Content Planning with Kat Gaskin

54: Content Planning with Kat Gaskin

Social Media is one of the most powerful tools we have as business owners. Yet it often feels like a full-time freaking job. Posting meaningful content that speaks to your audience sounds like a great idea, but how the heck do you stay ahead of it? How do you go from a reactive Oh shit, I haven’t posted in two weeks to a proactive, well-planned calendar that doesn’t run your life.

I brought in the best of the best to tell you how.

Today I have Kat Gaskin, amazing human content planning expert and creator of The Content Planner, which is the first and only Physical Planning system for your vlog and social content. Kat helps discouraged business owners create a clear path towards achieving their social media goals so you can be more abundant in your wealth, prosperity, and purpose.

Kat, welcome to The Gutsy Podcast.

Turning zero experience into a 6-figure biz

Laura: So, give me a little bit of your story. Tell me a little bit about where you came from, what you’ve been doing. Just introduce us to who you are.

Kat: My name is Kat Gaskin. I am the founder and creator of The Content Planner. I was not always e-commerce, business owner. I actually have zero experience in marketing. I have no formal education in business, photography, or anything I’m getting paid for right now.

For the record, I started out as a graphic designer. So by trade, that’s what I do. I’m all about Photoshop, Illustrator, In-Design. That’s what I went to school for. Right when I graduated, I got my dream job working full-time like that’s what I wanted to do when I graduated. Because if you’re listening to this right now and you went to school, you’re basically taught that the next logical step is to get a job in the quote-unquote real world.

So I became a Communications Associate for an organization called The College of Physiotherapists. I know nothing about physiotherapy, but that was the dream. That was the goal. To get paid $40,000 a year to commute into the city, to wear work clothes like an adult, and get three weeks of paid vacation. Like at that time, I thought getting paid for three weeks of vacation a year was the ultimate dream.

When you’re winning, you’re set. You’re like living your best life. And I worked there for about two and 1/2 years, and it drained me both physically and mentally because I was so bored. I’m a creator. I’m a graphic designer. I’m meant to have full creative control, especially being the person that I am. And I remember my Ah-Ha! moment where it just switched for me.

I was calculating how much I could work freelance to make the same amount of money I was currently making at my job. And while I was working full-time, I was also doing small freelance projects here and there. So I had already had the systems in place, and that’s when I decided to make the decision to quit my job.

It took a year and 1/2, like, it didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen three months later. I planned and saved for a year and 1/2 until I fully dove into full-time freelance life. And once that day came, in October 2012, this my first start at freelancing under my company called Salty Pineapple, which is my personal brand. So I started leveraging Instagram.

I became insanely obsessed with posting on Instagram, using hashtags, tagging different people, trying to grow. I started from zero like everyone else, and I started to grow because I was staying consistent with my content. I was designing all of these different photos. I realized that Instagram was powerful. Like, I lived in a small town outside of Toronto, where it looks nothing like a tropical beach dreamland. But with my Instagram, I was able to create that sort of world with my photos and my captions. So that’s where my love of Instagram came.

I started working for brands, creating content for them, and I knew I had a knack for marketing on Instagram and using social media to build a community. Then I realized that I was right back at square one. I was at the mercy of my clients all the time. They could access me 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And when I had initially quit my job I told myself, Why would I want to work for someone else when I could just do my own thing? But now we’re back to where I started.

So I had made another decision then to make a complete 180 and get into a product-based business. I didn’t know what that product was at the time, I just knew I didn’t want any service-based anymore because shooting for other brands and designing for other clients, it was really exhausting. And when they have changes and they want you to reshoot entire campaigns, like, it just gets really tiring. And I wanted a business that could make me money while I was sleeping because when you’re in service-based — you cannot make money unless you’re working. Unless you have some sort of product.

So that’s where I was when I first started The Content Planner. One day I remember I was researching online for a planner to plan out my Instagram posts because, for me, I’m very traditional, pen to paper kind of girl. I love stickers. I’ve been using a daily planner every day for the past 20 years. And so I wanted an actual planner for my content. Something that wasn’t an agenda. Something that wasn’t a daily calendar. But something that was very specific to my content, and I couldn’t find anything. So I designed one because I’m a graphic designer and I knew exactly what I wanted.

