AMY PORTERFIELD: Can a three-month content calendar really be filled out and completed in just a couple of hours? I say yes, it can be done. And today I'm going to show you how. From what your weekly core-content topic will be to planning your social posts, I've got you covered. This is a jam-packed episode and is perfect for the newbie entrepreneur or the seasoned one, who will still spend far-too-much time planning out that calendar, or anyone who feels stressed each week trying to come up with ideas. I poured my heart and soul into creating this episode to make sure it was simple, step by step, and would save you time, headaches, and frustrations, not to mention get you a little extra time back doing what you love and spending time with people who matter most. So, if you're ready to have your next three months of content planned out, including the content you release each week, a.k.a. your core content, and your social-media posts, I've got you covered.
INTRO: I'm Amy Porterfield, and this is Online Marketing Made Easy.
AMY: Dear listener, this episode is about to change your life. Creating content can be a beast. I think we all know that. But when we're exhausting ourselves over it for hours, the fun can quickly fade.
But in this episode, I break it down into a simple step-by-step approach that will ensure you know exactly what you're creating, when you're creating it, and how to get it created without a hitch. I'll cover how to come up with topics that entice your audience and speak to exactly what they want to hear; exactly how to fill out a content calendar so you're aware of all of your promos, any holidays, and anything else that may influence your content; and the two ways to make sure your content gets done and gets released every single week, come hell or high water; and a segment I know you’re going to love because we get asked about it all the time, how to plan out your social-media posts to align with your weekly content. I've got it all in this episode for you. Plus, I've put together a free resource for you. So when you're ready to start planning out your content, go download the three-month content calendar, and it's like a plug and play with your dates and your content so you'll be set.
And really quickly, would you do me a quick favor? Would you share this episode with one of your entrepreneurial or business-minded friends? Or if not this episode, whatever episode of Online Marketing Made Easy that you love the most. As you do with your own content, for this podcast, I pour my blood, sweat, and tears into it, and I want to make sure that it supports and reaches as many people who need it as possible. So if you could share it with one, two, or ten, I'd be forever grateful.
All right, friend. Let’s do this.
Now, when I'm talking about a content calendar, when I say the word content, I'm talking about the content that you are creating every week, your original content—so your ideas, your insights, your message. And typically, you are creating content in the form of a podcast or a blog or a weekly video show, or maybe you're doing an IG Live or a Facebook Live. So you're creating original content every single week, and this is how to put together your content calendar so you know what your podcast is going to be about or you know what that weekly blog post is going to be about in advance, and you’re creating it in advance as well. And then, to add some social-media posts around that, you're planning that in advance. So that's why this episode is so important, because you're planning out your weekly original content, whether it be a podcast; a blog; a video, prerecorded or live.
Okay. So, let’s get to this.
This first step to creating your content calendar is all about identifying ideas that your ideal community wants to learn, wants to know, and wants to hear about. Give yourself a little time to work on this in the next seven days. Deal? There are several ways to do this, so let's just go through a handful of them.
The first is to simply brainstorm a list of hot topics and ideas that your audience will come running for, and then, write them down. So after all, no one knows your ideal community better than you. So set your timer—you can just make it ten minutes to start out—and think about which topics excite them or interest them. What do they want or need, and how are you their solution? What content can help them cross that invisible bridge from where they are now to where they want to be—essentially, where you can get them? So through your products and offers and services, where do they want to go, and what results do they want?
Don't filter yourself as you do this. Allow it to be a free-flowing exercise. Also, if you're anything like me, you already have a notes app on your phone, full of ideas that you've added here and there when you come up with them. So if you've got notes somewhere, go grab those. Take time to transfer those ideas to paper. In fact, those ideas may prompt new ones.
Now, another way I like to come up with ideas for topics is to survey my audience, and I find that the best results come from either a survey in Google Forms or something like SurveyMonkey. And I suggest using these platforms over, say, the Poll function on Instagram Stories because if someone is willing to take the time to click on and fill out an external survey, external meaning not on social media, those are the people that are going to be most likely to sign up for your masterclass or sign up for your lead magnet or buy what you have to offer.
Now, don't get me wrong. Using the Poll feature on Instagram Stories can still be very beneficial. I love that strategy. But I want to go the extra mile for what I'm teaching you here, and that's why I'm all about a Google Forms or a SurveyMonkey.
So I just feel like using both would be great: Instagram Polls on Stories as well as surveying on an external platform. So go for both.
