How to plan a year's worth of content
Chris Taylor - Content Strategy and Content Marketing

Chris Taylor

How to plan a year's worth of content

As a content marketer, you know that producing high-quality content is essential to reaching your target audience. But what's the best way to ensure that your content is effective? Planning ahead is key. In this article, we'll show you how to plan a year's worth of content so that you can be sure that you're producing material that resonates with your audience.

11 Reasons for Planning Out your Content in Advance

Do you spend hours upon hours writing blog posts, creating infographics, designing videos, and crafting emails? Is it working? Is it actually helping your audience?

If you want to effectively execute a content marketing strategy, it's important to plan out your content in advance. Here are 11 reasons why you should plan a year's worth of content in advance:

  1. To succeed.
  2. To ensure you follow your content strategy.
  3. Content Operations: reduce your costs of producing content, increase efficiency and control resources.
  4. To ensure your content aligns with your business goals.
  5. This will help you stay consistent.
  6. Gives you the opportunity to come up with new ideas
  7. Consistent Branding - When you plan your content in advance, you keep your brand consistent across every channel you use. This ensures that people understand your voice and recognize you as a trustworthy source of information.
  8. Better Quality - Ensure that each piece of content is high-quality. Having a clear idea of what you want to say and how you want to say it makes it easier to produce high quality content.
  9. More Engaging - Compelling content is well thought out. 
  10. Easier Scheduling - Once you've got your content written down, it's much easier to schedule it into your calendar. Knowing when you're supposed to post gives you the freedom to decide what else needs to happen around that day.
  11. So you can measure and evaluate your content marketing. You could end up producing content that doesn't resonate with your target market.

Planning your content in advance helps you avoid these pitfalls. You'll know exactly where to focus your efforts, how long each piece should take, and whether it's even necessary to write something new. Plus, you'll save yourself countless hours of wasted effort.

How to Plan Out a Year's Worth of Content in 1 Day

Is it even possible to plan a year's worth of content in a day? The short answer: of course! It doesn't really matter if you're a seasoned pro or a complete novice at creating content calendars. The process should be the same.

Step 1: What's the business context for your content plan?

This is big picture stuff. Before you can start creating content, you must have a clear understanding of your business goals. Once you know what you're trying to achieve, you can start brainstorming ideas for content that will help you reach your goals.

The first step of planning your next year's content calendar is setting relevant, measurable and realistic goals.

  • What are you trying to accomplish with your content this year?
  • Is it to increase brand awareness?
  • To engage your audience?
  • Or maybe you just want to make sure your team is producing high quality content.

Whatever your goal is, having clear objectives will help you determine where to focus your efforts. Learn more about marketing objectives and KPIs.

Step 2: Think of your audience

The second step in creating content is to think about your audience. Your content must be relevant to the people who will be reading it. Consider what they need or want to know, and make sure your content provides that information.

In today’s world, it seems like everyone is creating content for every possible reason. But what happens when people start making content just because it’s popular?

Content marketers often find themselves wasting time writing content that doesn’t help their audience solve real problems. When you write content based solely on trends rather than your audience, you end up producing content that isn’t useful and could even harm your brand. If you don’t think about your audience and their needs, there’s no way you’ll ever create truly great content.

The best content marketers understand that they aren’t in the content creation game to keep up with the latest trend. They know that content creation starts with knowing your audience, thinking about their problems, and finding ways to solve those problems. Only once you know your audience well enough can you begin to craft content that helps them achieve their goals.

Step 3: Research content ideas

If you want to plan out your content for the next 12 months, you've got to figure out what you're going to talk about.

There are many great places to research content topics for your content plan. Facebook groups, reddit, twitter, quora, FAQs, and customer emails are all great sources of information. You can also do keyword research to learn what people are searching for. This can give you some great ideas for topics to write about.

Step 4: Content Types

Once you get a flavour for what you want to create, you next need to think about the various content types you can produce. These can be grouped into three broad categories:

Written content

For me, it all starts with written content. A 2,000 word article can be repackaged into various social media posts, or used as the basis for a TikTok video. Your effort here is worth it.

