Sweet, succulent progress.
There's nothing greater in a solopreneur business than getting one step (or leap) closer to your end-goal.
Then, setting another and plowing through to your own version of success.
But, as a business coach I've seen that far too many entrepreneurs get hung up by the systems they're using.
Whether there's a major learning curve or they're slightly addicted to change (I get it, I do)—there always seems to be an unnecessary hiccup to slow progress.
Especially as an entrepreneur looking to advance your business, you know content is king in the kingdom of growth.
So, what are you doing about it?
Start here. Because if you're looking to increase your business's progress online (and monitor it—as another key to growth), then this is the post you're looking for.
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Read on to get the 6 things you should implement in your online business right now.
1. Access Content Development Resources And Tools
The tools you use can define your content (and business).
Between reliability, your productivity, your preferred organizing method and more—the tools you use can determine the dependability of your business.
Having a tool you can rely on to make you look good—even when you're not firing on all cylinders—is beyond important.
So, what do you use to develop your content? To share it? To promote it?
Think about the things like:
- what blog platform will you use?
- what analytics tool will you use?
- what design tools?
- what content exploration tools?
- what post writing tools?
- what distribution tools and channels?
- what communities?
- what PR?
- what passwords or login storage?
PROGRESS TIP: Make or use a list of tools (tasks, content, etc.) for quick referencing.
Even if you'll start with one tool and plan to transition to another later, implement a working (or rolling) list can remove the stress of going back to try and figure out, "now, what tool did that lady suggest, again".
(It makes life a whole lot easier.)
2. Utilize Content Mapping
What is content mapping?
(I'm glad you asked!)
Basically, content mapping is creating a roadmap using 1 or more main ideas (or macro ideas) and spawning numerous other topic ideas from that macro idea.
EXAMPLE: Let's say you're going to have makeup tutorials as a blog or video blog (vlog) category.
Write down "makeup tutorials" on a piece of paper.
Set a timer for 25 minutes, and brainstorm all the the topics you can think of that correlate with makeup tutorials.
When the timer goes off, stop.
You can always take a 5-minute break and do another round of 25-minute brainstorming if one round wasn't enough time.
Anyhow, let's say within the first timeframe, you came up with 8 topic ideas:
- smokey eyeshadow application techniques
- flawless foundation tips
- bronzer application techniques
- to blush or not to blush
- picking the right shades for your skin tone
- lip colors for your skin tone
- highlighting for your face shape
- skin care tips for better makeup application
You're happy with your initial 8 topic ideas so you move on.
Each one of your brainstormed ideas will become  months worth of blog content.
By doing the same exact mapping technique you just did to wrangle the base topics out of you.
This mapping method (although I'm pretty sure I didn't invent it—but if I did, Woohoo!) is my ideal way to create everything for Goff Creative.
I even used it to help my oldest daughter on her end of the school year project (which she totally kicked ass with, by the way—just saying).
So, try it.
See how it works for you and let me know.
PROGRESS TIP: After you're done with all the mapping, you can use this method to brainstorm each individual blog post, too.
This mapping method is exactly how I "pre-write" for up to 2 months ahead so I'm never caught without content to publish when I need it.
To use this method for blog post brainstorming, simply take your working title or topic idea and break it down the same way.
You can then create all the headlines and subheads inside your posts. Then break those down by summarizing or bullet-ing what to write within each head.
CREATE BLOG POSTS THAT GET READ, SHARED, AND SUBSCRIBED TO
Learn everything you need to know to write better, smarter, more audience-driven content in 90 minutes.
3. Create A 12x12 Content Plan
A method of planning I've used for about 3 years now.
I hate to admit that I've chased so many "new methods" or ideas that I tend to change things up more than I (probably) should.
But when something just works, I don't mess with it.
That's where the Mapping Method and my 12X12 Method never fail me. Because they always work.
Okay, so what's the 12X12 Method?
Simply put, it's planning 12 months in advance.
12 months of content, projects, and even client work if you're in a service-based niche.
