. Don’t ask me about Twitter. Twitter does my head in. I just kind of keep up with it. And same could be said for looking at industry blogs and things like that. Even live events. You’re going to be able to keep an eye on topics like the hot topics. What are people talking about, you know, what are the, what workshops are being held in the new year and start to just let that percolate in your brain and look for any immediate ideas of like, okay, here’s is how I could put my spin on this. The next thing to look at is to actually look at the comments of your potential followers. So I’m talking about looking at your own sort of like ideal client in the comment section of the people that they’re already following and use this as a way of finding clues about what you should create.
What questions are they asking, what topics do they seem to be requesting more of, which content is really resonating with them and you know, copy and paste these comments into your document. Because not only can you use that to spring off content ideas, you’re also going to be looking for the specific language they are using. And you can use this in your content, whether it’s a social media post or a sales page. It’s just so important to make sure that you’re speaking your audience’s language. The next thing to be looking for: what are the hotly searched topics? So using Google – the Google suggested search bar – and you can do this in YouTube as well. And having a look at when you start typing in your topic or keywords around your topic, what questions are popping up as being like automatically suggested by Google because that means other people as searching for them.
And those are some really great starting points for ideas of content you can create and you know, it doesn’t always have to mean that you need to go create a searchable blog article on this topic. But if people are searching for it, that’s obviously something they’re interested in. So you could create an Instagram post about this or you know, do an Instagram story about these. I keep saying Instagram because that’s just like an example I’m using but this could be on absolutely anything. Something else to use our hashtags to go diving a little bit deeper beyond the people that you follow already and the stuff that you are aware of because hashtags could potentially lead you to other amazing accounts or potential followers hopefully future followers of you that are using these hashtags and you can see what it is they’re posting that in relation to these hashtags.
Honestly, when it comes to research, it is a rabbit hole and it is going to take you a little bit of time, but I think this is such a key phase of the process because it’s going to stop you having that blank page paralysis which gets in our way. Once you start seeing pages of ideas that had been copied and pasted, you’re going to be like, Oh, hold on and this is going to jog more ideas and you can just go, cool. Well that one easily translate into these kinds of content and maybe I could create a visual post around this one. So that’s why I don’t want you to start with a blank page and just coming up with your ideas. I want you to take ideas from everywhere because let’s be honest, like there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. Like I honestly believe everything that was going to be created has just about being created, especially when it comes to content creation.
But the key is for you to put your spin on it. So don’t worry that someone else is already talking about this. What is your angle? How could you teach this in your own way and make it more relevant to your audience? Some other really important prompts to be thinking about. So this is kind of beyond the research now and it’s more in the just brain dump is I want you to think about things like what are the problems that your customer or client currently struggling with? And I mean everything. And so that could be really practical things, financial things with their health, with their mindset. Anything that could be potentially related to what you could talk about. Because keep in mind, just because you teach people how to get better at job interviews doesn’t mean that’s all you can talk about because obviously there’s more to being great at an interview than just the moment of the interview.
There’s all the mindset work that has to be done. There is like showing up and looking the part. There is probably networking. There’s the applying for the jobs. So I want you to really think about your audience at every stage of their journey right from before. They’re even aware that they have a problem right up until their transformation. And what are all the potential obstacles along the way that you could help them with and just go crazy with this one. Don’t self edit. Editing is at a later step in this process. Once you’re writing down ideas about your own story, so what parts of your own story that are really relevant to your audience and that could demonstrate authority and empathy with them. Donald Miller of building a StoryBrand talks about how trust comes from having this balance of authority and empathy.
And I think using your own story is the best way to find this because you can show people you know, what you’ve overcome, therefore demonstrating or authority. But also that is empathy because if you’ve gone through something similar to your audience, you can be like, I get it. I’ve been there, I know how you feel because I was there once and this is what it’s like on the other side. So that is a really important prompt to be thinking about. And finally just think about your expertise. So what are all the things that you know heaps about that you could be sharing and hopefully this list is really, really, really, really long and I don’t want you to limit it to the very specific niche thing you’re talking about because again, we don’t just follow people to teach us. The one thing that something like if I follow someone who talks about Facebook ads, I don’t want to just follow them about the Facebook ads, like I’m sure they’ve got plenty of valuable stuff to teach me about running a business in general about marketing, maybe even about time management or hiring a team.
