Is posting a weekly blog post or sending out an e-newsletter part of your travel agency marketing mix?
How’s that going for you?
If you’re anything like me, it’s a bit of a struggle coming up with relevant topics to write about each and every week. At least, it was a struggle until I started using a content management calendar to keep track!
Seriously, writing my weekly e-newsletter is so much easier when I use this calendar. Today, I’m pulling back the curtain to show you exactly what I do to keep track of topics and content ideas. You’ll see some screenshots from my content calendar below, and I have a downloadable template for you at the end if you want to use something similar. I adopted this calendar from HubSpot, and then I adjusted it to fit my needs as a small business owner — and I think it can definitely work for travel entrepreneurs as well.
Take a peek:
Daily Content Mapping
Above is a screenshot of my calendar tab for January, created in Excel. I try to fill out three months at a time, to help with quarterly content planning (though March doesn’t look quite as robust as January right now …). I know three months sounds like a lot — but again, using this calendar has made planning that far ahead so much easier for me. The first row contains every date in January, and the gray rows represent weekends.
Here’s an explanation for each column that runs along the top of this sheet:
1. Publish Date: This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but I want to point out why I use a daily calendar, rather than a weekly one. Currently, I’m sending out my ezine once a week, but once I get my new, rebranded website up and running, my goal is to occasionally publish blog posts that aren’t tied to my ezine. This will help with SEO, of course, but it will also make my ezine subscribers feel special — they’ll only get my best, hand-picked content delivered to them, rather than just every post I throw up on my blog.
2. Due Date: My goal for when I should have my piece written, usually the Friday before I hit “send” on Monday.
3. Topic/Title: Since I will be reusing my ezines as blog posts on my new site, I’ve gotten into the practice of coming up with good blog post titles for them. If I can’t brainstorm a great title as I’m filling out my content calendar, I’ll just fill in the general topic and come back to the title later.
4. Email Subject Line: My subject lines will always be different from my blog post titles. What works for email may not work for your blog, and vice versa, so you’ll have more success if you choose titles and subject lines tailored to the medium.
5. Content/Details: This is where I throw down my thoughts on what I’m thinking of including in the piece. It doesn’t have to be fully fleshed out, but having a starting point before I sit down to write has helped tremendously. I no longer sit staring at a blank page, waiting for “inspiration” to strike!
6. Keyword(s): I’ve done a little bit of keyword research in Google’s Keyword Planner, to figure out what my target market (aka you!) is searching for. If there are particular keywords that I want to work into the piece, I record them here.
7. Target Personas: A target persona is a (usually) made up person you have in your head that represents your ideal client. You give your target persona a name, a family and work background, and other details so that this “person” really comes to life for you as you work on marketing to them. I have two target personas: Veteran Vicki (a travel advisor who’s been in the industry for a while) and Newbie Nancy (an advisor who’s newer to the travel industry world), and I try to write my content pieces to one of these personas, or both.
As a travel advisor, you may have more than one target persona if you specialize in a few different destinations or markets, like family travel and romance travel. Not every blog post or e-newsletter you write will appeal to all of your personas, and that’s okay — but this content calendar helps me make sure I’m consistently serving up content to both.
8. Offer/CTA: Again, once I get my new site up and running, this column in my calendar will become more meaningful. At the end of every blog post, I’ll make a call to action to a reader — maybe it’s an invitation to follow me on social media, check out a related blog post, or enter their name and email address to get a free opt-in offer related to the subject of my blog post. If someone made it all the way through one of your blog posts, they’re clearly pretty interested in you, so it’s a great time to ask them to connect with you further somehow.
Organizing and Planning Content With Tabs
In addition to a tab for each month, I have a couple of other tabs in my calendar that help me plan out content, which you can see above.
Here’s what I use each tab for:
Blog Ideas: Basically, this is where I dump all of my half-baked blog/ezine topic ideas. I just include the tentative title/topic, and a few details about what I’d talk about (if I know yet). As you can see, these are really just the beginnings of ideas — but that’s okay. I can come back and flesh them out later, but knowing I have a place to “brain dump” helps me keep track of my fleeting ideas.
Free Offer Ideas: If I have an idea for a free guide, report, checklist, email series, etc. that I think would make a great opt-in offer, I record it under this tab. Again, it’s scant on details, but I appreciate having a dedicated tab to capture my thoughts on opt-in offers.
Guest Posting: One of my marketing strategies for 2017 will be to reach out to online publications that I know my target market reads to see if I can write some guests posts for them — which will get new eyeballs on my work, and increase my credibility. You can use this space to keep a running tally of all the travel bloggers, websites, and online magazines that align with your specialty.
Keywords: This is where I dump all the keywords I’ve researched, so I can refer back to them as I’m planning my content out month by month.
Free Template Download
Phew! So that’s basically how I plan out my content. If you have any questions, just leave a comment below!
If you think having a content calendar like this will help you with your own travel agency marketing, I’ve got a free download for you. It’s a template of my own calendar, with a content tab for every month. Just delete the content examples in each tab and use it for yourself!
The calendar, which is in Excel format, should download automatically. If you have any issues downloading it, however, just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.