Ah, yes. The sweet, sweet feeling of being ahead of your marketing calendar instead of constantly putting out fires and joining social media parties way too late. Picture it: you look at your to-do list in July and you’re already planning Christmas content. Christmas! It’s often thought that getting ahead of your brand content is just for the big corporations with thousands in their teams, but anyone can get ahead. Here’s how…
Set up a content calendar
How any brand or individual looking to build a following on social media, publish blog content, or send out a regular newsletter can do so ‘off the cuff’ is beyond me, but I know people do it. I’ve tried writing content the day of, and I’ve tried writing it months in advance – I can confirm that doing it beforehand is way more effective, and feels so much better.
To do this, set up a simple content calendar – there are complex ones available to buy online, but all you really need is a spreadsheet with the names of each platform at the top. Some things you may want to include are:
📅 What platform you are publishing on
📅 What type of content usually does best on this platform
📅 The name of this piece of content and a brief summary of what it is
📅 How this content will add value to your ideal customer (or brighten their day)
📅 The date it’s going out (and perhaps why now is a good time)
📅 Logistics like who is in charge of the piece, who should be tagged, etc.
📅 A deadline for publication
This can be tailored to whatever project or type of company you run. Essentially it’s a planner for upcoming content so you can ensure you’re covering the topics you want to, finding time to be creative with your posts, acknowledging important dates, and so on.
Make use of schedulers
There are lots of social media schedulers out there – Buffer, Hootsuite, Planoly, Later, to name just a few – and not enough brands utilise their power. Loading up Instagram each day to put out an organic post tends to become a huge time-suck, what with all the image filters, hashtag research and caption writing you have to do.
Set aside some time to batch-create your content and schedule using one of the tools mentioned above. It’ll save massive amounts of time, plus this way you won’t get sucked into reading the comments on your post right away, and can schedule a time to do this when it best suits your workload.
Pay attention to public holidays and events
For some, getting ahead with content is when you aren’t scrambling to create a last-minute Valentine’s Day message or Black Friday deal. Scrambling is never good, as it leads to sloppy work. Instead, use the content calendar mentioned earlier and collect info on events that come up throughout the year and may be relevant to your brand.
Of course, there will always be some unexpected social media trends that deserve your attention on the day they begin (jump on that bandwagon!), but for the most part, it’s best to look ahead on the yearly calendar and pick out what you think might be of interest to your audience. I like Days of the Year for this. It has some crazy made-up days (who came up with Caesar Salad Day??!), but there are some interesting things in there that your readers may love.
Set aside sprint days
The main problem with getting ahead on our content is that it’s never a priority. Typically something always trumps it in terms of importance, but setting aside sprint days can be a great way to finally say ‘Enough is enough! We need some social media posts!’
Everyone in your team likely has different to-do lists with their own priority tasks, so treat sprint days like meetings, schedule them in advance, and make them non-negotiable. You wouldn’t skip a meeting with your manager, would you? So don’t skip sprint days either. Create some content and finally get ahead. This works whether you have a team or you’re a solopreneur, as it’s about having the follow-through to stick to your plan and not find other priorities on sprint days.
Hire a content manager
At the end of it all, getting ahead is certainly not easy. It’s hard enough just to keep up with what you’ve got coming up this month, let alone get 6 months ahead – I’m with you. I do get it. If that’s the case for you, hiring a freelance content manager (like me) could help. By giving someone the sole role of handling the flow of content, staying consistent, writing the type of posts that convert, and bringing you to Christmas-in-July levels of organisation, you can focus on doing what you do best, and finally let go of that nagging feeling that you’re falling behind.