White lights or color?
Real tree or synthetic?
Rudolph or Charlie Brown?
And if you own a business, those December decisions are critical.
This is when you decide what you want to accomplish, and what you want your business to do in the coming year.
Is it time to raise your prices? Hire new team members? Create a new program? Maybe just get more rest and have more fun? (Yes, those are business goals, too!)
Whatever your goals, careful, in-depth, advance planning is the key to making sure you reach them.
And one place this will absolutely save your sanity is in planning your blog.
Writing fresh articles and creating new content week after week can be a daunting task. So I developed a process that enables me to not only be strategic and deliberate about the content I write, but makes the actual task of writing easier.
When I sit down to write to you each week, I already know what I want to cover, and how that topic fits into my messaging as a whole – week by week, month by month, all year long.
The key is taking the time to do the work to get clear up front.
And no, that isn’t easy.
But if you’ll follow my lead, set aside a few hours and work your way through the process I outline for you here, you’ll thank me all the way through next year. :)
Here you go: how to plan content for an entire year at once, and skip the last minute content crunch.
Start with a brainstorming session.
Using the tool that works best for you (your laptop, journal, legal pad, flip chart, white board…), make a list of everything you can think of that you ever want to teach your clients.
Let it become a stream of consciousness activity. Don’t judge or censor. Don’t worry about whether it makes sense or not. Just get it down in writing.
You can do this all at once, or come back to it over a few days if needed. When you feel complete (for now) capture your list somewhere that you can return to during the year.
For example, if you’re a maternal health and wellness coach, you might list things like: how to sleep better late in pregnancy, how to cope with morning sickness, how to help siblings adjust to a newborn, how to still have romance, etc.
And you might have that on a page in your planner, on a poster on the wall, or in a tool like Evernote or Trello.
The list will be long, and will change over time.
Next, map out the year on a large sheet of paper such as a flip chart, or a big whiteboard, or even an 11×17 sketching pad.
Divide the space into four squares to represent each of the four quarters of the year.
Underneath the title for each square (Q1, Q2), divide each box into 3 months (January – March, April – June, etc.) And give yourself space to add plenty of notes.
Go back and study your (ever changing) idea list. Do you see how certain topics fall into natural categories? Make a list of all the themes you see.
Many topics could fit into more than one category, depending on how you set it up, so don’t get hung up here.
If this is overwhelming, play with it by writing topics on index cards or post-it notes, then moving them around to see where they fit together best.
Using our life coach coach example, broader themes could be all aspects of coping with pregnancy, adoption, grief and loss, relationships, parenting, self-care, etc.
Okay – this is where decisions start.
Looking at your themes, choose one area of focus for each of the four quarters. List that focus area on your chart as the ‘title’ for each quarter.
Our life coach, for example, could have something like this.
Q1: Physical Health
Q2: Emotional Health
Q3: Parenting Challenges
Q4: Family Fun.
Now, repeat that process by choosing a theme for each month that ties in to the focus for that quarter.
Working with the example in Step Four, that could look like this.
Q1: Physical Health
January: Preparing for Pregnancy
February: Development Phases / What to Expect
March: Coping with Changes
Just getting this far already gives you a plan for the year!
But let’s keep going.
Now we’re at the granular level, and you may switch to a format where you add this detail in place each month.
Choose 3-5 types of topics you will almost always address in some way, and list them as sub-categories by week.
For example, in my work, no matter the current topic, I try to relate it to money, marketing, systems, or mindset. No matter what I want to share with you, I almost always address those core issues one way or another.
You’re reading a post on the topic of blogging, from a systems perspective, for this month’s theme on planning.
Our life coach could always write about mind, body, spirit and relationships. Then, for example, for Physical Health in Q1, she could write about physical health and spirit, another on physical health and relationships, and so forth.
Still here? Good for you!
Only one step more. .
At the start of each month, review your content plan for the year. Based on your theme for the quarter and the month, create article topics or titles for each week, according to the type of topic you’ve assigned to that week.
Did I lose you?
No worries. I’ve got you covered.
I’ve uploaded a bonus template that is literally taken from the tool I created and use myself. When you click on the link below, you’ll see how all of this fits together.
AND you can save this to your own computer, and use it yourself. I’ve already set it up for you. All you have to do – is make decisions. :)
This isn’t an opt-in. You don’t have to do anything to get it. I just want you to have this so you can experience the clarity that planning can bring.
The planning may be a little daunting, but it is sooooo worth it in the end.
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