Senior Living Sales and Marketing
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Planning Your Content Calendar With Heather Deveaux
In Episode 5 Roy Barker talks with Heather Deveaux about the importance of developing a content calendar to aid in planning and posting content to your preferred channels. Heather Deveaux is a freelance writer and loves helping clients who need specialized content for websites, blogs, or other writing needs. Heather’s unique ability to create content that conveys your message to customers will result in more value, more authority, and more sales. Heather can be reached at www.heatherdeveaux.com and see her new project The Freelance Writing School at www.thefreelancewritingschool.com You can find out more about Roy Barker at www.roybarker.com,www.seniorlivingsalesandmarketing.com and listen to his other podcast at www.thebusinessofbusinesspodcast.com. The podcast is also available for download on iTunes, GooglePlay, and Stitcher. Search Roy Barker or The Senior Living Sales and Marketing Podcast. Below find the full transcript of the interview Roy Barker: 00:02 Welcome to episode five of the Senior Living Sales and Marketing Podcast. As a reminder, you can find us on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. Please take a few minutes to download the podcast and rate it. It'll make it easier for others to find. You can also go to our website at www.seniorlivingsalesandmarketing.com and sign up for our newsletter, which will let you know when each and every new episode comes out. Roy Barker: 00:34 Well, today I want to welcome back Heather Deveaux. She is our content writer, and as we talked at the end of our last episode, once we've got all this great content and then also how to basically plan what content we want, where it's going to go, we need to think about a calendar, and I am terrible at this. I actually have some content lying around that I haven't posted yet. New things come up that I usually rush in. So hopefully today I'm going to be able to learn a lot from Heather as well about how to set down at the very beginning and make out a calendar that you can stick to, that can cover all the different channels that we want to release our content into, so we're not having duplicates, and if we can get scheduled a couple of weeks out, we'll know exactly what we need to do in the future. Roy Barker: 01:28 Heather, thanks a lot for taking time out of your day again to come help us with this content calendar issue. How are you? Heather Deveaux: 01:36 Good, Roy. Thanks again for having me back. I'm excited to be talking about more content. Roy Barker: 01:40 You bet. You bet. If you don't mind, for somebody that may just be listening to this episode for the first time, why don't you just give a short introduction? Heather Deveaux: 01:50 Sure, so my name is Heather Deveaux, and I am a full-time freelance writer, so I write mostly web content for our clients, and I work with clients all over the world and I am based on the East Coast of Canada. In addition to doing freelance writing, I also launched this year a freelance writing school, which is called The Freelance Writing School and I, just two weeks ago, had my first set of students start their online training program, and so I'm excited about that. I'm excited to be sharing what I do with people and help them start for themselves to be a freelance writer. Roy Barker: 02:32 Well, that's awesome and that'll be a great topic for a future podcast, is setting up training sessions. I'm sure that is not easy, but I'm glad to hear that you're having success with that. Heather Deveaux: 02:44 Yes, it's going well. It's slow, but everything is in the beginning, so I consider it a success for sure. Roy Barker: 02:51 Well, that's great. Let's talk about this calendar issue. I guess we could talk to two audiences. One is the audience that's just starting, that they really don't have anything, and so it's like, "Well, what do I need? And where should I even start writing? And where should I start my efforts?" The other audience is, "Well, I'm already knee deep into this, but I'm kind of all over the board with what I'm putting out, where I'm putting it in." So I think we can help both of these groups kind of channel their efforts to put out consistent content where they know, " I did something last Tuesday. I need to do something this Tuesday," depending on how much they want to put out. Roy Barker: 03:36 Then also the channels. Like, "Well, I released a blog last week, but I didn't do any Facebook or any LinkedIn." One thing I have started doing is taking excerpts from the blogs or from these podcast transcripts and actually releasing them as snippets of social media, as quotes either through LinkedIn or through Facebook, Google Plus, things like that. I know it's a lot to cover. I'll kind of let you start where you think we need to. Heather Deveaux: 04:13 Yeah. Okay, so maybe what I will start with is if you're just starting out, because I think that this will actually answer a lot of questions for people who are new to content planning, and if you're a seasoned content writer or if you release content on a regular basis, going back to basics is a great way to sort of reorganize yourself, so I guess we'll start with that. If you're new to content writing and you're new to sharing content, the first thing that a lot of people think of is they need to be publishing every single day. I would say to that yes, but not the same kind of content every single day, so I'll use your blog example where you're taking excerpts for social media. Heather Deveaux: 05:01 If you write a blog on Monday and you release that on Monday to your website or to your podcast, wherever you have that living, and then you schedule something for a different excerpt from that podcast or from that blog for Tuesday, for Thursday, for Saturday, and then you share it on three different platforms — say, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn — and then you share on the Wednesday, the Friday, and the Sunday three different excerpts on say, Facebook, if you use Snapchat, or if you use another platform, so that you're touching each platform at least once a week, but you're publishing every single day. Heather Deveaux: 05:49 The idea behind publishing every day becomes a lot less overwhelming when you realize that you actually only need to be publishing one great piece of content a week, maybe twice a week, but for starters once a week, and then you're just sharing that content in different realms, with different audiences in different ways. That's a really great way to get a really long-term use out of your content. Roy Barker: 06:14 Right. Heather Deveaux: 06:15 So that would be the first thing that I would say. Roy Barker: 06:17 Yeah. Before we go on, I think it'd be a good point to make, I don't want to get off-topic on the calendar itself, but I'll just speak from my own experience that when I first started writing and blogging and putting stuff on social media, I really was under pressure, under the gun