It's the first full week of January, which means if you haven't yet planned out your year, it's time to do so.
At Hattie Rex, we create an annual plan every January. Some people may choose to plan out one month at a time, but I like cranking out a whole year.
Because life gets busy and if you don't plan for it now, it might sneak up on you...or you may not even do it at all.
Raise your hand if you've found yourself realizing that a certain holiday or event is next week...or tomorrow...and you're totally unprepared for it.
My hand is up.
But since I've been creating these annual plans, I haven't found myself in that position. In fact, since I've been creating an annual plan AND taking notes on the events and logging our sales and marketing efforts, instead of scrambling to pull off an event or promotion, we get to look thoughtfully at what went well last year and find ways to improve it.
I also think it's a great idea to plan out your vacations, days off, team building days, mental health days, and other "fun" days along with this calendar. Just like you'd plan ahead for your Valentine's Day promotion, you want to make sure you're preparing in advance for taking time off (and still having your business run smoothly).
Now, last year my annual planning posts were in 4 parts. The first edition was to identify what went well and what needed improvement in 2017. I encourage you to revisit this blog post and go through the questions and activities for 2018.
The second post was about SMART goals. What they are, and why and how to create them, as well as guidelines for creating some of your own. Then we broke those goals down into small pieces so we'd be ready to tackle big goals over the course of weeks and even days.
Now, if you're ready to jump straight into the Annual Plan, here's your FREE 2019 Content Calendar download.
The file download is in Excel, but feel free to import it into Google Sheets if that's your style.
To do this, type in sheets.new in a browser (this is Google's new shortcut for creating a google sheet). Then, go to file and open. Upload the file and replace the current sheet. From here, you can edit away.
I love Google Sheets because it's easily shared and accessible from anywhere. You can even save an offline version to work from your phone when you're without service.
A little bit about how to use this template:
The first tab is your year. You'll see every date, from January 1 to December 31, listed out and broken into weeks for easier visuals. Then, I have columns for events, social media, newsletter, and other.
I've even listed all the major (and not so major) holidays for your convenience.
On the second tab, you'll find a nice safe place to list your goals. I encourage you to write 3 SMART goals here. That way, as you move throughout this year, and reference this document to see what's on your plate, you'll have an easy reminder of what you're working toward.
In addition to your goals for the year, list in this section how often you'd like to post on social media.
I like to post seven times a week to Instagram and Facebook. Some people like to post three times a week, or even just once a week. There's no right or wrong answer here, as long as you're being consistent.
If you're new to the game, you might just post once per week, but if you're an old pro, aim for 3-7 posts per week.
And seriously, don't forget to be consistent. If your audience knows what to expect from you, they will trust you.
You also can add in Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, or anywhere else you connect with your target audience.
The last section on tab #2 will give you a place to record how many followers or subscribers you have right now, and a place to set some goals to increase those numbers over the course of the year.
Now, back to populating that calendar in tab #1.
I've filled in most holidays for you, but go ahead and add in any trips you're taking, special events, shows you do every year, or time you're planning to take off.
Think of the holidays or events that you like to promote to your followers. Is Valentine's day a big sales event for you, or maybe you do a show every August that you need to remind your customers about?
Add those in, then work backward to when you'll START promoting it. Then, keep working backward to when you'll START working on those promotions.
For example, Mother's Day is a big event for Hattie Rex. This year, it's May 12. In order to have all the gifts in the mail on time, I'll set May 6 as our shipping deadline, and May 3 as our order deadline. If I want to promote it for 4 weeks prior, I'll add April 5 as the day to Begin Mother's Day Promotions. And, two weeks prior to that, I'll add Plan Mother's Day Promotions so that I know to start deciding on my sales or promotions, get my copy and images prepared, and have enough time to hit the ground running when April 5 rolls around.
Complete this process for each holiday you want to promote. You can also schedule and plan other promotions or sales that don't fall on a Hallmark holiday, too.
Once you have the big events ironed out in the Events column, you can populate the social media column with complementary posts. Be sure to include three per week if that's your goal.
If you're not yet writing a newsletter, you can change this column to reflect other marketing efforts you're making. Same with the Other column.
Take some time this week to spend a few hours working on this part of your annual plan. This is your roadmap for the rest of the year. When you sit down to make your weekly Instagram posts, or when you're wondering what to say in your newsletter, this is your goldmine that's all ready for you. Never let a holiday sneak up on you again when you plan correctly for it
Let's plan your best year yet!