BUT… before we get into that, it’s been a hot minute since I posted a podcast episode, and I want to share some updates with you.
I have a couple of interviews in the can and another solo show to wrap up, but this had to come first.
I had my back surgery on October 1st (in Costa Rica), and my dog, who had a second surgery on one of her legs, came home the week before my surgery (after being at the vet for 5 weeks!).
Having surgery in another country was an interesting experience, to say the least. I’m thinking of writing an article on Medium about the experience, but we’ll see if I get around to that. I trusted the neurosurgeon completely and have no doubt the surgery was done well.
The hospital stay (only one night) was another experience altogether. Not to mention there were more or less zero postop instructions or guidelines unless I asked.
Fortunately, someone on my list, shoutout to Alex Smith of Fluid Junction, who had a similar surgery and became my go-to with questions and postop care. One of my neighbors is also a nurse who worked for a neurosurgeon for years in the states, so she’s been a godsend too.
All that being said, I’m on the road to recovery.
Everything I read said about six weeks. You’d start to feel better (closer to normal), which was also true for me. I still limp a bit later in the day, my back gets sore, and I can feel pretty tired by late afternoon, but I’ll take it. I’m not in any pain, and things are progressing nicely.
The bonus to all of this was that my daughter came down for the week after my surgery to help out, so I got some extra time with her (and didn’t have to wait until Christmas to see her).
I’ve more or less been hanging out in my place, working, resting, and recuperating for the last 6 weeks. I go out to get groceries and a meal with friends here and there, but it’s actually been pretty lovely being able to focus (not to mention it’s been raining most of the last 6 weeks).
If you haven’t heard, Jodi and I shut down the Content Creators Planner a couple of months ago. I shared a podcast episode about our decision to do so. You can listen to “Time for A New Chapter” here.
It was during the closing of that business that I started to feel the pull to give it another go.
We didn’t shut it down because it wasn’t a good business, but we didn’t have the time for it as a team. Jodi has a successful full-time agency and is the primary person responsible for her aging parents. She has a lot on her plate.
Initially, I thought I would move on and focus on #FtheHUSTLE. Not just the newsletter but the business and life framework.
But that niggly feeling of “what if” wouldn’t go away.
What if I did a new planner?
Started a new company?
And did more with than one type of planner?
The wheels started turning, and I knew that this was what I was supposed to do.
Having successfully done this once, albeit, with a business partner, I knew I could do this again, but I had that much more knowledge and understanding of running an e-commerce business.
I could take all the lessons, mistakes, challenges, and wins and do things differently.
The one thing I knew had to be different this time was that I had to have a team.
It can be challenging when you can do just about everything you need in your business. Between the two of us, Jodi and I had everything covered. After months of doing it on our own, the only thing we hired out was Facebook ads.
I also learned a lot from that experience, and as soon as we start running paid traffic (which will be after presales), we’re keeping it in-house. I have a dear friend who is great with paid media, and I’ve already asked her if we can be her “only client.”
If at some point she doesn’t want to continue doing it for us, then I’ll we’ll hire someone specifically for that role as an employee or contractor. I don’t want to hire a big agency where we get lost in the shuffle.
As of now, my “tiny effective team” (I talked about this in a previous episode also, but that’s from Jenny Blake’s book “free time”) is:
I have the accountant in place (my childhood best friend is a CPA and her firm did our accounting for Content Creators Planner, so we’ll retain them asap), and the role we’ll be hiring as soon as possible is for social media.
I already have someone in mind for this position and hope that works out (someone I know personally is looking for a remote job where she can grow).
I have two writers, one who has a strong understanding of SEO, which will help with writing content for the site (again, there’s no way I can scale this if only a couple of us are writing. And I’d love to open up guest posting as well).
I have no doubt there will be other positions we hire for down the road (like a VA or personal assistant), but that’s where we’re at.
My daughter has been working with me on and off for the past 10 years. With a degree in screenwriting, she’s a natural for writing (and is taking over the responsibility for the newsletter we’re launching, called Creators Weekly). Not to mention all the other things she’s learned along the way with me.
At the time of this recording, we’re watching social media platforms try to figure out how to pivot with the ever-changing landscape.
Elon just bought Twitter (I’d be more than happy never to hear his name again), TikTok is still going and growing strong, Facebook feels like a ghost town, and Instagram has introduced subscriptions… it’s exhausting.
You have to think about content contextually.
What you post and where you’re posting it. What works on Facebook won’t work on Twitter. You can’t simply resize images and push your content everywhere (guilty as charged).
Trying to do this can also be incredibly overwhelming when you have a business to run.
Not every online business owner considers themselves a “creator” or has any desire to become one. They simply know they need to create content to drive traffic, leads, and sales in their business.
But where to start?
The first thing I’m going to tell you about “Create It – The Content Planner” – is that we want you to think of your content strategy and business fitting into your life, not the other way around.
Here’s a visual of the strategy and what we call “The Planner Map.”
There are 9 steps in total.
I will walk you through each step and explain how it works (and how the correlating pages in the planner are structured).
Step 1: Plan your 90-day Goals
I won’t go into all the basics of goal setting here. There’s enough data online about all of this and articles you can dig into. The one additional thing I want people to think about is what is happening in their lives.
Set your goals along with your intentions. Meaning do you want to spend more time with family and friends or have one-to-one conversations with new people? Don’t limit yourself to content tasks.
Remember, your content strategy has to fit how you want to live your life.
The planner is an undated 90-day planner. Unless it’s a specific marketing campaign (like the upcoming Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend in the US), planning your content out beyond 90-days can be challenging (unless you’re planning out evergreen content).
There’s a page for the high-level goals, and then there’s a page for each month where you can go deeper with your high-level goals.
Step 2: Define Your Audience
We’re taking this further and maybe a little outside the box.
