How to plan your marketing content for 2018 – a free template!

Did you start January with the best of intentions? Was 2018 the year you were going to get your website and social media organised, develop a strategy and act on it? Did managing your business and your real life slowly take over, and the next thing you knew, it was 1st February, and things hadn’t quite gone to plan? 

If that describes you, don’t worry. Everyone knows that having a carefully planned marketing strategy is an effective way to stay on top of things. But it doesn’t always work (that’s why people hire freelancers like me!)

While I was finishing off a 2018 content calendar for a client, I realised how hard it must be for business owners to find the time to create one for their business. So, I decided to be charitable and give free access to mine. It’s a simple Excel document, with a sheet for each month. It lists all the key holidays, awareness days and events relevant to Northern Ireland, the UK and Ireland in 2018. It has columns where you can plan out your social media posts, email campaigns and blog posts. There are prompts for thinking about what keywords you want to include (providing you are clued into your SEO), calls to action and a status tab for noting whether everything is ready to go.

Open in Google Docs here – Content Calander 2018 template

Download the Excel version here – 2018 Content Calendar Template

How can a content calendar help your business?

Have you ever sat down at your laptop to work on your digital marketing and realised that you have absolutely no idea what you want to say? That you don’t have any images prepared? You can’t come up with an effective story to make your promotion more interesting? It’s easy to fall into the trap of using social media to simply broadcast about your latest offers and tell people how great you think your business is. But, this isn’t a good approach. People will simply scroll past, and actually, Facebook probably won’t even show your posts anymore.

The best thing that any business with an online presence can do, is spending a few hours planning out their content on a monthly basis. Look ahead and work out if you want to take advantage of any key holidays or events, and plan your campaign in advance.

Being aware of important holidays and national awareness days can spark content ideas that are relevant, and help grow your engagement on your social channels and blog. Think about any unique perspectives that you might have. If you think creatively, you can piggyback on these events to reach a new audience and even gain some PR coverage. At the very least, it will stop your content from feeling stale and give you new ways to engage with your audience.

How to do use this content calendar

  1. Download the content calendar and save it to your computer, or save to your Google Drive.  Change or edit any of the column headings to suit your business.
  2. Start to think about what your business goals are for the year. Any new product launches you have planned, events you are attending or things that you would like to achieve. Add these dates to the calendar.
  3. The next step is to get detailed. Start composing the titles of your blog posts and coming up with ideas for PR activity. Plan your social media posts for these events. Look at the gaps – have you anything you want to promote?

Don’t let it overwhelm you!

One of the biggest challenges in running an online business is being consistent with your online marketing. Planning it out like this gives you the benefit of having a ‘long view’ and the time to be creative. There are ways that you can maximise your current content, by repurposing popular posts. You can add all your posts to a social media scheduler, like Hootsuite or Facebook Publisher, to make sure that you have something planned each week.

Don’t forget that it’s also important to be aware of new and trending topics within your industry, so you can react to them and be topical. Sometimes you plan may need to change due to current affairs, and you need to be aware of what you have scheduled each week so that it doesn’t attract the wrong publicity.

There are lots of ways to use the content calendar to make keeping on top of your social media, blogs, emails and website content, and I will look at these in a later post. I create content for businesses all the time, so if you would like help in developing your content for 2018, just get in touch!

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