to think I had to have something new every day or at least every other day, and so struggling to find that. But one thing I've read a lot about lately is that instead of focusing on the volume of content we put out, number one, we should focus on quality no matter what. Heather Deveaux: 06:53 Right. Roy Barker: 06:54 But also they say that really, instead of creating all this content, we should actually spend more time promoting that content, and so what you're saying about taking these snippets and using them on different platforms kind of plays into that, is that I think that the latest I heard was that you should spend about 20% of your time writing and about 80% on promotion. So just for our audience to know, is that whenever you promote those snippets of your content, you can already put a link back to the original post, wherever that lives at. Then, that way, you're spending a good amount of time promoting the content that you already have out there. Heather Deveaux: 07:42 Yeah, and I would say that that's accurate, 20/80. I was publishing on Fridays, but summer is coming, so that's not working too great for me anymore. Roy Barker: 07:52 Right. Heather Deveaux: 07:53 So I switched it to Mondays and now I'm averaging ... I usually get it out on Tuesday. If it's a good week, I'll get my blog out on Tuesday. I found that you're right, I devote 20% of the time, so one day a week, on publishing, and the rest of the week I spend bringing people back to that piece of content. When I first started my freelance business, I didn't have a website and didn't have a blog, and I was about six months in before I started doing that. Heather Deveaux: 08:22 When I started doing that I, the same as you, thought I need to publish all the time. I settled instead. I took a sort of backwards approach to it. I said, "I'll commit to once a week," because it doesn't matter what's going on, I could write one blog post a week for myself, because the idea was, of course, that I would be writing for everybody else and growing my business. So I committed to once a week, and after about two months of that, I tried to increase it to two times a week, and I couldn't do it. It was just too much, so I went back to just recommitting to the once a week and then using the rest of the week to promote the content, and that's brings steady traffic to my website each week, doing that. Heather Deveaux: 09:02 As far as the calendar came in, I physically scheduled that time to write every week on my calendar, so it was originally Friday, and so this is how I did it. Wednesday was my writing day. I would take an hour on Wednesday afternoon and write the blog. On Thursday I would edit it, and on Friday I would publish it, and so it was a three-day effort. That was easier for me because I knew at this point how I was working and how I was delivering content to clients. I knew I had an hour on Wednesday afternoon, I had an hour on Thursday afternoon, and I had an hour Friday morning to publish that. Heather Deveaux: 09:38 As I said, that went for a little while, but it turned out that Friday isn't a good day for me because then I started publishing my podcast, which also delivered on Friday morning and then I became very content-heavy at the end of the week, and at the beginning of the week I had nothing new to share with people. So I flipped, and that's really important to think about when you're not only thinking about how you work and where you're going to fit in the time to your own calendar to write, but how you're engaging people on a regular basis with new content. Heather Deveaux: 10:09 I was content-heavy on Friday and I had nothing new on Monday, and of course, engagement goes way down over the weekend, and so when we talk about planning and things like that, I think it would be really important for people to plan engagement over the weekend, because I took a break from social media two weekends ago and it cost me 10 or 15 followers on Instagram. Roy Barker: 10:09 Wow. Heather Deveaux: 10:33 I laughed, because I said, "Oh my god. They must love me so much than that." Roy Barker: 10:37 No kidding. Heather Deveaux: 10:37 So they won't follow me anymore. I couldn't believe it. Yeah. I wasn't on Instagram all weekend. Roy Barker: 10:44 That is crazy. I would have never thought somebody would ditch you for just not posting for a week. Heather Deveaux: 10:50 Yeah, but that's how the algorithms and how all that stuff works now. It's like a dirty little secret. Like, if you're not on there all the time, you're losing engagement. Roy Barker: 10:59 Right. Heather Deveaux: 11:01 So that really solidified for me the change that I made in my own business, in my own content calendar, was I need to be content-heavy at the beginning of the week to reengage, because I don't do a lot of posting over the weekend, and I need to be content-heavy at the end of the week because that will get people interested in what it is that I'm doing and what I'm promoting, and have people thinking about it over the weekend. Heather Deveaux: 11:24 I am also in the process of ... I don't enjoy using automation because my business is all about authenticity and my personality and everything, but I recognize and I know the whole world knows this, the automation piece of it. You know, with something like Buffer or Hootsuite, it keeps that engagement, and if I had had that up on my Instagram for the weekend that I took off from the internet, I wouldn't have lost those 12 or 15 followers. It's good to sort of play with it a little bit to see not just your publication and not just how often you're putting things out, but what kind of return on that investment are you getting. So I know now if I'm not on the internet every day, that I'm losing an audience. Heather Deveaux: 12:09 I think that you have to sort of play with that and figure that out, so it's been a trial and error for me to see that I definitely need content at the beginning of the week, then I need content at the end of the week, and the rest of the week is just promotion of everything. It's sort of like there's no like ... what's the word? There's no recipe, I guess, for success with this stuff because it depends heavily on your audience, what people want from you, and what your goals are with your content and your own schedule. Like, you have to think, do you even time? Do you have three hours a week to commit to writing a blog? Roy Barker: 12:49 Right. Heather Deveaux: 12:50 Some people will say no. Roy Barker: 12:52 Right, and I think for solopreneurs like ourselves, I think that's an important issue to consider because from what I've heard, is that the only thing worse than not being consistent is if you start, if you start and then you quit or you have these gaps, that's also going to make people not want to continue to follow you because they don't understand, is it coming out today? Is it going to have something this week? And they won't continually come back and check your site or wherever your content lives. They won't continue to come back and check for you. They just will