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I'm Dolly — a Nashville based family and branding photographer & a business systems educator for small biz owners who want to be more streamlined. I'm here to help you look awesome (for your photos) & feel great about business systems!
One of the quotes I have been living by for my small business is “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” (Benjamin Franklin) and this holds true for me as a solo business owner. Yes, it is so nice to own and operate my own small photography and systems education business, but if I am not proactive in my planning I have had entire weeks wasted because I was not strategic, specific, and purposeful. Yes, I believe that there should be moments where I need to slow down and allow my mind to rest, but I also am a firm believer in planning out my months so that I can better move the needle & goals of my business.
In this blog post, I am going to be sharing the exact strategy I use in creating content and batching out that content for an entire month. I have also created a video you can watch along with this blog post as well. It has taken me over one year to establish this workflow for my own business, and I can confidently state this is a workflow I will continue to use as my business grows (yes I may tweak it here and there, but foundationally, it works for me)! Important PSA: I have learned a lot of these concepts from Ashlyn Carter and Boss Project and I have made it to fit my own business and personality!
So without further ado, here is my workflow and strategy for how I create 30 days worth of content and how I batch and plan out that content.
This part is honestly the hardest for me because I struggle in the area of copywriting but with the help of Ashlyn Carter, I have discovered the value of rotating through my pillar (or HERO) content pieces (and of course giving myself some wiggle room to be creative with content pieces that I may want to share which may not necessarily go with my hero content).
What do I mean by hero content? Your “hero” content (a term I first learned from Ashlyn Carter) is your content which leads your audience to what you do and teaches others the purpose of your business. So my hero content for Dolly DeLong Education and Dolly DeLong Photography revolves around: Family Photography, Branding Photography, Family Photography Education, and Business Systems (Automation) Education. So I’m constantly talking about sub-topics that revolve around these “hero” pieces. If I spoke about something like Chemistry in my blog posts, it would make absolutely no sense and it would confuse my audience into thinking “is Dolly offering Chemistry Classes Now?”
(just to be clear, I am NOT offering Chemistry courses now, I am just using a very weird and dramatic example to show the importance of staying relevant to your business so that your audience and visitors will know exactly who you serve and what you do!)
NOTE: your HERO content may be in the form of a Youtube Channel, A Podcast, or a Blog Post-just pretty much anything that drives content to your website and brand. But in this example, I am sharing how I batch out my hero content via blog posts every month!
There are so many ways you can begin the process of creating content for your Hero pillars. Here are several ideas for you to get started in this process:
-Use platforms like Pinterest, Google & Ask The Public To Research Content
-What are people talking about in Facebook Groups? What are their most frequently asked questions that you could answer?
-What is trending on Instagram and other social media platforms that go hand in hand with your business that you can share?
-What is some evergreen content (Evergreen content = ” content that persists over time, that is, it doesn’t have an expiration date and can’t become obsolete. This type of content will have the same value for users today or in a year.”)
-What are some FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) that people are constantly asking about your business?
-Do you have any opinions to share about your field of business?
-Do you want to create a blog series that builds on top of the previous post for a month?
-Who are some experts within your field you can interview that you can share in blog content form?
Now that your blog posts have been pre-written out, you can now batch out all of the blog posts for the next month.
If you use WordPress you can utilize plugins like YOAST (an SEO tool) to help you optimize each blog post (like meta descriptions, keywords, focus key phrases, links, etc.) (This is a great way to gain more visibility on search engines like Google so that your articles come up and it will give your small business more credibility).
As you batch out your blogs, make sure to include the appropriate H1-H3 headers and infuse your keywords you are wanting to be known for, and that goes with the content you have written about.
Note: If you are looking for a creative way to boost your email list have specific calls to actions (CTAs) that correspond with a lead magnet (a freebie/an opt-in) that leads others to the offers of your business. If you are wondering what the flippity-flop a Lead Magnet is (or what type of opt-in to create), I have a FREEBIE all about that here!
Now that you have created your blog posts, set those in draft mode, and head over to Canva.
Canva is a free graphic design tool you can use to create images for ANY platform and will quickly become your graphic design BFF within your business. I love that Canva has templates for everything, so you do not have to worry about designing from scratch! I use it every day for my small business!
When Canva is opened up, here is your game plan:
Once you have created all of your images for each specific platform within Canva, save everything to a folder on the desktop of your computer -I normally label the folder by the month I am creating for with the word “batch” so “January Batch”- and within that folder, I have each week labeled with the specific graphics for that week.