Examples of written content include: 

  • articles,
  • blog posts
  • case studies
  • white papers
  • email newsletters
  • social media posts.

Video content

We all know that consumers watch video, but will they watch your video?

When it comes to video, it has never been more important for marketers to know their audience. Always keep in mind search intent and the problems or pain points that your target audience may face. 

You can use these to create the following types of video:

  • Product demos
  • thought leadership pieces
  • industry news
  • customer reviews & testimonials
  • interviews
  • You can even repackage some of your content into podcasts.

Visual content

Images play a crucial role in appealing to a broader audience. For example, social media updates should include images as standard.  

Visual content can be reused, so don't underestimate the RoI of investing your time in creating images or graphics. 

Infographics can be powerful when used correctly. Don't try to overcomplicate them. Keep the story simple, so that your message is understood. 

What types of images could you create?

  • Pictures of your product
  • pictures of your business
  • behind the scenes images

The only limitation is your imagination and to make sure it is relevant. 

Step 5: Content mapping

Now that you've got a good idea of what you're going to create and the different forms those content pieces will take, you need to start the planning process. This is called "content mapping," and it involves thinking about where you want to publish each piece of content. 

Content mapping is like making a roadmap for your entire content strategy. It helps you figure out when you need to create your content; what type of content you need; where it should be published; and how you will promote it.

In addition, content mapping provides an overview; encouraging you to stick to your content marketing strategy.

For example, let's say you decide to focus on three different types of content: long-form, short-form, and video. In this case, you'd use content mapping to identify the best platforms and channels to publish each type of article.

Step 6: Start building an editorial calendar

An editorial calendar helps you organise your content creation based on the dates you'd like to release your content. If you're going to stick to a strict schedule, it's important that you keep track of everything you want to publish throughout the year.

An editorial calendar helps you keep your online presence on track, especially during times when it might be tempting to skip publishing altogether. You know how some days just feel like nothing gets done because there’s always something else to do? It could be other work projects, side hustles or just life itself! Well, that’s why I use an editorial calendar. It keeps me focused on my daily goals and ensures that I don’t miss out on anything important.

To build your own editorial calendar, first you need to determine your optimal publishing schedule. Focus specifically on when your audience is most active and what is the ideal number of posts per week your audience prefers. Also consider where your target audience is located and how often they access social media.

Tools you can use to build your editorial calendar

If you're looking to get your content strategy in order, one of the best things you can do is to create a content calendar. This will help you keep track of all the different pieces of content you need to create, publish, and promote. There are a number of different ways to do this, but one of the most popular is to use a content management tool such as ContentStudio or Planable. You can even use project management tools like Trello or Asana. All of these tools will help you stay organised and on track with your content plans.

If you don’t like the idea of using specialist software or project management tools, you can use Google Sheets or Excel. However, even if you’re more familiar with these tools they may end up causing you more pain in the long run. A spreadsheet system can become cluttered and difficult to manage once you reach a certain volume of content.

Step 7: Make Time For Content Creation

If you want to make sure you have time to create content, block off time on your calendar specifically for that. This way, you can brainstorm content ideas, work on executing them, and fill out your calendar with great content.

Step 8. Start scheduling your posts

Content Marketing is all about consistency. If you want to build an audience, you must publish consistently over time. To put it simply, scheduling posts in advance makes you more consistent.

The reason for scheduling is simple. We are creatures of habit. Our brains crave repetition. So when we do something more often, our brains are better able to learn and retain information. This is especially true when it comes to consuming information on the Internet. If you want someone to click a link (or take action), you need to put it out there frequently. 

We recommend scheduling three to five posts per day. That way, you can keep up with your weekly posting goals.

Scheduling also allows you to focus on day to day tasks while keeping your audience engaged.

How to Create and Schedule a Social Media Content Plan

Do you struggle with creating content for social media? Are you overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to schedule posts? It can be difficult to figure out where to focus your efforts. 