So I want you to not self edit this one and just write down everything that you are good at that you would consider yourself to be at least a few steps ahead of your audience on and just go crazy writing all these out. And by the time you’re finished with this, I’m really expecting you to have at least a couple of pages of just like tons and tons of bullet points, which is just an amazing place for you to then move in to the next phase. So phase number two is to sort these into categories. So I want you to stop making a little bit of sense of all the brain dumps that you’ve done. So I mean you might’ve wanted to, if you’re highly organized, a little bit OCD like myself, you might’ve already started doing this research process in a bit of a spreadsheet or tables, but I really want you to start looking for themes in what you’re talking about and grouping them together because really content tends to be a bit more effective when we can put it out in themes where we can take people on a bit of a journey instead of like one day talking about this the next day talking about something completely different.
Because also keep in mind that great way of sharing content is in like mini series, like having a little five part series on something and that works whether it’s videos you’re sharing, whether it’s podcasts, whether it’s Instagram posts. So I try and find all of the things that are related and stop moving them into categories like I’m not going to give you the list of themes that you should have. I want you to sort that out for yourself. And I also want you to start thinking about the kind of approach that you might have for these. And it could be because generally they were kind of three ways we make some sort of impact with our content and that is we are either entertaining, informing or inspiring. And sometimes I even have three categories for myself, like a little table or I’ll drag different things into each of those categories.
And for instance, entertainment is often going to be an embarrassing story. Maybe aware of where I’ve made a terrible mistake, but I also might be finding that curating some really funny quotes or memes that are going to be relevant to my audience and I’ll put them in there, and then you can be looking at what is inspirational and again, like it might be a story of transformation. So it could be a case study or a testimonial or your own story or a lovely quote from someone well known… Or not well known. And then informational or educational is obviously where you’re going to be teaching things. And I think it’s really important when you are scheduling things out to make sure that you are alternating between these approaches. It’s all about, I’ve talked about it before, I’ll talk about it again — pattern disrupt. If you keep sharing the same thing every day, people just start to drown you out, becomes like white noise.
So just having that in the back of your mind. I don’t want you to overthink this one, but if you find that like for two weeks straight you’re just teaching people like giving how tos and you haven’t broken it up with something funny or inspirational, then you need to go, Oh hold on. Like they might be getting a little bored or tired of this content but enough on that one because I think it’s fairly self explanatory when going to move into phase three which is mapping out your calendar. So this is where you actually give yourself a 12 square grid and you’re just going to start noting all of those important dates in the year. So anything to do with your own personal launches or you know, if you know that you’re running certain programs at certain times, if you have a new product coming out, if you know you’re going on holiday or if you’ve got events that you’re attending and you might want to work that into your content and put everything down here because again, that’s going to give you some really great little villas of content to talk about.
Well, you don’t even have to go to your brainstorm list necessarily. You might already know that you’ve got something for that week covered and then I want you to put yourself in your customer or client’s shoes and think about what their 12 months is going to look like. And this is where it’s really important to think about when they might be going on holidays, when they might be, I don’t know, graduating and job hunting, when there are sales or they might be shopping for something in particular, when they’re going to be doing the taxes. All of these kinds of things are relevant because if you can work that into your content, your content feel so much more organic and relevant as opposed to just like not even paying attention to the calendar and just sharing the same stuff week in, week out, no matter what.
You will definitely notice that if you can get really relevant and timely about what you share, people are just, they’re going to take notice. They might not notice that it’s any different to anyone else’s content but they’re just probably going to respond better so don’t skip this step and then once you’ve got these 12 months mocked out, I want you to actually create your month by month breakdown. It’s more of a week by week breakdown so this is high level. Obviously once we get into once you’ve done this step there’s going to be of kind of a final step that really depends on your social media platforms and how much you’re posting per day but we’re talking just high level strategy right now. So the way I do this is that I have a grid laid out for me again where each row is a week and then I break it out by the different platforms I’m going to be sharing on.
