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What’s your marketing strategy? Do you even have a content creation plan? If your answer was something like “yeah I post on instagram” but that’s it…. I’m sorry to say but that is not a strategy or a plan… BUT it can be with a little bit of fine tuning! Which is exactly what we are going to be talking about today.
When I started my photography business, and horse training business several years ago, I had no plan or roadmap on where I was going. I just thought, I will continue to post my work, and then people will somehow find me and book with me.
And to some degree, yes, this did work. I was able to book clients and managed to pick up some work here and there. But the issue was, this was very inconsistent. And there was no way to ensure I was going to be able to pay my bills that month.
Knowing what I know now, and seeing what has worked and not worked, I can tell you first hand I wish I would have made a content creation strategy a long time ago. So, if you are in that position that I was where you have no plan, you just post to post and hope something magical happens, then this episode is for you.
Today I am going to walk you through an actual step by step process on creating content that serves with purpose, and has a much bigger goal in mind. Are you ready to have your mind blown and to stop wondering what kind of content you should be creating or posting on what day? Do you want to take the guessing out of social media marketing and actually start enjoying Instagram again plus see some mega results in your engagement? If you are holding your hands up saying YES SARAH GIMME THE GOODS then I am saying heck yessss! Let’s get into it!
Let’s start from scratch, today I want you to set everything you know and think you know about social media and creating a content plan off to the side. Just be in this space with me and be a student today, sound good?
My goal is to not only provide you with actionable steps, but I also want today to be the day that you get excited about Instagram again. You started your business for a reason, you were obviously passionate about something and there is a WHY behind it all. And I want you to start thinking of content marketing as a way to get you closer to the bigger goal. That goal being the reason behind your biz.
Define Your Why Behind Your Content Plan
You have likely heard me mention your “why” before. Episode 014 of the Branded Cowgirl Podcast is all about finding your why and I highly recommend checking it out, but today I want to give you a few new questions to think about to determine your “why” behind your business.
Chances are, you started your business based on a feeling or some kind of emotion. It could be something that personally happened in your life, or something you felt from someone else’s experience. There is a reason why you decided that you needed to start this business of yours and creating said business, you feel happier, stronger, just better, whatever that may be. I would also bet that your goal as the business owner is to instill that same positive emotion in your clients or customers. You want them to feel that same spark that you do.
Something to always remember in entrepreneurship is, you are not trying to sell a product or service, you are selling a result and/or a feeling. The product or service you offer is just the means of how to achieve the feeling or result.
Think about the meaning behind what it is that you do. What are the legs that your business stands on? What kind of foundation is rooted in your business that shows a clear meaning behind your products or services?
Once you have figured out the feelings and the meaning, you just need to figure out how to actually express it and translate it into words to share with the world. This becomes kinda like your mission statement.
I want you to love your business so that you can feel that same love in return, but we only get out what we put in, right? Getting to the root of your WHY will help your mission statement come from your heart not your head. When your mission statement is a head answer it might be something like “well I have to do this to pay my bills” – and that’s not good. If you feel forced to do this just so you can survive, you are going to lose momentum very quickly and you will not be able to create that spark for any of your clients because you don’t even have it yourself.
Take A Deeper Look At Your Business
Once you have nailed down your why, I want you to take a step back and look at your business from the outside. What do you have going on in there? What offerings do you have or want to have? What goals are you chasing? How much work are you willing to take on this month? Do you want to expand? Where do you want to go? Look at all of these things with a magnifying glass.
Start to use the answers to these questions to build a plan for your business. Something I started doing recently is only planning my year in quarterly chunks. I used to plan content out a year in advance but then if one day I fell off the wagon it would throw me way off for the rest of the year. Start small, plan for just this next quarter, or just the next month, or even just the next week to get into the swing of things.
Use your goals on where you want to be at the end of the month to build the foundation for your business plan, this is what is going to really help you create content with a deeper meaning and purpose. You can create content that supports those bigger dreams and goals.
Creating A Unique And Fresh Content Plan
One of the number one questions my students have asked me or even just people messaging me on Instagram is how do you come up with so many new content ideas or fresh content? Whether it be Instagram Reels, captions, photos, topics in general, or anything else. And I remember thinking that before myself when all I would do is wake up and stare at my phone screen wondering when inspiration would hit me to write some well thought out caption with some glamorous photo… yeah needless to say I struggled a lot with this.
First thing I want you to do is think about your content pillars. If you are unfamiliar with this term, basically your content pillars are the legs your overall business idea is standing on. These are the things you are going to use to actually know what kind of content you need to be creating.
Now normally when I talk about content pillars I say to just pick 5-7 topics in your life and talk about them on repeat, whether that be your dog, your marriage, your family, etc. and so on. But today I actually want to take this concept a bit further to really get deep into what I mean when I say to choose your pillars.
Think about the different types of content you can create that falls under those pillars or topics:
- Viral Content: Viral Content is what gets you attention. This does not mean that it has to have 5 million shares or views in order to be considered viral, anything that performs better than your usual content is considered viral content.
- Stalkable Content: If someone were to stumble across your page because of a piece of viral content you put out, stalkable content is what makes them want to stay and hangout for a while.
- Educational: Value matters here. This is where you are providing them with tips, tricks, inspiration, entertainment, etc. Step by step instructions on how to do something they did not know how to do before.
