How (and Why) a Content Plan Will Help Maintain Momentum

By Brett Jarman | Authority Accelerator Podcast

I mentioned in the last post that I’m not a fan of plans, mainly because things rarely go according to plan. Like Eisenhower said - "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."

However, when it comes to creating a content plan, I’m convinced that they work. Without a content plan, what usually happens is you hit roadblocks with your content production. Time will come for a blog post or podcast or video to be produced and the ideas just may not flow for you.

That’s because we have trouble switching context. If you’ve been in busy mode all week and then you have to get into a creative mode, chances are you might not hit the spot. Hello writer’s block. Not always of course but that’s often what happens.

This is why people have trouble maintaining momentum with their authority/content marketing efforts. They get writer’s block (or the podcast/video equivalent) and skip a week or two. This doesn’t cause any immediate problems so it seems like it’s ok to do. So the importance of producing content gets relegated in favour of other ‘more important’ tasks (like reading other people’s content for example!).

But sitting down once every six months or so and having a solid content planning session reaps rewards. 1) It maps out your content flow well in advance so you know what’s coming up, and 2) it makes it soooo much easier to produce your content in batches. This is way more efficient than trying to carve out some production time in between all your other tasks each week.

We’ve already covered the first part of the content planning, which was about making sure you reach the right people, but today we’re going to focus on what we’re going to tell them and how we’re going to tell it. I discuss it on this podcast here or you can catch the video or transcript versions below.

Transcript: 

Hey, welcome back to the Authority Elevator. And if it's your first time, welcome aboard. Today we continue our journey through the stages of, How To Do Authority Marketing.

In the last episode, I gave you a rough outline of the four/five stages of authority marketing, so it is, preparation, producing, publishing, promoting and in the fifth stage is repeat. You go back to preparation, producing, publishing and promoting.

We talked about the early stages of preparation, if you haven't listened to that episode, I would encourage you to go back. It's not critical that you hear that before you hear this one, but some of the stuff I'm going to cover may make more sense if you listen to that episode first.

How To Create a Plan (ish) 

We're still in the preparation stage, and now we are going to create a plan-ish. I'm not a big fan of plans. Mainly because I find, and I think it was General Eisenhower, who said something like, "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."

However, they're very valuable, they do help you keep on track. In the case of producing content or content marketing. I actually do find a plan pretty useful. It keeps me on track, but also helps my team know where we're going.

I prefer to work with a mind-map. It's up to you what you use. If you're listening to this podcast, we do have it in video format on the Help Me Leverage website. You'll actually see me scrolling through the mind-map, so you could see my mind-map in action.

I'll let you in on a secret here, this mind-map that I've created, is for a book that I'm writing, about authority marketing. These podcast episodes that I'm producing, we turn those into written content, which will become part of the book.

For me a mind-map is a perfect format to work, but I've got an outline for the whole book done. And I am basically just working my way through that outline. You may prefer a different format, you may prefer post-it notes on a white board. You may prefer a google document, you might prefer a spreadsheet. It doesn't really matter, but have some sort of structure, where you could put all this content together.

In the next episode, I'll show you how to pull the content together. We do actually work from a spreadsheet. I'll show you how that spreadsheet works, in fact, I'll give you a template for a spreadsheet, you might find useful.

Set Your Themes

Once you've got your preferred tool, mind-map, post-it notes, whatever it is, the next stage is to set some themes. In the last episode we talked about, creating avatars, determining who it is in your audience that you're gonna be talking to.

Now we're gonna be specific about, what is it that we're gonna tell them? The themes effectively determine your editorial calendar. If you've ever worked in a magazine, an editor in magazine, as a rule they work, six, nine, twelve months in advance, knowing what their editorial themes are gonna be. They prepare their content based on those things. I want to invite you to do the same. I promise you if you do this, you will get over that headache that most people have, where they sit down each week thinking, "Oh, what am I gonna do to write a blog post today, or produce a podcast episode today."

If you can do all this in one sitting, it'll make you so much more efficient. It'll allow you to batch content, and I'll talk more about batching content in later episodes.

Now, the other part of setting themes is, it also helps you segue. If you set a monthly theme ... Let's say you're in the accounting field, and you set a theme for next month, and that is the theme we'll be Preparing For Year-End Accounts. And then the theme for the month after that might be, Budgeting For Your Business. The theme for the month after that might be Tax Dos And Don'ts.

If you set a theme, then you can break down that theme, into an individual elements. Preparing For Year-End Accounts, the first episode might be about, Reconciling Your Accounts. Second episode might be about, How To Gather The Information For Your Accounts, so on and so forth.

By doing that, if you've got a theme for that month, you can tease your audience. And I've already done this a little bit. I've talked about in a later episode, I'm going to show you how to batch your content. In a later episode I'm going show you how to bring all of your plan together.

That's because I know, because I've been strategic about in how I'm going to produce my content. I already know what's coming up, and so I can ... I'll use the word tease, I could probably come up with a better word for it. But I'm enticing you to come back to listen to future episodes, because you know that there's going to be more content that's valuable for you.

Setting some themes helps you be more efficient, but it also helps you be more effective with your audience. Once you've set your themes, now you wanna set your preferred modes, or you can do it the other way around. You could set your preferred modes first, it doesn't really matter.

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Without a content plan, you usually hit roadblocks with your content production. #contentmarketing #authoritymarketing #brandawareness #authorityelevator

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How To Process Your Themes (or Choose your mode)

Now, this is a one-off process, the process of setting your themes, you're gonna repeat that every six months, or every twelve months, depending on how long you do your preparation you're planning for.

But your preferred modes, that's kind of a one-off process. Do you prefer writing, do you prefer speaking, do you prefer video? Regardless of which format you prefer, speaking, I can tell you, is the most efficient.