give up, so in some points it's like, if you can't be consistent, sometimes it's just better not to even try, because it'll be even more of a failure, but also I think that was a good point you made about scheduling the time on your calendar. Go ahead and have it on your content calendar. Put down those hour blocks for you to sit down and write and edit and get your content ready. Heather Deveaux: 14:02 Yeah, and it's a good idea ... You mentioned you have some content that you have waiting to be published. It's good idea to go through that and just on your calendar, if you just sort of number it or you identify it with some sort of filing system, to go through your calendar and say, you could schedule the next six to eight weeks' worth of content just with things that you have lying around or with content that's half finished or just with ideas that you have. Then at least you know, if we're coming into the summer, so right away things are going to start to slow down, business is going to slow down, engagement is going to slow down, so we need to be thinking about over the next three months how are we keeping people engaged with our websites and with our businesses? Heather Deveaux: 14:45 And it's going to have to be through new content and new engagement or re-engagement. I think that that is something that people, they overlook a lot because like we said, we're always thinking about, how do we get new content out there? But the summer is the perfect time to reintroduce people to your content, so as we're coming in to the ... people want to take Friday afternoon off, and especially if you're an entrepreneur, you work all year to be able to say, "I'm taking a long weekend" or whatever, and so as you're- Roy Barker: 15:14 You get to take long weekends? Heather Deveaux: 15:16 Oh, I try as much as I can. Roy Barker: 15:17 Okay. You know, I want to put that on my calendar. Heather Deveaux: 15:21 Yeah. Yeah. I try. I try. I think it's the best part of my job is I'm not working today, Roy. Roy Barker: 15:35 Right, right. Then I had to call you. Heather Deveaux: 15:35 Yeah, I know, but I get to decide that, right? Roy Barker: 15:36 Right. Heather Deveaux: 15:38 I think when we're thinking about our content, and you always want to be in terms of three, six months ahead, and you work backwards, all right? So you say, especially if you're new, if you're starting out this week with your business and you're think, "My god, how am I going to fill six months' worth of content on a content calendar?" it's very simple, because the first job that you have as a new entrepreneur is to educate people about what it is that you do, and you're the expert here. So you have a whole brain full of information that you can share with people once a week, twice a week, whatever, and if you just go to your calendar ... Heather Deveaux: 16:15 I use Google Calendar, just very simple, and I can access it wherever I'm at and I have it on my phone. If I have an idea, I can pull up my phone and I can jot it down in the calendar, a couple of notes or a couple of sentences about a blog or something that I want to publish, or even if it's for a client's project, if I have an idea that I just want to put in there and I'll go back to it later in the week, then that's there for me and I have that all the time. And it's very simple if you pick just one idea, so for content writing, for example, one idea is how to generate ideas for your content or for your website. Heather Deveaux: 16:49 You could talk all day about that, but the whole point is to get something on paper or on a calendar that you can say, "Hey, I commit to doing this every week or every day" or whenever it is, once every two weeks, whatever, and you make time to do that. I'm going to tell you right now, when things get busy, that's going to be the first thing to get wiped off your calendar. Roy Barker: 16:49 Right. Heather Deveaux: 17:11 So you really have to commit to saying, "This is not a paid work hour for me or this is not a paid afternoon of research or whatever," and especially if you've got work in the wings if you're a solo entrepreneur, or even if you're a company, to take people away from paid work to get them to do content will be the first thing to go. You have to really be in the mindset that it's not just a blog, it's not just an article. You're literally educating your audience, because you want them to know that they need you, that you're there to help them, and if you're not putting that stuff out on a regular basis, it's not their job to remember that you're there. It's your job to make sure they remember all the time, when they say, "Hey, I have a problem. I better call Roy." You need to be putting content out all the time and drawing them back in. Heather Deveaux: 18:03 That is where the calendar comes into play, because it says a commitment to you building your business, re-engaging and engaging your audience, and that is the number one job in a business, is to keep the audience engaged and keep them coming back for more. But it is the thing that goes right off the bat when things get crazy, if you're behind the eight-ball or you have a big project that you're delivering, and you have no work at all, you scramble to find work, but what you could be doing is reinvest in your business with content and with engagement, because we all know once it's out there, it's there forever, you know? Roy Barker: 18:38 Right. Heather Deveaux: 18:40 The value of that content is so important, so we let it go by the wayside when there's money on the line. Roy Barker: 18:50 Right, right. Yeah, and I think it's important to reflect on your weekend. When you took off ... In this society we live in of instant gratification, it's like, "Well, if Heather is not there this weekend, I'm moving over to somebody else who I did see their post." That's a chance you take when you're not consistent and you don't have engaging content, I think is that people will tire and they'll move on to the next guy. Roy Barker: 19:16 So that's why we have to be very mindful and thoughtful about not only what we write, what we put out there, but being consistent. I think that's the great part of trying to set up a calendar, is you can actually see. You don't let time get by, and I'm guilty. That's why I can say this, is because sometimes you publish and then things get busy, and then you look up and it's been two or three weeks, and I may even have something either ready to go or just in the works, but it just wasn't top of mind for me to put it out there, so I think that's where a calendar will help you out a lot. Heather Deveaux: 19:56 Yeah. These are all things we know, but it helps a lot to repeat it, but the calendar only works if you keep it up-to-date and if you sort of honor it. When I was publishing my blog for Fridays and I was under the gun, and the week was going by quickly and I had things I had to deliver, if Wednesday afternoon rolled around, in my mind I knew, "Well, I have tomorrow." You know? I could start that tomorrow, and then I've seen myself get