How to Create a Content Plan(ish) Part 2 – Pulling the plan together

By Brett Jarman | Authority Accelerator Podcast

How to Create a Content Plan(ish) Part 2 - Pulling the plan together

If you’re a fan of jigsaw puzzles then you’ll know that feeling you get when you’ve got the major parts of the puzzle together and you’re filling in all the bits in between. It’s the fun part because that’s where you get momentum and start to see what the finished product is going to look like.

That’s where we’re up to with our content planning process. In the previous episode/blog post, I ran through the first part of the process for creating a content plan. In this episode we pull it all together and wrap up the preparation phase.

If you follow the process, by the end of it, you can have the next six months of your content mapped out. You’ll know the subjects you’ll be covering, what lead magnets each post will be related to, and even which client avatar each post will be targeting.

You’ll even be able to batch your content so you can produce multiple episodes or blog posts in the same session. That’s what the smart thinkers do so you’ll be doing that for sure!!

Having done this process a number of times, I can tell you it’s extremely satisfying and frees up the brain for other creative stuff without having blog/podcast ideas taking up brain space unnecessarily.

It’s quite a visual episode so, if you usually listen to the podcast, you might prefer to watch the video version (below). You’ll get the gist of it from the podcast but the video version will make much more sense.

Enjoy...

Transcript

Hey, welcome back. Thanks for joining me again on the Authority Elevator podcast. Today we're going to wrap up the first stage of our How to Do Authority Marketing phase or series, if you like. We have been talking you through the preparation stage. You'll remember, if you've seen the earlier episodes, I think we're up to episode nine, in some of the earlier episodes I've talked about the other three phases. There's Preparing Your Content, Producing Your Content, Publishing Your Content and then Promoting Your Content, and then you go back and you repeat that cycle again. I've just been explaining all the steps in the preparation phase, and in this episode I'm going to essentially wrap that part of the ... Wrap that preparation phase up.

Essentially it's about creating a plan, and I say a plan-ish. I'm not a big fan of plans because they tend to fall apart quite quickly. But in this instance, I find a plan or a schedule immensely useful. Where most people fall down with their content marketing or their authority marketing is they get stuck for ideas and they end up in front of a blank screen every week and end up procrastinating and doing all sorts of nonsense to try to put things off. Whereas, if you've got a plan or a schedule, you can do all your creative thinking at once, work out all your ideas, and then it's really just a case of executing that plan.

I'll just briefly recap on those earlier steps. I've suggested using a mind map, as I do. If you're watching the video version of this on the Help Me Leverage blog, you actually see me going through my mind map. But whatever your preferred format is. It might be a whiteboard, butcher's paper, you may prefer lists, doesn't really matter, but just choose a mode that works for you.

We talked about setting some themes and using that as your editorial calendar. We also talked about catering to three levels of avatar. Your avatars are basically the people who represent your ideal market, your ideal audience. We talked about setting themes on a monthly basis. I think that's a good idea because it gives you a reason to tell people to stick around, as I've done with this current series. As I'm walking through the How to Do Authority Marketing series, each time I'm sowing the seed for the next episode, I'm referencing the previous episodes. It's taken me probably about a month, maybe a little more to work through those things, work through that particular theme, and the other phases that were probably around about a month each. That's why themes are a good idea.

If you’ve always wanted to batch your content marketing process but didn’t know how, this will help 

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Then we also talked about determining your preferred modes. Do you prefer writing, speaking, video? Do you want to use a solo format? An interview format? I mentioned that speaking is the most efficient way of getting your content out, recording on audio and/or video, whatever your preference is. But you don't have to do it that way. If you're in your groove when you're writing, then by all means, stick to that. But if you are recording or using video, comfort is secondary to effectiveness. Don't worry about what other people are thinking about you, so on and so forth, just jump in and do it.

Then we talked about choosing your platforms. You've got to have a blog if you're doing authority marketing. I don't care what field you're in. You've just got to have a home base that you're in control of. A blog is the only place that I think serves that purpose. You might have two other primary platforms. In my case, it's LinkedIn and the podcast. You might have secondary platforms like Facebook, YouTube, or you might use syndicated guest sites like Huffington Post, so on and so forth.