It's very easy to repurpose spoken content into other formats. I'm speaking right now, we're repurposing this content as video. In fact, as I'm speaking, I'm recording my screen and my walk through of the mind-map. We're producing that into video content. So that repurposing is done, pretty much right away.

Either I or someone on my team, will reproduce the spoken content in written format, which will become blog posts, and which will also become content for the book that I talked about.

So, just weigh those factors up, when you're thinking about whether you are writing, speaking, or using video. If you are a high-value expert, and people are paying you large sums of money to consult for them, or work for them at some format, I would urge you to think twice about using writing, simply because it takes so long. If you really love it, and you're in the zone when you do it, by all means do it. It's harder to repurpose, not impossible to repurpose, but it is harder. You do need to work backwards, to produce any spoken or written content. That's my thoughts on sorting out your preferred mode.

Choose your preferred format

Now, the other part of the mode is, how are you gonna put the information out there? I've got a mixture, in some cases I'm doing episodes here on the podcast just by myself. Where I'm walking through my mind-map, basically I've got my outline that I talk to. In other cases I am interviewing people who have used authority marketing, and I'll also be interviewing other authority marketing experts. I've got a mixed format.

You may prefer, and we're actually experimenting with this format ourselves with clients at the moment, to have someone interview you, in order to get the content out of you. You may find it easier to talk about your subject if someone is asking you questions. Give that some thought, as to whether the interview format might work better for you.

It might be someone in your team, someone in your business, it could be a business partner. As I said, we're experimenting that format, with the mind of on-air Experts on Air Podcast Network, where I'm gonna be interviewing clients, to help them draw knowledge out of themselves. One thing I would say, "Regardless of which mode you prefer, comfort is secondary to effectiveness."

No matter which mode you choose, like if you're starting off blogging, chances are you’ll probably hesitate when you're about to hit that publish button. Same when you're speaking or on video. You may be cautious, nervous, uncomfortable, whatever that is, it doesn't matter.

Your goal is to share your information, share your expertise. Whatever discomfort you're feeling, most people won't really notice it and it just doesn't matter. They're interested in what you know, rather than how you feel. And over time, you'll get more comfortable with it anyway.

Choose Your Platforms

Once you've got your mode worked out, you then need to workout your platforms. We divide our platforms up into primary and secondary platforms. In my case, with the Authority Elevator, podcasts is one of our primary platforms. The blog is a primary platform. And I would urge anyone no matter what market you're in, no matter who your audience is, to have a blog as one of your primary platforms.

If you listened to episode three, I talked about that in more detail. So I want to repeat that here. In my case a lot of my audience, because we're business to business, they are on LinkedIn. We consider that one of our primary platforms as well.

That's where we put most of our effort, and our sort of most succinct content. On the other secondary platforms, Facebook in our case, YouTube in our case, and also syndicated guest post sites. You can guest post on sites like Huffington Post, Inc.com, Forbes, Medium.com, and, depending on what industry you're in, there could be industry specific sites where you could be posting as well.

Think of all the sites that you subscribe to for industry knowledge. Consider that you could be a contributor to those. In fact, if you go to those sites you might find a page on there where they say, "write for us”, or “editorial guidelines." And even if they don't, reach out and contact them anyway. Give them five, six suggestions of ideas of content you would like to write, and in most cases you'll probably find they would say, "Yes, we'd love to have you write for us." They'll give you some guidelines, and then you go ahead and do that.

Some of these sites will let you put a link back to your blog, which is great. If you can do that then by all means do that (Google will love you for it). But if they don't, still go ahead and publish on them anyway. You have the likes of Huffington Post on some of their platforms, they do not allow outbound links, and that's fine. You still get exposure to a very large audience. It's still worth doing.

You also have the opportunity, on your site, you can put, "As Featured On, Huffington Post, Inc.com, Forbes," or whatever other publications you're featured on. There's still some value in doing that.

Choose two or three primary platforms, three, four, maybe more, two or three is a good place to start, for secondary platforms. And you can always add to them as you go on, especially with those syndicated sites.
Create Your Schedule

Now, the last stage we'll talk about today, is about setting a schedule. It's really important that you keep regular. On the next episode, I will show you a spreadsheet you can use, that will help you with that schedule. But for now, just decide what your commitment is going to be.

Am I going to produce content monthly, is it going to be weekly, is it going to be fortnightly, it's got to be at least one of those. You do not want to go more than monthly, otherwise you're just not on the radar of your market enough. And you're really not producing enough content through the year for people to find you a highly desirable or a high visibility platform. I've heard, and I don't know if it's folklore, or if there are some actual numbers to back it up, that every three months you go by not emailing to your list, that reduces the value of your list by about half.

I haven't seen numbers to back it up, but I've got no reason to question it. I expect there would be quite a bit of truth to that. The real value in authority marketing is not just in the content that the you produce, but also the frequency that you produce it.

Currency is currency, if you can be current if people are thinking if you're in there awareness, you've been in there awareness within the past week, or you're going to be in their awareness in the coming week, then you know that you're always going to be highly visible to your market. That's the main thing to consider there.

A solid content planning session every six months reaps rewards with your authority marketing efforts.

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Conclusion 

As I mentioned earlier, I will show you how to batch your content, so even if you are publishing content weekly, doesn't mean you have to produce content every week. You can sit down once a month, to produce that content, but we'll talk about that in a later episode.

That's it for now, on the next episode we'll pull your plan together and I'll show you a spreadsheet, we'll give you a template where you can literally see on a single page, "Oh wow, I've got my next six months worked out." And that will be of enormous help to you.

That's it for now, hope you enjoyed the episode. If you have any questions, let me know. So you can actually get started with your preparation phase now.

So that's it for this week, on The Authority Elevator. We'll talk real soon.

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