up on Friday mornings and write my blog on Friday mornings because in my mind I committed to doing that and I didn't want to let people down, but I was letting myself down too because I wasn't honoring the system that I had put in place for myself to make my job easier. Roy Barker: 20:42 Right. Heather Deveaux: 20:42 So these content calendars will only work if you commit to honoring them and they become ... You know, it wasn't paid work for me, but it resulted in paid work and that's something that you need to remember, that you're taking time out of your day or away from your family or whatever, but it's all in the best interest of your business, and if you can't do it, then you find someone else to do it for you or you pay someone or you contract someone. But the point is that you have to honor it in some way and make sure that that happens, because why do we have these calendars and these machines and these devices that our whole lives are on them? But if we ignore the timetable of it, then we're no better off, so I think that's important, is that before you do anything with your content calendar, commit to it and make it a part of your routine. Heather Deveaux: 21:31 Check it every day, because again, it's great if you've got the whole week settled out, but if you're not looking at your schedule, you're missing phone calls, you're missing meetings, you're missing deadlines. People do that, and it's surprising that that still happens when we have so much technology at our disposal, but I think it happens even more now because sometimes you get to the end of the day and you're like, "I just can't look at my phone anymore. I just need a break from it." Then you say, the next sentence is then, "I'll write the blog tomorrow," or, "I'll get Cheri to write that when she gets into the office tomorrow, and then I'll edit it." Then, "Oh, it's Friday." It becomes Monday, and suddenly it's not out, and it's very easy to let it go. Heather Deveaux: 22:09 And the social media, especially with your content, when you're planning out your calendar, is to take the time to plan out that social media. I think that would be the second thing that people would let that go by the wayside, because they say, "Oh, it's not important anyway. They're just pictures." You know? But it really is, and I'm living proof that if you're not there, you're losing. I only have a few hundred followers, so if I lose 20% of my followers, that's a big deal. Roy Barker: 22:36 Right, right. Well, and I think the overall scheme of how marketing works, sometimes we have to keep that in mind because what happens is, excuse me, once we get busy and we let our content slip, we still have business coming in and we think, "Oh, well, life is good. I've got enough out there that I'm still getting some phone calls, and so it's not that big of deal." But what happens is there's a lag. Sometimes it's one month, sometimes it's six months, sometimes it could be a year, but the results of blogging or writing or putting content out there today is not necessarily business tomorrow, but it's building that library and something future business. Well, it works just the opposite for, if you've been blogging along and along, and business is getting good, and then you just quit, you're not going to see that impact today or tomorrow. Roy Barker: 23:32 But in six months from now when your business falls way off, you'll be looking at and saying, "Oh, that's what happens, because I quit blogging." Then you're kind of in a hole because it's going to take you another three to six months to start putting more content, so it can be a very dangerous up and down rollercoaster that you can get on if you're not careful. I think that's one thing that this calendar can do. It can kind of help you smooth that rollercoaster out. Even if you're not putting out as much as you want, if you can get it to a consistent basis where you can just stay on your schedule, in the long run you'll be much better off. Heather Deveaux: 24:12 I think so too, and I think especially for people who are established, if you've been blogging or if you have any kind of library online for resources, the thing, like I said, it's easy to let it go by the wayside, but it's very difficult to get that traction back once it's been lost. You talk about like your return on your investment, and you're not going to be able to see that return on your investment for some time. Then it takes you even more time to go back and track that alignment with that, and then to start a new calendar again. Heather Deveaux: 24:47 You haven't been following this audience and this audience hasn't been following you. You don't know what they need anymore. You're almost completely disconnected from people who were building and supporting your business for months and months, maybe even years, and you got to get sort of back in the game and figure out, "Well, what do these people want to know now?" You'll want to go back to jump right back into it. There are sort of three types of content that when you're planning your content, there are sort of three levels of it. Heather Deveaux: 25:17 The first level is sort of introductory, educational, informational, very high level. These are your How To Write a Blog blogs, you know? Very simple, for people that are just starting out. Then the second level is a little bit of a tutorial where you actually maybe have step-by-step instructions. This might be something like How To Build a Website, so it will be step-by-step how do you do that. Then your third level of content is the cornerstone, the evergreen, the real meat and potatoes of your business and of your library or blog. Heather Deveaux: 25:51 And if you've been blogging for a time and you've achieved those three levels of content, your instinct is going to be to go right to that highest level of content, that third level, but if you've lost your audience you have to kind of go back. You have to step back and rebuilt that audience. So you need to recognize that you might have to go back to the how-to and the tutorials and the lighter content, because you're starting from scratch again. You think you're established in your blog, but a blog that's six months old that hasn't been promoted, doesn't have any engagement with it, it's difficult to ... you know, where is your authority in that? Where's the authenticity in that? Heather Deveaux: 26:26 A business changes a lot over six months, and you've not documented that in any way. You've not shared that with people in any way, and you lose that. So the calendar, if you say three to six months, that might seem really overwhelming to sit down and schedule that out, but that is just once a week. That's just 25, 26 blog articles, and you could come up with ideas for that in, say even an hour. Say it took something an hour to do that, and just plug that in, in their calendar. Then at least they know that they've got some momentum and they've got something to work towards. I think when it comes to, if you're seasoned and you've been writing for a long time, the idea