“I think this is all really great, but I’d have to spend half my work week on it to get it all done.”
That’s what one of my coaching clients said to me when she read over the strategy we put together. It wasn’t anything too elaborate, at least not on an ongoing basis. In fact, I would consider it a pretty basic strategy.
But for a business owner who isn’t trained in marketing, even a “basic strategy” can take ages if you don’t know how to implement it efficiently. And as online marketing becomes more and more important, it can feel like all of your time is sucked down the social media rabbit hole or that you’re constantly creating new content, taking time away from your actual work, sometimes without any return on the investment of your time and the opportunity cost of the work you’re missing out on.
To battle this overwhelm and overworking, I’m breaking down for all of you how to prioritize and structure your marketing time so that you can actually move the needle in your business while spending 5 hours or less on marketing-related tasks.
Remember, this is for a full DIY situation. If you’re prepared to outsource your marketing, you can definitely spend less time than this on it each week. Click here to chat about what that could look like for you.
Set yourself up for success
Before you get to the point where everything can run this smoothly, it’s important to make sure you have all of your automations in place. By this I mean your sales funnel, where you’re using some sort of free, gated offer to get people into an email automation, pushing them towards your low-level offers without having to do anything yourself.
I also recommend having a couple of tools and assets in place so that you can keep your time each week to a minimum:
Have an email template ready to go for your weekly newsletter, especially if you’re using images.
Make sure you have a scheduling service for every platform you use, like Planoly for Instagram, HootSuite for Twitter and LinkedIn, and Facebook for… well, Facebook.
Set up Tailwind for Pinterest, and create a few Smart Loops so that you don’t have to fill in as much content.
Keep your files organized so that you can access things easily. I use Google Drive and Airtable, but some people prefer Dropbox… the choice is yours, as long as you can find what you need.
Put in an extra 5 hours at the end of each month to make your plan for the next one so you can work more efficiently. We’ll cover this at the end of the post.
How to spend your 5 hours each week:
Blog: 90 minutes
Some people can write blog posts a bit more quickly than that (it took me about 30 minutes to write this one), but 90 minutes should allow plenty of time for you to create your blog post based on your plan (we’ll get to that in a minute), find some images and upload it to your blog. Don’t forget to add tags and categories so it’s super searchable, and include a call to action that either gets them into one of your nurture sequences or directs them straight to a low-level offer.
Social media: 90 minutes
Starting with whatever social media platform is most important for you (on which you should probably be posting at least once per day), schedule all of your posts. Two should be about your blog post, one should mention your weekly newsletter, and the rest should be focused on adding value for your audience and telling stories that captivate them. Schedule them out, adding in your hashtags when necessary (we’ll get to that in a moment). Then take that same content and adjust it for your other platforms, scheduling it there, too.
“But what about taking all the photos or finding them online?” I hear you ask. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that. The important thing is that all of those will be ready for you already.
For Pinterest, log onto Tailwind and fill in your Smart Loops with content from your new blog post and last week’s newsletter. Take a quick peek at your analytics and see if there’s anything there that needs to change. If you have Rich Pins enabled, this should all take you about 20 minutes.
Links: 5 minutes
Once you’ve written out and scheduled your social media posts, make sure your “link in bio” has been updated so that people can easily access your content. If you’re using tracking links, you can create them and plug them in as well.
Newsletter: 45 minutes
Now it’s time for your email newsletter for the week. This could be done biweekly if you prefer. Like we said, the template should be ready, and your plan tells you what you’re talking about (something related to the blog post you’ve written, with a strong call to action to a lead magnet, a low-level offer or your blog post). All you have to do is put the pieces together and send it.
Social media engagement & stories: 70 minutes
This is possibly the most important part of your strategy. Creating content is fine, but it’s not going to reach people organically if you’re not engaging on the social platforms on which you’re posting. So if your social media focus is LinkedIn, you need to be commenting on articles and starting discussions. If you’re into Instagram, you should be focusing on leaving valuable comments and engaging in stories with your ideal clients.
By spending 10 minutes per day on engagement and stories, you show the algorithms that you are a valuable contributor, and your content will be rewarded with better reach as a result.
TOTAL: 5 hours
5 hours per month to plan ahead:
As mentioned several times, there are things you should do at least once per month to make sure that things can go this smoothly in the week. For just 5 extra hours per month (maybe the last Friday of each month), you can focus on marketing optimization so that the following month’s content can be more effective and you can work more efficiently. Here is the strategy for that:
Analytics: 60 minutes
When you’re setting up your strategy, think of the analytics you want to be looking at: open rate for emails, likes and comments and profile views on social media, click through rate, time spent on page, etc. Set all of these up in Airtable or in a Google Sheet so that at the end of each month you can quickly go through and record the data, using it to make connections and determine what kind of content you should be focusing more on (and what you should maybe forget about).
Keyword research: 30 minutes
Once you know what your audience liked, it’s time to find long-tail keywords around which you can write blog posts. You’ll likely already have a list of keywords for which you’re trying to rank, but these will be longer and more specific. I like to use Google’s Keyword Planner, which is a part of Adwords. You’ll have to go through the motions of setting up a campaign in order to use the tool (including adding in billing information), but you won’t have to start a campaign, so don’t worry. Just get to the tool and search for some relevant topics, and pick out 4-5 long-tail keywords (depending on how many blog posts you want next month).
Plan: 30 minutes
Now that you know what your blog posts will be, it’s a lot easier to fill in the rest of your content. Plug them into your calendar, and then decide on topics for the newsletters that complement the blog posts. For example, with this blog post, I’ll be sending my email newsletter more information about the analytics they should be tracking.
Once you have blog posts and email newsletters, you can go through and fill in some social media posts as well. This will make it go a lot more quickly for you each week when you’re planning things out. You can be as detailed with this as you’d like to be, but within the 30 minutes you should be able to at least jot down some topic ideas for the days you’re not promoting your blog posts, newsletter and lead magnets.
Hashtag strategy: 60 minutes
If you’re on Instagram, you’ll want to assess your hashtag strategy every month. I use a service called The Hashtag Files Society that makes this a lot easier for me, but if you want to DIY it she has a great free training that can help you get started.
Imagery: 90 minutes
Perhaps the longest part of planning for the next month is the imagery. For some people, 90 minutes is entirely unrealistic (I’m looking at you, people who like to be in every single photo they post). But if you’re using stock photos or designing graphics, this becomes a far more feasible timeline. Try to get all of your images together, or at least enough that you have some to pick from when you’re doing your weekly scheduling, and put them in those well organized files we discussed.
Review funnels: 30 minutes
Lastly, you’ll want to review your evergreen content every month. Make sure things are operating well, there isn’t any outdated information, and people are converting the way you need them to. If not, you may need to schedule in some extra time next month to address them.
TOTAL: 5 hours
Hopefully you can see that it is entirely possible to successfully market your business without it taking over your week. For just 5 hours per week and then an extra 5 hours per month, you can implement a very healthy strategy that won’t get in the way of you actually doing your job.
Of course, we can make your life even easier by creating a custom content calendar for you. We can give you a month’s worth of blog, email and social media ideas, including keyword research, hashtag strategy and other tips, that is specific to your business. To learn more about what we have to offer, click here.