Are you struggling to get back into the swing of telling your business story?
Feeling a bit baffled by the juxtaposition of creativity with structure in the title of this blog? I don’t blame you, I too tend to think of creativity as being more free-form and free flowing. But when you’ve been taking a break from those creative tasks / feel like you’ve lost your mojo a bit / are drawing a blank when it comes to getting started, sometimes a little structure can be incredibly helpful. That’s why, if you are feeling a bit lack lustre about telling your business story right now, I recommend starting a content calendar. In this blog post, you’ll find out what a content calendar REALLY is, how you can start one and why this tool could be key to reclaiming your storytelling mojo.
What is a content calendar?
Firstly, let’s talk about what a content calendar ISN’T. A content calendar is not:
- Set in stone
- Something for you to beat yourself up with
- Another chore for your to do list
- A complicated, technical nightmare
A content calendar is quite simply, a plan for all your messaging. But it’s a plan that you can look at regularly, update and take the pressure off yourself with. It’s flexible, specific to your business and will empower you to spend your time on (rather than in) your business more effectively. There’s nothing worse than having a couple of great months in your business / time off for the school holidays where you’re too busy to sit down and craft conscious messages for your future clients and then finding that you have no incoming clients at the end of it.
And then you have to scrabble around in your less than relaxed brain for something valuable to say in emails, blogs or social media posts. So then perhaps you leave it to one side “until inspiration strikes naturally” and a month or two goes by and you’re still stuck and now self doubt starts creeping in. With a content calendar in place, you can get things flowing again and feel at ease about diving back into “selling” without the ick.
How to start a content calendar
Starting a content calendar is easy; all you need is a spreadsheet and a dedicated chunk of quiet time. Yes, I AM talking about a spreadsheet in a blog post about creativity. Believe me, I’m just as surprised as you are – I am far from being Spreadsheet Girl. And if you’re quietly over there rolling your eyes and telling me “yeah, that’s great Lea, but TIME is my biggest issue”, hang in there, because that dedicated chunk of time is a small upfront investment that WILL save you time later. It’s also not necessarily a big investment; an hour or 2 could be all you need. Personally, I keep my marketing fairly minimal; 1 email newsletter per week, 2-3 LinkedIn posts per week, 1 blog post per month, a bit of Pinterest and my content calendar takes around 1-2 hours to smash out and all of the content within it flows out so much more smoothly than it would without that investment.
This spreadsheet will be your go-to when you are:
- Swamped with client work and need a quick content fix.
- Returning to marketing your business after taking your foot off the gas for a while.
- Worried you’ve been harping on about the same thing too much.
- Struggling with showing up consistently.
- Promoting multiple offerings at the same time – whether that be blogs, events or services.
This is something that really does work – I actually just used this tool myself to get back in the swing of things after taking a bit of a break from marketing my own business over the summer.
You can set up your document to suit you, but some of the key fields I use for my own calendar include: Audience (who is it for), Theme / Content Pillar (what do they need), Channel (where is it going), Messaging (how can you help). Having this guide structure to follow and some key prompts can help you to reclaim your marketing mojo.
How having a content calendar helps
- Having a content calendar takes a lot of the pressure off when your brain is likely to struggle most with “content creation” by giving you a flow and some prompts to follow. This means you are also more likely to be able to show up consistently.
- Your content calendar will help you to balance your messaging so that you speak to all of your ideal clients’ needs over time – rather than garbled messages all at once. It will also help you to space out your sales messages in a more natural way and be confident that you are telling people how you can help AND giving lots of value.
- You can maximise content creation time by repurposing content. That means you can do more with less: turn your email into a blog post and then break that blog post up into 5 different social media posts. This is much easier to do well with a content calendar than off the top of your head.
In short, a content calendar can help you get clear on your messaging, reduce the overwhelm and get your creativity flowing again after a dry spell.