You hear it everywhere . . .
“Make yourself a content calendar”
“Use a content calendar”
“A content calendar is your key to social media success”
But your mind keeps asking the question, What is a content calendar?
Well, it’s original name is an Editorial Calendar and it is used to control publication of content across different media. Traditional print publishers have used editorial calendars in some form for centuries.
Now days we call it a Content Calendar, yet it’s purpose is still essentially the same. It’s used to help organize content and to ensure content is published at scheduled intervals.
In real estate, a Content Calendar is essential to a thriving real estate online marketing plan. It’s essential to keep real estate agents from going insane. The amount of content needed, the places you need to publish, when you need to publish, how you need to vary it for the different audiences, all of these can be extremely overwhelming. It’s also essential to help prevent “blogger’s block” or to simply prevent the “not knowing what the heck to say or do next” problem from cropping up.
There are a million and one places you can get a free template of a content calendar. The problem with them is twofold…
- They aren’t specific to the real estate industry, so the free templates don’t really provide content idea help.
- Once you’ve used up the template, then what? Did you learn how to create your own content calendar for your own specific needs?
That’s where I come in.
I’m here to teach you how to create your own content calendar, how to take the free template I’m providing and how to expand on that template to work for your own real estate business.
Step One To Building a Real Estate Content Calendar
What media will you use?
First, pick your poison. In other words, what program are you going to use to build your calendar? Or, are you even going to use a software program. Some of you may prefer a tablet and paper, or an actual paper calendar.
Personally, I prefer a spreadsheet. They are easy to quickly shape into the grid that works for you. Spreadsheets also allow for multiple columns for multiple postings in a single day.
Pick your favorite and go for it. I happen to use Google Drive (Sheets). It’s free, completely compatible across multiple platforms and if needed, any document created can be saved in a number of available formats.
Step Two to Building a Real Estate Content Calendar
Where do you want to publish your content?
Start on paper.
Do you have a rough idea of what you’d like to include? For example, do you have a blog? How many? Do you have a Facebook business page? Do you have a Facebook personal profile? Do you have a Twitter profile? Do you have an Instagram account? Do you have a Pinterest account? What about LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Active Rain, or any of these?
(Here’s a quick tip, if you have all of these things, you have too many things. Start simple and singularly focused. You see results, faster).
For me, I picked where I was already spending my personal time and it’s where many of my prospective clients are spending their time. I have our main blog site and then I have our Facebook Business page and my own Facebook personal profile that I share publicly.
Additionally, I’ve got a weekly tip guide sent via email as well as guest posting opportunities. These are the primary “spokes” and “hub” for my business.
Step Three to Building a Real Estate Content Calendar
How often do you want to publish?
What are your content goals? How often do you want something published on each of your sites or profiles? Do you know what the ideal saturation rates are? Do you know how often you should or should not publish? Make sure you don’t assume and make sure you don’t project your own personal ideas about how often. Do some research.
To start with, focus on what is a realistic goal for you, personally. Setting a goal to publish a well written blog post on a daily basis will be leaving you writing blog posts all the time and doing nothing else. Setting a goal to publish a well written blog post two to three times each month is much more realistic.
For me, a realistic blog publishing schedule was two to three times each month on the blog. I knew that I could realistically research, write, edit, create photos & quotes, publish quality content within those parameters. I also did my research. I knew how long my blog posts needed to be so that google would like them and readers would eat them up.
For my social media sites, I knew that I needed to publish a whole lot more than I thought. I did quite a bit of research. I learned how often I should post, when I should post, what type of content I should post and how to start conversations with my posts.
Step Four to Building a Real Estate Content Calendar
Narrow your focus.
Now that you’ve made a list of all of the places you currently have profiles and all of the blog sites you own, narrow your focus. Pick a central hub (your blog site) and pick 1 or 2 “spokes” that will filter into that hub. In other words, don’t try to publish everywhere.
What sites do you enjoy using? Do you like sharing pictures on Instagram? Do you like creating boards and showing off photos on Pinterest? Do you like engaging with your friends on Facebook or Twitter? Pick one or two of these sites as your main focus. As your main spokes that will point back to your main blog site.
(Tip: whether or not you love Facebook, you definitely need to be there. It is, single-handedly, the best source for driving targeted traffic into your database. It should be your primary spoke, regardless of whatever else is exciting and popular).
As you already know, my main focus is my blog site. I make sure the site receives the first and most important attention. I do a ton of research. I do even more implementation and testing. I make sure I write what prospects are searching for. I make sure I can answer their questions and meet their needs.
My “spokes” for my “hub” are my Facebook business page, my Facebook personal profile, my guest blogging and my weekly newsletter.
I knew I could also create Pinterest boards (I’m active over there personally), Instagram threads, Google+ conversations, etc. The thing is, you can’t do it all at once. You’ve got to get yourself started and implementing, creating a habit. As I build up my content library, I’ll be implementing several more “spokes”.
Step Five to Building a Real Estate Content Calendar
What do you want to publish?
Here’s where it gets hard for most people. What kind of content do you want to publish? On your blog you’ll want original content. High quality content. It REALLY needs to be written by you. This is your opportunity to create and build know, like and trust relationships and no ghost writer out there can do that for you. From there, you should be sharing that content across your 1-2 “spokes”, to draw people in to your original source.
As a real estate agent you should be focusing on content that provides value. Current and prospective homeowners are looking for a whole lot of things, not just houses for sale. What kinds of things are your prospects looking for? What information? Do they need to learn something? Do they need to share something? What questions do they have? Are they struggling with anything?
For my business, I focus on answering questions. When I see a question pop up, whether asked of me directly or seen on a board, in a group, in a text, I always look at it a couple of ways: Is it a question my ideal client is asking and if it is, does it pertain to a service or product I provide and if it does, have I already answered the question before, and if I haven’t, do I have a knowledgable, practical answer to the question?
As far as my “spokes” are concerned, my goal is to always create engagement while providing highly valuable information, for free. This can be anywhere from curating content, to posting quotes, to asking questions, to providing short tips & tricks, to providing Facebook marketing ideas, to sharing my blog posts, etc. The sky is the limit.
Step Six to Building a Real Estate Content Calendar
Layout an ideal week on your content calendar
Now we get into the dirty details. You need to layout a weekly master content calendar. One that tells you where, when, and what.
Here’s my current content calendar:
Creating the master should take the most time. You need to put some thought into it. Mix it up. Make sure you have photos, links, text, etc. in your posts, depending upon what site you are publishing to. Allow your real estate social media content calendar to grow with you.
For example, mine started out like this:
I’ve since added in more detail. More “spokes”. I expect to be adding in a few other places to publish in the future.
Step Seven to Building a Real Estate Content Calendar
Don’t let your content calendar define you
Your social media content calendar is a guideline that is meant to be fluid. It’s not a cement statue. Let’s say you’ve scheduled all of your content for the next three days, according to your content calendar. What happens when something unexpected happens? Say, interest rates take a huge plunge, or something phenomenal is going viral in your community and you want to share it?
Don’t let your content calendar stop you from sharing MORE than what you’ve scheduled. Seriously. Honestly, you can’t share too much. Not really. Don’t listen to people who say that. I promise, they aren’t sharing enough, guaranteed. Publish your last-minute sharing idea whenever you want. Just do it!
Step Eight to Building a Real Estate Content Calendar
Start using it! Start filling it in. Set goals for yourself to have X number of days of content filled in. Then get the content scheduled into your sites.
My questions for you are:
Do you currently use a content calendar? If you do, how is it working for you? If you don’t, why aren’t you using one?