It doesn't matter whether you're just starting out or already running a full fledged social media campaign, you need a social media content plan. A well thought out content plan will help you create valuable content for your audience and make sure you hit your goals.

What makes a social media content plan successful?

Social media marketing is an excellent way to connect directly to customers. If done right, social media marketing can help boost your business' visibility and increase traffic to your site. However, there are numerous pitfalls that make it difficult for businesses to achieve success. That's why it's important to follow these steps when creating your own social media strategy.

1. Define Your Goals

The most important thing to remember while developing a social media content plan is that it needs to align with your overall goals. What do you hope to achieve? Do you want to increase brand awareness? Grow your email subscriber base? Generate leads? If you don't know where you're headed, it's hard to figure out exactly what you should post about.

2. Determine Which Platforms Matter Most

Next up, decide which platforms matter most. You could spend hours researching each social media channel individually, but there's no reason to do that. Instead, try narrowing down your focus based on what matters most to your business. For example, if you sell products online, Facebook probably makes the biggest difference. On the flip side, if you run a local restaurant, Instagram might be the best place to start.

3. Identify Key Audiences

Know your audience. Understanding customer demographics and interests helps you create targeted campaigns. This step involves determining who your ideal customer is. Who wants to buy your product or service? Is it millennials or baby boomers? Are you targeting men or women? Once you've identified your audience, you can determine what type of content (and social channel) works best for them.

4. Content Themes

Why does following content themes make it easier to create content for social media?

One of the most important things about creating good content topics for social media is knowing what works and what doesn't. For business related content, you need to create value for your audience. You need to give them a reason to follow you or to engage with your content. 

To get started, you need to return to your content strategy. This tells you why you are doing social media and the business goals behind your social media approach. Once you do this, you'll be able to organise or group your content ideas into themes. You can use keyword clusters as a starting point for developing content themes.

5. Develop content ideas

Content creation can be simple. You could take a picture of a product you've made for a client and share that with your social media followers. But content creation can also be very complex.

You could decide to host a webinar and invite other professionals to discuss a hot topic. In this example, you have a lot of effort upfront organising and promoting the event. Then afterwards, you'll have to extract key points from the webinar to share with your followers. 

What do you notice? More effort = more content. Social media marketing rewards those who put in the extra effort. 

However, you can still achieve a lot by forward planning and creating as much content as you can in advance and then scheduling it. 

What types of updates should you be posting?

You need to remember your content goals. What do you want to achieve with your social media content? 

The fun part of content planning is to come up with ideas. If you don't know where to start, you can use your blog content as inspiration. This type of content can be repackaged into helpful posts.

If you've already been doing social media for a while, look at your stats and insights. What are your most popular posts? Can you repackage these? Maybe you can use those as inspiration to come up with a compelling story to share via carousel content. 

If you need help developing additional content ideas, check out this article about how to do keyword research. You'll soon discover lots of different ways you can create valuable content for your ideal customer.

6. Social Media Images

With the focus turning towards video, static image posts can often be forgotten or overlooked. However, these are still worth your time. Not everyone wants to watch a video. Sometimes a picture speaks a thousand words. And of course, it really depends on the type of business you have and the customer you  are trying to attract. A local restaurant should share images of their menu while a plumber might fare better with how-to videos. 

What images can you share on social media?

Relevant images. Forget about the features that each platform offers. We're not interested in Stories or carousels. We're only interested in what is relevant for your business and what your customers want to consume. 

If you're not sure what your customers want, you need to learn about search intent. Once you understand what content they are looking for and the problems they have, you can start to create content that solves their problem. 

There are loads of tools you can use to create social media images quickly. Canva is the most popular, but you can also use Vista Create and Glorify. Your smartphone will also have simple editing tools that you can use to create images.

7. Write Social Media Posts

Generally, captions should be short. Think tweet length. However, it really depends on the type of business you have and the quality of the information you are sharing. Also, depending on the platform, you may want to make it into a mini blog post. 