Mind you, I had zero experience in e-commerce. I didn’t even know what Shopify was, and I didn’t know if I could sell on Instagram either because at that point I had only been building my community. I wasn’t selling any products. And it wasn’t an account that was based around buying and money. It was more about inspiration and creativity. So that’s when I first started the content platter, which was back in 2016.

Fast forward to today, it is now a six-figure business and I run the entire company by myself from the comfort of my laptop.

Laura: Amazing. I mean, just freaking amazing. I think one of the most important pieces out of what you just explained is that you didn’t have the prior experience in what you’re doing now. But you had the hunger and the ambition. You learned and leaned into it. And now, just a few short years later, you have a six-figure business.

Kat: You literally just do it and you learn as you go. I think there’s this preconceived notion, and I mean it’s the school system. It’s like elementary school, high school, postsecondary, get a full-time job, retire at freedom 55. My parents are baby boomers, so they also instilled that within me. And no one in my family is an entrepreneur. Both my parents worked full-time for huge corporations for like 40 years, and they retired with a pension. They were so a part of that freedom 55 culture. And I saw that concept and I was like, Fuck that.

Now, everyone has everything at their fingertips. There are online courses, YouTube channels. So if you’re listening to this and you’re like, Oh, it’s really hard or I don’t know where to start — the Internet is your best friend. If I can do it without the support of all the communities that there are now, like, you have such an upper hand today versus starting a business 10 years ago.

Repositioning from inspo to e-commerce

Laura: So I’m really interested in something, you said you went from like an inspiration, creativity feed and brand to now powerful sales and marketing. What was that transition like? What did you have to shift in either your content or your imagery or the combination of the two?

Kat: Yeah, that’s a great question because a lot of people think Oh, you had Salty Pineapple which had 40k followers, so she probably just posted about it and they all funneled to The Content Planner. But that is not the case at all.

And even today, when I talk about The Content Planner on my personal account, I mean, now I have 56,000 followers — the attraction is not there. Like maybe two people will click on it. Maybe one person might swipe up. So for the record, it’s not as easy as just posting on a bigger account and funneling people over to your other account.

I started with very specific hashtags, and I knew that The Content Planner had a very different audience. It’s for fellow businesswomen like me. I knew exactly who that woman was like. I gave her a name. I know her personal interests. I know what brands she likes to shop. I literally made my customer a person and I personified who that was. So that was the foundation of all of my hashtags. All of my captions. What my photos looked like. I geared all of that towards her.

Whereas with Salty Pineapple and Kat Gaskin, that content was just for me. It was where my creative soul would just be poured out onto people’s screens. Whereas with The Content Planner, the content is very, very strategic. It has a purpose. And every time I show up and I hit that share button, I know that the piece of content that people are going to see is gonna inspire some sort of action. And I think that’s what a lot of people forget in their business. They’re just posting fluff.

Let’s be honest, I’m so over all these accounts, just sharing content that doesn’t do anything. There are people looking at your post and reading your captions. Tell them what to do in your business. So with The Content Planner, I’m always running people like buy, download our free pdf, sign up for the Free 7-Day #PlanHer Challenge, and that was the major difference with my personal account personas.

Laura: That makes a lot of sense. I think sometimes we forget that we know what we want people to do inside and out because, well, it’s our business. But other people may be showing up for the 1st, 2nd, or third time. And I mean, they just don’t know. We live and breathe it every single day, but we take that for granted. There’s a lot of missed opportunities and just literally giving people the bread crumbs to lead them to where you want them to go.

Organic Instagram sales

Laura: So I love that you pointed out the majority of your sales are organic through Instagram. I think sometimes we get wrapped up in having to spend or people just expect that. Oh, well, to get this response I have to spend this amount of money and have to do all these things. But really, you’re winning through using a free tool just by showing up and being intentional.