that you go back, so if you have this first level of content where it's a very simple how-to or introduction, that you can go back and build on that because now you've even more seasoned. You're even more experienced than when you wrote that blog, and you can go back and say, "What else can I add to this?" You can bring that back to life that way and reuse it that way, but you'll only think of those things, because like I said, your content is going to be not top of mind because your always top of mind is, "How do I make money? How do I grow my business?" Heather Deveaux: 27:39 But the investment in the time and the content really does provide a good return on your investment because it's the roadmap of your business, you know? It's the history of it and everything that's gone on, so your content calendar could be, you could go back once a year and circle back to all that content. You don't even need to be writing new content. You need to just be adding content, and maybe reiterating content or writing it from a different perspective. So if six months ago I said to you the best day to post a blog is Friday and now six months later I've realized that that's the worst day to post a blog, then I need to write a blog about that so people know that, because I've learned that and I want to share it with people. Heather Deveaux: 28:23 So you might want to put in your calendar every six months, in addition to planning your weekly posts or your weekly content, whatever that might be, you might want to put a circle back note in there to say, "Go back. Review this content. See what's changed in the business. See what's changed in the industry." And you can reuse that content and feature it, and then add additional information to it, and then your job becomes half. You know, you only have to do half the work that way. Roy Barker: 28:49 Right. Yeah, that's why I was going to say, is that if you use statistics or numbers family 2017, that's an easy to rewrite in the latter part of 2018, is just to go back. You might want to refresh the words a little bit, but you definitely want to go pull the 2018 facts and figures, statistics, whatever you're using, and you've probably got 80% of the work already done there. I think it's good because you had readers that read that 2017. They may be waiting and looking for this 2018 update to came out, so I think that's very advisable. Heather Deveaux: 29:31 Yeah, and it's really interesting how, especially new content writers, like people who are just putting out content for the first time, how they will underestimate the reach. We've all heard like, "Nobody is going to read your blog." That's garbage. People are reading the stuff. If you're putting it out there, people are reading it. It might just be one person, it might be 10 people, it might be 1,000 people, but somebody is reading what you're writing. If you're putting out images or you're putting out podcasts, I think it's important to note that there are different kinds of content, and it doesn't always have to be writing. So the importance of putting out the various types of content and figuring out what works for your audience and figuring out what it is that you want to represent your business with, that's all really important. Heather Deveaux: 30:26 The idea that you have to be writing all the time, that isn't the case. You just have to be publishing. You have to be putting stuff out. You have to be sharing with your audience. With video and things like that, it's so easy now and it's so easy to reach people, and people forget that that's content because they're not slaving over a blog post for three hours. They think that there's no longevity in that, but there's lots of ways to capture that and reuse it and share that. Heather Deveaux: 30:55 For instance, when you put out a podcast, you share it on social media, you put it on Instagram, and then you can jump out onto Facebook live and talk about your podcast. Then you can keep your show notes, which are transcribed, right? That itself could become a blog, so that's four different types of content with just one bit of work. So you record the podcast, you've got your show notes, you do a Facebook live to promote and you talk about it. Maybe you add a little bit extra content that wasn't in the podcast, and then you share a post on Instagram about it to drive traffic to it. That all takes 15, 20 minutes to put together, and you've got lots of good engagement, you've got lots of promotion. Heather Deveaux: 31:39 But that only works if you put that in your calendar and if you say, "I publish this podcast on Thursday, and by the end of this Thursday I will have shared this on three different performances, I'll have published the show notes, and I'll have done a Facebook live." It might mean that you need to block out an entire morning or afternoon to do that, depending on what it is that you want to achieve, or you hire someone to do it. You know, like if you've got more employees, you assign that to someone to make sure that they're blowing that information out to the world, but the consistency is key over anything. If you're only publishing once a month, publish once a month. Like, do it. Don't resist this. Roy Barker: 32:17 Right. I think you talk about a good point, like exploiting what you have. Excuse me. I'll use myself as an example on the podcast. Used to, I would just publish the podcast and try to get people to go over there and listen. Well, then I heard about an easy way to get it transcribed, so what that allowed me to do, though, is now all of a sudden the podcast turned into a long form post, and some of these podcasts can be five to 8,000 words, so that is awesome for the SEO to have it on the website as well. But then it allows me to go through there and pull out snippets and quotes from guests like yourself that I can use those to continue to publish this without just putting just the podcast out there by itself or a post with a picture of it. I'm able to put these quotes that might interest somebody that hasn't listened before to go over and take a listen. Roy Barker: 33:24 So I think when you sit down and you look at your calendar, you really need to think about all the different ways that you can exploit any piece of content that you have or are fixing to create, because I think even with just a blog you can still pull quotes out of that and use that on the different social media, so sometimes if you can create a good quality piece of content, it should have legs to be able to go on for probably two, three, maybe even a week. I mean, maybe a month or more of being able to put out little pieces, so I guess when we talk about it, then we look at building. Okay, so now I've got three pieces of content out. Now I'm still posting snippets from the first piece and some from the second and some from the third, so I think you can find a way to fill your calendar up quickly when you look at all the different ways to use it. Heather Deveaux: 34:25 Yeah, absolutely. I think that a good message to remind people of is that this