Although you may find that tedious, picture how much simpler your business (and life) will be to manage when you know what to do next.
(Tentatively, of course.)
Because as wonderful as it is to have a whole 12 months planned out, you won't stick to it if your whole system breaks with 1 or 2 hiccups along the way.
4. Never Leave Your Email Marketing Plan On The Back Burner
(I hate to admit that I did this...)
All the blog content for 12 whole months was planned, then all of a sudden the weekly emails were due and I'd be scrambling to come up with something to send to my email list.
I don't recommend doing that.
Because, as you may already know, your email list is key to building and nurturing those rock-solid customer relationships.
Just like your blog content needs a plan, your email marketing does too.
My practice for email marketing follows along with the tentative scheduling and planning.
EXAMPLE: I map out 12 months of blog content—generally—using sticky notes and the double-paged content map in the Content Strategy Planner (we'll call it the CSP).
Then, I also implement the 1x1x3 Method covered in a previous post.
To summarize, it stands for planning week-by-week (1x), month-to-month (1x), and quarterly (3).
Using the blog content map, I take each quarter and set a specific goal.
Then, in my CSP I add the upcoming (or present) quarter's content themes or series derived from that quarterly goal.
Following that, I'll take the present or upcoming month and definitively assign a publish date to each piece of blog content derived from that month's theme or series idea.
EXAMPLE: I publish all new content on Tuesdays. And project launches on Tuesdays or Thursdays.
So, I use different colored Post-It Rolls (tape) to define the blog posts and then all projects.
I'm giving everything a due date month-by-month then detailing week-by-week within each quarter.
In a nutshell, this 1x1x3 Method is taking a tentative content plan for the 12-month period and solidifying each quarter's goal.
(And only a definitive plan for the present quarter. The rest of the year remains tentative—because you never know what's going to happen, change, or simply take precedence.)
Then, take that set quarterly plan and break the 3 months down into more detail.
And lastly, take the upcoming month and break that baby down into thorough details.
Okay, so where does the email marketing part come in?
Depending on what you're going to send to your email list and post on social media, you can set up a schedule in a spreadsheet or in your planner and highlight what you want to offer your audience each week to ensure that they're being well taken care of.
5. Always Have A Ready-To-Go Editorial Plan
When will you publish your content?
It's all fine and dandy to know what you're going to produce and post, but there are a few more details than just the "what" in regard to your content.
That's where your editorial (content) plan comes in.
It doesn't have to be a super-massive spreadsheet or a confusing app that doesn't work with your blog platform.
It can be as simple as a clarifying on a sheet of paper or a paper planner.
No added distractions, no social media prompts—just you and the page. (Okay, and a pen too.)
So, now that you've got all the what recorded for your content plan, it's time to solidify your when, where, and how.
And that's where the 6th thing comes in...
6. Never Stop Tracking And Recording Opportunities
Everything you've built needs a system to manage it.
Whether you choose a digital planner, a digital calendar, a dry erase board system or a paper planning system—it really comes down to follow-through and action.
No matter how many systems you have, if you're not using them, you're wasting time and money.
I can tell you that I've spent far too much time and money buying dry erase boards and digital organizers and paper systems just to be let down again and again.
So, I decided to put the work in, make adjustments, test, and get groups of professionals to test with me.
And from all that, I built planners and spreadsheets for content creators and everyday entrepreneurs.
Because when it comes down to it, the mobile entrepreneur and the desk-bound entrepreneur both benefit from a paper system designed just for you.
So, where will you organize your tracking, planning, and opportunities record?
I've worked hard to bring together a strong system for the paper-loving content creator.
And now I'm officially sharing it with you:
Imagine the clarity in knowing exactly what you're going to publish, when you're going to publish it, and what and how you're going to promote it every single month.
Picture this. You're sitting in front of your computer, outstretched fingers across the keyboard.
But this time, you're not contemplating what to write about.
This time you're clear on the plan.
You just focus on the action.