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How to Use a Content Planning System to Sell More with Kat Gaskin of the Content Planner

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When it comes to social media, do you have a content planning system?

Social media can be SUPER overwhelming if you don’t have a content plan and strategy to help you get through the week. As any good social media strategist knows, there’s a lot more to content planning than just posting a photo on Instagram or pinning to Pinterest

A good content planning strategy can help you sell more and launch your product, but only if you’re doing it strategically.

Our guest on episode 018 of the Rebel Boss Ladies Podcast is Kat Gaskin, a Toronto-based graphic designer-turned-entrepreneur and creator of The Content Planner.

She knows how important it is for digital product sellers to plan their social media content. Her product, the Content Planner, is designed to help online entrepreneurs generate buzz, get their brand out there online and create successful launch strategies.

If you’ve ever wondered about how you can use social media to your advantage, this episode is a must-listen!

Kat’s Story: How She Went From Full-Time Graphic Designer to a Content Planning Expert

Like many entrepreneurs, Kat didn’t always work for herself. While she was working full-time as an in-house graphic designer, she realized that if she started her own business she could work a lot less and could travel a lot more.

“If I worked freelance like I could charge so much more and not have to go through that daily grind of the 9-to-5 thing. And that's when I started to actively save and plan for quitting my job.”

Kat’s transition to freelancing didn’t happen overnight. She planned for a year and a half so that she’d be financially ready the day that she quit her job.

“October 2012 was day one of full entrepreneurial life. I was a freelance graphic designer under my personal brand called Salty Pineapple. And it all took off from there.”

Kat started out doing freelance graphic design work, and that quickly turned into content creation, working with brands, creating photos and copywriting for social media. She decided to transition again, however, when she realized she wanted even more freedom.

“I realized at the time I was back into the client-based services industry where they had access to you anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I was at the will of their emails. And so I started to think about what would it look like if I had a product-based business.”

The Content Planner: How Kat Came Up With Her Digital Product

Kat had always been obsessed with planning. She’s used a daily planner for over 17 years, and realized how important it was to plan when she started freelancing.

“When I quit my job in October 2012, having a plan was so crucial to giving structure to my day. Letting me set goals that were a lot bigger than myself even in my business and really taking those dreams, like dreaming of a working life, and probably more what would that look like.”

Kat admits she’s very goal-oriented, and used her planner to set achievable tasks that she could work on every day to keep building her business.

She ran into a problem, though, when she was trying to find a good planner that would help her plan her content. She tried searching for a paper social media content planner and realized that she couldn’t find a product like that on the market.

“I was like, ‘wow it's amazing. This doesn't exist. I'm just going to make one.’”

Creating the Content Planner and Building a Brand to Sell Her Product

Kat’s graphic design skills really helped her turn her product idea into reality.

“I’d love to tell you that it was very strenuous and that I did a lot of research but honestly when I sat in front of my computer and started to design the entire layout and the system of the content planner it literally just flowed out of my fingertips. I knew exactly what I wanted.”

Kat created the product that she wished she had been able to find online when she was looking for social media content planners. “I saw a need because it was a problem that I was having.”

The Content Planner launched in 2016. Kat says that she and her co-founder at the time had no launch plan or marketing budget, but it was an instant success because there was such a need for their unique product.

“It really proved to me that this is a viable product and that people wanted it and they needed it. It sold out.”

By putting a unique spin on the concept of a daily planner, she was able to create a product that people were willing to buy.

She also had no competition when it came to marketing her product, because no one else had created anything like it. Even though a lot of different planners existed, none had her specific design and spin.

“I think if there's anything I want people to remember listening to this, especially designing digital products: yes, there might be a ton out there but no one is going to design your product like you are. All your thoughts, all your creations are original things, like you own your thoughts and no one else can copy. They can try to, but it will never be as great as what you're going to create.”

The Essentials for Planning Content: How Kat Built These Into Her Product

Kat included everything in The Content Planner that an online entrepreneur and digital product seller needs to think about when creating a content strategy.

She took what she needed when she was planning her own content to build a product that could work for any and every online product seller.

First, she recommends that it’s important to think about your content strategy in advance. For Kat, that means at least one month ahead, because it allows her to cover all of the essential aspects of creating your content, like editing your photos, gathering hashtags and more. Planning ahead is essential when doing a product launch.

The Content Planner is built to help you prepare for this. It’s a monthly spread planner which allows you to see your entire month at a glance. “This way you can plan out your social strategy for the whole month.”

Kat also emphasizes how important it is for digital product sellers to focus on goals and always have a strategy in mind. The Content Planner has a section where you can set three to four monthly goals, and a section to write down important dates that are coming up, so you remember to plan for them.