Then we talked about setting your schedule. You want to decide how often you're going to product content. You at least want to be producing content monthly. I recommend weekly, because that gives you plenty of excuses to go through and make regular contact with your audience.

Pull Your Plan Together

Now we're in the final stage of this planning phase. We're actually pulling the plan together. I've briefly mentioned in an earlier episode, we've talked about lead magnets a little bit, I'm going to come back later and talk about lead magnets in more detail, in a more technical sense. But for now, let's assume that you've got something that someone can opt-in for. It can be a checklist, it might be a video where you're giving instruction about something, it could be an eBook. eBooks are a bit hard to sell these days, but not always. Often people are just putting together a PowerPoint presentation, publishing that as a PDF, and using that as an opt-in, as a lead magnet. Let's assume, for now, that you've got at least one, maybe two or three. As I say, in a future episode I'll go into that in a little bit more detail.

What I want to spend some time on today is talking about how that plan comes together, and I'm going to make reference to a content planning spreadsheet. It's quite visual, so if you are listening to this episode just bear with me, I'm going to do my best to describe it. If possible, jump over to the show notes for this page. It'll be at authorityelevatorpodcast.com, jump over there, look for episode nine, which is called How to Create a Content Plan-ish Part 2. That'll be the episode that you're referencing. As I say, I'm going to try to describe it for those who cannot see what's currently on my screen.

I'm just going to exit this, and what I'm going to reference now is this way cool blog planning template. I'm going to give credit to the folks at digitalmarketer.com, you've heard me mention Ryan Deiss in a couple of previous episodes, him and his team they put together really, really good content. We're not going to reinvent the wheel because they do such a good job. I'm going to describe how we use his tool.

This particular tool, it's what they call a blog content plan, they supply it as an Excel spreadsheet. We use it as a Google sheet ourselves because we share our content a lot and we find Google sheets are much better for sharing content. You can get it over here. Don't worry if you didn't get that down, we'll put a link to that on the show notes for this page. So jump over there, enter your details, and download the plan itself.

While you're at it, while we're over on their website, I'll also show you something else that I'm going to reference. It's a blog post that they've done called the Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas. That's at digitalmarketer.com/blog-post-ideas, and there's a hyphen between blog post ideas, hyphen between each of those words. Again, we'll put a link to that in the show notes. This post, written by Russ Henneberry, it goes through ... I think they've got something like 54 different blog post ideas. It's world class stuff. In fact, I've not found anything that beats this. So spend some time reading that post, it gives you great ideas of how you can be presenting your content.

Between that and the 60-second blog plan, I think they give you a copy of the infographic on the list of blog posts, so you have that as a reference anyway. Those are the two main tools that we use when we're putting content together.

I'll just go back to the spreadsheet. For those who are just listening, it's a spreadsheet, it's got a bunch of columns. One column represents your publication date, another column is for headlines, next column is writers, the category, post type, vehicle, and when we say vehicle it's talking about what type of post is it, is it a text post, video, audio, or is it images. You could adapt that, so with audio, in our case, we generally mean audio/podcast to be the same thing. They have a column for offer, which is basically the lead magnet, what is it that you're going to promote with this post.

We've added another few columns to ours. We have a column for the avatar. Back in the previous episode we talked ... Sorry, two episodes ago, it would've been episode seven, and that was how to make sure you're targeting the right people with your authority marketing efforts, in there we talk about defining your avatars. We've created a column in that spreadsheet for that. Then we have another column for notes, and a final column with a publication link, so anytime the post is published the link to that gets added to this content plan.

The publishing date, it's pretty straightforward what's going to go in there. That is your ... The target date that you think you're going to schedule something to be published. Then the headline. We just start off ... We just brainstorm a whole bunch of draft ideas. Back in the previous episode ... Was it the previous one or the one before? No the previous episode, we talked about you've determined your avatars in the previous episode, episode seven, sorry to muck you around with that, and we also talked about how to come up with ideas of content for them.

