When the end of the year is hurtling towards us at a rate of knots, it’s hard to find time to plan, let alone review and plan. We all feel that we should really be creating content plans, and content, ready for next year.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of planning. I just fail to live up to my own intentions at times. Sometimes at this time of year though I think it’s really easy to hurtle into populating a plan and get busy producing and writing content.
Time to review and plan, not just plan. Before you get started, I would say there are five things you should consider doing first:
Number 1: Remember where you started
If you’ve been creating content all year, and trying to increase your subscribers and customers, then it’s worth just reminding yourself where you started from. It might feel like you haven’t made much progress when you are reflecting on new subscribers or customers every day or week.
Just take a moment and go back and look at how many there were on January 1st.
For example, I know my list growth has been a little static in recent months, but I’ve been busy with client work so not able to do the same amount of proactive marketing. But when I compare back to the start of the year, then the list has grown by 50%. Okay, it’s from a small starting point but it’s good to remember that it is moving in right direction.
Number 2: Interrogate your analytics
I believe you have to be looking at your analytics on a regular basis, but with a health warning. Look at your analytics and see which was your best performing content for the year.
Take your top 10 pieces.
Are there common themes between them? Could you do create more content like them in 2019?
But before you do that, have a check in on what the results were of those posts were. What’s the bounce rate like? Did you encourage people to move to other content on your site? Did they sign up for your newsletter? Now, those are the posts you really want to consider as contenders for inspiring new content on a similar theme, even if they ranked a bit further down in terms of traffic.
Then there’s just one more thing I want you to assess them for: do they tell the story of your brand, in the way you want it to be told. If they were successful, but not telling your story, and not bringing your tribe to you, then don’t do it.
Go back to basics.
See number 3.
Number 3: Remember your brand story
I’m a storyteller. I know it says freelance writer, but my job is to help businesses tell the story of what they do in a way that grabs the attention, and hearts, of their tribe. Your story can turn a business into a brand. That means it’s valued over and above just what’s in your trading numbers.
People love brands, they rarely love businesses. And who doesn’t want to be loved?
So go back to your story, and make sure that the key aspects of your story are coming through in your content. Not sure on your story? I’ve got a few posts that might give you some starting points, like how your business story can be like Star Wars. And the key question to ask is what’s the real value of your brand story? The best stories turn into legends. And healthy looking accounts.
Number 4: What did you enjoy and what was tedious?
You know that old saying “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”? To me, you can apply the same to creating content.
If you love styling the perfect shot for Instagram, or writing a blog post, or creating a video, then they won’t necessarily feel like work.
And if you don’t like doing it, then it’ll be a real effort. You’ll probably put it off. When you do get round to starting then it’ll take what feels like forever. And what you produce isn’t necessarily going to be the best reflection of your business and what you do.
So stop doing it.
Don’t try to do everything, do one or two things really well. Or if those channels that you don’t enjoy creating for are where your customers are, then think about whether it’s time to get someone else to do it for you.
Number 5: What did your customers enjoy?
I talked about this a bit in point 2, but you need to think about what your customers, or potential ones, got out of your content. What got the best conversations going between you and them? And also where? Did you have conversations on Twitter off the back of some new content elsewhere?
Did your Instagram photo link to anything else you were doing?
Sometimes the answer is the best interaction comes from the stuff that just shows your human side. I think that is such a huge advantage that smaller businesses have over the big ones. I also think it’s one of the things that will make people choose you. It might be the thing that keep you somewhere in people’s minds.
For example, people can read all about my writing and marketing experience, but if they follow me on Instagram they might know that I’m the writer that loves cake, beaches, tea and gin. May be absolutely irrelevant to them. But ultimately people do business with people. And I only work with people who like gin.
No, I’m kidding.
But you don’t have to be for everyone. And showing your personality, your story, is key. The people who enjoy and interact with that are your tribe. Do more things that they appreciate.
So, I would have a think about these 5 things, and what that means for how you approach creating content for your business in 2019. I know there’s that phrase about not looking backwards, but equally I’m a great believe that the time given to review and plan will give you greater clarity than just planning on its own. When you’re clear on these things, then you can start to really get into the planning part. You might want to think about what the right publishing timetable is for you and your business, and I’ve got some pointers for you in this post.
What was your biggest learning in 2018? And where will you focus your efforts in 2019?