“So even right now, I mean it's February and I'm planning for Black Friday and the presale that's coming later in the year in October.”

There are also spaces in The Content Planner to plan out hashtags and your hit list, which is “a list of your dream clients and brands you want to collaborate with or other accounts you want to get featured on so that you can stay focused on growing and collaborating with the right people.”

Finally, Kat says important to think of your business presence across all of your different platforms. She has a solution for this – the Content Planner comes with different stickers that help to visualize what your content strategy looks like for that month.

How Kat Found her Content Planner Target Customer in Herself

Kat knows that her product isn’t for everyone, and her goal isn’t to get the Content Planner into every person’s hand. She knows how important it is to identify her target customer and focus on building relationships with those individuals.

“If I can get in front of my ideal customer every time and have her love the planner to the point where she's buying it every single year and telling all her friends and posting that on social, that means so much more to me than just selling to like millions and millions of people.”

For Kat, finding her target customer was easy because she can see her target customer in herself. “It was very important for me as a business owner to create a product that I believed in and that I used.” She uses her product everyday to run her own business and develop her content plan.

She used this to think about who exactly her target customer was and every detail about them. “I actually gave her a name, so her name is Felicia and I know how much she makes. I know her hobbies I know where she shops. I know the kinds of brand she likes to wear.”

Kat says that an essential part of launching a digital product is knowing exactly who the target customer for that product is.

“Knowing your ideal customer, it really lays a great foundation for finding where they hang out. Like who else would they follow on Instagram. What are their behaviors like how much are they investing in digital products or products in general? What are their pain points and how can you sell to them?”

Kat also emphasizes that it’s incredibly important to continue to share good content and build positive relationships with your ideal customer. “It's all about finding your specific niche and dominating that community and serving them every single day with value and content,” she says.

What Kat’s Learned Since She Started Running Her Own Product-Based Business

Even though it took over a year, Kat was eventually able to completely transition her service-based business to a product-based one. Now, with the success of the Content Planner, Kat has the ability to work with brands, travel, and have a location-independent business.

Looking back to 2012 before she had started her own business, she admits “I had no idea that I would be running a product-based business… I have no experience in business. I graduated from college with a diploma in graphic design and then I went to university for media.

“So nothing business-based. Nothing marketing-based, it’s all kind of self-taught. Learn as you go. Trial-and-error, the typical life of an entrepreneur. You're always taking risks and learning.”

She’s noticed some shifts in herself as her business has evolved and grown. She’s learned a lot more about herself because she’s constantly putting herself out there.

“As much as it's been a journey of my business, it has also been a huge self-discovery journey where I'm constantly learning who I am as a business owner and as a person.”

For Kat, the biggest shift was she began to really value her time, skills and talents. Running a business has helped her to learn how to say no to people and create boundaries for her business and in her life.

“Connecting with the entrepreneur life there is this whole stigma that you always have to be working… But overall you quit your job and you sell your own products because you want to design your own life. I think it's important to remember that every single day to be able to say no to things, so that you can say yes to the opportunities that do serve you and that do value your time.”

What is a Content Strategy and Why Planning Content is Important When Selling Digital Products

Kat created her product because she knows how important it is to create a content strategy for how you’re going to show up on social media.

So what do you need to include in your content plan? Kat explains that a content strategy includes “when you're going to post, where you're going to post and what you're going to post.”

Depending on the type of content you’re sharing and which platform you’re using, timing is also a huge part of a content strategy. This is particularly important during a product launch.

“When you're launching a product you can't just post about it the day before and say: ‘hey, I have a new product available.’ You have to create a launch plan and from your launch plan is a solid content plan.”

Kat recommends thinking through your launch, and planning how far ahead you need to start posting content. Thinking about where and when you’re going to post on social media, how active you need to be before your launch, and how to engage with your community is essential before any product launch.

Every step of your content plan should work towards something and eventually lead towards a larger goal.

“Your content plan is it's like your recipe for Instagram or Facebook. It has all those ingredients to lead towards the bigger goal, whether it's converting your followers so that they go to your site and download on your product or if it's gaining followers or working with brands. All of the content that you're sharing every single day needs to be the lead to that main purpose or goal.”

A great example of this is Kat’s plan for Galentine’s Day, the day that women get together to celebrate female friendships before Valentine’s Day. She knew this day aligns with her brand and would target her ideal customer, so she had planned on having a monthly sale and built a specific content strategy around it.

“I created all this content and stories and hype around female friendships and business besties and things like that.”

Kat recommends thinking about your content strategy in a SMART way, so your plan content is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time sensitive. If your content plan is too general, you won’t be as successful in working towards your goals.

