CREATIVES: conquer Content Planning

CREATIVES: conquer Content Planning

I’ve helped a lot of coaches with their content.

Life coaches, business coaches, get your life organized coaches, systematize your ish coaches, confidence coaches, image stylists (they’re coaches too), sales coaches, marketing coaches, nutrition coaches, speaking coaches and even coaches to coaches coaches.

Can I tell you how many of them have said to me “God, I suck”?

Because they don’t think they’re any good at being creative, or interesting or clever?

Because they secretly want to beat themselves with soggy ramen noodles for doing what other people are doing, even though they know it’s not gonna work (and then feel like a boiled potato when it actually doesn’t)?

My answer always comes down to this one provocative point: 

“I think you’re lying…to yourself”

And then I explain because a) no one likes to be called a liar and b) we’re basically in the same club. It sounds like this:

“You’re not qualified to judge yourself. 

Hear me out…

Launching an idea, growing a brand and then creating content to market and sell it, is an emotional undertaking. 

Someone I know recently launched a new product and compared it to  giving birth.

Not like a blow up pool in your living room with a baby goat bringing the chill vibes and zen monks drumming in the background. But in a, this thing is growing by the day & I‘m terrified I’ll screw it up kind of way.

Think about it: you bring your ideas to life with your sweat, soul and snot.

Of course you’re not objective, how could you be!

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And that’s why you’ve been lying to yourself. 

Because you’re looking at your capabilities through one of those side mirrors stamped Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (Aka, you believe you’re smaller than you actually are).

It’s super important that you look for evidence of what you’re *really* capable of before you go all judge-y, pointing fingers at your outcomes and thinking you’re not quite ready or up to snuff.

Especially when it comes to marketing.

And *only* after you’ve given yourself the right tools and processes so that what you’re evaluating – about yourself – is fair.

Let me lay out a 9-step content planning process for you to follow so that you’re giving your ideas, your esteem and voice, the fair chance you deserve:

1. Audience

It goes without saying that you’ve got to know who your audience is which means you’ve also gotta know the questions they’re asking themselves along their journey.

Imagine you’re scrolling the Gram looking for inspiration to freshen up your quarantine style when you stumble upon 3 jewelry brands. 

One features product shots and price points. The other showcases the owner wiggling her toes in beach sand with her 3-year old toddler (aww). The third features a gorgeous shot of layered necklaces with a mini how-to-layer-necklaces-for-when-you’re-in-quarantine-and-bored-with-your-look tutorial.

The latter gets the eyeballs, the love and the follow.

DO THIS: What questions would someone that’s new to you but not to your category or product ask themselves? In other words, what problem do they want solved OR what are they looking to add/change up in their lives and why?

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2. Categories

You’ve heard of the 5/9/12 category system that lots of Instagram marketers promote? Well, I think it’s bad advice. And if you’ve been following that advice and feel like a pickled egg using it – it’s no wonder you think the problem is you.

It isn’t!

The problem is the strategy (or lack thereof).

Categories are good. But only if they align with your brand, business offer and audience. 

When I used that method to create content, there were days when my ideas were limp – like wilted kale – or I felt so uninspired I wondered if maybe I wasn’t cut out for this content marketing thing! 

What works more consistently and strategically, is to forget 5 or 9 or 12 categories. Choose 3 category pillars instead.

Our jewelry brand above could choose something like earrings, necklaces and bracelets as categories.

Makes a hell of a lot more sense (as you’ll see in the next step) than categories that feel random and don’t directly tie back to what you’re offering (because why in the world are we hunched over our phones, downloading one app after the other, feverishly posting content if not to build a brand and bank account?).

DO THIS: Choose 3 content categories based on what your business offers, whether it’s courses, art, jewelry, apps or services. Hint: what you offer is at the center.

3. Topics

Remember when I said to be sure you understand the questions rooting around your buyers head? Those questions make up your topics.

Not a random brainstorm of your favorite dry shampoo brands (unless you’re a hairstylist). Not a generic social holiday shout out. But well thought out, intentional topics that answer questions your buyers are asking themselves – as it relates to your products and services.

Let’s say you’re a productivity coach and your ideal buyer doesn’t know you (yet) but knows they need help organizing their day. You might create niche topics like: morning rituals, evening rituals, batching projects and setting boundaries.

DO THIS: What niche topics (and you’ve got plenty) would help answer your buyers questions or motivate them to consume your content?

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4. Angles

Sometimes you have a long list of topics but don’t actually know what to say about them. That’s where your angles come into play. An angle is a creative way into a topic.

If our coach (from the example above) wanted to create content around morning rituals, she could create a few angles like: The myth of the 5 a.m. day, How doing this one thing every morning starts your day with a bang and A simple morning ritual for night owls.

