Without a doubt the most shared experience we’ve heard from our community of small business owners and micro-entrepreneurs is their feeling of being overwhelmed by trying to do it all. Being a solo-entrepreneur managing your online marketing, offering your services and courses, and honouring your relationships with clients and students can be a lot. Maybe even too much.
Don’t lose hope dear friend. There are ways to simplify and align your online activities which can lighten your burden and energize your business. Content creation and sharing is frequently an area that draws resources and energy from small businesses. Planning, creating and sharing content can become a large part of your daily work if you let it, but it doesn’t have to be. Let me repeat that: planning, creating and sharing content does not have to require a lot of your time, energy and resources to be effective. Here are 6 ways to create a manageable Content Plan for your business.
6 Ways to Create a Manageable Content Plan
- Know your Why
- Pick your Core Content Themes
- Identify a Sustainable Schedule
- Create an Idea Space
- Follow Simple Branding Guidelines
- Hold to Your Plan and Be Willing to Change it
Know Your Why
Here’s another truth bomb about online marketing: you don’t have to do it. This might sound strange coming from a business dedicated to Online Marketing but it’s true!Marking your business online is not required, necessary, or even effective for every business. When it comes to social media, marketing in this space may not actually put your services in front of the people who need it most. So why do it?
The foundation for any plan is to know your why. Why are you creating a website, why are you writing a blog, why do you have an Instagram account or want to run Google Ads? Take the time to discern your why. Make sure it’s not because it’s what everyone else is doing. That train of thought didn’t work in elementary school and it definitely doesn’t work in how you run your business. That is not to say that you have to reinvent the wheel. There are some marketing strategies and approaches that can help you streamline what you are doing online, so that it is effective for you, but you still need to know why you are doing it.
Here are a series of questions to ask yourself about your marketing ideas to help distill down to your why:
- Where do my potential customers, clients or students spend their time? It may be online, it might not be. With limited resources, targeting your marketing efforts where your community hangs out most is ideal.
- How are my services best showcased? Is this in print, in person, in photos, videos, or through words?
- What do I want to get in return for my efforts?
Coming to some clear answers to these questions can help you decide why you might start a Facebook page for your business or run online ads. It might also help you decide to direct your time, energy, and resources to holding in-person info sessions or creating posters. Maybe you have the resources to do it all, but if not, you need to define your why so you can direct your efforts to the most effective platform.
Pick Your Core Content Themes
If you have decided that online content is the way to go for promoting your business, let’s look at how you can do so without losing your balance.
After deciding what content format works best for you, the next step is to identify several themes for your content. In the marketing world we call these your content buckets. Identifying 2-3 content buckets will help define what content you will create and share. Content buckets are broad topic areas that pertain to different aspects of your business and your client or student base. Each bucket is connected by your overarching business mission, the larger reason you do what you do. Let’s say you are a Crossfit Instructor and you do this work to encourage and inspire people to get into their best physical shape and feel their own strength. Your content buckets might be Inspiration and Education. When you create content; whatever you make must fit into one of these two buckets.
Identify a Sustainable Schedule
Knowing why you want to share content and what you want to share is only part of the work. The other part is knowing when to share it. Your content schedule is created from several factors:
- When can you consistently create valuable content?
- When can you consistently share this content?
- When does your audience want to engage with your content?
Let’s take this one step at a time.
When can you consistently create valuable content? Content creation has the potential to take over your life. You can be snapping pictures, shooting video, writing blogs, editing video, and recording podcasts ALL THE TIME. But that isn’t why you went into business. Creating content must be done both with a sense of your potential and a knowledge of your limitations. The first thing to ask yourself is when do you have the time and access to the necessary resources to create the content you have chosen? Some people prefer to work daily or weekly when they can hold a chunk of time to create the next week’s batch of content. Some people work better on a monthly basis where they may dedicate a day or two to creating all the content they intend to share for the coming month. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to scheduling content creation. The only hard rule is to choose a time that you can keep consistently. When entrepreneurs try to “fit in” content creation the situation starts to unravel. Choose a content creation schedule and stick to it.
Now that you know when you will create the content it’s time to figure out when you are going to share it. Just as consistency for creation is important, so is consistency for sharing. Sharing valuable content on a predictable schedule allows your audience to build an expectation of you and your business, giving you an opportunity to deliver. This is the foundation of any quality relationship: trust. Keeping to a posting schedule builds trust. Planning around a predictable schedule also simplifies the processes.
Sharing content is as much about when you do it as it is about when your audience wants it. There are changing results regarding what time of day or what day of the week is best to post on different social media platforms, or to go live on Youtube or publish a blog post. The optimal time is when your community is open and available to enjoy what you share. This may take a bit of testing. Try posting for a couple weeks on the same day and time and see what level of engagement you receive. Then try changing it up and seeing if different days or times increase or decrease the engagement. Your audience will show you when they want you to post. Create a Content Schedule with their behaviour in mind.
Create an Idea Space
Another area many sole-proprietors and small business owners get inundated by is idea generation. We don’t always come up with content ideas in a timely and organized manner. Effective creativity is often spontaneous and random. Have a single place where you can store and organize your content ideas in order to stay on top of your online marketing.
You can create a spreadsheet (my favourite) or a Word doc. There are many great apps that can help record and organize your inspiration. Find the format that works for you and start plunking in your ideas. When it comes time to create content pull from these ideas and relieve yourself of the pressure of having to create on the spot. Organize your ideas in your content buckets and assign them to days you want to use them. Or simply create a running list you pull from when needed. Make your idea space as detailed or as simple as you need; the important thing is to have one place to put all of your ideas.
Follow Simple Branding Guidelines
Branding is a large topic that is far beyond the scope of this article but let’s address some simple branding tactics that can help simplify the Content Creation process. Apply a set of 3-6 branded colours to everything you create in order to connect your content across platforms. Pre-selecting your Header, Subheader and Paragraph text fonts that you can use consistently will help unify what you share. If you already have a website you can simply pull from what you already use. The key is to stay consistent. Utilizing these simple tricks can go a long way to help your content communicate your business ideas, values, and character.
Hold to Your Plan and Be Willing to Change It
One way micro-entrepreneurs get mired down in tasks is the desire to keep changing their processes. Without immediate, positive response, it can feel uncomfortable doing things the same way.. It will serve you best to stick to your plan and allow the time to establish trust and relationships with your audience.t. Of course it is also valuable to review your plan from time-to-time. Try to implement your Content Plan for 3-6 months and then take some time to look at your results. What worked well and what didn’t perform as you had hoped? What did your audience respond well to and what received only crickets? Strategically reviewing your efforts with an intention to learn and evolve your workflow is invaluable. Always be sure to give your plan a chance to show you what it can do before you try to change it up.
Choosing to make content sharing a part of your marketing strategy is an individual choice.The best way to get the word out about your business is responsive to your clients, students and online audience as well as your own workload. Take some time to plan out your approach to creating and sharing content.Simplify your marketing demands and free yourself to do what you love to do: helping people.
If you would like more ideas, or support with your social media marketing, book a Discovery Call today. We can help you get your services to more people who need what you have to offer.