Naturally, we want you to think about and define the two primary factors of defining your audience:
In addition to those two factors, we want you to define how your audience will feel when they consume your content.
We’ve all the term “there’s no such thing as a new idea” – and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend Austin Kleon’s “Steal Like An Artist” book.
You don’t have to redesign the wheel. You need to put your spin on it. Deciding how you want people to feel when they consume your content is the easiest place to start. And you don’t need to overthink this.
Remember, your audience is made up of people.
Step 3: Plan Your Evergreen Content
Most of us hit a wall every now and then and feel overwhelmed with the need to produce more content constantly.
Create It will guide you in creating evergreen content that you can get more leverage out of, is search-optimized, and pulls you off the hamster wheel.
The planner teaches you how to define your evergreen categories and what type of content you’ll create, and then we’ve provided a checklist to ensure it has evergreen qualities (or what to add if you’re missing some).
Your evergreen content should be easy to repurpose, relevant a few years from now, and have clear calls to action.
Step 4: Create Your Platform Plan
Gone are the days of pushing content to all the platforms with the same content and just resizing images (those were “kinda” the good ol’ days).
The benefit of how things are now is that the people who don’t want to work will quit sooner rather than later.
Creating a Platform Plan starts with deciding which platforms you will post valuable content on consistently and how frequently.
Our suggestion is to start with TWO platforms. Even if you’re on all the platforms, start by picking two you will do a deep dive on and master.
Sidenote: mastery isn’t about knowing all there is to know about a platform. It’s about learning best practices, applying what you’ve learned, and working on constantly improving it.
Back to the Platform Plan.
We’ve included platform best practices for you (including your website, newsletter, and the platforms we’ve listed) to help guide you. We will update periodically via email, content, and possibly individual PDFs for download.
With the platform plan, you’ll define:
Step 5: Define and Plan Your Focus Content
Focus content is a term we’ve created for the planner, and on the one hand, it’s self-explanatory, but there are three main buckets that your Focus Content will fall under:
I will focus on Topical Content and Connection Content (since we’ve already explained evergreen content).
Topical Content: This is relevant to what is currently happening in your industry. For example, if your business is about social media marketing, you’d probably be talking a little about the changes to Twitter with the recent acquisition by you-know-who.
This is more news-style content that will more than likely be outdated at a certain point (how quickly will depend on the industry).
Connection Content: This might seem a little more ambiguous, but this is the content that connects at a deeper level with your audience. It might be something somewhat personal. It could be a behind-the-scenes case study and lessons learned, challenges faced in your business, or even systems and processes (depending on how you frame it because that could also be considered evergreen content).
I have something I call my “core content values.”
My core content value is that I want people to feel better for consuming my content.
They will be entertained, learn something, or connect with me at a heart/soul level.
When I create from that place, delivering value is incredibly easy because my intention is in the right place.
Step 6: Create Your Content Batching Plan
This is something I have put off for WAY too long.
I’ve had to rethink how I approach my content creation to be more efficient.
As much as I love creating content when the inspiration strikes, that can cause a crux in things when life happens (like needing back surgery when you’re living out of the country), and your production comes to a screeching halt (systems, anyone?).
For years I resisted content batching because, well, I just did. The stubborn streak in me didn’t want to have so many things that I felt I “had” to do. Most of this stems from my days of client work and feeling like I had created a job for myself.
As I’ve gotten wiser and a little, ahem, more mature… I know that true freedom happens when I have the right systems in place and do my best to avoid deviating from that schedule and process.
Your content batching will be easier to plan because you’ve already done most of the hard work. The hard part is the ideation and defining of what you’re going to create. Content batching is where you start creating your structure and schedule.
Step 7: Plan Your Month
It wouldn’t be much of a planner if we didn’t have calendars, right?
We have a monthly calendar and a weekly calendar (we’ll talk about the weekly calendar in Step 8).
The monthly calendar is where you’re going to include goals, marketing campaigns, life events, and wins! Yes, we want you to celebrate what’s working.
For example, at the time of this writing and recording, we’re only a couple of weeks away from Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The monthly calendar is where you could start planning out due dates, when the emails start, social media, etc.
Your monthly calendar is the bigger picture of what you’re doing.
It’s also a great place to add to what’s happening in your life – so you don’t put too much on your plate and end up feeling disappointed because you didn’t accomplish as much as you hoped.
Step 8: Plan Your Week
The weekly calendar pages can be used for content only or, ideally, you’re planning your work week with them.
Personally, every Sunday, I write out my week with colored pens on dot grid paper.
I literally pull this from my Google calendar (which is where the bookings and reminders happen). The process of writing this before my week begins anchors in what needs to happen and when. I also include personal appointments and helpful reminders (rest, meditation, etc.).
We specifically didn’t include the micro-content for your weekly calendar because it felt redundant.
Most people use an online scheduling tool, and writing it twice felt like overkill.
We want to be your partner in creating your strategy and planning out what you’ll be creating. The publishing and scheduling should happen within your tool of choice.
Step 9: Review What Worked
Pretty self-explanatory, but unfortunately, most people won’t take the time to sit down and review how their month went.
This can be from a content perspective, a business perspective, a life perspective, or whatever type of review works best for you.
And of course, we’d love for you to share what worked with us so we can celebrate with you.
These are blank dot grid pages where you can write, doodle, or even sketchnotes. Do whatever works for you.
There you have it.
Create It – The Content Planner is truly your guide to creating a content strategy that supports your business goals, how your business supports your life, and getting more leverage out of what you create.
The better you get at content marketing, the more likely it is that your ideal customers will find you and, most importantly, stick around.
Remember that if your content marketing doesn’t work for you first (meaning you enjoy creating it), it’s much less likely to connect with your audience.