Kat: Yeah, 100%. It’s like, wouldn’t you want to make money every time you share something on Instagram or share a YouTube video or a Facebook post? I’m not just on social media for fun. I’m there to make money.

Laura: I’m curious on your mindset because I think sometimes people view social media as another distraction or it’s just another thing. I feel like when I talk to you, Instagram is not just another tool — it’s an essential portion of your business. It’s not just this fluff. You’re showing up and you’re showing up very intentionally, looking at Instagram not as a distraction but as a way to build sales.

Kat: Yeah, and like you said, it’s a mindset shift because Instagram, social media, and the Internet in general, it can be a very passive tool, and it could be a major distraction. It can just be this thing that consumes all your time, that you’re just constantly looking at and scrolling through. And it’s a time-waster.

However, you have to switch your mind and say to yourself, I have full control over what people do on my Instagram account. So what do I want to tell them to do? You know, because if I tell people to buy my planner, they’re gonna buy my planner. If I tell them to subscribe to my email list, there’s gonna be people who subscribe to my email list. It’s not going to be every single person who reads that caption or sees that story, but they will trickle in every single day.

And there’s all obviously ways to setup automation after they do that one single action from Instagram. But you’re right, it’s a complete mindset shift. I don’t know about you, but I want to live my life more offline than online. So just telling myself not to be too distracted by Instagram and consumed in that whole cliche quote of create over consume. You can either be a creator on Instagram or you could be a consumer, and I would much rather be a creator.

Juggling multiple platforms

Laura: So I think one of the biggest distractions besides getting caught up in what everyone else is doing, is the distraction of having so many different platforms and being able to juggle and nail it on all of them. So where do you even begin with juggling multiple social media platforms and really, really owning those?

Kat: Yeah, I’m so glad you asked, Laura. What a great question. Well, first of all, I think the whole notion of, Oh, I need to be on every single social platform because there are different audiences on this platform — we need to forget that because again, you’re gonna overwhelm yourself, and you’re going to be spreading yourself way too thin.

My first plan of action when it comes to where do you post what you post, how awful is to just pick two primary platforms? Whether that’s Facebook and Instagram or maybe it’s Pinterest and your blog. But there are tons of different ways to market your content online. And if you could just pick two, that’s what I always suggest. And the 1st 1 is your primary platform, that’s where you’re going to spend 80.

So the 80 20 split has worked really well for me because I know that I only have to post on Instagram because I know that plays to my strengths. And I know that in the past it’s been successful in converting customers for my business. This is gonna be different for everyone, but I know that for my business, in particular, Instagram works really well. So I’m going to devote all of my attention to there and then my email list will support me, for example, if Instagram breaks or if I get blocked or if my account gets deleted. One day I have my email list there to support me.

So if you’re struggling with juggling all of these different social platforms, you have to start deleting them and focusing on your primary and then your secondary.

After you do that, start to plan out content for them using The Content Planner. That’s what it’s there for, a physical planner where you can write down either every day or every other day. Whatever your schedule is, according to what you’re posting and writing down. Today, I’m gonna post a giveaway on Instagram and then tomorrow I’m gonna send out the email to remind everyone to enter my giveaway.

So having some sort of system that you can write down and organize your posts, that’s gonna be crucial in the success of being on multiple social platforms.

Laura: We go with that like, If I don’t spread myself across all of them I’m going to miss people and I love that you’re reinforcing, like, let’s focus on two and nail them and they support one another.

And I think one of the other key pieces here is that Instagram works not only because of the intentional posting you are doing, but it’s where your target audience is. You know your customer and you know that’s where they are. So I think that’s really important to know where your customers are and meet them there. Don’t try and force them to do something that doesn’t come naturally to them.

Kat: Yeah, exactly. And something else to add, as well, is if you’re spreading yourself across like eight different social platforms, you’re actually hurting your brand more than helping it if you’re not showing up in your in the best way you can.

The Content Planner

Laura: Tell me just a little bit more about what The Content Planner is like physically, just kind of tell me about the actual planner itself.