“When you are writing down your content plan, yes it's great to figure out okay, I'm going to post on this day on this platform. But you need to take it a step further and write down exactly what you're going to be sharing in terms of the caption or the like the theme or the topic.”

What Types of Content Digital Product Sellers Should Include in Their Content Strategy

Kat knows that social media can be overwhelming, and sometimes it’s difficult to balance posting relevant, engaging, original content to so many different platforms.

Waking up and not knowing about what to post and when can lead you to post something that’s ineffective, or worse, might just lead you to not post at all.

When planning out your content, Kat recommends including a lot of different types of posts to keep engaging your audience. She recommends that you should limit posts about selling because your audience can get tired of this very quickly.

“You can't just be posting content every day that's selling, because one that gets annoying, and two it's not even effective. People don't want to be sold to every single day.”

Instead of constantly posting about selling, Kat recommends building a social media strategy that allows you to build trust, build your brand and build your authenticity. “People will naturally be attracted to you if you're posting the right content in the right structure.”

To build a relationship with your audience, Kat recommends mixing a lot of different types of posts and captions into your content strategy. Variety is important, and alternating between many different types of content, like asking questions, sharing a business success story, talking about your brand, using a quote or posting something vulnerable, can make your audience more attracted to you and your business.

Kat says that “social media is a highly-curated, beautiful, filtered life… When you can be authentic and honest and truthful with your community it will resonate with them so much more.”

Kat’s Social Media Strategy: How She Effectively Uses Different Platforms to Sell Her Product

Kat says that the best way to create a content strategy is to identify a platform that works best for your brand and target customer. For her, that’s Instagram.

She also emphasizes that your email list is your most powerful selling tool for digital product sellers.

Kat has a few different strategies to help her more build and use her email list effectively.

First, she has a great freebie, which is a research library full of content-planning printables, that people can access by opting-in to her email list. She also has a free seven-day video series planner challenge where she helps participants plan everything from hashtags to strategy.

Both strategies have a high value and they give her audience something that they want. “That has been such a huge driver of traffic to our website… People want value. They need you to give them something in return for their email address.”

Kat also stresses the importance of setting up automated sequences for your email list, because it lets you be a little more hands-off in your business.

When it comes to balancing her time between email and social media, Kat knows it’s more important to put effort into her social media strategy because that’s where her ideal customer hangs out.

“I don't email my customers all the time I just email them when either there's a product launch coming on or I want to send them something for free or there's a sale… And then all of my day-to-day strategy is sharing and my engagement and just showing up for my business on Instagram.”

70-80% of Kat’s sales come directly from Instagram, which was the case even before she had 10,000 followers. “If you're listening and you have a small following you don't need all of those features in order to convert from Instagram.”

She emphasizes, “with the right strategy and with the right people you can convert. It's not about the numbers. It's not about gaining followers. It's about gaining your exact target audience.”

Why It’s Important to Plan Your Content When You’re Building a Launch Plan

One of the most important times for digital product sellers to plan content is during a product launch. Having a good content strategy can help you build buzz on social media and ultimately ensure your launch is more successful.

Kat’s experienced both sides of this spectrum. The first time she launched the Content Planner she didn’t have a launch strategy and it was successful, but it didn’t compare to her launch in September 2018.

She decided to create the perfect launch plan. “I probably started like six months out from September really mapping out how I'm going to warm up my community purchasing the content planner. And those six months go by. I followed my plan I stuck to it.”

Her content strategy paid off and she was able to make $37,000 in one week, just by planning her content and being there for her community.

She emphasizes that numbers don’t always play into this. Even though she has 16,000 Instagram followers, her sales are in the six figures. Even if you have a smaller audience, you can plan your content to create a launch strategy that is successful and targets your ideal customer.

“People are kind of schooled by this whole numbers game. It's all really about speaking to your exact community. And that goes back to finding your ideal customer and who they are and defining that person.”

Planning Your Content to Create Consistency and Make a Profit

Kat says that the most important aspect of creating a content strategy is making sure that you’re being consistent and sticking to your content plan.

It’s hard to constantly stick to your content plan, and it is still possible to fail or make mistakes, and that’s okay. “I think people just need to be a little bit easier on themselves.”

But Kat really emphasizes that you need to shift your mindset in order to make sure you’re following your content plan. Planning your content and posting are essential parts of making a profit from your business.

Having a content strategy will ensure that you’re constantly in front of your customers and community on a daily basis and remind people that you’re there.

“When you don't post anything you don't profit. That's just how it works… Every time you post something on Instagram or Facebook or YouTube whatever social platform you're getting in front of your audience and reminding them about your brand and your products.”

//LINKS IN THE SHOW//

Check out Kat’s website here

Follow Kat on Instagram here

Find Kat’s free resource library here