Every year, the Content Marketing Institute produces a report that broadly outlines what sets successful marketers apart from those who are less successful.
This year (and nearly every year previously, TBH) the report showed that four out of five top performers use an editorial calendar. Only half of the least successful marketers surveyed do.
And four out of five successful content marketers can’t be wrong!
But here’s the thing: you’re a solo-entrepreneur, and you’re not a marketer. Not by profession, anyway.
And you don’t want to be counted as one of those “least successful” marketers.
So what do you do?
In my experience, one of two things:
- You decide to wing it. You post whatever you post, whenever you post it and hope that’s good enough.
- You go looking for some guidance and probably download an editorial calendar template (maybe even mine) and maybe even fill it out, but it doesn’t stick.
Here’s the reason: you need a system.
The difference between an editorial calendar template and a content system
A template is not a system; a template is just a tool.
A system would help you determine WHAT to write about instead of just giving you a place to organize it.
A system would provide you with a way to make strategic decisions about what topics to publish WHEN for the most impact.
A system would give you a framework that would help you create content that would lead people through the customer journey towards a sale.
An editorial calendar template just gives you a place to write all that info down.
The difference between a system and a schedule
The difference between a schedule (like posting once a week, or posting every Monday and Wednesday) and a content system is profound.
When I first started blogging, I had a schedule I tried to stick to, posting every Monday and Wednesday, or whatever, and at first, that worked just fine.
Then, there was one day that I forgot (read: procrastinated) to write my blog post until the night before, so I was up late pounding something out. And maybe it wasn’t my best work ever, but it was a post, right? I was sticking to the schedule.
Then came the day that I forgot (err… procrastinated) to write my blog post until the DAY it was supposed to go up! So there I am, Monday morning, trying desperately to come up with something to say while my daughter’s still running around in her pajamas, and I’m typing, and trying to answer her questions, and trying to come around to an actual point with the blog post, and trying to keep her from coloring on the walls, and no, you may not have “just one show,” well, OK, maybe just one show while mommy works, which turned into two or three shows, and WHEW! Got that sucker posted by noon. But it’s OK, because I stuck to my schedule, right?
Then there was the week that I didn’t stick to my schedule, because life got in the way, or I wasn’t inspired, or I was just too busy with other stuff. And that week turned into two weeks… And then three weeks… And then it turned out that I’d only posted twice in the last two month. Oops?
With a system, you’ve done the work to pre-select a topic strategically. You still have to schedule the time to write, but when you sit down to work, you don’t have to waste time wondering what you should be writing about.
You don’t have to wonder if the topic you write about is going to actually support your business, because the system has already figured it out.
When you put in the effort up front to brainstorm those ideas, plan out your sales strategies, figure out why you’re blogging and to whom, you’ve always got that cushion for the days when inspiration is on vacation.
Build your content marketing plan strategically
Hey, I run a business myself. I have a team, but for the most part, I’m the one wearing multiple hats where my business is concerned, including: CEO, CMO, CIO, CFO, and probably a lot of other acronyms. The point is, I don’t have access to a huge team to help me do my content marketing — but that doesn’t let me off the hook for doing it.
Yet, I’ve got a zillion other things to be doing, just like you do.
So what’s a small business owner to do?
Make a plan.
Sometimes I feel like a broken record, but the only way to make this stuff work for you is with a plan. You have to have a strategy for how you’re going to make it all happen, and it doesn’t have to involve hours and hours of work!
In a few weeks, I’ll be opening the doors to Content Intelligence Academy again — with some new information (and fun bonuses). CIA is my answer to how to build a content marketing system that will work for YOU. So if this blog post spoke to you, watch your email for the announcement!