2020 is nearly upon us, and I know that some of you are feeling like you didn’t hit all of your content goals for the year.
If you didn’t get around to starting that email newsletter, publishing 4-8 pieces of content a month, or creating your lead magnet—I totally get it.
Creating content is a lot of work. It involves many moving pieces and a lot of sitting down and, well, making content. It’s time consuming, it doesn’t always have an immediate ROI, and you always seem to need more of it.
So, we asked ourselves—what would be a sure-fire way to create a content calendar that could be used for the entire year?
Welcome to the 12-Week Year Strategy for creating your annual content calendar.
The 12-Week Year is a book by Brian P. Morgan and Michael Lennington. In the book, they make the case that you shouldn’t be dividing your years up into 52 weeks, but instead 12. While this sounds pretty daunting, when you look at the psychology behind it… it starts to make sense.
When we set far-off due dates and KPIs to hit, it becomes really easy to prioritize other things in between. We end up spending more time focused on the wrong things than the right, just because we gave ourselves the time to do so.
In the 12-Week Year Strategy you take all of that time out. You give yourself a 12-week deadline to, “Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months.”
There’s no time to procrastinate. There’s no time to decide that you’d rather prioritize something else. There’s just 12 weeks to get done what you committed to.
You’re going to notice that all of these steps sound really familiar. While we’re building out a content calendar in 12-weeks, we still need to follow the basic formula of creating that content calendar.
We’ll be using the 3-Step Perpetual Content Calendar in this example. We’re just going to set tighter deadlines and by the end of the twelfth week, you’re going to have your entire content calendar scheduled and ready to go.
Here’s how to use the 12-week year strategy to fill your content calendar for the entire year.
Week #1: Figure out your content topics
The first step to curate a years-worth of content is to figure out what you’re going to write about. We call this the Ideation Step in the Perpetual Content Calendar.
Let’s say that your goal is to publish 4 pieces of content per month (one piece of content per week). This means that you need 48 content ideas total (4 pieces of content per month x 12 months in a year).
You guessed it… open up your spreadsheet and start writing topics. Write at least 20 topics.
What questions are people asking in your industry? Use these platforms to figure out what content your customer wants to read, watch, or listen to.
- Facebook groups
- Your website
- Ask your actual customers!
For each topic you found from Quora, Reddit, etc., there are multiple topics that you can create content around. In our blog post about the Perpetual Content Calendar, Garrett uses the example of vegetarian blog writing an article about how to get more B vitamins. Based off of that topic, you can also write blog posts like:
- Why B Vitamins Are Important
- Symptoms of Vitamin B Deficiency
- Recipes High in Vitamin B
If you come up with at least 20 topics, you’ll be able to multiply these topics to total 48.
Boom! Week One and you have every topic that you’re going to publish content around for the entire year.
This is starting to seem like a really good idea, huh?
Week #2 to Week #11: Creating your content
You read that right. This part of your content calendar is going to take up 90% of your 12-weeks. Why? Because this is when we do the time-consuming work of producing the content.
This is going to vary business-to-business based off of your content team. For example, if you’re a content team of one, you’re going to need 10 weeks to make 48 pieces of content because you’ll be making about 5 pieces of content per week. If you’re an agency that’s outsourcing all of this to more than one freelancer, you’ll be able to create your content in a shorter amount of time.
There is no right or wrong way to do this, the only thing to focus on is getting it done. However you’re creating the content—writing it yourself, writing it with your team, or totally outsourcing it—you have one commitment.
Get it done by Week 11.
Note: If you have a marketing team behind your 12-week year content calendar, you can also take this time to splinter content. Splintering content is when you take a video and turn it into a webinar, social media posts, a blog post, podcast episode, etc. For every singular piece of content you create, you’ll turn it into other pieces of content.
For example, if you post one video per week, you can take each video and edit it down into a 2-minute Instagram video. You can also edit it into a few Instagram stories. You can then make the video into a blog post and pull the audio to turn it into a podcast episode.
For that one piece of content (one video) you just made 6+ pieces of content off of it.
If you don’t have a team and you’re doing this by yourself, we’ll give you permission to add 1–3 weeks to your 12-week content year to splinter your content.
We understand that as a team of one you have a lot of responsibilities (like customer management, accounting, etc.) that you’ll need to be focused on while you’re also focused on your content calendar. Take a few extra weeks to splinter your content.
Your initial piece of content has to be done by Week 11.
Week #12: Schedule your content calendar
If you’re still with us, you are hungry and we love your hustle. We know this seems really daunting, but we also know that these 12-weeks of content creation will open the remaining nine months of the year for you.
Take all of your new content and all of your splintered content and schedule it out. You can use a variety of content marketing tools to do this, here’s a list of 16 tools that we recommend.
By the end of Week 12, your content will be scheduled and set to go. When you hit that last “Schedule” button, you should be able to walk away and go to Fiji for 9 months without your laptop, and have your entire content calendar go live as scheduled.
And that’s how you get it done. If you’ve been slacking on your content creation, not meeting your content goals, and seeing the results in your KPIs, then the 12-week content calendar might just be your magic solution.