There’s no denying that pumping out quality content to support your business is a HUGE undertaking. However, it only becomes overwhelming and stressful if you do it on the fly.
Generating Facebook posts, Insta-worthy images, blog posts, videos, and podcasts month-to-month is lunacy, especially if you’re also juggling client work and other large-scale projects!
The only way to do content and keep your sanity is to make a plan that carries you through the year.
Yes, you’ll tweak it as newsworthy items pop up. And no, you can’t possibly foresee the best time to write or post about every single topic. But creating a 12-month roadmap for your online content will help you manage ideas, schedules, workflow, and more, even if that roadmap shifts a little each month!
And if you enlist your virtual assistant’s help, getting that year-long plan created will be virtually painless. Here are 6 simple steps that will help you ease into the content-planning process.
1) Plan a year of content by thinking quarter-by-quarter
Even if your business itself isn’t seasonally driven, your clients (and the rest of the world) is attuned holidays, weather, and all those lovely markers of the passage of time. So your content should be timely and seasonally appropriate as much as possible; goal-setting in December and January, work-life balance in summer, learning and growth at back-to-school time.
The best way to incorporate seasonality—while simultaneously breaking the entire planning job into manageable chunks—is to tackle a quarter at a time.
Map out your content into quarters and identify what you will be launching during these time periods.
How do you want to distribute your new offerings, and how will your publishing schedule support those plans?
Do you have specific topics you want to hit for other reasons during a particular quarter?
Think 3 months at a time, and work with your virtual assistant to envision rough plans for each of those time periods.
2) Plan a year of content by generating loads of ideas
Coming up with brilliant ideas on the fly is a drag. Coming up with brilliant ideas in a fast-paced, pizza-driven brainstorming session is a blast! So hunker down with your virtual assistant (or maybe your entire team) and do a massive brain dump of all the ideas, solutions to pain points, and unique problems that your offers solve.
When a single idea sparks several offshoots, create content series around it! If a topic seems like an opportunity for collaboration, make note!
I’d recommend aiming for 12 ideas per quarter so you’ll have plenty of subjects and themes to explore across all media.
3) Plan a year of content by tackling work-intensive tasks first
Now we’re getting into the real legwork of your 12-month planning process. You and your virtual assistant can start batch-writing the long-form content like blogs, videos, and podcasts.
If you can’t get letter-perfect final drafts churned out, don’t sweat it: aim for solid outlines so the work can be divided up over the first few months of the year.
It’s important to start with these heftier tasks because they will lay the groundwork for some of your less labor-intensive (but equally important) quick content.
4) Plan a year of content by repurposing
Your virtual assistant is the PERFECT person to help with this next step! Using the long-form content, strip it down and repurpose it to be used across platforms. Take the ideas from your podcast and chop them up into Facebook posts.
Turn bullets from a blog post and transform them into Instagram captions. During this process, you and your VA may come up with some additional ideas for big projects like ebooks or online courses that would pair beautifully with your long- and short-form posts… but note and table those for now.
Focus on the little bits, and get them planned if not fully written. Aim for two Instagram captions, one email, and two Facebook posts each week.
5) Plan a year of content by front-loading visuals
If your VA is a whiz at design, enlist her to create the majority of graphics and assets you’ll need to make your content look gorgeous. If the two of you need to coordinate with another team member, or hire out through a site like Fiverr, make an extensive list of the images, variations, sizes, and subjects you need created.
Make sure you have a file-naming system that will make it easy to locate various assets, and pair them with written or recorded content!
6) Plan a year of content by automating the publication process
Now you’re ready to schedule your content! Even the best VA in the universe probably can’t preload 12 months of posts, podcasts, and emails in a few weeks, but she can get the ball rolling.
Task her with getting a quarter’s worth queued up, and then create a schedule so you’ll always be several months ahead and NEVER have to scramble to get content created and ready.
Your virtual assistant can also work on cross-promoting content across platforms as needed, making sure every piece reaches the maximum number of followers.
Some of these steps are a little too intense to be “painless”? I hear ya… but if you approach this content planning process with an open mind and positive attitude, you and your VA can knock it out together.
And just think of the stress you’ll save yourselves by being ahead of the curve!