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The Perpetual Content Calendar: A 3-Step Framework to Generate Content with a Lean Team

This post was originally published on this site

Content.

You know it’s important.

And you know you need to create it.

But content can be so… well… time-consuming. Especially at scale.

I mean, there are just so many platforms out there that demand consistent content:

  • Blogs
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • Podcasts
  • Gated content

And within each of those platforms there are multiple content types:

  • Text
  • Video
  • Photo
  • Audio

Now, creating all these different pieces of content for all of these different platforms might not be a problem for a huge company with a giant team of people dedicated solely to content creation. But what about the rest of us?

What’s a small, lean team to do?

Is there a way to pump out more content—good content, mind you—without spending every waking hour sitting at the keyboard, staring into a microphone, or standing in front of a camera?

Well, I’m here to tell you that there is. And as you’ve probably guessed, I’m going to share it with you.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a 3-step system you can use to efficiently develop consistent, high-quality content with a lean team.

Here’s how it works.

The 3-Step Perpetual Content Process

Since I have developed content campaigns for companies like Netflix, Shell Oil Company, ESPN, and X-Games and produced 40+ blog posts and 30+ social media posts every single day with the team at theCHIVE, I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact of producing content at scale. But, when it comes to working with a smaller team and trying to maintain a content producing machine, I’ve had to get creative.

Enter the 3-Step Perpetual Content Process.

Here’s a quick overview of how it works:

Start with the questions your customers are already asking.

  • Ideation: Regularly come up with good content ideas and topics that resonate with your audience.
  • Production: Once you have a list of topics, you turn those ideas into great pieces of content.
  • Splintering: This is my favorite part of this system. It’s the process of taking 1 great piece of content and turning it into multiple different assets that you can leverage on all your different content platforms.

Sound good? Then let’s get started!

Step 1: Ideation

The first step in content creation is to decide what topics you’re going to cover. So how do you figure this out?

A lot of people get overwhelmed at this stage. They don’t even know where to start. But it’s pretty simple when you follow this 3-step process:

  • Find out what questions people are asking in your industry.
  • Break each question down into multiple topics.
  • Turn each topic into a headline.

Now let’s go through each of those steps in more detail.

1) Find out what questions people are asking in your industry.

Want to know the trick to coming up with great content ideas quickly & easily?

Start with the questions your customers are already asking.

And as long as you know where to look, that’s really easy to do.

Here are the places I go to find out what my customers are asking. I recommend bookmarking these sites and checking them regularly to keep your finger on the pulse of your market.

  • Quora: This is a great place to find real questions being asked by real people. The questions are sorted by topic, making it easy for you to find the questions that are relevant to your business. This is a fantastic place to find out what kind of problems your target market is having right now.
  • Reddit: Reddit is one of the biggest sites on the internet, and it’s packed with highly engaged subcommunities (called sub-reddits) of people who are interested in a wide variety of different topics. Another great resource.
  • Facebook groups: These days, there’s a Facebook group for just about any interest you can think of—from digital marketing to Harry Potter fan fiction and much, much more. So, find and join a few groups that are relevant to your business. You’ll get instant access to insightful conversations taking place among your audience.
  • Ask your real customers: This one seems obvious, but it’s so obvious that it’s easy to forget. You already have access to a group of people in your industry… your customers! So reach out to them. Have conversations—whether it’s an email, a poll, a survey, whatever. Find out what’s on their mind and what they’d like to know.

Those are great places to find out what kind of questions people are asking in your industry. And there’s one more tool that I recommend using in conjunction with those sources—and that’s a keyword planner.

Using a keyword planner (like The Google Ads Keyword Planner, which is free with a Google Ads account), you can find the search volume for the questions that you discovered above. It will generate a report like this, which can give you an idea of approximately how many searches are being performed every month for your various search terms:

number of searches on keywords

In this example you can see that “weight loss diet” has the most searches of the 3 keywords we’re researching.

You can also use the Google Ads Keyword Planner to find new keyword ideas that are related to your existing keywords. Just click “Keyword Ideas” and it will give you some additional ideas:

keyword ideas

So once you get a list of relevant blog topics from the sources above, it’s a good idea to do a little keyword research to find out which questions are being asked most often. That way, you can prioritize your content creation to start with the highest-volume questions first.

2) Break each question down into multiple topics.

OK, so at this point, you have a list of questions—things your customers want to know. But one thing you’ll notice at this stage is that each question in your list can lead to multiple content topics.

A question about how to get more B vitamins, for example, can lead to all sorts of content topics: symptoms of vitamin B deficiency, why B vitamins are important, recipes that are high in vitamin B, and so on.

So the next thing I do is take my list of questions and break them down into as many potential content ideas as I can think of. And when I’m done with that, I move on to…

3) Turn each topic into a headline.

Now you have a list of specific content topics. The last thing you need to do is take these topics and convert them into headlines. The headline is going to be the title of your content, the thing people see when it shows up on Facebook or in Google’s search results.