stuff doesn't take long. We send more time worrying about how we're going to do it than it actually takes to do, and you can set up automated social media posts in 15 or 20 minutes a week and get them for the whole week. That's just done for you, you know? I always think of it like investment, so you put money in an investment account and it's making you money while you sleep. That's what I think about when I think about automation, is that if you're someone who wants to be putting out a lot of content on a regular basis, automation is definitely the way to go because it keeps that engagement high and you're return on your investment remains high. Heather Deveaux: 35:11 The difference, when people are talking about, you have to authentic and you have to be yourself and all those sort of things, there's lots of different ways to do that. Like, when I publish my blog, my blog, it's personal and professional because I read books every week about business and about self-improvement and professional development, and then I apply it in a way to my business that it's helped me to grow my business. That's a very sort of raw form of writing, and it's certainly not academic and it would barely pass as professional, because I'm writing from a point of, "This is where I'm at in my life and this is what I'm learning." But if you go over to my podcast, the podcast is very conversational. Heather Deveaux: 35:53 So people will get hung up on, "It needs to be perfect." It doesn't, because the most engaging content is the content that is happening in real time, and that's why people are loving video right now, because it's capturing everything, like your messy kitchen table behind you when you jump on Facebook to do a post. It's all there. People can see it. I would encourage people to think about writing that way as well, that when you are thinking about your content, you're not stressing over how perfect it needs to be because it stays there. You can always go back and change it later. You can always edit it. You know, nothing is carved in stone, and there's ways of just approaching this from a very real point of view. Heather Deveaux: 36:36 I think that with the trends that are happening now in content, that that's what people want to see. They want to do business with people that they know and they like, and the only way that they're going to get to know and like you is if they can see you and they see the many facets of you. The thing that drives me crazy is when I get on a website, if their blog is any more than a month old or two months old, then I know they're not engaged in their business and I can't be engaged with their business. Roy Barker: 37:01 Right. Heather Deveaux: 37:03 Where there are so many fly-by-night businesses now and where anybody can start a blog, if it isn't being regularly updated, or at the very least regularly promoted, then you can't trust that that is something that is alive and well, you know? Like, why aren't they publishing? Why aren't they showing us what's happening in their business? Why aren't they sharing this with us on the internet or on social media? I would hope it would be because they're not tucked away in some corner office somewhere stressing about grammar, because at the end of the day there are certain things that that matters for, but when you're talking about blog posts or you're talking about everyday life in your business, that stuff doesn't matter because you're just trying to show people that you're there to help, first and foremost. And if you spend all week worrying about your blog, you're not going to get it out to the point that it's going to resonate with people. Roy Barker: 37:57 Right. There's an old saying that perfection is the obstacle to progress, and so a lot of times we do stress over making it perfect. I think you hit on a good point about the personal narrative. I think that's what people want, is they want to see somebody like themself. They want to see that entrepreneur with the stuff stacked up on their table, because at home they've got stuff stacked up on their table as well. Whenever I see things that are too sterile, it makes me question the motives behind that, and how it was contrived and not just natural, so I think trying to get things too perfect can be a hindrance as well. Roy Barker: 38:47 The other thing I wanted to comment on too is you said getting enough readers or how we worry about, "Well, I did have 10,000 people read that article," but what we need to realize is that we only need one person, the right person to read our blog. Heather Deveaux: 38:47 Exactly. Roy Barker: 39:05 And if we can help that person who's going to engage and do business with us, then we've done our job. I think we can get hung up in these vanity numbers like, "Oh, I got 5,000 likes on Facebook," or, "I got all these likes on LinkedIn," but that doesn't translate to engagement. It's easy just to, and there are people who just go through and hit the like button for everything without reading it or knowing what it's about, so I don't think it's necessarily about the volume as the quality of the people that we are getting to look at it. Heather Deveaux: 39:44 Yeah, and it's true. I think it's one of my favorite things that is happening to me right now, is I'm getting emails from people who are not my clients. They'll never be my clients, but they're being impacted by what I'm doing. I've probably gotten maybe three emails over the last year from people who have said, "I'm loving what you're doing. It's really inspiring. I'm glad you're just being yourself and you're showing us that like, everybody falls on their face, and we're just all trying to learn." I have approached business from the point of view of like, we're all just trying to learn. I know different things than you know. Let's work together and help each other. The thing that really strikes me is I have no idea how many people liked my Instagram posts on Friday, but I know the name of that person who sent me that email because I touched them in some way, and it means more to me than any number of likes on the internet. Roy Barker: 40:43 Right. Heather Deveaux: 40:45 You would agree, right? When people say like, "This is really helpful," not only it acknowledges the work that you're doing, but it makes it easier for you to say on a Wednesday afternoon, "Jeez, I got to make time to write that blog because my one reader is looking forward to it." Roy Barker: 41:02 Right, exactly. That's what we have to do, is to just help one person at a time, and even if that person won't be your client, we don't know who they know. Heather Deveaux: 41:13 Exactly. Roy Barker: 41:13 So as they are out in their life and they hear somebody talking about content, and they say, "Oh my gosh, there's this great lady I know, Heather. Why don't you check her out?" So we have to be mindful that as long as we're touching people's lives and having some sort of an impact, that is the goal of this. It doesn't necessarily have to be that, "Well, that person didn't actually sign up, so that was a total