This originally published in December 2018 but is updated with new information and resources.
It’s that time of year that you’re putting the final touches on your next year’s plans (or maybe you’re just getting started). Either way, I know you’re thinking about all the content you need to create to make #allthethings happen in your business.
Good for you! I love a good plan, especially one that comes with a checklist. Because, let’s face it, checking things off feels really good.
But before you add a 12-month content marketing plan to your list, think again. While I’m all for creating and executing a plan in advance, planning out your content through this time next year (or even six months from now) isn’t the best use of your time. In fact, you could actually be working in the wrong direction if you plan too far ahead.
Your business goals may change
One of the best things about being a small business owner (or micro business, if you prefer) is that you’re in charge of your own success. You get to decide what products and services you offer, the price you charge and even the hours that you work. Sometimes, that changes over the course of a year. Your business goals change, so your content marketing goals must also change.
If you’ve already laid out a long-term content marketing plan (or worse, created the content for it), you feel tied to executing on it. And that content may not align with where your business is going now.
Your audience (and their needs) may change
While many of my clients have stayed with me throughout the years, their businesses are growing and developing right alongside mine. That means that I can continue to serve them as their needs (and my services) change.
That said, my overall audience has changed as I grow and expand my business and as I hone down into who I really want to (and can) serve. My audience looks different today than it did a year ago, and the year before that and the year before that. And since content should be all about the audience and their needs, it’s important to keep up with that. If you’ve planned a year out, you’re planning for today’s audience, not tomorrow’s.
It’s just plain overwhelming
How do you feel about planning out your content right now? Are you batching? Are you determining your themes and topics a few months out? OR, are you like most business owners and writing today’s blog post today?
Content planning and development is overwhelming for even the most focused business owners. Planning out content for the next year is probably downright paralyzing. Why do that to yourself?
Now, I don’t recommend executing on a content plan at the last minute, but there’s something to be said for being really on the pulse of what’s happening now.
What to do instead
Stop feeling like you need to plan your life and your business a year out. And stop frantically creating content at the 11th hour. Instead:
- After you’ve developed your business goals for the next year, plan out big, overarching themes for content that align with those goals. I recommend doing this for the full year, so you know what’s coming up.
- Then look ahead to the next quarter and narrow those themes down. (Learn how to create a 90-day content plan here.)
- When you have a theme or idea for each month in the next quarter, break it down by week. Develop specific ideas for each week that you want to tackle.
- Finally, create individual post ideas for each platform you publish content on. In the case of social media, you may need to develop several ideas for those platforms.
- Make sure you’re publishing fresh, original content on each platform so your audience is encouraged to follow you in multiple places.
Once you have a quarterly plan laid out, it’s time to batch your content! This is a learned behavior and not something you’ll figure out how to do right out of the gate. That’s okay! The more you practice, the easier it will get.
But please, for your own sanity, don’t plan out all of next year’s content this month. It’s not worth the time or frustration.
Do you need help putting together systems and content for your business, so you can start to be more of a business owner and less of a freelancer? Sign up for my FREE Content Bank–it’s all the downloadables and freebies I’ve created over the years to help you get your content and strategy in place.