Some people may be wondering: why do you need to write the headline first? Can’t you write the content first, and then give it a headline later?

Well, technically you can. But I recommend writing the headline first, and doing it yourself, for a couple reasons:

  • A good headline will give your content a “hook,” something that makes it interesting. Knowing your hook up-front can help you to create better, more interesting content.
  • The headline is the most important part of your article, so it’s worth taking the time to make it a good one.
  • If you’re outsourcing the blog-writing process to a ghostwriter, having a good headline for them can help ensure that they know exactly what kind of article you want them to write.

When you’re going through this process, keep in mind it’s important to have your headlines speak to a desired end result. Think about what the person wants to have happen. That is what you want to talk about in your headlines.

(RELATED: Want More Traffic From Google? Use these 5 Blog Post Headline Templates)

And whatever you do, don’t write about yourself here. Instead, try to think about each topic from your ideal prospect’s point of view: how do they feel about it? What problems are they having? What do they want to know?

Now before we move on to step 2, let’s walk through an example of step 1 so you can see how this works in practice.

Step 1 Example

For the examples in this post, let’s imagine we own a vegan dinner subscription service, like BlueApron for the vegan industry.

We want to create content that is going to appeal to our target market—vegans who might want to subscribe to our service.

1) Find out what questions people are asking in your industry.

The first thing I would do is Google “Vegan Questions Reddit.” And right at the top of the results, there’s a super-relevant subreddit called AskVegans:

Search for Vegan questions Reddit

Click on that link and immediately you’ll find all kinds of questions people are asking about the vegan diet:

Reddit results for vegan questions

The very top question is about how to get enough vitamin B12 as a vegan. Right there is a great topic to create content around.

2) Break each question down into multiple topics.

The next step is to turn that question into multiple topics. Just brainstorm as many relevant topics as you can think of. Here are a few examples:

  • Where to get vitamin B12
  • Why B12 is important
  • What can happen if you don’t get enough B12
  • Vegan recipes you can make to get enough more B12
  • Whether it’s better to get B12 with supplements or with food

3) Turn each topic into a headline.

And finally, we want to turn each of those topics into a headline. Here are some examples of headlines I might create based on those topics:

  • What is Vitamin B12, and Why Do We Need It?
  • 7 Foods Rich in B12 for a Healthy Vegan Diet
  • How to Incorporate B12 into Your Vegan Diet
  • What Happens to Your Body When You’re Deficient in B12
  • 15 Vegan Recipes Full of Vitamin B12

And voila! Here you can see we’ve taken 1 question and turned it into 5 new content ideas. Each of these headlines would make a great post for our vegan meal subscription service.

Step 2: Production

OK, at this point we have a list of great ideas for new content pieces.

Now let’s turn those ideas into some real pieces of content!

The process I follow, and that I recommend to others, is to start with a video first. Then, turn that video into a blog post.

If you follow this process, you’ll be able to quickly and easily splinter those 2 pieces of content into all sorts of content assets in step 3.

So first things first: create a video.

(RELATED: How to Create a Video Studio on a Shoestring Budget)

How to Create Your Video

Start with a video first. Then, turn that video into a blog post.

Now some people might be intimidated at this prospect. Isn’t video hard?

Actually, no. Video doesn’t have to be hard at all.

Keep in mind this does NOT have to be some elaborately produced video with special effects, music, voiceovers, and animations. All you really need is a computer with a microphone and some screen-capturing software like Camtasia (for PCs) or ScreenFlow (for Macs).

If you have those 2 things, then all you have to do is (1) create a slide deck on your topic. And then (2) sit down in front of your mic, start recording your screen, and talk about the topic while you go through the deck.

(I’ve found that 45 minutes is the sweet spot for these kinds of videos.)

After all, you’re a marketer. You’re well-versed in your industry. And I’m willing to bet that you’re perfectly capable of sitting down and talking about the topics that are relevant to your business.

Trust me, it’s easier than it sounds. Just try it. Remember, if you slip up along the way you can always start over or edit out your mistakes.

(NOTE: Struggling to create shareable content quickly? Get the Perfect Blog Post Template. You can use it to create viral blog posts fast, without ever having to “write” a single line of text. Check it out here.)

Perfect Blog Post Template

How to Create Your Blog Post

Now that your video is created, turning it into a blog post is easy:

Just send that video to a ghostwriter and let them do it.

Let me put something in perspective here. I’m the Director of Content for DigitalMarketer. I really know my stuff when it comes to content marketing.

But I’m not the best writer in the world!

And that’s OK. Because writing isn’t my job. And truth be told, even if I was a fantastic writer—even if you’re a fantastic writer—writing takes time. Time that would probably be better spent doing something else.

So that’s why we use ghostwriters.

It’s easy to do. First head over to Upwork. This is a GREAT place to find freelancers—writers, proofreaders, video editors, and so on. And just search for “ghostwriting”:

Upwork results for Ghostwriter

There are all kinds of options here for you, so you’re sure to be able to find a good writer who fits in your budget.

