Content planning strategy to grow your health practice
The online presence for your health practice has a few essential roles to play. The content you publish includes regular free content (e.g., blog/vlog/podcast), content to nurture your relationship with people who are subscribed (e.g., email newsletters), and even content that gets you in front of new people (e.g., social media). These all feed into the content planning strategy to help you grow your health practice.
Any resources you put into free content should give you some return on your investment, whether that’s views/traffic, new subscribers, discovery calls, or sales. Your online content does this by:
- showing people who you are,
- establishing you as an expert,
- setting your brand apart from your competitors,
- educating on how you can help them, and
- proving to potential clients and patients why they should trust you.
I’m the first to admit that no one needs to do all these things at the same time. We all see those who do, amirite? They seem to effortlessly publish daily free content on multiple platforms, send regular emails, have perfect launch sequences and funnels, and have huge social media reaches. They don’t haphazardly publish content on a variety of topics with random frequency. I work with some people who have reached this status (and they are fantastic, BTW), however, you should know that they have entire teams dedicated to supporting them (it’s not just me!).
Please don’t be intimidated by people who seem so successful. Ditch any signs of “comparisonitis” knowing full well that they were where you are now and that means that you can reach what they’ve done in your own way.
Content is a long-term game. It may take months of regular high-quality content to help your business get where you want it to go. But, having a content planning strategy will help you reach your business goals faster.
So, how do you determine what the important content marketing tools are for you and how to strategically plan them out? And how can you get this done in just a few hours per quarter?
That’s what today’s post is all about.
Today, you’ll get a free (no opt-in required) copy of my content planning strategy editorial calendar plus a free sample of a pre-written short article that you can use for your blog/vlog/podcast or email as we go step-by-step through strategically planning out your content to help you attract new clients and patients and grow your health practice.
STEP 1 – What is your business goal?
We want to “start with the end in mind.”
The first step in creating a content planning strategy is to have an idea of where you want to go. You need to plan out your blog post topics around your business.
Business first. Content second.
You can make your strategy as detailed as you want, right down to the exact social media posts, email newsletters, and launch sequences. But, that’s not what I’m going to talk about today.
To get started, there are two things you need to create your blog strategy. First, you need your vision (your “why”) and your mission (your “how”). The second thing you need is your niche: your target market (“who”) and what you help them with.
These are the foundation for your entire business, including your blog strategy and plan.
I find it best to think about business goals on a quarter-by-quarter basis (e.g., the next three months) and span that out to one year max. For example, business goals can be:
- Q1 – Lead generation by growing email list
- Q2 – Selling one-on-one services or a group program
- Q3 – Building customer/client/patient loyalty
- Q4 – Upselling and cross-selling new or related products
If you want a bit of help walking through different business goals and the specific marketing tools that help to reach them, see my short masterclass on strategic marketing for health pros and CEOs.
STEP 2 – Download a Content Planning Strategy Editorial Calendar
First of all, if you don’t already have a calendar or spreadsheet to work with, please click the image below to make your own copy of the spreadsheet to download and use to strategically plan your editorial calendar (no opt-in required):
To make your own copy of this tracker (if you have a Google account), on the menu bar, click File > Make a copy. If you want to download a copy to your computer, click File > Download as, and then choose the appropriate type of file for your specific spreadsheet program.
HINT: I have this on my Google drive and installed the app on my smartphone, so I can update it whenever I want, wherever I am.
NOTE: This has been designed specifically for blogs, vlogs, and podcasts (including guest posts on your blog, and being a guest on others’ blogs). If you’d also like to include your newsletter and social media, please, by all means, go ahead and add them!
STEP 3 – Think about your content’s objective
Now that you have your business goals in mind from step 1 and a planner from step 2, it’s time to relate your business goals to your clients’ and patients’ goals. Who are you trying to attract and how do you help them? How do you want to represent your brand?
Don’t worry about exact content topics just yet, that’s the next step. Right now we’re strategizing the overall “big picture” of your content. Answer the following:
- What is your end goal for your ideal client (e.g., to get rid of their GI issues, to feel stronger and have more energy, to lose weight)?
- How will you inspire, educate, and entertain them (e.g., by sharing new studies and how they can use the info to their advantage, by creating new recipes, by making funny videos they can relate to)?
- What do you want your readers to learn, feel and do (e.g., empowered by education and tips, like their health is worth investing in and they can reach their goals)?
- How do you help them (e.g., provide one-on-one coaching, tailored meal plans and text/email support, recipe books or fitness videos)?
As you can see, the objective of your content is to add value to your ideal clients’ lives and invite them to engage, share, and consider investing in you for help and guidance.
STEP 4 – Plan out the most important dates of your content plan first
Remember: Business first. Content second.
The first content items to add to any planner are the dates of your known promotions.
- What launches do you have planned (e.g., what dates do you want to “sell” your free opt-in offer, or one-on-one coaching).
- What special health or food awareness dates do you want to support and be associated with?
- What about flash sales or special promotions for your birthday or biz anniversary?
