We have six months left of the year, and I want everyone to jump on my train for the journey to success. I want us all to finish 2016 on a high and continue success in 2017. It's not going to be an easy ride, but with my content strategy tips, I would like to help you make it easier.
It’s time to shut down everything, grab a cup of tea and clear your mind. I am going to share with you the secret to getting shit done and still having time for yourself (while getting results). I’ve heard people complaining that they have so much to do and so little time, or that their efforts just don’t seem to be paying off, or they simply have no idea what they are doing, and they are just winging it.
I’m here to tell you that it’s ok. You hadn’t read what I have to write, but it’s all going to change now.
Have you ever looked at your favourite bloggers and thought, ‘How the hell are they doing all of this and still getting results (without looking burnt out?). Well, there is an answer to that (ok, maybe two). They may have a VA but most importantly, they have a content strategy and a content marketing strategy.
Many people aspire to start a blog which is fabulous, but they jump straight to the making money side of things and forget about the business side of blogging and the planning side. This is okay if you only use a blog for personal projects, but if you're looking to upscale, you need to be thinking bigger and smarter.
More and more people are getting online, and your industry may seem oversaturated when you look at it. You shouldn't worry about that if this is what you want to do. The question you should be asking yourself is ‘How am I going to stand out in all this noise?'. You don't need to work harder; you need to work smarter!
I took my time creating this post because I wanted it to be as detailed as possible and provide you with the best return on your investment in time. Let me get right into it and break it all down for you.
What is the difference between a content strategy and content marketing strategy?
I know a lot of people may be thinking ‘WTF is the difference?’. It’s there, it might be subtle, but it's there, and I’ll tell you what the difference is;
- A content strategy is the actual planning, creating and distribution of excellent content.
- A content marketing strategy is the use of said good content to drive potential leads towards a particular behaviour (i.e. a sale or capturing a lead).
Today, I am going to focus on the heart of the business, the most important of the two; your content strategy. You need this first before you can execute your content marketing strategy. You can't market your content until you content to market.
Why do you need a content strategy?
No matter what business you are in, a content strategy is important. Content is the driving force behind your business and you want to make sure you are doing it right. It's important to have a clear sense of direction and also provide your consumers with the content they need. Winging it works for a short time but eventually (as your readership grows), you'll need a way of keeping track and monitoring all your efforts otherwise you will burn out. As your blog gets busier, you'll want to do new things, different things and this all takes time. The only thing is, you do not have unlimited time, so you have to be smarter with it.
[clickToTweet tweet=”It's important to have a clear sense of direction and also provide your consumers with the content they need.” quote=”It's important to have a clear sense of direction and also provide your consumers with the content they need.”]
Remember those times when people could update their website once a year or fill their content with so many keywords that it didn't make sense? All of this was to drive traffic. Well, you can forget about doing that. It simply will not work. What you need to understand before anything else is you need to be writing for people and not trying to trick algorithm's into thinking you should be on page 1 of Google.
Having a content strategy allows you to figure out the ‘Who, What, When, Why and How' for your online business. Your plan will help you work out these questions and ensure that all your efforts are aligned with the answers to this question.
- What is the purpose of your blog? Why did you start it in the first place?
- Who are you trying to reach with all this wonderful information?
- What content is going to allow you to reach your audience and fulfil your purpose?
- Where are you able to share your content and make an impact?
- When are you able to engage with your audience the most?
- How are you going to deliver your content?
Everyone is creating content now, and if you want to stand a chance, you need to be creating epic content too.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Having a content strategy allows you to figure out the ‘Who, What, When, Why and How' for your online business.” quote=”Having a content strategy allows you to figure out the ‘Who, What, When, Why and How' for your online business.”]
When your business get's to the point that everything is too much to handle, and you need to hire a VA, you have a documented record of everything you have done and are doing making onboarding new staff a breeze. You will always be prepared.
The first thing to think about when creating your content strategy
When I first started blogging (which was many moons ago), I just started writing. I loved writing, and I was good at it. No, I was seriously awesome. Give me a cat, hat and a bag and I would make you a perfect story (that made sense too). In school, my teachers told my mum that I would become a writer and they were looking forward to reading my books. Well, I'm sorry Mrs Patricio (if you're reading this), I didn't. I wasted my time taking jobs I thought I had to take, but I've found my purpose now!
