It’s the new year – so it’s a good time to start thinking about creating some great content for your website. Making it up as you go along will get you so far… But if you want to be a little more strategic, try out the steps below for size.
1. What are you trying to achieve with your content plan?
The first thing you need to do is spend some time figuring out what your business stands for and how it’s positioned in the marketplace. Exploring and trying to answer all of the questions below will certainly help to point you in the right direction (and they’ll work whether you’re a solopreneur, independent or an established business):
- What’s your mission statement?
- What’s your brand?
- Carry out a SWOT analysis
- What are your Strengths?
- Where are your Weaknesses?
- Where are the Opportunities?
- Where are the Threats?
- Or a TOWS analysis:
- Identify Strengths and Opportunities (SO) – How can you use your strengths to take advantage of these opportunities?
- Identify Strengths and Threats (ST) – How can you take advantage of your strengths to avoid real and potential threats?
- Identify Weaknesses and Opportunities (WO) – How can you use your opportunities to overcome the weaknesses you are experiencing?
- Weaknesses and Threats (WT) – How can you minimize your weaknesses and avoid threats?
Once you’ve done that, figure out how the production of targeted content is going to help you towards achieving your business objectives.
2. Who it is you’re creating the content for?
Content marketing is all about producing material that sits in one (or several) of four quadrants. It needs to be either Educational, Entertaining, Inspiring or Convincing, or some mix of the four. To make sure you’re hitting the right buttons, you need to take efforts to try and identify who your typical reader is and what they’re about.
If you’ve already established a customer base, then you can start surveying your audience [quantitative analysis] by asking them about your product or service and how it fits into their lifestyle or buying cycle. Online (e.g. via social media) or offline (meetups, customer interviews) focus groups using controlled environments if possible can help you to flesh out some of the data from your surveys.
Areas you want to try and consider will include, but not be limited to, the following:
- personal details
- marital status
- number of children
- age of children
- job title
- annual income
- pain points
- sources of information
- objections to the sale
- role in purchasing decision
Once you’ve carried out these steps you can try to put together some USP’s (Unique Selling Points). By this stage you should have done some business analysis so it’s just going to be a case of mapping your known strengths back to your ideal clients pain points.
If you want to go the extra mile, try to visualise your brand or USP package as a famous person. Having a mental image of your organisation as a kind of Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie as you write can help you to convey the right style and tone of voice as you put together your content.
3. What content mediums are appropriate for your audience (based on 1 and 2)
Given the work you’ve already done in terms of researching both your business objectives and ideal client, you should by this point have a good awareness of the kinds of channels and mediums your audience are using to access your content. So this step should be a simple matter of making sure your content strategy checks the necessary boxes from the (not exhaustive) list of potential mediums and types of content below:
- How To’s
- Case Studies
- Emails & Newsletters
- Interviews & Q&A’s
- White Papers
- Original Research
- User Generated Content
4. Generate ideas for content
Ok – so now we’ve outlined the skeleton of our strategy, it’s time to get creative. What is the content actually going to look like? What is it going to be about? How are you going to grab the attention of your audience with compelling titles and content that makes them want to keep reading?
Use some of the ideas and tools below to help you research and generate ideas for content your audience will love:
- Subscribe to relevant blogs and use an RSS reader to monitor other peoples content and spark ideas of your own.
- If you can’t come up with some ideas yourself, use the “What to Write?” workshop to help to generate some for you!
- Use the Content Forest Content Spy to analyse the content of other sites on the internet to figure out what’s working for them.
- Content Forest also has a great Content Ideator tool that can help you come up with some titles based on what other people have already written.
- Long tail keyword research – Content Forest has a great tool for this too.
- You might also try UberSuggest for your keyword research, since it has a handy copy and paste function to help you grab all the results (and there can be a lot of them!)
Once you have some ideas, start to segment them based on the work you did for section  and map them out using the planner in .
5. Use a planner to track everything
A good content plan has big and small pieces of content. Peaks and troughs, just like television or film studio release schedules. For every Luther or Doctor Who episode, there’s a bunch of Eastenders, Casualty or The One Show episodes preceding it.
You need the small to appreciate the big, and the troughs to appreciate the peaks. Your content should contain a mix of epic content, and filler material to keep people engaged, interested and hopefully entertained.
Personally, I aim for the following pieces of content each week:
- 4 x filler posts that can be written and published fairly quickly (i.e. within a couple of hours)
- 2 x videos demonstrating technical concepts
- 2 x evergreen or in-depth articles
- 1 x newsletter
Clearly your mileage may vary depending on what you’re writing about, for whom, and how much time you can devote to the work.
Your content planner should reflect the amount of effort you’re willing to put in and ideally cover the following areas:
- The content idea or concept
- Ideas for the content title
- SEO (typically keyword) considerations
- The actual content title
- The call(s) to action
- The content medium(s)
- When the content is to be published
- When it was published
- When it should be updated (if the post is intended to be “evergreen”)
If you need a template to get you started, you can download one from the Content Marketing Institute here, but I’d recommend just creating your own spreadsheet or Google Document since you’ll probably end up tailoring it to your own style as you start to progress.
6. Write the content
Once you’ve figured out what your content goals are, who it is you’re trying to reach with your material, how you’re going to reach them and what you’re going to reach them with… There’s no way around it. It’s time to buckle down and actually start doing the work of writing, producing and publishing your content.
You can make your life a little easier by utilising some standard copywriting formulas for whichever medium(s) you’re building your content with, but going into detail about those is beyond the scope of this particular article.
Just don’t forget that once you’ve actually created the content, you need to make sure people know about it. You need to get out there and broadcast that content on every channel you possibly can, and them some more besides. Because on the internet, if you haven’t told people about it – then it may as well not exist. Relying on Google to point people in your direction just doesn’t cut it these days. Your content needs to be everywhere.
If all of this sounds like a lot of work (trust me, it is) – download our 90 minute daily plan to help you get it all done in double-quick time. And if you have any questions, please do leave a comment below.- Simon
P.S If you're interested in learning more about performance testing, checkout my Performance Testing 101 course here.