Now, to implement this strategy to do some kind of survey on SurveyMonkey or Google Forms, all you have to do is put together a few questions. We're talking, like, five max. And include a couple of open-ended questions in the mix, and get this out to your audience right away.
Now, the reason I like a couple of open-ended questions is that it allows me to pull from exact copy or words that my ideal community uses when I'm crafting titles or headlines or subject lines for emails. It's also super beneficial to have the knowledge of what words they use in your back pocket for when you write sales emails or sales pages because these words are often the key to getting them to say, “Are you reading my mind?” In fact, you are.
So, before we move on to the next strategy, I want to quickly share something interesting that I just stumbled upon in Ryan Levesque’s book Ask, and that's that you don't need to give your audience an incentive, something like a lead magnet or a gift card to take the survey. The incentive should be that this is going to give you insight to serve them better and get them content that is exactly what they want. So in the past, we have incentivized people to fill out surveys, and Ryan is saying that's absolutely not necessary. So if you don't have the time and space to create some kind of freebie to give them if they fill out the survey, don't worry about it. You can still get wonderful feedback from the survey.
Now, you may be thinking that you don't yet have a big-enough audience that's going to get enough responses from a survey, and no worries. There are other things you can do beyond the survey.
So, first, you can simply go to someone else's blog or Facebook page or Instagram page that's in the same field as you, that has a larger following, and take note of what's resonating with their audience. I'm not saying you want to copy what they're doing, but the ideas and topics that their audience is talking about can inspire you to create something with your own twist. And remember, no one teaches what you teach like you do, so keep that in mind. And don't let imposter syndrome get the best of you.
And if you have a small audience, you can do a little research through your interaction with them. A few places to look include your own social-media posts. What questions are being asked by your audience? What content is resonating with them the most? And if you're receiving any DMs, what are they asking about? Also, what are they emailing you about? Again, pay attention to the words that they're using.
You’ll also want to set themes at this time. So setting themes really helps you to narrow down and decide on topics that would entice your audience. So if you need a little help, all you need to do is Google “universal holidays.” Take a look at all of the holidays that pop up, holidays in the U.S., if that's where you're based, but holidays outside of the U.S. as well. That will allow you to be more diverse.
Now, using those holidays or just themes in general that pop up for you will help guide your content and make it easy to come up with topic ideas. You can even look for fun holidays or, as my social-media manager calls them, hashtag holidays. For example, if you’re a food blogger, on National Donut Day, you might create your weekly content around your favorite donut recipe.
Okay. So once you have all the holidays and the themes or fun national days written down, do another brain dump. How can you use this information to plan your content?
And another way to come up with topic ideas is to revisit old content that you've posted that's done well in the past. Now, set your timer for twenty minutes here. Head back into your weekly content; heck, even your social-media posts. What resonated and got a lot of engagement? And look at your comments. What was shared in the most popular social-media post that you've done? Choose a topic or two that you can expand on and shed new light on or dive deeper or put a different spin on it.
This episode is actually an example of this. I did an episode around this topic three years ago, and it was a hot episode. But I knew that I had some new ideas around planning out a content calendar and I could expand on that idea. So we revamped it and put a new spin on it.
Now, the last episode we did three years ago was mainly about how to come up with topics to fill your content calendar. This one is taking it a step further and talking you through how to fill out your calendar efficiently; plus, how to plan out your social posts that align with your weekly content, because you all have asked me questions about that. So I pay close attention to what you all ask in my Facebook groups, in my social-media posts, and then we came up with this idea because of you, so thank you. So this episode is more in depth.
This is just a reminder that you don't always have to reinvent the wheel or start from scratch, and you can get inspiration from others in your industry and from revamping and expanding on your own content. If you always feel like you have to create something new or talk about something new, you're going to run out of ideas fast. So I want you to toss that thought to the curb and reframe how you think about content creation.
All right. The next portion of content-calendar planning should really only take thirty to forty-five minutes, so set your timer and let's go. At this stage, you're going to start to fill out your calendar, so be sure you have all those awesome topic ideas that you just came up with from the other exercises we did, along with important dates, and let’s get to work. You can either create your own calendar or, if you’d like, head to the free resource with this episode, because I made a content calendar for you that you can just plug and play. You can find that link in the description wherever you're listening or go back to my show notes at amyporterfield.com/409.
So first things first, put in the dates of the upcoming three months. If you're using the content calendar I've provided for you, you'll start with month one and fill out the dates for each week. Now let's fill out important dates. So that's everything from your promotions to your pre-launch dates to holidays to themes and anything else you might be celebrating within those three months. If you're using the content calendar I provided, you'll see the section underneath each weekly dates where you can add themes, holidays, or promos. So fill that out for each month.
