How to Build a Content Plan in 5 Easy Steps

One of my goals this year is to get more social followers who want to learn how to improve their online presence. My social media pages have very few followers and my email list is minuscule. So, I’m on a mission to grow both!

I always have great intentions to post valuable content, but then it’s 5 pm and I have zero ideas so I post a picture of my dog or cat. Repeat forever.

So I decided to dust off my organization skills and started content planning again. I used to do this with my now-defunct blog, and it worked wonders. It saved me time, anxiety, dread, and maybe a few tears.

Why struggle with what to post each day when you can spend one day a month prepping everything and not worry about it for the next 30 days? I can’t think of anything better.

Let’s dig in.

Step 1 – What’s Your Goal?

graphic that says "goals"

The first thing you want to do when building your content calendar is decide what your goals are.

Some goal ideas:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Drive website traffic
  • Boost engagement
  • Improve brand recognition
  • Grow your email list

This goal will guide the type of content you create.

Step 2 – Determine Where to Post

I hope everyone has a good idea of who their ideal customer is. If not, take some time to build your ideal customer avatar. What does that person look like? How do they act? And which social platforms are they on? If you’re not sure, take a look at your competitors. Where are they at, and which platforms are they doing best on?

You do not, and you should not, be on every platform. Be realistic with the amount of time you have to dedicate to social media. Start with one, you can always add more down the road.

My recommendation for most small businesses – would be to use Instagram and Facebook. It’s easy to cross-post between the two. It’s like two posts with the effort of one. Save time and potentially double your reach. But again, where is your ideal customer spending their social media time?

Make a list (and remember to make it short at first) of where you will post.

Step 3 – Build Out Your Calendar

The first step I take when building out my calendar is to create a blank calendar in Google Calendar and start adding tasks to the days that I want to post.

Each task is set up to reoccur either each workday or once a week. This is so I only have to set it up once! I can check the task off each time I complete it and get that dopamine hit.

Google calendar with tasks set up for each social post.

Next, create a spreadsheet with “Days to Post” in the rows, and which social platforms you chose across the top columns. We’re about to get more granular.

A blank content calendar in google sheets. I has days of week down one side and the different socials along top.

Step 4 – Add Content Topics to your Calendar

Let’s add those deets!

You now have a schedule of when you will post to each social platform. Remember to keep it simple at first!

Let’s look back at the goal we set in step 1. Mine is to get more social followers and to get consistent with the blog and newsletter. What can I say… I’m in a constant rush to burnout.

Since I decided I wanted more followers, I will post to Instagram every day, which also posts to my Facebook page at the same time. Two birds and all that.

Here is a brilliant tip – use ChatGPT or Google Bard to brainstorm content ideas. Please do not use it to write all of your content for you. But do use it to spark ideas, or to ask it to align your goals with some content ideas. I will share some AI tips and tricks in an upcoming blog post.

Start listing them out in your spreadsheet. You can have a weekly, or even month-long, theme. Or switch it up. The great (and sometimes awful) thing about this whole thing is it’s trial and error. If one thing doesn’t work – try something else. And who knows, that thing that bombed this week might work really well in 3 months. Keep at it!

Yes, this is my actual content calendar for January. And I’m going to try like heck to keep up with it. My weakest area is blogging and sending a newsletter because those take the most time for me.

Spreadsheet with post detail filled out for an entire month.

Step 5 – Batch it Out

Spend the next few hours building out your content. Depending on how much content you are planning to create for the month – this could take you one to two hours, or it might take you all day. Keep that in mind when deciding where and how much you are going to post.

Some tasks you will want to do on Batching Day:

  • Take images/videos you will need
  • Write blog posts and newsletters – this doesn’t have to be done in your website or mail platform yet. Use Word or Google Docs for now. Whatever is easiest for you.
  • Make your graphics – use Canva or Adobe Illustrator, and make sure you’re using your brand colors and fonts!
  • Plan your hashtags if you are using them
  • Create the post content for each post – keep these in a Word doc or your spreadsheet. You can add your image/content/hashtags all together so they are easy to post.

I like to keep all of my social content together in one folder on my computer. I then have subfolders for blog/newsletter/social. If you keep things nice and tidy from the get-go, it makes everything so much easier for you when you need to post.

This takes so much stress off my shoulders each month. And I’m able to focus on what my clients need, and not worry about what to post. The majority of the time when I’m posting from the hip… it isn’t good anyway.

I hope this method helps you, and never hesitate to reach out if you have questions.

A little note – don’t forget to be polite when using AI. We’ve all seen Terminator, right? I recommend staying on their good side. Haha!

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