And for me personally it works really well to like have a hero platform where I share like a main meaty piece of content and then a supporting platform like a social media platform for instance, Instagram. And then there’s also going to be my emails. Now I have recently introduced a second hero platform because I am crazy like that and I’ve got YouTube and podcasts and Instagram and email. So I’m going to have four columns but this is totally up to you. But to make things as easy as possible, I want you to be thinking about those really big pieces of content first because if you can use your brainstorm to jog ideas for you know, whether it’s videos, blog articles or podcasts. And then once you’ve those locked in place, think about how you can break them down into bite sized pieces. We’re going to go more into this in the next episode, but you’re going to make it a lot easier for yourself because you’re not having to necessarily come up with separate ideas for each platform.
And keep in mind that you really should be emailing your list every week – or every two weeks if you’re someone that shares being content every two weeks – and giving them links to whatever it is that you’ve created. So therefore the topic of that email should be related to that hero piece of content. So again, you’re not having to come up with a fresh idea for your emails. You’re going to use your hero piece of content to create them from and you are going to do this like it’s up to you. You might want to do this three months at a time or if you’re feeling really game, you know, if you’ve already got your entire promo and launch strategy mapped out for the year, you might want to do a whole 12 month thing. But I think it’s always good to include a bit of white space in there because you’ll probably go and have some very timely ideas pop up based on conversations you’re having based on struggles of your clients or your customers or you know, events that are happening as well.
And if you just map out your entire 12 months with no gaps, there’s no room for you to actually trust your intuition and look around and look what’s trending. And I’m really cashing in on some of those topics. So whatever you do, put down all of those pillars for your monthly themes. And you know, however you decide you want to tie everything in together, just leave some little gaps because you will probably find that inspiration can pop up at any point in time and you’ll be really annoyed with yourself if you come up with some amazing idea. You pre-created all of your content already and you’ve got no gap to actually insert that in. So that’s just a side note from personal experience that hopefully, hopefully at this point this is all kind of making sense and you’re seeing that if you can lay some foundations and you can follow this kind of logical process that I’ve been developing in time, it suddenly takes away that blank page paralysis, the overwhelm, the self doubt, and you can start mapping out something that really feels good for you, but he’s also going to be a huge value to your audience because it is well-researched… like you planned this ahead of time and of course we’re batching, right?
So you’re also creating the content ahead of time so that you can streamline the entire process and you’re not just going week to week flying by the seat of your pants, which is stressful for you, but also it’s no good for your audience because there’s a really good chance you’re going to drop the ball at some stage and you’re not going to get that content out when you thought you were going to. And also you don’t necessarily have that overarching plan that’s tying it all together. So my hope for you is that you can take some time before the new year, or maybe you do it every three months. It’s totally up to you. But really sit down and get intentional and do this work that can sometimes feel a little bit basic.
But when we skip it, our brands and our businesses really do suffer. So I encourage you to make a day of it. Set a date with yourself. Maybe you want to go to a co-working space or find a nice coffee shop or you just like spreading out in the middle of the living room floor. It’s whatever works for you that make it fun — whether you’re into doing this with paper and pen and textas and post it notes, like get really physical with it, or if you just love everything being clean and neat on the computer, then you know, spreadsheets or Asana or Google Docs. Again like this has to work for you. I’m just giving you some really basic structure in place to hopefully make this whole process a lot easier.
So I would love to hear how you go with this. If you are actually planning a content strategy session, tag me and you know, share this on Instagram and let me know what you’re up to and let me know how it goes. And please just make sure you’re subscribed to the podcast so you don’t miss out on future episodes ’cause I do have some more coming up on content creation for the new year and beyond. And I just thank you as always for being here and listening. Thank you in advance for your reviews and I really look forward to chatting to you on the next one. Bye for now.
Kat is an actor and personal branding coach as well as the host of The Personal Branding Project Podcast and her self-titled YouTube channel. She started her career off by playing Marilyn at Warner Bros Movie World, went on to perform in the original Australian casts of Jersey Boys & Hairspray and eventually found herself writing/producing her own work before becoming a self-employed copywriter and marketing strategist. She now offers 1:1 Coaching and Online Courses for entrepreneurs, freelancers + multi-passionate creatives.