Kat: So, it’s a physical planner. It is not an online app. It is not a digital template. It is the first and only planner where you can write down your content and is specifically designed for your content planning. It’s a 15 month, fillable calendar. It includes a monthly goal setting. It has holiday calendars for all of the holidays, as well as social media marketing dates. It has inspiration for your monthly themes. So, if you’re a blogger, most likely you have (or you should have) a monthly theme for your content. For example, in December, maybe your theme is gift guides or holiday shopping or mindful gift-giving — something like that to really be the foundation for your content. It also helps you stay consistent and focused.

So I put everything that I learned from being a graphic designer and now e-commerce, business owner, social media strategist, and a content creator — everything that I learned into this planner. It also has a section to write out what hashtags you want to use for the month. It has a section for writing down who you want to collaborate with, which is what I have called your hitlist, which is a list of your dream client accounts. It also comes with a ton of social media stickers for Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest so that you can plan out your day-to-day content, and it’s simply a matter of taking a sticker, putting it on the exact date you want a post, and then writing down what you’re going to post on that day.

So that’s essentially The Content Planner in a nutshell. It’s a place where you can write down and simply have a place for your content plan, that is free from distractions. You don’t need a WiFi connection and it makes content planning fun. Because when you’re planning digitally online, you don’t necessarily have that satisfaction of crossing your goals or putting pen to paper or being able to flip pages. That’s what I love about it the most.

Laura: Yeah, I love that it’s spiral bound. It’s beautifully designed. It’s got this really fabulous hardcover and you can literally fold it in half. So I had on my lap last night on the couch, and I’m just writing and I’m turning in all different directions. And there’s just something about disconnecting. It’s just you, your mind, your pen, and your ideas. And I think that’s really liberating.

Kat: Yeah, I mean, I love The Content Planner. I’ve been using it every day since I started the business, and I might be a little bit biased. But when I tell you it is the number one most essential tools for my business, especially being an online business — like — I don’t know what I would do without this. I don’t even know how we would survive having an online business without some sort of content plan and a place to write it down.

Learning to be a planner

Laura: I think that there’s a natural transition, and I’ve even experienced this as well, but there’s a natural transition between I don’t plan at all to now I have this tool that is giving me the know-how to plan. So I’m curious where that mindset shift or what does it take to go from I don’t plan anything at all to the next month and 1/2 is planned?

Kat: Yeah, and I want to clarify to you that journey and going from I don’t know shit about content planning to I’m a content planning master, that’s going to take some time for people because I know with my community and even with my customers, they’re expecting that as soon as they receive their planner they’re gonna be this master planner. Consistent, they’re gonna know exactly what to write down, they’re going to stick to their plans so meticulously. Like, no, throw that out the window. That’s not how it works.

So how it happens and how I see it unfolding is someone starts with the intention that they want to get more organized and they want to be more consistent with how they show up online. More strategic, like purpose. Big capital letters PURPOSE.

How are you showing up? Are you showing up with some sort of intention with a reason or are you just doing it for the sake of doing it? Like there’s a difference between posting something that has a strategy and then just closing something cause you want to say that you did it. You’ll see it in the results. Maybe you’ll get more clicks, more sales, more subscribers. But when you post without an intention like nothing usually happens. It really fizzles out quickly.

So it all starts with having that first thought of, Okay, I’m gonna be more consistent. I want to start doing things with my content, and I wanted to start inspiring action.

owning the shit outta content planning

Laura: So I want to get into the meat and potatoes, which is content planning itself. I would love to hear some of your best tips and tricks on how to really just take ownership of your content planning and feel like you are being proactive and actually moving the needle verses just getting online and putting up words.

Kat: So the first place I would like to start with content planning is to figure out what kinds of content your community wants to see. Because, let’s say, for example, your community wants to see photos of cats and you just keep on posting photos of dogs all the time — there’s a clear disconnect there. And a lot of people do this because they’re just posting content they think they want to see. But you actually have to shift your mind and think about the kinds of content your community wants to see. So it’s not necessarily about you all the time. It’s about what your community wants to see, what your followers want to see, what’s gonna be appropriate for that specific platform.