Put those dates in your planner first. If you’re working through the spreadsheet provided, feel free to add those dates into column A.
STEP 5 – What’s your posting frequency?
How often can you reasonably post new content? Are you able to publish a blog/vlog/podcast every week? Every other week? What about your email newsletter to stay in touch with subscribers? Is that weekly? And don’t forget social media. Many people share social media content daily, but you can choose your own frequency.
Whatever your current posting frequency is now, you can always change it later to update your content planning strategy.
As an aside, most people recommend free quality content (e.g., blog/vlog podcast) 1-4 times per month, emails 1-5 times per week, and social media 1-3 times per day.
If you’re working through the spreadsheet provided, feel free to add (or subtract) rows for each month as you see fit.
And if you wonder whether you’re going to run out of content, I can help. The Credible Health Blog Shop is full of long-form 2- and 3-part articles that dive into a health topic, plus there are shorter articles called “Health Scoops” that are based on new studies that can be used for your blog/vlog/podcast or even email newsletters. For a free sample of a Health Scoop, click here.
STEP 6 – Draft your content planning strategy editorial calendar
Start roughly drafting dates, categories (if using), and topics for the next 3-4 months.
If you’re using the editorial calendar spreadsheet, these would go into COLUMNS A, E, F & K (highlighted in green).
NOTE: I’ve included “comments” on the headers of most of the columns, just hover over the column headers (in row 1) to see them.
Don’t worry about the details, it’s just a draft right now.
You can make them “sticky” (you MUST get that out on that date) or “fluid” (flexible and can be bumped if something comes along).
NOTE: Every piece of content should have a purpose and a call-to-action (CTA). For example, several weeks before your planned launch you want a series of posts/vlogs/podcasts that lead up to it. These will nurture your audience and help them to understand the value of your soon-to-be-launched product or service.
Also, consider your content categories – Do you want more content in a particular category? You can use your biz goals to decide on content with that CTA (e.g. if you want a certain # of discovery calls, make sure you plan out content that has a CTA for people to schedule a discovery call with you).
STEP 7 – Finalise your calendar for the next 3-4 months
Now you’re going to fill in the rest of the blanks for the next few months.
If a column doesn’t apply to you, then hide/delete it from the sheet. You don’t need to decide on an exact keyword/title/slug until closer to your publication date (highlighted in orange).
- What ideas do you have that you still haven’t gotten around to?
- What questions have you been asked by your audience?
- What were your most visited posts in the last few months?
- What were people searching for when they found your site? Check for the most popular search terms.
- What were the most popular topics in your niche in the last few months? Check BuzzSumo for what got the most social traction.
- Do you want to create a “series” on one topic? Perhaps for a future ebook or program?
- Do you want to invite a guest blogger to your site?
Use the “Ideas & Brainstorming” tab of the spreadsheet to collect your ideas, especially if they don’t fit into the next 3-4 months.
If you’re struggling to come up with topic ideas, I created a list of 60+ wellness blog ideas you can create in 60 minutes that you can download here. They’re not headlines, they’re actual ideas to prompt you to come up with a topic to write about.
Struggling to find topics to blog about?
Instantly download these health blog topics!
PRO TIP: Once you’ve planned out the next 3-4 months of content, you can consider batching your content creation to be more efficient.
STEP 8 – This strategic plan is only carved in stone if you say so
This is a strategy to help you make your blog support your business.
Of course, you want to meet these targets. And even if you can’t do it all yourself, you can outsource some of your content creation (I do health writing and content strategizing for health pros, if you’re interested). But don’t forget, you’re ultimately in charge of your blog, website, and wellness business, so make CEO-level strategic decisions and move on with your biz.
STEP 9 – Keep your content planning strategy up-to-date
Nothing works if you don’t use it.
Make it a habit, or book it in your schedule to update this editorial calendar every time you create a new piece of content. I update my “Ideas & Brainstorming” tab every time I get an idea for a new blog post. I update my clients’ calendars every time I draft a new post for them. You can even do a monthly review of the previous months’ content in the “After 30 days” columns, and jot down any conclusions about that piece. You will get the most out of this plan if you use it. 🙂
I hope that this post walking through how to strategically plan content in your editorial calendar helps you to make your online content support your business goals.
Signing off and toasting: To strategically using content marketing to grow your health practice!
Over to you
Does the thought of spending a few hours per quarter strategically planning your online content give you a huge sigh of relief? Are you continuously open-mindedly learning more and more about your area of expertise? Is it making you a bit more (but not too) confident?
I’d love to know your thoughts on this content planning strategy in the comments below!
Originally published May 2017; updated with even more awesomeness in August 2022.
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I’m Leesa Klich, MSc., R.H.N.
Health writer – Blogging expert – Research nerd.
I help health and wellness professionals build their authority with scientific health content. They want to stand out in the crowded, often unqualified, market of entrepreneurs. I help them establish trust with their audiences, add credibility to their services, and save them a ton of time so they don’t have to do the research or writing themselves. To work with me, click here.