• Kelly Smith

A Step-By-Step Guide To Planning Your Content

Getting to the heart of solving your clients' problems is the best way to ensure long term success, and this post teaches you how to do that in the most effective and organized way.

I'm going to teach you how to plan your content for maximum impact, less fluff, and more clarity for both you and your Ideal Client. By using this method you'll feel crystal clear on what to post on social media and on your other forms of content marketing. You'll better understand what matters to your Ideal Client (and why), and you'll learn how to plan out your best content in advance.

We'll be filling in this worksheet as we go and it's a tool you'll refer to throughout the year so download it before we begin so you can fill it in, step by step.

Download Your 2021 Content Planner Here

Content marketing is material you create that represents your brand that you share with the world. It's educational, solves real problems, adds significant value, and it's free.

Content marketing results in:

1. Brand awareness (getting noticed by the right people),

2. Higher engagement (mattering to the people you want to serve), and

3. More revenue & a bigger impact.

Here's a step-by-step guide to planning your content in advance

Step One: Pause and Remember Why You Started

Write down your purpose for starting a business and why your Ideal Client needs what you have to offer. This will put you in the right frame of mind and sets the tone for thinking about what your Ideal Clients want to hear from you.

Step Two: Read Your Testimonials

Take 5 minutes to review your best testimonials and look for keywords, themes, feelings, and results: What's the result of working with you? How do people feel after working with you? How does their life improve? Write your answers down, we'll use these in your content.

Step Three: Identify Three To Five Key Themes

What are the high-level themes that you teach in your business?

This is your core content.

Try to narrow your themes to no more than four. Why? Because the more "lanes" you have the more vague and generic your message. Stay within you expertise and what your Ideal Clients need to know. I highly recommend doing step three and four with another person, or at least vetting those out with someone who knows your business well. Reach out to me and I'd be happy to help you think through this.

Your Key Themes should be high-level enough to include the subtopics that naturally stem from those Key Themes. An example of a Key Theme for a Financial Advisor might be "Investing For Long Term Growth." This is something her Ideal Clients definitely need to know about and would seek her guidance on. Her subtopics would include things like "diversifying your portfolio," and "understanding your risk tolerance," or "real estate investing." Notice that the Key Theme is the broad category that your audience needs to know about, and there are many topics that fall into that category in greater detail. She could easily create subtopics for her subtopics!

Which leads us to...

Step Four: Add Subtopics To Each Theme

List the detailed topics that your clients need to know about in the subtopic rows. These are topics that you could go into detail on at a moments notice. What are the things your audience needs to hear to make better, informed decision? Your subtopics are the material you'll turn into your customer facing content.

Also, you can review lagging indicators like social media posts that received high engagement (likes, comments, shares). What were you teaching in those posts? Review testimonials for key themes of what matters the most to your clients.

Why does your ideal client need to hear about this information in the way that you share it?

Step 5: Planning What To Share

Have a look at your worksheet. If you look at your worksheet and it feels so right, so within-your-scope, so... intentional then you're ready to plan your content. If it doesn't then just keep noodling on it. Reach out to me for help.

Use the subtopics as your guide for blog posts or podcasts, social media posts, etc. These subtopics probably have subtopics of their own and you could talk about the details of these topics at length. If that comes naturally to you, then you're ready to start planning. If it doesn't come naturally, review the writing prompts on the 2021 Content Planner.

I've created these writing/speaking prompts to help you deliver the core material that your audience needs to hear from you in a way that matters to them.

Depending on how you run your business, decide the topics you'll focus on for the month, quarter, or year, and schedule your topics in a calendar or project management tool like Asana or Basecamp.

Pro Tip: If you're hosting a webinar, teaching a workshop, or offering a new service it will likely be about one of your Key Themes, right? Create content from within that lane in advance of the offer (or launch) to warm up your audience. This is where it really matters to "stay in your lane."

Using this plan ensures that you're creating material within the scope of your expertise and keeps your message cohesive so that you don't whiplash your audience around with random ideas.

If planning in advance sounds daunting, simply pick a subtopic create a few social media posts specifically about that topic. Use the Who, Why, What, When, Where, and How framework if needed.

1. Who needs to learn about this topic?

2. Why does it matter to their life right now?

3. What do they need to take away from this?

4. When should they hear it (especially if it's a seasonal topic like taxes, for example)?

5. How do they apply it?

You've already done the heavy lifting of thinking about what you want to share by populating the worksheet, now you just need to choose what to focus on based on:

1. What your audience wants to hear (which always comes first),

2. What's coming up in your business (which should be driven by #1).

Step Six: Create A Free Offer

This is the step where content marketing becomes a lead-generator.

No, you don't need five lead magnets. One really good one is just fine, and it's really helpful to see what's valuable to your audience.

Creating a free offer (optin/lead magnet) within the scope of each Key Theme, or the most popular of topic that you teach, will build an audience of loyal followers. It's great market research to find out what is most valuable to your audience and what your audience needs help with.

So let's recap:

1. Identify your "lanes" of content, which are your guardrails keeping you on track, teaching within your area of expertise, and adding value to your audience.

2. Plan your social media content, blogging calendar, email marketing campaigns, and any other forms of content marketing based on the subtopics listed in each lane.

3. Create free offers to build your email list based on what resonates the most with your audience.

Enjoy the process and happy planning, friends! Let me know how this goes for you.

Thanks for being here,


Owner, Willow & Oak Business Solutions