- Human: That’s you! This is how you can also pull at people’s heart strings and create an emotion of some kind. You want this to be relatable and feel natural, not something forced or robotic. When you create content that feels human, you build connection and trust with your audience, and guess what? People are going to be more likely to buy from you in the future when they feel connected to you! Show your personality in this space!
Assign Your Pillars To Days
This is one less decision you have to make in your business each and everyday once you have a framework already set and good to go.
And again, let’s be intentional about this. Don’t just randomly choose days and assign any pillar to that date for no rhyme or reason. Think about what you want your audience to feel every single day when they encounter your business or brand. Monday-Sunday, how do you want them to feel?
Use this idea as a general basis for how you create a content plan and what you are going to talk about each and every day. How can you serve them best in that moment or on that particular day? How can you speak to their human experience right where they are?
Actual Types Of Content
If after you have thought about all those things, the actual topics that make you who you are + viral, educational, stalkable and human, and what days you are going to post them, then you can decide what kind of piece of content are you going to use for those days.
Maybe you decided you are going to create human content on Fridays and that is where you are going to make a funny Reel with your husband and post it. Your marriage is one of your pillars, and Human is the type of content we are making, and REELS is how it is displayed.
If you are stuck on what to do for some of the other types of pillars and forms of content, here are some ideas:
- Viral content can consist of quotes, either from yourself or someone else, Bible quotes, etc. You can create cute little on brand graphics when you create quotes on Canva which is how I personally do this. Make sure that these quotes are not just random for no reason. They should align with your overall mission. Viral content, especially if it is some kind of motivational quote or inspiring would be great for Mondays because like we discussed before, sometimes people need a pick me up at the beginning of the week.
- Stalkable content is anything that adds value but also gives people some insight as to who you are as a person. However, nothing about this should scream “hey look at me, me, me, me” because in business, and building a brand even though you are the face of it, it’s not about you. It’s about serving others. An example for stalkable content that I personally do is showing daily life with my horses and giving insight to ranch life and equine products. A lot of my followers are in the western industry or live a similar lifestyle as I do so I can connect with them on this basis while also providing them with value. Even if this has nothing to do with what I am actually selling or nothing part of my industry, it is a way to show my followers a bit more about me and still serve them in a way they will love.
- Educational content are usually tips, listed out in a longer formed caption but maybe smaller bullet points in a REEL. Examples could be providing value to others in the same industry as you. If you are an influencer, you can offer tips for how others can become influencers or teach other influencers how to step up their game. Or if you are a photographer you can offer tips and tricks for what to wear to a photoshoot, what lighting is best, and so on. Try to not generalize this too much. You do not need to be an expert at everything, pick a few topics in which you specialize in and stick with those. If you are a western fashion influencer or striving to be one, stick to content that provides value around that idea, not 500 other things as well.
- Human content is just all the fun things about yourself! Think about the daily life things that make you who you really are. If you love Starbucks and you get it every single day, show that. If you are married and have a great relationship with your husband and kids, show that. If you love thrift shopping on Saturday mornings, take your followers along that adventure with you.
A general rule of thumb is that you should be showing your face and showing up in your feed at the bare minimum of once every nine tiles. And on your story daily.
Every month at the beginning of the month or right at the end before the new month begins, I like to sit down and evaluate my goals and content plan. I like to make this a relaxing, come to Jesus moment in a sense. Whether that be sitting in my bathtub, going for a drive, sitting out in the grass at the park with a journal, whatever that looks like for you. Go somewhere that you can feel inspired and breathe some fresh air.
Take the time to feel what you are feeling and decide what you want to help others feel. When you have this clear, and your “why” is set, this is going to take you so much further and it’s going to make all that content creating a heck of a lot less stressful.
Content Plan Creation Time
Once you have that little heart to heart moment, and you have brain dumped all your content plan ideas and mapped them out, it’s time to actually schedule in the creation time. It may take you an entire day to do this, plan for it.
You are going to have to really have self discipline for this, and integrity to hold yourself accountable. You cannot get frustrated that your business isn’t thriving if you are not taking the time to actually make the content necessary to serve your people.
Keep the promises you make to yourself.
You need to decide how you want to show up for your people, what kind of value you want to bring them, and in what format. Using these guidelines though, you should be able to really sit down and map out what your next month is going to look like. And once you do this… stick to it! Dedicate certain days where you can batch create all the images and videos you need. If you think about it, there are typically only 4 weeks in every month roughly, so if you plan to post a reel with your husband every Friday, you only need to make 4 reels for the entire month to be taken care of on Fridays.
Podcast Review: Lanie 0825
“I swear somehow Sarah always says exactly what I need to hear. Her show and social media is an amazing blend of excitement, funny, motivational, and educational. Her work has made such a positive impact on my life and my photography and I’m just getting started!”
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I'm Sarah Elrod
I'm a Cowgirl turned serial entrepreneur.
I'm a horse trainer, western wedding photographer, business coach and ranch wife.
I help women in the western industry grow thriving businesses from rural America.
When I am not strategizing new marketing tactics, you will find me riding my horses, cuddling my cattle dog, or kissing my hot husband.
There is also a good chance I am buying way too many outfits from western boutiques.
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