Now, it's crucial that you put your promo dates in at this time because this is going to guide a ton of your content. For example, if I'm leading up to a promotion, I’ll do what is called a thirty-day pre-launch runway. In the thirty days before my cart opens, so before enrollment opens in one of my courses, my theme is related to the course I'm going to sell. So when I'm leading up to the enrollment period for Digital Course Academy, the thirty days leading up to that are all focused on course creation and launching a course. So that's the theme that I'll use. So any podcasts that fall within that timeline, you bet, are going to align with the course I plan to sell.
So today, my pre-launch runway is a lot more complex than it used to be, so we have themes like setting habits or list building or creating more freedom. And all of those themes lead to various things that I'm going to do throughout my pre-launch runway. But you can do this with a much-simpler approach, and I encourage that.
So, for example, I'm thinking of one of my students, Andrea Olson, and she teaches elimination communication to moms, which, essentially, is potty training babies from a very early age. So in her days leading up to her launch, maybe a theme for one week is saving money and time, and she can talk about how her students have saved money and time by going diaper free. Another week, she can talk about the different types of elimination communication. And then another week, she can talk about, where do you even start?
So you get the picture. Those are the themes, different topics you can talk about leading up to something that you want to sell. You get the picture.
All right. So you've got your topic ideas, you've got your calendar all marked up with important dates, now it's time to fill that bad boy out. Now, this should be fun, so be playful and get creative. And in the content calendar I've provided or on your own, go week by week and add the specific topic that you'll create your core content around. You'll also want to add the exact date you'll be releasing that piece of core content. And remember, you're using the ideas you've already brainstormed here.
So, for example, we always drop a podcast episode every Thursday, with the exception of a few holidays, where we release it on a Wednesday. So I know that unless there is a holiday that may shift the date slightly, I'm going to put in the date for every Thursday with a podcast.
Okay. Next up, it's time to decide your content-creation approach. But before we get there, if you fill out your calendar, you're going to have a three-month calendar ready to rock with all these amazing topic ideas. Take a moment to celebrate at that point, because that's a really big task that you just knocked out. So make sure to celebrate, because you deserve it. You actually just did the hardest part. Now, once you do that, you're moving on to your content-creation approach.
Now, if you know me, you know I love nothing more than a good batching session. This is definitely my preferred way of creating my content, because I don't have to worry about something unexpectedly coming up and then screwing up my schedule to record a weekly podcast. If I've batched, then it's already been done. I don't need to worry about it. So for me, batching allows me to be more focused when I'm working on the content and at ease when I'm not.
So if you want to know more about mega-batching, check out episode number 182. However, I will say that while the content is still good, we will probably do an updated episode on batching, as my process has changed a bit over the years. But for now, episode 182.
Batching looks a little different for me as my business has grown. But for a long time, it would look like me sitting down to bust out six weeks of podcast content at one time. Nowadays, I record within a couple-of-weeks’ span, but my podcast team still batches show notes and newsletters and editing in six-week increments.
Now, you decide what batching looks like for you, and just ask yourself, can you commit to creating two weeks of content in one sitting, or maybe four weeks of content in one sitting? If you choose to batch, get clear on exactly what that looks like for you.
Now, if your schedule doesn't allow for hours of batching—maybe you're juggling parenthood and a nine-to-five job, and you're still trying to grow your side hustle and that means that you're not going to sit down for hours and hours and put together six weeks of content—so maybe you do only one or two weeks ahead. Just start wherever you're at.
I'd at least try to work one week ahead. So you'd be creating next week's weekly content and all the assets you need for it the week before it actually goes live. So both approaches work. I personally think batching is safer, but do what you can do right now, and take the time to decide what approach and then make sure you schedule it into your calendar.
I recommend making it the same day or days and time each week. So maybe you always batch the last week of the month for the month ahead, or maybe every Tuesday morning for two hours, you work on next week’s core content. So go ahead. Decide right now. Make that declaration of what you're going to do and commit to it. In fact, if you can, go ahead and say it out loud. What are you going to do?
Well, well, well, look at you. You are crushing this content-calendar thing.
Now, for the moment that I think you've been waiting for, you might not know you've been waiting for it, but you have, because I can't even tell you the amount of times people ask how to plan social-media posts while planning out your content calendar. Now, to help me, I've actually reached out to my social-media manager, Stacey, to see how she schedules this out. And what I'm about to share with you is actually a really simple way to do this.
