Create One Year of Content in One Weekend

8-Step Content Creation System

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Photo by RetroSupply on Unsplash

When my spin studio closed down in March, I broke a nearly two-year riding streak that, if seen to completion, would have meant riding my 450th ride on my 45th birthday.

I was devastated but also kind of relieved. You know how when you approach the finish line, it gets a little scary? Like you’re excited, but also emotionally attached to the motivation and journey, a little intimated by what comes next? Total head game.

At first, I substituted outdoor biking and YouTube exercise videos. But by mid-summer, I had to accept it just wasn’t the same. I missed the community, the competition, the routine, the escape.

Ironically, physical fitness took a backseat in 2020. Even though I know resilience and immunity correlate to good health, it felt more comforting, more like self-care, to dial it back this year. I think that’s why I gained the COVID 10.

All wasn’t lost, though. I channeled all of that physical energy into writing. It isn’t an obvious substitute, but surprisingly, it satisfied me in similar ways. Both activities delivered a daily high, require a consistent process, and that I tune out the world to achieve results.

I set a goal — 1,000 followers on Medium in 2020 (and I’m at 947 with four days to go — ahem) and 1 million words. I hit that word-count goal in August and have surpassed 1.3M, if you can believe it. I still can’t.

However, somewhere along the way, my goal switched from followers and words (and some might say vanity metrics) to writing better, more consistently, and improving my productivity. I wondered if I could write every week for an entire year? How much would my writing and process improve?

Well, I’m 44 weeks into that streak now, and I’m wondering how to uplevel again. What if I take what I’ve learned and create an experiment with crazy potential?

Can I create an entire year’s content in one weekend? Wouldn’t that be amazing? Let’s find out.

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Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

I’m a connoisseur of goals. Since I was a teen, I’ve been making vision boards and setting goals, stretch goals, and resolutions. I guess it makes sense that I’m a life and business coach.

This experiment has me licking my chops. I’m obsessed with the idea of achieving more in less time, getting the results I want, but also prioritizing a very high quality of life, so the concept of 10x’ing and 100x’ing my goals and outcomes is enticing. With three kiddos and a business, the more I can automate and systematize, the better.

It might have been Tim Ferriss who first introduced me to the idea. He’s the author of The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9–5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, originally published on April 24, 2007. I didn’t find it until 2012-ish, right about the same time I had twins. Surprise, surprise, I was looking to work less, spend more time with my family, but not give up my career or income.

Be forewarned, it starts innocently enough, but the ideas are insidious. Next thing you know, you’ll be questioning everything about how you invest your most precious resource. Don’t be surprised if it leads you to entrepreneurship.

With all that in mind, I created the process below to outline my experiment. It’s an 8-step content creation system based on a combination of proven strategies that have delivered results for me, my clients, and my peers, layered with some new ideas I’ve been eager to try. And, even though it’s eight steps, simplicity and efficacy are key — I want it all to happen in one weekend.

Even though I’ll have 52 weeks of content already ready to go after the planning weekend, I still need to block time on my 2021 calendar to refine it, consider relevancy and timeliness, and promote it.

I’ve designated every Tuesday morning in 2021 as Content Time. It’s early enough in the week that I’m still feeling ambitious and optimistic, and gives me time to pivot if something comes up.

Plus, if you’ve been following my coaching tips, you know I love to front-load the weeks, months, and years to relax and stack achievements after I’ve met my initial goals. Building in room always works.

I’m not sure if that’s a word, but you get the sentiment. When we create a ritual around a habit, it’s stickier.

In this case, I’m committing to not only the same time and same day of the week each week all year long, but the same place (my home office) and the same triggers to get into flow more quickly.

For me, that means, eat first or have coffee so I don’t get distracted by a hungry tummy. Wear comfy clothes, keep plenty of notebooks, pens, my laptop, and iPad at the ready. Put on white noise, light a candle or turn on the fireplace, choose ambient lighting, and close my office door. No awareness of the world outside is essential, as distractions pull me out of flow.

I can enroll my family by sharing my plan and blocking that time with them too. That way, we will be on the same page about when I’m available and when they can interrupt if necessary.

We are hikers. In fact, during quarantine life, that was our family’s go-to stress reliever. Mom, Dad, kiddos, and dogger were happy outside, on a mountain or city trail, fresh air, and socially distant in the sun. Grandma and cousins, aunts and uncles frequently joined us; hiking runs in our Colorado blood.

Here’s a tip that applies to hiking and business: When we get to a peak with an incredible view, it pays to turn around, marvel at how far you’ve climbed, take some photos, and savor the beauty. If you save the reward for the decent, you miss an opportunity to appreciate your effort and be inspired along the way.