loss." I don't look at it that way. I think we need to spread the message, and if we can help the do-it-yourselfers, then that's fine, because they are never going to be a client anyway. Heather Deveaux: 41:54 Right. Roy Barker: 41:54 But sometimes it's just like home improvement projects that I have good intentions of going to Home Depot and buying all this stuff and getting started, and then it turns into something more than what I thought, and so then I call somebody to come help. It's the same way in our businesses, that there's a lot of people that they're making it in life without us and that's fine, but you never know when there's going to come that day that they're going to be like, "I can't do this. This is above my head. I don't have the time." Whatever the reason, that's when they pick up the phone and give us a call. Heather Deveaux: 42:28 Yeah, and I would- Roy Barker: 42:29 It's not always instantaneous. Heather Deveaux: 42:31 Yes, exactly. I would say that in terms of like, talking about content calendars is something that lots of people talk about it, but the point is that everybody learns differently, everybody hears information differently, and it might be this conversation that is going to make someone sit up and say, "I'm going to start a calendar today," because they heard it in a different way. They were ready to hear the information. That's why calendars are so important for your content, because you have to be putting it out all the time in different ways because you don't know how people are going to interact with it. And just because they didn't like it doesn't mean they did see it, doesn't mean they didn't hear it, and doesn't mean that they didn't read it and that they didn't walk away with some pieces of information. So you might have just one, two hits a day on your website, but those one or two hits a day are important because it means that you're reaching somebody. Heather Deveaux: 43:27 I said earlier that you have to commit, you have to honor to the calendar. If that's too much work, if that just seems like it's one more thing on your plate and you don't know how you're going to do that, then I would suggest using it as a guide and just having a high-level idea every week of the things you want to do, because you do want to do these things. This isn't like, you're not drudging through this work. This is important work and the things you want to accomplish, and if it all gets pushed off to Friday afternoon, well, you're going to have a really creative Friday afternoon. Roy Barker: 43:57 Right. Heather Deveaux: 43:57 But just commit to like, just commit to getting it done, and whatever it ends up looking like, and I think that's important too, especially for beginners. What you publish today does not have to be what you publish six months from now. You might find that the rate at which you're publishing is not enough or it's too much. You might find that you're putting out the long content or you're putting out exactly the right content, but you're only going to know with time because you can't base the success of your content on one or two posts. It has to be all the time. Heather Deveaux: 44:29 The other thing is that you can't be relying on the same channels all the time. People talk a lot about ... I keep saying Facebook and Instagram. They're ruling the world, Facebook and Instagram, because that's where people go. That's what people think of, but one of the things that I started doing recently was I'm in this women's group and they're just a small group of women who are business owners, and my blogs are about the books I read every week. I said to myself like, "Oh, they wouldn't be interested in that," and they're turned out to be some of my best readers. They are engaged with the content. They write me about the content. They share it for me. Heather Deveaux: 45:08 I was sort of prejudging that group because I said, "Oh, I don't want to bother them. They're not my clients," but that's not the point. The point is get the content out there. Let people know who you are and what it is you're doing, and that was a group that I had taken for granted, and I know that people listening have groups like that, that they're saying to themselves, "These people don't want to hear what I have to say." My advice to those people would be, don't prejudge those people and don't take that opportunity away from them. If they don't want to read it, they're not going to read it, but the least that you can do is offer it to them and then see what happens. You never know. Heather Deveaux: 45:41 It sort of sparks this conversation now where people will say like, "I really needed to hear this today, that you've also fallen on your face this week. This has helped me." That's what people want to know and that's what they want to see, is that they're not alone, and we can only achieve that if we're actually sharing this content and we're not prejudging the people who will benefit from it, because you don't know. You have your target market. You have your ideal client, but you'll find out that there are other people who would benefit from it, and you might be surprised. Roy Barker: 46:13 Right. Heather Deveaux: 46:13 Like I was really surprised to find with my online courses for my freelance writing school. I was promoting it to women, and I have had several men sign up. I had no idea that that was going to happen until I put it out in the world and it resonated with several men, and had I not done that, had I only targeted or had I only marketed to the people I had in mind, I would have lost out on a really great opportunity. That was why, after I did that, I started sharing my blogs with this women's group, because I said, "God, who am I to say who will benefit from this content?" Heather Deveaux: 46:51 So I think it's important to remember that if you're just getting the same results all the time, that you've got to get out of your comfort zone even in how you share this stuff. It's one thing to get out of your comfort zone to create it. It's another thing to commit to putting it out there, and then it's another thing, another level to say, "I'm going to share this with people who work in marketing. I'm going to share this with people who are web developers. I'm going to share this with people who run senior homes for a living." You have to try these things. Heather Deveaux: 47:23 I guess maybe one of the last things I'll say about this is that when you're doing your calendar, commit to that on a regular basis as well, to sort of go outside your comfort zone once or twice, even a quarter, to say, "I'm going to send this somewhere new," or, "I'm going to try to have this published somewhere else," or, "I'm going to see if I could do a guest blog somewhere about this," just to push yourself that little more, because you don't realize the impact of your content until you actually put it out there. Roy Barker: 47:49 Right. I think that's a good point as we talk about a structured calendar and sticking to it and having it laid out for three to six months, but