So since you already have your core-content topics all planned out and in your calendar, you'll need to set aside a little time each week or when you're batching to plan out your social posts. So, for starters, decide where you're going to share your social posts, maybe Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. It's okay to have multiple, but it's also okay to just focus on one or two platforms, especially if you're just starting out. And yes, you can post the same thing to multiple platforms if you need. Ideally, it's good to change up the text to align with the specific social platform. But if you're strapped for time, that isn't a must.
In the content calendar that goes along with this episode, you'll see where you can add what social platform or platforms this post will be going to. I have three social-media post boxes in the calendar that I've provided for you, as I think you should at least aim for posting a minimum of three to five times per week. But if you can post daily, that's great, too.
From there, it's time to assign content pillars. For the sake of today's podcast episode, I'm going to tell you what our pillars are for all seven days, but take what you need and leave what you don't for you in your own business. Also, I'm mainly focusing on Instagram because that's where most of our audience hangs out. But you know where your audience is, so plan accordingly to that.
When I say content pillars, this is what I mean. On Mondays, I post a Reels video. Tuesday, I share an infographic. Wednesday, always something lifestyle or personal. Thursday is when my core content is released, my podcast. And so my social posts are always about the podcast. And then, Friday, I share a quote graphic. And then, Saturday and Sunday, I share something personal. Now, this does change when we have a promotion or when we're in pre-launch, but during a regular week, these are my content pillars.
And if you haven't guessed this yet, we actually use our weekly core content—so, the topic from our podcast—to inspire most of those posts, which is exactly what I want you to do as well. So I want to repeat that. I've got a weekly podcast, and so I actually plan my weekly content around the topic of my podcast.
So, here's a real-life example. We did a podcast episode on habits in early August. So that week, I had a Reels video about the habits I swear by, an infographic about the morning routine do's and don'ts, I pulled a quote directly from my podcast episode, and then I also did an audio clip from that episode. A really easy way to create an audio clip for social media is through a platform called Wavve. W-a-v-v-e. I’ll link to it in my show notes. I also shared a couple of behind-the-scenes, personal-type stuff that week about habits. This was also during our pre-launch runway, so I was posting other things, too. So if you go back and look, you'll see that because the core pillars were still met.
Also, make sure your social calendar aligns with your promo calendar, if you have one. So if you don't, just double check to make sure that when you're promoting something, you're planning that into your social-media content as well. But if you did the last steps where you filled out your calendar, you'll be able to see when you're promoting something, so that’ll be easy to craft social-media content around it. All you have left to do is create your weekly content, and then write your social-media posts, too.
Next up, I'll walk you through how to utilize the free three-month calendar that I've provided for you in the show notes.
All right. Time to take action. Head to the show notes at amyporterfield.com/409, and grab the free three-month content calendar. I know I mentioned it a few times that you'll use it throughout today's episode, but let me break it down for you.
First, you'll start with month one. You'll fill out all of the dates for each week in column A. You'll also add any themes, holidays, or promos during that specific week. Do the same for month two and month three. Once you're ready to fill out your weekly content topics, head to column B and add the topic, the date it will be published, and any promotions you'll be doing with that post. Once you actually create the content, you want to come back to this column and fill out the link to post and the call to action or opt in. Next, you'll see the Social Post column. Again, I've created just a few columns for you, but duplicate them to match however many days per week you plan to post on social media. In this box, you'll add the image you'll use for each post; you can write in your copy; include what the call to action will be, if necessary; what social platforms this is going to be shared to; and what the published date of that post is. Having this all in one area keeps things organized and easy to create your calendar and content quickly.
All right, friend. Let's recap.
First off, go through all of the various ways to come up with content to get your creative juices flowing and create a list of topics to fill out with your calendar. As a reminder, you can brain dump, survey your audience, find holidays or themes, and revisit previously published content that resonated with your audience. Next, you'll fill out your content calendar, transfer any holidays, themes, or promo dates over, and finally start filling out what your weekly topics will be, using your brainstorming ideas. After that, decide how you're going to create your weekly content. Will you batch it, or will you create it week by week? And once you have all of that planned out, go ahead and create your content and plan your social posts, too.
Again, head to the show notes to grab that free resource. It’s really good. I think you'll find it so incredibly valuable. Just listening to this is one thing, but listening to this when you have your guide to walk you through it, it all comes to life. So now that you've gone through this episode once, go grab the free resource, and then listen to this episode again with the guide in front of you. Believe me, it's going to make so much sense, and you're going to go through it really quickly.
All right, my friend. Thank you so much for listening. I can't wait to see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.