For example, if you're posting a photo, maybe just a couple sentences will do the trick. If you're talking about something really detailed, like a recipe, maybe you want to make sure you explain everything thoroughly.

Since we're talking about scheduling posts in advance, you do have an opportunity to test your content. Your CTA may be the same, but you can mix up your content to see if you can find something that works better. This means you can (and should) write short captions and long captions. You can also experiment with your copywriting to develop different CTAs.

8. Video

It might not be that easy to create and schedule video in advance. However, you can still plan for it. You may create promotional videos (or ads) around certain times of the year. If these are outsourced, you could get them in advance and add them to your planner.

Remember: your video needs to follow a storyboard, be scripted, timed, and have a meaningful CTA.

9. Decide how much you'll curate

You can add curated content into your social media content calendar. Content curation is a method for sharing interesting content with your followers. The key to successful content curation is finding quality sources and making sure they are well-written, relevant and engaging.

You can use content curation to make your social media profile more authoritative. The key here is to decide how much you'll curate.

Do you want to spend hours each week finding new things to share? Or do you want to make sure you're always up to date on what's happening around the web? Either way, you can use your calendar to plan ahead.

For example, you can set aside a few minutes every morning to go through your feed reader and see what's being shared today. Then, you can choose to save those items for later. That way, you won't forget about them. Plus, you can easily look back at what you saved in the future.

10. Schedule Posts

Once you've taken care of the content creation, it's time to start scheduling those posts. You're probably used to doing this manually, but the good news is that you can now do it much faster and easier thanks to tools like ContentStudio and Planable.

To schedule your posts, you simply choose what date and time to publish it. These social media management tools will show you a preview of your post, so you can make any last minute edits if you need to. 

I'd recommend you only schedule posts a month at a time. Sometimes, these tools can be subject to API changes and they need your attention. Another reason is that while it's great to create your content in advance, you may decide that you have a different marketing goal for this month. In this case, you don't want to mix the messages you are publishing. You can always reuse that content another time.

11. Plan ahead for events and launches

Allocate space in your calendar for future events and product launches. You will always have things that you want to post that don't fit with your editorial schedule. However, the challenge is to make sure that they’re always relevant. Ad Hoc content doesn't work well on social media. But, if you win an award or have exciting news to share, you can (and should) share this with your followers.

5 benefits to mapping out your social media content

Social media marketing is an effective way to engage customers and increase engagement. There are plenty of ways to do it well. But there are also plenty of ways to do social media poorly.

The key to success is knowing which tactics work best for each platform. But even more important is understanding how to implement each tactic correctly. That means having a plan and executing it successfully.

In order to make sure your social media strategy works for you, it's critical to map it out ahead of time. This helps avoid wasting resources and ensures you are focusing on the right strategies.

Here are five key reasons why you should map out your social media content strategy: 

  1. You know where to focus your efforts
  2. You can easily make changes as needed
  3. You don’t waste time producing content that doesn’t resonate with your audience 
  4. You create brand awareness
  5. You’re constantly working to achieve your business goals

A word of caution

Freedom. It's the way most small businesses go about their marketing strategy – posting wherever they feel like it whenever they feel like it.

They want the "freedom" to post here or there anytime they feel like it or even have something cool to share – without having to worry about whether or not it fits into a campaign.

This is a sure fire way of never mastering online marketing as a business because you won't ever have a consistent flow of traffic coming to your site.

Whether you are a service based business or a product based business, you must constantly connect the right offerings (your business) with the right people (potential customers).

Conclusion

A content calendar is an excellent way to increase your productivity. By having a plan and an idea of what you want to achieve with your content, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort in the long run. 

By organising your content in one place, you can ensure that your content strategy is on track and that your editorial calendar is effective. 

By following the eight steps above, you can plan your content calendar with ease and confidence. This will give you a better idea of where you stand right now, and it will also help you see which areas you need to work on most. 

Not only that, but you can also use your content calendar to track your progress and measure your success. 

In conclusion, a content calendar is an essential tool for content marketing success. So what are you waiting for? Start planning out your content today!