Back to my point, your blog needs a single purpose. Let me not lie to you; I always knew I needed a single focus, but I was unable to pinpoint this single focus until recently. When I was able to identify this purpose, things started to change for me. So I am going to say to you, find your purpose and record it. Whenever you get stuck on content, go back to your single purpose, and it will help you stay on track.
I will share with you my purpose;
Now I have my purpose, everything I do will ensure that I meet it.
Do I need to research before creating a content strategy?
In my opinion, absolutely! You want to know what's out there and establish your difference. Research helps you with your positioning. Look at competitors and ask yourself these questions;
- Who is the market leader in your industry?
- Why are they so great?
- What are they doing that you can do better?
- Where do your ideal clients hang out?
- What are they asking for?
- What aren't your competitors doing that you can start doing?
Set the foundations of your content strategy
Break down your purpose into topics. This will make it easier for you when deciding what content to create.
How can you break down your main goal into subcategories? What activities will help you achieve your end result? You need to ensure that no matter what you do, your topics align with your purpose. Here is an example of how I have separated my purpose into categories.
Understand the different types of content
When people think about creating a content strategy, a lot of the time, they think about blog posts. There is so much more to content than blog posts. You can create all different types of content to cater to various kinds of needs. What if someone prefers to watch a quick video? Or listen to what you have to say on their way to work? Right there, you have two different types of content; audio and video. There are so many various kinds of content for you to consider using for your online business. I don't suggest trying to do them all at once unless you have a team that can help you do it all. Here are just a few types of content that you can consider;
- Blog Posts
- Video Content
Create an editorial calendar
Create an editorial calendar. A Calendar that shows you what you are going to do for the upcoming week/month/year. It will help make things clearer for you and you will be able to see where you may be able to do better. I have several content schedule calendars;
- A main content calendar for everything
- Blog Post Calendar
- Social Media Calendar
I created a separate calendar for each because so much work goes into creating content for my blog post and I do so many social media posts that I can't put all the details on the primary calendar. My main calendar summarises what I have to do for each type of content, and the other two go into greater details. I always know what I am doing and I am never stuck on content.
However, wWhen I don't plan, I am always struggling.
Useful Tip: Create themes to help curate content easier. For instance, one week, I may choose a theme. Let's say confidence. Everything I do that week will be based on this one topic; Confidence. It makes coming up with ideas easier because I am only focusing on one thing. You don't have to fill each category each week with new content (unless that is your plan).
Prepare your content in advance
Okay, as ironic as this is, I haven't planned my Instagram posts for this week, yet I am talking about planning. Yes, I hold my hands up in shame. You can use this as an example of what not to do. I think it's great if you have time to create a post in the moment but your main goal is to plan content with intent. It makes for better content. Planning with intent will allow you to time to research your ideas and plan it in a way it get's delivered when readers are more than likely to see it. By planning in advance, you can review your content and make sure it's as good as you can make it before posting.
So much goes into creating blog content. I'll share with you what goes into creating a blog post for me;
It's no easy task creating content, but I enjoy it and that is what matters. Preparing your content also allows you to plan content around specific events. For instance; do you remember National Donut Day? Everyone went crazy with the Donut posts. This is just one of many advantages of planning content. What if on that day, you are in a place that doesn't give you access to Donuts so you can't post that picture to Instagram? This won't happen all the time. It's just an example.
Before planning, I would have days where I was stuck with ideas, so I wouldn't post. Then I would go weeks without posting. This is not good if you are trying to keep up appearances. Plan your content, know what you're doing and you'll be great.
Create content your readers want
I'm sure may people suffer from this. I sure did. I used to think, what on earth do my readers want? There's only one way that you can get the answer. You need to go out and get it. I am part of many groups on Facebook where people share their questions and concerns. I normally look to see if there are any reoccurring problems. This is where I find a lot of my content ideas. All you have to do is note them down and before you know it, you have a list of ideas to cover.
Other ways of getting ideas is to simply ask the question;
‘Hey, My name is _______ and I am a _______. I would like to provide more content in this area and would like to know what common problems you face when ______'.
