Day 1 of how to plan a content marketing calendar: the Epic Essentials

Day 1 of how to plan a content marketing calendar: the Epic Essentials

I wonder how many businesses will have “blog more” or “do more social media” as a new years resolution this year?

It’s great to be trying to connect more to your customers and clients, but like any marketing activity, you need to have a game plan before you start because if you don’t you’ll end up with a wishy-washy untargeted effort that doesn’t really engage with anyone.

So how do you ‘do more blogging’ properly?

Every day this week I’ll be posting the step-by-step process I use to pull together a targeted and realistic content marketing, blogging or social media calendar. By the end of the week, you’ll have your very own calendar ready to start putting out great content for the next three months.  And on Friday I’ll be announcing a special New Years gift for anyone that’s putting together their own calendar so stay tuned.

“Why should I have a content calendar…?

Isn’t it better to write about what has been in the news that week/a new book or article published/what my cat did yesterday?”

Well, it’s like anything you might plan. Think of it more as a fluid document. It gives you direction and structure, but doesn’t have to be set in stone. Ideas can be moved if something more timely comes up. But what it will do is stop you getting stuck for new ideas and act as a constant reminder of your schedule. It makes it a lot harder to miss a post, meaning you’ll be publishing regular, quality content and keeping your promises to your readers.

I like to do three months at a time. Any longer and it’s hard to maintain focus, plus things may have changed significantly in your business.

So our first task this week is…

The Epic Essentials… or what you want your posts to do for your reader.

The most important thing to keep in mind when planning and writing content is

“is this relevant, interesting, useful or entertaining?”

If it’s not then why are you including it?  ThinkTraffic’s Corbett Barr has the definitive guide to this bit… “Write Epic Shit”.  Nothing less than epic will do.

I like the bluntness of this philosophy, but for me, it was too broad and I needed to clarify what epic meant. I discovered it’s different for everyone…  a baking blog will have different criteria to a gaming blog, and again to a designers blog or a writers blog.

So to make sure your blog stays focused and on message, you’ll need to write a set of criteria that will become your “Epic Essentials”. They will become your guiding light to ensure that everything you publish on your blog is indeed epic.

Today’s task: Grab a notebook and pen and think about the following questions

  • How you want to help your readers?
  • Do you want to make them laugh?
  • Do you want to inspire them?
  • Do you want to save them money?
  • Do you want to help them achieve a goal?
  • Why will your audience read your blog?
  • What do they want help with?
  • What values are important to your readers? (e.g. is cool and fashionable more important, or are trustworthy and approachable the things that will appeal?)

Write a list of everything that comes to mind. And then go through it to whittle it down to a meaningful checklist that you can use to check your posts against. Three to five bullet points is most effective, the idea is to have something that eventually becomes instinctive.

For example, my Epic Essentials for Explore are:

  • Unique
  • Inspirational
  • Educational
  • Saves the reader time, energy or money or makes them more money
  • Makes them want to take action.

If a blog post doesn’t fit with at least three of these then it doesn’t make the cut.

Follow up action: Put your Epic Essentials somewhere you will see them

Once you’ve got your list print it out and put it on your wall, or in the front of your notebook, anywhere you can easily refer to it. Make it look good. Use your favourite fonts and bright, inspiring colours. Use them on your desktop or as a screensaver.

These are so important because they will make sure you only produce the holy grail of epic posts. They also act as a reminder of why exactly you are writing, helpful when you’re stuck for inspiration or just need a good kick up the backside!

Once you’ve figured out your list of Epic Essentials, let us know what they are in the comments below.

Ready for the next step? Click here to Get Inpsired

5 Comments

  1. I thought about doing something similar, like a theme for each day. It seems a little restricting, but I also think it would give me direction. I really like the “write epic shit” motto. I have trashed four or five blogs this week because I don’t think they were “epic”.

    thanks for the ideas.

    • You’re welcome Audrey, hope you found them useful.

      I always find it much more difficult to come up with ideas for my own blogs than I do for my clients and a lot of my posts get cut too. There are some prompts to get your creative juices flowing a bit more…

      http://explorecommunication.net/how-to-plan-content-marketing-calendar-get-inspired/

      And there’s more to come this week, so I’d love to know what you think of the rest of the process.

      Amy x

  2. What an insanely useful website! I love your explanation of keywords/SEO, too. Thanks so much for sharing, and for dropping by my blog. :)

    • Thanks Jerimi, I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the posts… and thanks for stopping by too.
      Amy x

  3. Sharp thinking! Thanks for the answer.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How to plan a content marketing calendar: Get inspired | explore communication - [...] Great to see you back for the second day of how to plan your content marketing calendar. How did ...
  2. How to plan a content marketing calendar: Make it manageable | explore communication - [...] if you’ve completed the exercises from day 1 and day 2, you now know what you want to achieve ...

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