I recently began planning my ornament business with a marketing/editorial calendar. It’s not fancy…. it’s a $3 desk calendar from Walmart, with nice big pages and plenty of space to write.
Creating my yearly calendar has helped me insanely. It was one of those things that I balked at for the longest time because it sounded like way too much work (and a little scary!)…. but it’s helped me organize EVERY part of my business, which has in turn given me some peace of mind and freedom.
I found that when I wasn’t getting things done, it wasn’t because I didn’t know what I should be doing. It was because I didn’t really know exactly how I was going to do it. Yes, I knew I should be blogging as much as I could. Yet, I didn’t sit down once or twice a week and write a new post. That’s because I had no clue what I was actually going to write about from day to day. I just knew that I should.
“Should” unfortunately doesn’t get people very far.
That’s where having a plan of attack comes in. A plan for your business that lays it all out for you ahead of time.
Little side note: it took me 2 entire days to plan my calendar. As you read my steps below you might be like, heck NO. But, I can’t emphasize enough how much it has helped me. Not only have my sales increased like crazy, but the decrease in overwhelm is like a GIANT weight off my chest. Now when I spend a whole day just simply creating products, I don’t have this little nagging feeling of guilt about all the blogging, emailing, Facebook posting, and all that other crap I should be doing to actually sell that new stuff I’m making.
My calendar helps me organize:
- My Facebook posting
- My blog posting
- My email list broadcasts
- The products I create throughout the year
And the process of sitting down and creating the calendar is what helped me to figure out what all of those posts and content will actually be about… even when I had no clue before I sat down to begin.
I’m not really sure how this entire process came into my head. I had been praying for some clarity though, because as my business was growing more and more, I started feeling increasingly overwhelmed, and even a little out of control…. like if I wasn’t really careful, it was all going to go away in a big Poof! But, I sat down one day, and this is what came to me:
1. Create a list of topics for the entire year.
My products are based on seasons, occasions, holidays, etc, so I found an online calendar listing every major upcoming holiday (HERE is the one I used…. I like this one, because it also tells you how many days are left before each upcoming holiday, which is handy.)
(If you don’t base your products from seasons or holidays, just substitute with whatever you DO base your products and promotions on throughout the year.)
I went through and wrote down everything that could be applicable to my business. Just the act of doing this gave me even more ideas, too. For example, thinking about the holidays during the springtime months made me think about how that’s also a big time of the year for weddings. (My boyfriend has suddenly started hinting about wedding stuff a lot. Maybe he’s purposely trying to ingrain this in my mind.. and now it keeps coming out in my blog posts. ;))
I wrote down every theme and holiday and occasion at the top of whichever month it applied to in my calendar. So, on every page, I have a list of events & themes for that month.
2. Create a quick list of possible blog post topics for each month.
And, I do mean quick. This isn’t the time to think out every single post you’ll write all year. Just the few quick overall topics that pop into your head when you look at the list of themes you just created in the last step.
For example, for this coming July, the themes my promotions will be based on will be Independence Day, and also tropical, beach, vacation-y type stuff, etc. So, one post idea that would be great would be a list of 4th of July ornament ideas to inspire my readers, since I sell a lot of tutorials.
3. Take an inventory of your old blog posts.
Go through the blog posts you’ve already written on your blog, and find the ones that would help promote your themes for the months ahead.
Write those in a 3rd list at the top of each page of your calendar. (Now you know why I recommend a big desk calendar!).
Another example for July….. I wrote a post 2 or 3 years ago about making an ornament with seashells and sand. This is a perfect post to RE-promote during the month of July. Now it’s listed at the top of my calendar for July, so I can’t accidentally forget all about it when July rolls around.
(And yes, it is absolutely GREAT to re-share old posts. New visitors to your website or store will have never seen this stuff before. And older followers and customers will have likely forgotten all about those posts, or will be glad to be reminded of them.)
4. Create one last list, of product or blog pictures you already have in your archives.
These are older images and product photos, that you can re-share throughout each month, to supplement any new things you create for your promotions.
I spent quite a good bit of time and went through my old files on my computer, and I was AMAZED at how much I had that I could re-use. These were ornament pictures that have been sitting there in the dark, completely forgotten about, but that are perfect for engaging my visitors and customers, sharing on Facebook and Pinterest, and adding to new blog posts and email newsletters.
Let’s face it. Everyone is saying that you should be posting constantly on Facebook and Pinterest and Twitter and all of that…but it’s not like, as a business owner (who makes your own products!), you have a ton of extra time to continually create brand new marketing material for every single day.
Why let all that older stuff (that you’ve likely already spent a whole lot of time on) go to waste?
(Extra little tip: To make things even easier, copy all those old images that you plan to re-share, to a brand new file (organized by month) right on your desktop, so it will be easy to simply grab and go when that month comes around).
So, that was a pretty decent amount of time and work…. but now you have:
- Themes & occasions for every month of the year, to spark ideas for products, promotions, blog posts, and email newsletters. (< -- That alone is pretty awesome, right?)
- 3 or 4 possible blog post ideas for each month, a couple of them being new ones to write, and a couple of old ones to re-purpose.
- You have a list of images you can share throughout the month, to supplement any new product images you create.
- And, most importantly, you have a laid out plan for what topics you will be promoting each month for the whole year. You will know ahead of time, what new products to start working on, when to start promoting them, and a great idea of things you can post on social media as you go. You even have a file full of pictures that you can share on the days that you have nothing new to post.
You are in a great spot.
Now it’s time to fill in your calendar.
Decide which day (or days) each week you will post a new article on your blog. Decide which day you will send out an email newsletter to your subscribers. And, decide which days you want to make sure something is posted on Facebook.
Then, fill in each of these days using the lists you’ve written at the top of each month.
You’ll have blanks, and that’s fine. Those will get filled in with new ideas as they come to you.
Just to give you ideas, here’s what my schedule looks like:
- New posts get scheduled for Mondays.
- On Tuesday, I share the post (whether it’s a new post, or a re-purposed one) on Fb, and I write an email newsletter about it.
- I have Facebook posts written into my calendar for Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. (And, if I have a really productive month with lots more to share, I fill in the other days with Facebook posts, too.)
Sounds like a lot, right? You won’t believe how easy it is to get all of these things done when they are planned out in your calendar.
And the best part is that these are the things that will bring you the sales.
From here, there is more you can do (if you aren’t too exhausted.)
You can start pre-writing your blog posts, and scheduling them to publish automatically on your blog (if you’re using WordPress).
You can pre-write your weekly email list broadcasts, based on those posts, and schedule them to go out automatically.
You can pre-schedule Facebook posts of all those older images you’d like to share throughout the year.
Think about it….with all this marketing stuff out of the way, you can spend your time creating your products and coming up with new ideas, without the stress and overwhelm that happens when you’re thinking about all the blogging, emailing, and social media stuff you should be doing.
You’ll actually be getting these things done.