I am not saying you should use this exact script, but something along those lines would be awesome. Let them know who you are, what you do and what you want to know. What you need to remember is you can create posts all day long if you want, but if there is no ‘why' behind your post, in the eyes of readers, it's just another blog post. There's nothing there to engage them and keep them reading until the end.
Your content should do one of three things;
Your content should have a reason and your reason should be one of the three mentioned above. Your site may do all three, or 2, or maybe even one. You don't have to do all three but give your blog a purpose.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Your content should do one of the following; Educate, Entertain or Convince.” quote=”Your content should do one of the following; Educate, Entertain or Convince.”]
Pay attention to details
Punctuation, Grammar, Tone. It all matters. Make it count and spend time checking your content. Make sure of the following;
- Does it make sense?
- Is is clear?
- Does the text flow?
- Is the Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar okay?
All these things matter. Once I had written a blog post, I would post it but I didn't read it. Those posts had a rather high bounce rate. I did wonder why, but I wondered why before I read it. Once I read it, I saw why this was the case. I was put off by reading it after the first sentence. Words were missing, there was duplication. It just didn't flow.
When reading your content, no one wants to spend time assuming what they think you meant. It takes a lot of time getting someone to pay attention to your content and one second for them to switch off. Make sure your first impressions are fantastic!
A tool I love to use is Grammarly. I love it, and my writing has improved ten folds after using it. I have started going back to old blog posts and used Grammarly to improve my grammar. They do have free and paid plans. I was sold and bought the paid, and I have not regretted this decision one bit.
[clickToTweet tweet=”When reading your content, no one wants to spend time assuming what they think you meant. ” quote=”When reading your content, no one wants to spend time assuming what they think you meant. “]
You do not have to use Grammarly, but you need to make sure you are proof reading and ensuring your content is easy to read and the intent is clear.
Whether the content is free or paid, make it epic
As mentioned before, content is king. You can't expect people to take you seriously with mediocre content and then move on to paid content. If you want people to buy your paid content, make your free content brilliant. Give them a good reason to invest in you. When I created my resource library, I thought it was ok. Well, the feedback was good and that is what mattered. As I have evolved, I want to improve it. I want people to see that even if its free, if I can make it better, I will. My point is, you can always go back and update your content, show people you haven't just done what is required to get them to sign up and given up on them. Show that you care.
I don't want you sitting there thinking that there is no going back. If there is content you know you can improve, go back and improve it now. I do it all the time. Whether it's updating blog images or updating text, I do it what I think it's necessary. Make your content brilliant and the readers will come.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Make your content brilliant and the readers will come.” quote=”Make your content brilliant and the readers will come.”]
Be inspired but don't copy
There is a very fine line between blatantly plagiarising someone and being inspired by them. If you see a piece of content you like, don't assume that switching a few words here and there and copying it onto your is acceptable. No. You have to create your own unique content. Being inspired by a topic or giving your own feedback on a specific issue is ok, but please be respectful of other people's work. You will expect the same courtesy so be prepared to give it.
Consistency is key
Choose a blogging rate you are comfortable with. Don't commit to posting 5 times a week if you know you can't do it otherwise you will appear inconsistent. This rule applies whether your posting to social media or scheduling blog content.
If you're not sure if you can post as much as you want, commit to a lesser amount. If you create more material, schedule it for a later date. You may need it one week when you are unable to create content. Always be prepared! Never feel you have to post a certain amount of time because someone else is. This is your business. Do what works for your business.
Integrate social media into your strategy
Remember, once you have created your content, people need to see it. How are you going to get people to see it? Yes, by sharing it on social media. The one mistake I did was trying to be available on all platforms. I soon realised that this was unrealistic. What I ideally recommend (but it's totally up to you) is picking two platforms and focusing on those. By focusing on two, you can put more energy than you would have done if you were focusing on 8.
We want quality, not quantity. What you post on social media should be part of your strategy. How are you going to get all those readers back to your site? You only have a moment to capture the attention of people viewing your post on social media. With sites like twitter, you only have a few words to make an impression so make each word count and plan ahead.