I think you would agree that we don't want to imply inflexibility as well, because part of disseminating content is being timely and relevant. So even though you've got a blog scheduled for next week to go out, over the weekend you were talking to either one of your clients or one of your friends, an issue comes up and your think, "Wow, that's something that's happening right this minute." It's okay to push everything out and insert this new idea in your content, so I just want to kind of say that even though we're creating the schedule, it's not so rigid that you can't have flexibility within inside of it to move things around. Heather Deveaux: 48:46 Oh, yeah. You shouldn't either. Like I said, it's not written in stone. The whole point is that and I think the thing that people struggle with is just making time for it, so the whole idea is that you're going to get to a point in the day or in the week where you can't put it off anymore. Don't let that be Friday afternoon. Roy Barker: 49:04 Right, right. Heather Deveaux: 49:06 Because like, if you are allowed, and you want to go enjoy the life that you've created for yourself, you don't want to be slugging away on the weekend on things you should have done during the week. I think what you'll find is that if you can commit to just those one or two things on your to-do list related to content, you'll find that other areas of your business will start to become more streamlined as well because you'll realize that consistency and anticipation of that consistency will help you to get out the door on time in the morning. You'll get to your meetings on time. You'll finish a meeting on time, which could be a whole other podcast in and of itself, getting through those meetings. Heather Deveaux: 49:42 I think that when you're committing to yourself and you're committing to your business, the calendar is just the accountability piece, and people rely heavily on those accountability pieces. The planning market, those planners, the Happy Planners and the reflective planners, they're practically scrapbooks, which I love because, of course, I love scrapbooking, but they're these 50, 60 dollar calendars that people lug around with them because they think that it's going to make them more organized. If all they're doing in them is doodling and writing their grocery lists in them, it's not moving them forward, and so the calendar represents the accountability and the dedication to your craft to share that with people. Heather Deveaux: 50:25 And it could be anything. It doesn't even have to be a calendar. It could be a grocery list of every week that you want to check off every week from top to bottom. You could have a vision board or a goals board or a whiteboard in your office, but the idea is that you have a high-level idea of what you want to accomplish every week related to content, related to sharing, related to investing in your business with tangible things. Content and visuals are tangible and measurable, and so the calendar is the representation of that commitment. And if you go out and spend 50 or 60 bucks on a planner, just use it, and if you don't want to spend money, then get a Google Calendar or a Microsoft. I know they have calendar products, and use it. Use your phone. We've all got our phones. Roy Barker: 51:13 Right. Right. One more thing before we wrap this up is we talk a lot about content that we generate, and so one thing I do is I set ... Google has a news alert where you can put a topic in there, and of course a few of my big ones are of course senior living, sales, and then also employee retention. So what I've got is alerts that they send me every day. You can change that to schedule it to once a week or whatever your timeframe is, but I get them every day. That shows me news articles of what is happening out there, so it works as two-fold. Number one, it keeps me informed about what's going on in the world, so I might choose to write about something from my perspective, but it also lets me have the option to repurpose their content as just a post, which the way I like to use is not only does it fill in the gaps between with I create, but also it can work to reinforce what I create. Roy Barker: 52:27 If I tell you that the sky is going to be green tomorrow and you're like, "Oh, that sounds kind of crazy an idea," but if I can find five other sources that are going to tell you the same thing, all of sudden it lends a lot more credibility to the message that I'm putting out there, so just an idea, is that we do need to create our own, because we want to show people our philosophy, what we know, how we can help them, but it doesn't hurt to also use other content to support that in the interim. Heather Deveaux: 53:03 Yeah, for sure, and that should even be part of your planning. Like, when you're sitting down to plan your blog, you should have some research elements in there. Even if it's 15, 20 minutes to just going off on what's happening in your industry, it should be part of the writing process. You should be coming from a place of being informed. Roy Barker: 53:22 Right, right. Well, Heather, we've taken enough of your time today. I want to thank you. I appreciate it. Then just for our listeners, Heather was a real trooper today. She didn't have a signal in the house, so she actually conducted this interview standing outside. Luckily it was a nice day in Eastern Canada, which that's kind of hit and miss this time of year, but at least it was a nice day. Heather Deveaux: 53:22 That's right. Roy Barker: 53:46 So thank you for standing outside and giving your time and your expertise into this, creating content calendars. Actually, I'm going to sit down and work on mine this afternoon and get it lined out. Heather Deveaux: 53:58 Yeah, it's a good idea. Roy Barker: 54:01 If you don't mind, just go ahead and let everybody know all of your contact information, not only for you and the writing, but also for your writing school. Heather Deveaux: 54:12 Sure, so my website where you can reach me about freelance writing is heatherdeveaux.com, and if you're interested in learning about how you can become a freelance writer, you can check out thefreelancewritingschool.com. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and any contact form on any of my websites will reach me as well. Roy Barker: 54:33 Great. Well, Heather, have a great rest of your day. Thanks for listening to the Senior Living Sales and Marketing Podcast, and like I said, don't forget to download and rate the program. Help others to find us. We are on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. You can also look at the website at www.seniorlivingsalesandmarketing.com, and don't forget to check out our sister podcast, The Business of Business, which is at www.thebusinessofbusinesspodcast.com. You can also look at the services that I offer, Roy Barker at roybarker.com. Look forward to our next episode. Heather, we can think of another topic and get back with you shortly, and wishing everybody a great week until next time. Thank you.
21 Jun 2018