One of the formulas that we proposed was one that Cathy Love suggested, and that is, she thinks of three burning issues that her clients or prospects might be having and then out of those three issues she pulls three more sub issues. Essentially, just from that exercise, you would end up with nine different issues that you could be addressing in a blog post.

I'll just think of an example off the top of my head now. That would be ... I'm over-thinking that, I'm just going to use the examples that are here on the spreadsheet. This particular spreadsheet, or the sample template that comes from Digital Marketer, they talk about ... It's obviously around fitness. The first headline is, Five Questions to Ask Before You Buy Running Shoes, How 10 Pro Bodybuilders Bulk Up Their Biceps, and How To Cook Low Fat Scrambled Eggs. The three main issues there would've been, for runners, how do I buy running shoes? For pro builders, it might be about ... So this sub issue might be biceps but their larger issue might be how to bulk up your upper body. The one about how do I cook low fat scrambled eggs? The main issue could be what can I cook for breakfast, so here's a sub issue suggestion for that.

Using the avatars that you've created and the issues that you've created ... And the other place where you can get suggestions for content is also from the frequently asked questions that people ask you. When you're ever having a consultation with someone, just note down all their questions. Each of those can be turned into blog post ideas.

This is where you'd spend the most of your time is in that headline column. Just go through, forget about the publication date on the side and the writers and category and all those sorts of things. Just run through and don't worry about trying to make your headlines perfect at this point. Just draught them out. What else could I do for training. I'm training for a marathon at the moment, I'm in my last three weeks, so how to ... What's the term? Taper. So we're tapering for a marathon. How to taper before a marathon. Running shoes is already covered. What are the best socks to wear. Best socks to wear for endurance races. Yeah.

That's just quick example of the process. It can be that quick for you. You want to come up with ... You're looking for about six months' worth of content, so if you had 30 or 40 ideas. Some of those you'll filter out and you'll end up with about probably 20 that you know you can run with, and over the course of the next six months you will come up with additional ideas that you can fill in here as well. So, just run through ... Just punch out those headlines, you can come back and tidy them up a little bit later and sort them out into a particular order later.

Once you've done that, then you would want to be sorting out, okay, what category do each of these belong to? With this spreadsheet that Digital Marketer provided, they put in these funky little drop down boxes, so you'll see down the bottom they have a tab called data, or data, depending on where you come from. If you jump in there you can enter your categories in the category column. You can enter your ... In the offers column, that's where you would put your lead magnets list. In this case, we've got marathon runner's checklist, body mass calculator, lean body grocery list, those are the examples in this particular spreadsheet.

In our case, we've created another column called avatar, so we've also created a drop down field for that, where we've got the names of our avatars. I'm just using examples here. Miss Honeypenny, James Bond, Dr. Evil. Now, why we put that in there is when you're creating the content, it's really helpful to know who you are writing it for. In this case, obviously they're talking to athletes or people who are interested in fitness. Someone who's interested in a marathon, they're going to have very different interests to someone who is interested in bulking up. So you would create different avatars for each of those people.

We've got our list of headlines. We're assigning categories to those, and that's really simple, just going through the drop down box. If you need to create additional categories you do that on the data column. Sorry, on the data tab.

Then you would choose the post type. This is going back to that list that I talked about earlier, the Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas from Digital Marketer. Couple of examples. Is it going to be a list post, where you're referencing other sources? Is it going to be a crowdsource post, where you've gone out and you've gathered ideas from other people and asked them to contribute to a post? Is it going to be a frequently asked questions post? Pretty straightforward what that is. An interview post? Maybe you're going to interview someone and use that for the content. Now as I say, there's 53 different types so there's no shortage there. You'll probably find you use two or three most of the time, and you may use the others occasionally.

You've assigned your category, you're assigning your post type for each of those headlines that you've created, now you're going to determine your vehicle or the type. In our case, most of the time we're using audio. We do use video as well, in fact I am videoing this, but our primary source, if you like, for this content is audio. If you're using text you'll use text from that drop down box. Pretty straightforward.