Once you have created ALL of the graphics for your month, so back into the blog posts you have drafted and make sure to post at least 1-2 of the Pinterest images you created to the specific blog post they correspond with (if you watch the video I have created that goes with this blog post, you will see what I mean by that).
So once the blog has images (with correct alt-text and correct images that go with the blog) you can draft out all of your blog posts for the rest of the month!
Now that you have batched your blogging content (hero content), your graphics for Instagram, Instagram Stories, Facebook, and Pinterest out (again, don’t feel like you have to go over the top and be on ALL the platforms, this is just my strategy I’m sharing) open up Trello.
Trello, for reference, is a free project management system that I use for my own business and it is the master station for my entire business (thanks to Trello for Business)
If you do not have an account yet, it’s free, and you can click HERE to open one up today!
So if you watch the video that corresponds with this blog post, you will notice that I use a specific Trello board, and guess what? I created a FREE download for you to utilize this Trello board for your own business! So you can click HERE to access this very same Trello board so that you can become a master at planning out your content for a month!
I know I stated this in the video, but just in case you skimmed it, I want to highlight that I use the social media columns of my Trello board to plan out my entire content for my Instagram Stories. I’ll write out each individual days (on the Trello cards) and then in each card, I will write down notes for me as to what I want to cover for that day in my Instagram stories based on what content I have posted that week (aka my Hero Content).
This is why I always batch out my blogs as my 1st step because it helps me start thinking through my content of what I want to share on my Instagram posts and stories (and even Reels and IGTV) so that everything is cohesive and it makes sense. I know this may be a bit over the top to a new business owner, but I value cohesiveness and I want everything to make sense as to what my business is about so that there is no confusion about who I serve and what I do.
To be completely transparent, conquering this step of planning out my Instagram content alongside my Blogging content took me over a year to understand, so don’t beat yourself up if it takes you a while too! Or, you may find something that works better for you! Either way, I am a strong believer in making sure you are communicating your hero pieces clearly and articulately on all of your platforms and it blends together (That’s why I batch it a month at a time because I honestly do not have the brain space to do this EVERY SINGLE DAY).
If you are looking to learn how to step up your Instagram game, I would highly recommend checking out Kaila Ruan’s Instagram Marketing strategies, I have learned so much from her myself, and she is one of the best of the best in the Instagram marketing industry! I get no benefit from talking about her like literally, she is a gem!
Once you have organized everything for the month (and week) in Trello you are ready to move on to the next step!
If you have been around me for any length of time, you should know that I am slightly obsessed with Tailwind because it helps me automate my Pinterest strategy, and I am all about the automation life!
But did you know that Tailwind can also automate your Instagram as well? It’s true!
Once my captions have been written out for all of my Instagram posts, I open up Tailwind and start batching out my posts for the entire month based again on the hero content (the blog posts) I have pre-planned out.
A thing to note about Tailwind: you can automate single posts, but if you want to auto-post a carousel of images you cannot auto-post that (that is one feature I wish they had), but everything else is amazing! They even have a hashtag feature that helps you find hashtags based on the topic you are discussing in your caption, and that has helped me out a lot as well!
(Speaking of hashtags, if you are looking for a hashtag strategy, check out HashTag Hacks by Ellen Yin, seriously you will not regret that $27 purchase! It helped me understand Hashtags at a whole new level!)
If you want your Instagram posts to be auto-posted to your Facebook Business page, you can also connect those two together and so whenever your Instagram is auto-posted from Tailwind, it will post to Facebook as well!!!!
A special note: I truly began to understand how to best automate my Instagram posts AFTER taking Kaila Ruan’s “Stepping up your Instagram Stories” Program in 2020 (seriously it has given me better insight into how to strategically plan out my Instagram content for 12 weeks at a time). I know she opens up her program every quarter, so check it out HERE or go to https://kailaruan.com/stepping-up-your-stories And use CODE “DELONG” to get 10% OFF the program! (which is a STEAL of a deal!)
If you are building your business on the borrowed land of social media (aka only on Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, Snapchat, Pinterest, or any other type of platform) you are not wise my friend (sorry to say that). Yes, social media is amazing (and I use it every day for my own business) but what happens if it goes away, you could literally lose your followers, your corner of the interwebs, your credibility, pretty much everything you have built out, overnight.