This is really easy. I just go on stories and I asked my community what they’re struggling with in terms of content planning. So for you, content planning would be whatever your expertise is, just replace that word with your expertise. So if you’re wanting to teach people how to bake a cake, you would post on Instagram stories and say, Hey, everyone, I would love to help you out with all of your cake baking. Let me know what you struggle with when it comes to baking! And put a question sticker, and you’ll realize that you’ll get all of these answers that are gold. It’s literally a goldmine of information.

All people want to do is talk about their problems all the time. They just want to complain. They want to talk about what they’re struggling with, and they want help. And your job is to simply figure out what sort of service or product you can provide in order to solve people’s problems. At the end of the day, that’s all it is.

So 1: Figure out what your community wants to see and what they’re struggling with using Instagram stories (you can obviously use any other platform you’ve used but for me stories and Instagram or the ones), and then the next step is to record all of those struggles down on the Google Doc. Then I essentially turn all of their struggles into content.

For example, I know my community struggles with consistency and sticking to their content plan, so I know that my next post is going to talk about all the ways to stay consistent with your content planning. And I know that’s guaranteed to resonate with people because they told me that they struggle with that exact topic.

Next, you need to take all of those struggles that you’ve converted into content and then back that out into a content line. Whether that’s sending emails, posting on Instagram, uploading YouTube’s, maybe you’re going to be doing like a whole blog series on it, and then writing that down. So putting it down on paper.

So step 1: Find out what your community wants to see. Step 2: Turn those answers into captions and content and themes for where ever you post. And 3: Use a system that you can write down, like on a piece of paper to map out how you’re gonna be sharing that kind of content.

Hashtag Strategy

Laura: I would love for you to share your hashtags strategy in a nutshell because one of the things you mentioned in how you grew your audience was by having a hashtag strategy. So where do you even start with that? What does that look like to you?

Kat: Yes, for the record, hashtags (and you can quote me on this) are the most underutilized feature of Instagram. They’re so overlooked by everyone that it’s crazy to me. Hashtags are how I started growing The Content Planner. And if you want the full video, I have it in my Free 7-day #PlanHer Challenge, which I can tell you the link afterward. But, in a nutshell, this is my hashtag strategy:

I write out a few keywords, usually like 3 to 4 keywords that are related to my business. And these keywords should be not necessarily what you offer, but what your community, what your customers and potential clients are thinking about. And that’s where a lot of people fall short. You have to think about your community, going back to like knowing your avatar and really defining who that person is and thinking about: What are they looking for? How can I sneak my product or service in there?

So for The Content Planner, I know my keywords are content, social media, and planner. So those are my keywords. And then from there you take your keywords, punch them into Instagram in the search box, and it will either come up with related hashtags or accounts that you can use for your hashtag group. And you can also search for hashtags. So if you type in like a popular hashtag that you already know is where your community is, Instagram will give you related hashtags. That’s another way I find hashtags to use for my specific post.

Another way I find hashtags is I find people who are within my community and people who my followers are also following. I just look at their hashtag groups and I’ll go in and all pick and choose different hashtags according to my brand and see if they’re fit or not.

There are way more intricacies to like finding hashtags but in a nutshell, that’s what I do. I write down my keywords. I go on Instagram. I look at my keywords. And then I see which one’s Instagram suggests to me and I kind of validate whether the hashtag fits or not based on when I search for the hashtag does the feed and results look like my brand are the posts up to date? So if you click on the most recent post, is it from the last 30 minutes or an hour? And then I also look at the size of the hashtag, and I would suggest using hashtags that are between 40,000 to about 400,000 or 500,000 because you don’t want to go too big or else your posts will get pushed down and they actually won’t get pinned to the hashtag so other people can find it. But you don’t want them to be too small.

What Does Gutsy Mean to You?

Kat: Gutsy has two meanings. It means being in tune with your gut, which is your intuition. So doing things and living your life, operating your business from a place that feels good within your gut. And to me, that’s being gutsy as well as taking risks in your business and in life and remembering that you only get one life to live.

connect with Kat

Get The Content Planner | #PlanHer Challenge | Instagram

Thank You, Gutsy Tribe!

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