Then you're going to choose the lead magnet that most relates to that particular headline. The example I'm looking at here, How Do I Cook Low Fat Scrambled Eggs? It would make sense that the lean body grocery list is the offer that you would be including somewhere in that post, you'd be referencing that offer.

The final column is the avatar column. I know Dr. Evil is interested in fitness nutrition, so he's the avatar I've assigned to that.

Then once you've done all that, that might take you an hour or two, depending on how ... Actually, it probably wouldn't even take that long. If you really punch out your ideas, you could get them done within 10 to 15 minutes, and then the rest it's pretty technical after that. Well, when I say technical, it's not technical in the geeky sense, it's just purely process oriented.

Now the final step in this process is working out the order of things. The way I prefer to do this is I tend to group things by category. I talked earlier about setting monthly themes for your content. I would go through that list and I would see what kinds of things I could group together. In the example I'm looking at on my spreadsheet here, I've got one here, Five Questions to Ask Before You Buy Running Shoes and I've got another one here, What Are the Best Socks to Wear for Endurance Races? They go together, so what I'm going to do is I'm going to group those and I'm just hovering on the column right to the very left of the spreadsheet, on a Google sheet it works the same as in Excel, and I've slid the socks one up to the shoes one, so they're now together. They're both in the same category. I'm just going to call that cardio for now, because we don't actually have a category for running.

I tend to group the categories together, maybe in groups of four. What does that does is that helps me segue the content. I might, if I were doing these as a podcast, when I do the running shoes episode I will drop in a mention there and say, "And next week if you want to join us, I'm going to be covering what the best socks are to wear for endurance races and I've interviewed three of the best sock manufacturers to explain what the differences between them." That's why I group categories together, is it gives you an excuse to segue more easily.

What you'll find, often as not, is that you end up talking to the same avatar for periods of time. Instead of capturing their interest occasionally, you can capture it and hold it for a longer period of time before you move on to another avatar. As I say, we tend to look at those on a month-to-month basis. I'd be looking for four episodes around running that I would group together, but it's not critical. I might have six that I put together. Or there might be 10 and I might split them up over two months. The idea is just to get a little bit of continuity with some of the content, so it's not totally random.

That's the ... Actually, I'm going to slide this other one about How Do I Taper for a Marathon? That's for runners as well, so I've slid that up. Marathon runner's checklist is the obvious opt-in for that. They go together as a grouping.

You get an idea of the process. That essentially is it. That's as hard as the planning process gets. Then you will go through and you would sort out your publication dates. Once you've got the headlines in order, assuming you're publishing once a week, so then you would set the proposed publication date for the first one and then just go down that publication date column and set them for a week after. In this case, I've got seventh of the first, 2000 ... Well, I'm not going to play around with that too much. 2015, so then the next one it would make sense to do that on the 14th of the first, 2015. Or if you're in North America, 7th of January and then 14th of January.

I hope that makes sense. I hope I've described it well enough for those of you who are watching it visually. Either way, make your way across to the show notes for this episode. Episode nine at authorityelevatorpodcast.com and, yeah, you'll be able to access the resources and download them and put them together.

Now we're through the planning stage of authority marketing, and next up we will be talking more about how to produce your content. Yeah, that's pretty important, it's something you'll be doing ... Obviously that takes more time than the planning. I'll show you systems that we use to make that process quite ... I won't say painless. Or maybe I will say painless, but quite easy to get into a rhythm with.

The other bit I should say about this planning process also is that you can batch your work together. Those three or four episodes that I planned on running, as a rule, I would record them all together, or if we were working with a writer, we would have them write all of those at the same time. So you're not having to just sit down each week, look at a blank screen, scratch your head, and wonder what it is you're going to put together for this week.

I hope you found that useful. If you got any questions, jump across to the authorityelevatorpodcast.com website, you'll see some contact options there. I'd love to hear from you, love to hear what your questions are, and what we could be doing better to serve you. That's it for today. Thanks for joining me.

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