How to use Notion for content planning
I’ve spent the last 6 months trying out different workflows when it comes to content creation, specifically on YouTube. Thankfully, in the last 2 months or so, I feel really good about this content creation workflow.
To preface, this workflow might not work well for you personally, but for me, it’s been working great and helped me think big picture while also staying consistent in the little details when it comes to content creation.
This entire workflow is built all in one tool: Notion. I tried this workflow in Airtable, and honestly, it wasn’t so great. You can definitely make it work in Airtable, so if you have other processes built in Airtable, it can definitely work there. Just take the same concepts in this Notion template and build them as an Airtable base with Google Docs.
Enough of Airtable. Let’s talk about how I’ve been managing content creation in Notion. If you want to grab a free copy of this Notion template that we’ll be walking through, check out the link below.
Since it is a free template, I’m not going through every little detail in this post. I’ll cover the main concepts and dive into some of the key parts of it. Let’s start first with fields in this Notion template.
This template is just one database. There’s no embedded database or anything like that. It’s just a Notion database.
The first field in this Notion database that is key is using Notion’s new status feature. In Notion’s status feature, there’s 3 different types of statuses you can have: To Do, In Progress, and Complete. You can then create different statuses under those 3 types.
For me, this status field has been nice as I can use this content calendar as a library of content ideas, see where I am in terms of content production, and eventually use this as a way of seeing results from content creation. Since I’ve only been using this Notion database for a few months, there’s not a whole lot of data to take from it yet. A year from now, I should be able to find some learnings in it.
For the status fields, I’ve organized the To Do types to be “Idea” and “On Deck”, In Progress to be “Writing”, “Record ready”, “Needs Edit”, and “Edited”, and Complete has “Scheduled” and “Done.
The key statuses here are “Idea” which means that it’s idea and I can put it on the calendar if I feel like it’s appropriate. “On Deck” means that it’s on the calendar and as a result, is on deck to come up. In Progress statuses are pretty self explanatory and are pretty key if you are batching content creation. I’ve just started doing that and it’s been huge. WAY less stress. Complete is self explanatory too.
The next two fields that I want to talk about together are Title and Title Length. What I love about this field is that I can type a YouTube title into the Title field and the Title Length will tell me how many characters it has. Super nice to have because if a title is over 55 characters in YouTube, your title is cut off in some instances. This same type of measurement could be used for tweets too!
My favorite field to talk about in this Notion template is the Prep Doc field. The Prep Doc field is a field that I didn’t think about originally when creating this Content Calendar and I’m so happy about this field. This field is a linked database and is a prep doc for the content. This allows me to have a doc of notes and anything else I want to put into the content, but not be super organized. It’s my brainstorming document. It separates the actual content piece from my brainstorming.
This has been key for two main reasons:
One, it helps me really keep thoughts organized and I can easily have the prep doc open on one screen while on a different screen, I can have the content piece that I’m writing. It’s an easy back and forth instead of scrolling and clicking a lot.
Two, I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but word counts in Notion stink quite a bit. There’s only one way to see word counts in Notion and that’s by clicking on the 3 dots in the upper right hand corner and seeing the word count there. It shows the word count for the entire document. If I had my brainstorming notes on the same page as the actual piece, the word count wouldn’t be accurate for the piece that I’m writing. Having a separate document keeps that word count useful. Word counts are helpful because I don’t want to make too lengthy of pieces of content.
The last field that may not seem super important, but makes this content calendar much more robust is the platform field.
The platform field is important because it says what platform the content piece is going on. I’m mainly focused on YouTube and Instagram, so those are the main two platforms I have in my own content calendar. The nice thing about this field is that I can see my entire content calendar quickly in one view and create separate views for each platform. So, all of my content is managed in one database, but can be managed differently based on the platform.
With that - let’s dig into the views of this Notion template and how they operate.
As I just mentioned, I can have one view that shows me my entire content calendar. It’s nice because I can see everything in a calendar view and see quickly what platform that content piece is on. From a high level standpoint, I’ve loved having this view. It’s allowed me to create a good flow of content and see how pieces of content might work together. It’s super easy to dig into particular pieces of content and this helps me see the big picture quite often.
These Ideations views has become a favorite. This is where if I have an idea come to me in the shower or on a run, I can go right to it and enter it into Notion. I think of these views a lot as digital sticky notes. Post an idea into them, and when I’m organizing my content calendar, I can just pull from these ideas. It hides pieces of content that I’ve already posted too. I have these views organized by platform because yes, I can link content together from Instagram and YouTube, but ultimately, I’ve learned that each platform needs its own lane. If I want content to play off one another, I can organize that in the previous view of the calendar.
The last view is the full view. This view you don’t really need, but I always tend to have a view that shows all of the fields. It’s more of a comfort blanket for me since I could create this view at anytime, but if I’m ever confused if I’ve hid a field or want to clean up a database, the full view is really helpful. Again, this full view isn’t a necessity, it’s much more of a personal preference.
So, we’ve covered pretty much this entire Notion template. There’s not a whole lot to it, but it’s absolutely made a huge difference for me when it comes to content creation. Just having this simple Notion database has decreased stress levels for me pretty significantly and allowed me to batch content so much easier.
There are a couple areas where I have a feeling I’ll be improving on at some point.
First, I mentioned earlier that eventually I can use this Content Calendar in Notion to have some learnings from it. Currently, I don’t have a view for that setup and I don’t have any fields that are really focused on that. I probably should have a field in this content calendar where I can internal notes about things I may have tried in a content piece or things to keep an eye out on when it comes to traction of a content piece. I’m not writing any of those kinds of learnings down and I probably should be. Eventually, I’ll have a view where I can compare results of content.
Second, this content calendar is very setup for a solo creator. Eventually, my hope at least, is to have a team working on content. In that case, I would need to create some fields that allow me to collaborate better as a team and setup workflows so people know when content is ready for particular actions. These actions could be posting on YouTube, that a thumbnail is ready, or that something needs to be edited. Lots of different use cases, but thankfully, even having statuses helps make that transition a little easier when it comes. The nice thing about Notion is that nothing is locked in stone, it’s all an iterative process.
This Content Calendar in Notion is just a few months old and I fully expect this to evolve as I evolve as a creator. If you’re interested in seeing how it might evolve, you can grab a copy of this Notion template below and join my newsletter!
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