Think of your business for a moment. How does it look from high above? Lock in on your highest vision. Get out of the weeds to identify your key priorities, opportunities, and challenges — the 30,000-foot view, as they say.

Choose the number-one big-picture outcome you most want to achieve in 2021. Quantify it, and yes, you can only pick one. For example, I want to help 50 or more women be much happier and wildly more successful in 2021, to the tune of $200k or more in revenue.

Then do the math. Do you have the right equation? Does your profit plan add up? What tweaks will make your goal more attainable and motivating? Resist the urge to overcomplicate this step.

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

I’ve shared my Tentpole Methodology at the beginning of this year. Essentially, it’s borrowed from my time at HBO, when we, as a team, would look at the year and evaluate the programming highlights with the most prominent focus and allocate resources accordingly.

With that in mind, consider your top goal and then outline quarterly resources. Is it an event? A launch? A milestone? Prioritize the activities and schedule them, backing into key dates or deadlines with plenty of time to execute your plan’s details flawlessly.

For me, that’s a Q1 website launch, a Q2 program launch, a Q3 signature launch, and a Q4 evergreen launch. Four launches might seem a little aggressive, but what can I say? I’m anticipating a big year.

By the way, please don’t feel pressure to know every detail about your tentpoles yet; you’re only penciling them in. This exercise can build massive clarity, though. It tends to eliminate the second and third-tier activities and brings the most important goals to the top. It’s not that you can’t do more or less, but if you know your tentpoles, you’ll achieve your most important targets for the year, and anything else will be the icing on the cake.

Next, I’ll reverse engineer the tentpoles by creating themes to support them and drilling down on logistics. On the content side, that means a combination of pre-launch strategies and sequences, as well as evergreen content. Each theme will have 12 components, answer 12 questions, or introduce 12 key ideas to correspond with 12 weeks that make up a quarter.

Again, using my example, that means a reintroduction of my brand and origin story positioning to correspond with the website refresh in Q1. In Q2, work-life balance and productivity will match my program launch. In Q3, CEO mindset, thought leadership, and recognized expert credibility will support my signature launch. And finally, in Q4, I’ll use the themes of happiness and success to correspond with my evergreen launch.

My weekly content will be categorized to correspond to the quarterly themes and further the customer journey. That means I’ll format my content to fit the three customer stages: 1) awareness, 2) consideration, and 3) purchase.

Once I’ve got the perfect combo nailed down, the right stage, and the appropriate theme, it’s time to write. See how it’s starting to take shape?

Of course, I’ll likely add in spontaneous posts and newsworthy content, but this approach offers a more strategic foundation for the year.

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Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

Do 52 posts sound daunting? Hell, yes. Does 12? Not so much. Does 3 or 4? Easy peasy. So, within each quarter, I’ll know how many posts need to fit each stage and correspond with the respective business goal.

The cool thing is before I start writing, I can take a look at what I produced this year (in my most prolific year to date) and see which content it makes sense to repurpose, reuse, retool, and borrow from because I have a year’s worth of real data that I previously didn’t have. I’m stoked about that.

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The last step is to maximize the reach of each post. I’ll think through as much as I can in advance by creating graphics to use on social media, pull out quotes or imagery that highlights or teases the post, and brainstorm promotional tactics.

That kind of pre-planning opens the door to taking advantage of more opportunities at the moment. Plus, I can start scheduling posts or take advantage of automation tools and look for collaboration or cross-promotion opportunities, layering in other strategies as I go.

It’s an experiment, after all, but I’m really excited to go for it. The critical thing is I know my sweet spot, that delicious intersection of what I love to write, coach, and teach, what I know inside and out, what my audience loves, and what I’m selling.

If you aren’t there yet, no biggie, but start there first. Identify one essential product or service you want to sell, think about the questions people ask, what attracts or repels them, and where you have knowledge or expertise to share before you outline your 52 weeks of posts.

Then, when you’ve walked through the eight steps, ask yourself if it makes sense on a gut level. Can you explain this to your children or grandparents who have no idea what you do?

If it does passes that test, choose one key platform, and commit to building momentum there before you branch out. Simplify to amplify. Don’t overthink it or try to be everything or everywhere — sustainability matters.

If you’d like to follow this experiment and receive tips, tricks, and strategies to develop, improve, and maximize your content, be more prolific, or find the work-life balance you crave, sign up for weekly updates here.

Written by

Life coach for women. Writer for 29 publications. Happiness, success, productivity, balance, leadership, inspiration. Follow me on Instagram @coachformoms.

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