So it is wise to build out your email list/your email audience as you build up your business. If you haven’t set up an email service provider yet, now is the perfect time to do so (actually YESTERDAY was the perfect time to do so) but now is better than putting it off till tomorrow.
If you are curious about what I use check out this blog post I wrote about Flodesk and why it’s a great email service provider for small business owners.
Let’s say you do have an email list, I want to give you a virtual fist bump right now!
So open up your email list provider and start planning out your newsletters for the entire month that will correspond with your blog posts (or hero content).
Please do not copy/paste your content from your blog post into your emails to your subscribers (I have been guilty of this at times) and I say don’t do this because you should be creating more of a community for your audience. So maybe you can summarize your blog posts, and then provide extra value as well! This takes time, and if you are not used to writing to your list on a weekly basis, this will take a lot of practice.
I know that there are people who barely write to their email list, and they are missing out on building a great community, so I would say try to write to your list at least ONE time a week (feeling worried it may overwhelm your list? Then write to them at least every other week, but stick to a schedule). The whole point of having an email list is to stay engaged and connected with your audience, because again you do not own social media, but you do own your email list and you cannot ever lose that! So build your community and build trust through emailing your audience!
Now that you have batched everything out for social media, your blog (hero content), and your newsletter (email list) take some time to create videos for all of the hero content that you can use for the rest of the month. Your blog posts should be fresh on your mind (because you just batched them out) and I would recommend devoting at least 5-6 hours to this step alone so that you can not only create video content for Instagram Reels but create IGTV content, FB Live content and maybe even a tutorial for Youtube that is a part of your strategy as well.
Make sure that you have outfit changes between each content piece so it looks like you are filming on another day and make sure you have fun with these videos!
You can save all of your videos on your iPhone and store them in a specific folder to be posted when the specific week rolls around that correspond with the content piece you are talking about with your audience!
I’m not going to lie, this step alone is the HARDEST part for me because I hate the way I sound & look (both off the camera and on) but I know that video content is crucial especially in building more of a connection with my audience.
This is why I encourage you to batch out your days 3-4 days at the beginning of every month so that you can take the rest of the month “off” from filming yourself (because you have pre-recorded content you can whip out and post from your phone!)
Finally, this is more of a bonus step for any small business owner who has a Facebook business page or group and is struggling to know what to talk about in Facebook LIVES or how to stay engaged in their groups. I would say, create and batch out your content for the month (as discussed above) and when you have everything written out (in that awesome Trello board I created for you) you can have a section specifically dedicated to planning out what content you are going. to share in your Facebook Group. And the best part is this, you can recycle and reuse EVERYTHING you have already created for the month in your Facebook Group!
So this is literally my strategy every month for my own small business. Yes, planning out batching days can seem overwhelming, but if you knock out 30 days worth of content in 3 days, you have 27 days to move the needle of your business in different ways! You can concentrate on learning something specifically for your business, you can schedule in-person meetings during the other portions of the month, you can create newer goals to tackle for your small business because you have already pre-planned out content for the month-The Sky Is Literally the Limit!!!!!
So I hope this was helpful to someone on the interwebs! Please drop a comment below and let me know how you are going to implement this strategy into your business OR if you already have a way to plan out content, share how you plan out your month!
Dolly DeLong is a Nashville-based family & branding photographer and a creative business owner who educates on all things Pinterest, Dubsado, Lead Magnets & Email Marketing (aka pretty much all the fun automation stuff centered around those business systems)! Dolly loves serving families, and business owners with her timeless, radiant photography. She loves capturing the joy and emotion in both digital and film photos.
She also has a heart for serving the larger business community. Dolly shares her knowledge of tools like Pinterest, Dubsado, email marketing, and business systems with new creative business owners in an encouraging and supportive way because she believes that even muggles can become automating wizards!
Dolly’s faith and love for her family motivate her to help other business owners find the joy and freedom she’s found in running a successful small business.
Whenever she has a spare moment, she enjoys watching TV (i.e. Survivor), loves eating way too many sweets, and listens to podcasts while running or walking. To work with Dolly DeLong, fill out her contact form here.
Interested in learning how to best automate a part of your business to attract your ideal clients by creating a Lead Magnet and have NO clue where to start? I created this FREE PDF “The Lead Magnet Master List ” and if you click over here you can access it!