Also remember, if people love your content, they will share it which means more traffic for your site. Readers are more than willing to share great content. This means the content on social media has to be good too in order to convince them to click on your link and read even better content.
[clickToTweet tweet=”You only have a moment to capture the attention of people viewing your post so make it count.” quote=”You only have a moment to capture the attention of people viewing your post on social media so make that moment count.”]
Make sure you include a call to action. Let people know what you want them to do. ‘Register Here', ‘Click Here To Read More', ‘Sign Up Here To Reserve Your Spot'. These are all call to actions. You are telling people what to do after reading your caption on social media. Make it clear what you want them to do and they are more than likely to do it.
Collecting emails is essential to your listbuilding strategy
It took me 4 attempts at business to realise the importance of a mailing list. I just didn't understand the importance of it. People alway made me feel like it was a way to hard sell to customers and I wasn't about that. When I was made to understand the value I could add to people on my mailing list, it began to make sense.
Not only was this a problem, but the fact you could lose access to your followers on social media is what really scared me. Imagine working your butt off to create a good following with engaged followers and waking up one morning to see it all gone? The social network may shut down or maybe your profile is deleted/hacked. Anything can happen.
Your mailing list is yours. No one can take that away from you. The quicker you build your email list, the better.
How do you build your email list? With even more great content! If you're worried about what you can do, here are a few examples;
- Free 7 Day Challenges
- A Free Video Series on a Specific Issue
- A Free E-Book
- A Cheatsheet
- A Discount Code
- Exclusive Content
Remember what I said above, whether free or paid. Make it epic!
[clickToTweet tweet=”Your mailing list is yours. No one can take that away from you. The quicker you build, the better.” quote=”Your mailing list is yours. No one can take that away from you. The quicker you build your email list, the better.”]
You need analytics. You really do. Analytics tell you everything you need to know about your efforts. If you are not quite sure what analytics can do for your business, I recommend reading my post on why analytics are crucial to your business.
You will find analytics for most social media networks. Analytics platforms can take the guesswork out of figuring out when to post, and where to post. It will also help you figure out what type of content to post by looking at statistics. You want a way to measure your efforts and Analytics allow you to do this.
If you're not doing this, I recommend you start using Analytics. You don't want to waste any more time doing things that are not helping your business and focus on the things that really help you fulfil your purpose. Do you view your Google Analytics? Pinterest Analytics? Facebook Insights? Twitter Insights? Do it now!
Check the timings of your posts
Not everyone is online at the same time. What you are most concerned with is when your content get's the most engagements. Well, I bet you are wondering; ‘How am I meant to work that out?'. Google Analytics baby. If you have no idea how to figure it out, I suggest signing up to my mailing list because I will have a course coming up that will help you with this exact thing.
Posting at the right time will increase your chances of your posts being read at the time where you are most likely to get the most engagement. More engagement can lead to more shares and more traffic! I suggest checking the timing of posting on social media networks too. If you are looking for an application that can help you figure out the best time to post. Here are applications I have used and work very well for me;
Twitter – I use Iconosquare. By the end of 2016, if you have a business profile, you will be able to see this information in the native app. Iconosquare is another paid service but it's invaluable.
Facebook/Twitter – You can use Buffer. Buffer can help you schedule most social media posts. It will assess the best time to post for each social media channel based on how often you want to post per day. Buffer is very effective and it starts from free for a certain amount of social media profiles.
Monitor your efforts
It's a good idea to track the efforts of each piece of content. Which content did well? Which content didn't do so well? What strategies may you need to consider changing or eliminating altogether? Looking at past results will help you grow and create stronger and more focused content.
Review your plan regularly
Things change, you will grow. You may niche down even more making some things irrelevant. If you do not review your content often, you may miss opportunities. As each month passes, your business is growing, so you need to make adjustments for that.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Rose breaks down the importance of having a content strategy. Click here to read more http://bit.ly/29vHJ9f” quote=”Rose breaks down the importance of having a content strategy. Click here to read more http://bit.ly/29vHJ9f”]
So that's my two cents on content strategies. Hopefully, I have provided you with enough information to go and create your own content strategy with confidence.
I'd love to hear your thoughts.