(My recommendation, BTW, is to pay about $250 for an average 2,000-word post. That’s enough to attract a good writer, but not so much that it’s prohibitively expensive. Trust me, $250/post is a loooot cheaper than hiring a full-time content writer of your own.)

(RELATED: How to Find Writers to Consistently Produce Click-Worthy Content for Your Blog) 

If you follow this process, then you’ll have 2 pieces of high-quality content: 1 video and 1 blog post. Now it’s time to move on to step 3. This is where the magic really happens.

But first, let’s go through some examples.

Step 2 Example

This example is going to get a little meta, but it’s the best way to show you an example of how to produce your blog post from a video. This blog post itself was created based off of a 50-minute video webinar that I recorded. Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick clip from that webinar:

To turn that video into a blog post, I took the recording and sent it off to have this post ghostwritten on my behalf.

Sound familiar?

This saved me time and made sure that the blog post has a high level of quality. And it will do the same for your blog posts.

Step 3: Splintering

If you’re not familiar with the term splintering, basically it’s the process of breaking bits and pieces off of your existing content and sharing them through your distribution channels.

In other words, it’s where you turn 1 piece of content into many pieces of content. And we’re going to do this for both your video and your blog.

How to Splinter Your Video

You know that 45-minute video you made? Here’s what you want to do with it:

  • Splinter the video into a blog post. (You already did this in step 2.)
  • Use the video as a piece of content itself—I recommend using it as a gated webinar to collect leads.
  • Cut up the video into enticing clips for social media.

In other words, if people want to watch the entire video, then can—for free! They’ll just have to opt-in to get it. (Helping you to grow your email list.)

And in the meantime, you can post bits and pieces of that video on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, etc.

How to Splinter Your Blog Post

Your next step is to splinter your blog. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Read through your blog and identify any important quotes. This could be any insightful sentence or phrase—basically, you’re finding all your quotable moments.
  • Next, identify any interesting statistics or important numbers that are cited in your blog.
  • Finally, identify any important lists or processes that are explained in your post. This could be a step-by-step guide, a list of items or ideas, anything like that.

Now you just need to take these things (your quotes, statistics, and lists/processes) and turn them into social media images using Adobe Spark or Canva.

I really like Adobe Spark for this—it’s super easy to use and only costs about $10/month. Canva takes a little more work but is 100% free, so that’s another great option.

Now, let’s see how this splintering process works with a few examples.

Step 3 Example

OK, let’s imagine that the 45-minute video we created was on the topic of vitamin B12. How would we splinter that?

Well, we’d watch through the entire video and pay attention for anything that could make a good self-contained clip on a certain topic. For example, maybe we discover…

  • A 3-minute segment on the best natural foods to get B12
  • A 5-minute segment talking about your favorite B12 supplement
  • A 2-minute segment explaining your favorite vegan recipe that’s high in B12

Just use your video editing software to turn each of those little clips into a separate video. Then post them on your distribution channels. Short videos like this (say 1-5 minutes) tend to work really well, because they’re short enough that people can stop and watch on a whim, but they’re long enough to have some meaty content.

And next, here’s an example of the blog-splintering process in action. The image on the left here is the headline of a blog post (which we created based on a video presentation). We then read through that post, pulled out the best quotes, stats, and lists, and used those things to create 5 images that we shared on social media:

social media images from blog

Cool, huh?

These kinds of images tend to do really well on social media because they’re visually bold, they stand out in a newsfeed, and they contain 1 punchy message.

And using Adobe Spark I was able to create these decent-looking images in less than 15 minutes.

Next: Create Your Content Calendar

Now’s a good time to stop and take a look at what you’ve accomplished.

You sat down and created 1 piece of content—a 45-minute video where you just chatted about a topic that you’re already well-versed on.

From there, you outsourced a blog post and then splintered each of those assets into several smaller chunks of shareable content.

Maybe you ended up with 3 splinter videos and 5 social media images in addition to the blog and video itself. Resulting in 10 total pieces of content for you to publish and post:

10 pieces of content

You’re almost there—but you’re not quite done yet.

The next thing you’ll want to do is schedule these content pieces on a content calendar (we use SproutSocial for this, but you can also use Buffer, or even the built-in schedulers in the platform itself).

Basically, you’re deciding ahead of time when you’re going to share each individual asset.

This way, you can spread out how often you are posting content related to this 1 topic. Here’s what your calendar might look like:

an example of a content calendar

The coolest thing is that all these social media posts originated from ONE piece of content that only took you 45 minutes to record.

It’s a really powerful system you can leverage to create the maximum amount of high-quality content in a minimal amount of time.

(NOTE: Struggling to create shareable content quickly? Get the Perfect Blog Post Template. You can use it to create viral blog posts fast, without ever having to “write” a single line of text. Check it out here.)

Perfect Blog Post Template

The post The Perpetual Content Calendar: A 3-Step Framework to Generate Content with a Lean Team appeared first on DigitalMarketer.

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