DO THIS: Invest your brainstorming energy here! What angles could you apply to your topics that feel fresh and that dive deep?

5. Frame

Think of a frame like wrapping. Some wrappings are educational like how-to’s and tutorials. Other wrappings are motivational and offer your reader encouragement. Another wrapping is inspirational and man, do they show us what’s possible (we love being inspired). 

And finally, there are entertaining wrappers. Like a genre list on Netflix, entertaining content come in a variety of forms: humor, drama, documentary (aka, behind the scenes). And sometimes, you can combine entertaining with educational or any of the other frames.

Here are a few examples. Any favorites?

clockwise: educational, @benandjerrys | inspirational, @trainwithjoan | entertaining, @mybizcoachsays | motivational @melrobbins

DO THIS: Review your angles list and decide what frame you’d like to apply.

6. Form

It may seem like lots of steps that’ll take you too long to get through but remember: these steps all happen quickly.

For the purposes of teaching, I’m breaking down something that takes a matter of minutes into micro-steps so you don’t find yourself lost or unmotivated or wanting to punch yourself in the arm because you don’t think you can do this content thing.

You can! Capiche?

On a platform like Instagram™ you have a few form choices (the format of your content piece): photo, carousel, graphic (like a quote), GIF or video.

DO THIS: Review your list of angles and frames then note what form you’ll shape your content piece into.

7. Write

I’ve tried just about every content creation and planning process out there. Seriously, over the past few years my credit card statement was littered with charges that led me to this conclusion: write one big piece of content every week, chop it into parts and distribute it to your content platforms.

If you want to save yourself time, headache and post content consistently without feeling like you’re tethered to a platform all day long, This Is How.

Gary Vaynerchuk made this method popular years ago but somewhere along the way, we got content crazy and started making a simple process, complex. 

The only thing that Gary’s process didn’t define is what that big content piece should contain so you actually have something you can chop into meaty parts without having to go back to a blank page or doing a lot of rewriting every week.

As a professional copywriter, I’m gonna suggest you include the following elements in your big piece of content (whether that’s a blog post, audio or video):

  1. Big hook
  2. Entertaining opener
  3. Context scenario 
  4. Knowledge nugget 1
  5. Knowledge nugget 2
  6. Knowledge nugget 3
  7. Wrap up
  8. CTA

DO THIS: Decide if you’re gonna write a blog post, outline an audio (like a podcast) or a video. Follow the outline above. Then, write or record (and don’t forget to edit)! Hint: Align this piece of content with what you sell.

8. Produce

This is the chopping up step and involves knowing where you’re sharing your big piece of content (and again, we’re sharing it in bite sized bits). 

Because each platform is unique, it’s important to tweak your message (your bite sized bit) so that it’s platform friendly: image size, message length, CTA, that sort of thing. Rule of thumb: a Facebook post should feel like it belongs on Facebook (not Instagram), etc.

The bare minimum your production list should include: 

  1. Images
  2. Social platform message: FB, IG, YT, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn
  3. Email message
  4. Facebook group engagement Q’s
  5. Instagram Stories message(s)
  6. Instagram Live presentation
  7. Content ascension (if applicable)

DO THIS: Create a grid using the list above as headings. Beneath each item, jot down what you’ll need for every post (big or small). You’ll feel so organized you might have a hills are alive with the sound of music moment (I’m betting).

9. Distribute

You’ll be tempted to skip this step. As a free-spirited, do-what-I-want-when-I-want creative, I resisted this step for the longest time.

Once I gave in to it though, I found myself feeling more creative (true story), had more time to work on other things in my business and stopped having that I forgot something feeling.

Basically, I was more consistent without feeling frazzled all the damned time.

I went from feeling like this…

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To this (and you can too)…

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DO THIS: Make a list of all the steps involved in publishing your content on all of your social media platforms, email/newsletter, podcast (if you have one), etc. The magic is in the details so scribble away.

A few things you’ll notice as you go through this 9-point content planning process:

  • It’s abbreviated but it’s enough to get you moving in the right, more confident direction.
  • It’s simple. Nothing is complicated or complex. Yes, there are a lot of moving parts – which is why steps 8 & 9 can’t be overlooked.
  • You will NEVER wonder what to post again. If you follow this process you’ll be creating one significant piece of content every week (like this post) and then chopping it up into smaller pieces to distribute on your best platforms.

See, you’re not incompetent or confused or not cut out for this content thing. You just need a plan you can follow that sets you up to win. 

And my hope is that this plan, that’s worked so beautifully for me and my free willy ways, will help you too.

Mostly? I imagine you believing in yourself, sharing your ideas with reckless abandon and having the time of your content producing life!

Because content is where creatives, like you and me, get to shine (but only if we have a plan that encourages that).”

Can you guess how many of them feel a helluva lot better after? Make your best guess and leave it in the comments. 😀

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