As much as bloggers tend to be creative types who do things their own way and at their own pace, a digital content strategy is something that no blogger can do without.
Don’t believe that this will restrict your creativity, think again. Having a well thought out strategy will go a long way towards making your entire writing process easier. Dive into our how-to guide for tips you can start implementing immediately to improve your brand.
What is a Content Strategy?
A content strategy is, quite simply, a plan to fit your business objectives. An army preparing to go into battle does not go in without a detailed strategy. A sports team plans their moves to the last detail before they take to the field. Even a businessman going into a meeting makes sure he has a good idea of what he’s presenting before he stands up in front of everyone.
In the same vein, content creators should have a clear idea of where to go and what to do before taking a leap and start doing it. This is what your strategy is – your blogging plan of action.
Why Create a Strategy?
It’s all fine and well to just write things as you feel like it, on a day to day basis, without putting much thought into what tomorrow’s post will be. Think of this as your business goals.
The issue here is that if you aren’t focussing on creating high-quality content specifically geared towards the audience you’re targeting, you’re only going to hit that mark here and there, and not with every post.
You need to know your audience and know how to speak to them, and then you have to show your content in a way that they can relate to. This takes some time, research, and planning, to make sure that every single thing you put out there is valuable.
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with sharing a cute cat video on your Facebook here and there, but if this is the everyday attitude, your content is not going to be as effective as it could with a focussed strategy.
Who Is Your Audience?
This is the most important question to be asking when it comes to content creation strategy. What group of people are you targeting with your material?
This is critical info when it comes to a content marketing strategy. The more specific you can get, the better. Marketing to everybody will likely guarantee you have some hits, but the overall success percentage will probably be low.
Marketing to a smaller but more targeted group of people means the overall success rate is likely to be higher, as you are targeting people you already know have an interest in your subject.
If you blog about puppy care, content marketing yourself to the whole world will probably get you, let’s say, 5% clicks by interested readers. Content marketing yourself specifically in pet owners’ groups and websites will bump that up to perhaps 50%. Sharing your work in groups dedicated to puppy pet care may shoot you up to an 80% click rate.
Being specific is an absolutely crucial element to success.
What Is The Audience’s Problem?
Everyone has a problem that needs to be fixed. The key to creating a great marketing strategy is twofold – to figure out what this problem is for your target audience, and to offer them a solution.
This doesn’t have to be a serious or life-threatening issue. Often, the solutions people really want are those that make life more convenient.
What Makes You An Authority to Talk About the Subject?
This is another thing to consider when working out your strategy. You are going to have competition, so you need a unique selling point to stand out above others in the same niche.
This is where sticking to your niche is important – if you blog on all sorts of topics with no real focus on a specific one, you are unlikely to be seen as an expert in any one.
If, however, the majority of your blogging revolves around one particular subject, the chances of readers understanding that you really know what you’re talking about on the topic is much higher.
How do you go about creating an effective strategy?
Define Your Goal
Simon Sinek gave a great TED talk entitled “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” While this sounds like it may be more geared towards big business owners, it is relevant for each and every blogger out there trying to make a business out of their blog.
The idea here is simple. Your reason for doing whatever you do is the most important part of your business. Most people know what they’re doing, and they know how they’re doing it, but they struggle to define why they are doing it.
Come up with a solid, write-downable goal that revolves around why you are producing this material and what you want to accomplish. This will make your marketing infinitely easier, and also will help you stay motivated.
Develop Personas Around Who You’re Trying to Reach
We know, this sounds terrible but what it means is that you should be coming up with profiles of your target clients.
Basically, a “buyer persona” is a general representation of your ideal customer. This covers demographic, education, career information (this can get specific, such as the size of the company, job title, a typical day in your role), skills, challenges, goals and motivations, social networking, and hobbies.
The idea is to create an actual person here that you can relate to and treat as if they were a real client.
For example, if you blog about cat care and offer cat-related products, your number one buyer persona may be Marjorie the crazy cat lady, who is in her 60s, has 11 cats, lives alone, used to be a nurse and enjoys watching cat videos on YouTube.
Of course, when it comes to business, these can get very much more in-depth and serious, and if you aren’t sure how to go about creating these personas, there’s a great guide and a free template for you over here.
Audit Existing Material & Competitor’s Content
“Audit” is a word that comes with some bad connotations, but don’t let that put you off doing this step. A content audit, put simply, is reviewing ALL of the material on your website and assessing it in terms of whether or not it’s relevant to your goal, you why.
The first step is something called a content inventory, which is basically making a list of all your work. The audit is then analyzing this list and seeing what’s useful, what’s not, and what has had the best responses from your audience.
This can be a fairly big job, and if you’d like a run-down on how to do it effectively, the folks over at the Content Marketing Institute have a how-to for you.
Basically, the idea behind this is to analyze what type of material is doing the best for you, compare it to competitors, and use this data to implement a content marketing plan that will ensure you do better with new content than you did with old one.
Brainstorm Ideas and Do Keyword Research
As soon as you’ve come up with the concept of what sort of content is working for you, it’s time to do some brainstorming on what content you’re going to be churning out from here on out.
The point of having a strategy is to be prepared. To have a clear idea of why you’re creating material, but also what you’re going to create.
Go through old ideas and revamp them into new, relevant blog posts. See what competitors are writing about and come up with ideas to do the same thing, just better. See what keywords your personas will most likely to be looking up and come up with as many ideas as you can around them.
Remember there are also occasions where content can be specifically geared towards the occasion – Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, winter, spring, National Doughnut Day, etc. These are the occasions where you can get creative, but already have that base for building on.
Some helpful brainstorming tools are:
Think About Evergreen vs. Ephemeral Content
Ephemeral content is a flash in the pan, over-in-a-jiff kind of thing. Evergreen content remains relevant as years go by.
You want to aim more for evergreen content, but there’s nothing wrong with a dash of ephemeral stuff in there here and there.
Effective content strategists use the 80/20 rule works here: aim for 80% evergreen, and 20% ephemeral. That way, you know your work will continue having an impact for a long time yet.
Types of Digital Content You Might Consider:
Again, use the 80/20 rule. Typically, you will stick to one particular type of content. Bloggers gonna blog, vloggers gonna vlog, Instagrammers gonna be snapping pics.
Each has merit though, and it is worth throwing in some different material here and there to keep things interesting. Make a quick video or do a blog post revolving around pictures. If you’re into vlogging, take some photos or write a blurb about something.
Cater to your audience and what they’re likely to prefer, but jazz it up here and there. If you’re offering a product, it is also worth making sure that this product is in a different form to your regular content. For example, if you’re a blogger, asking people to pay for another blog post is a bit of a cheek.
However, creating an ebook will be seen as an extension of your blog, not just another post. Get creative with this!
Blog Posts (long-form and short-form)
Long-form blog posts typically go from 2000 words upwards, and short-form is considered anything below this. Don’t forget; this is where your keywords are important.
Ebooks are great and can be pretty much any length. Consider using these as supplements to your blog posts – extra information. You can always offer these as a separate product.
Case studies are amazing evergreen content. They also go quite a way to establishing that expert status in your niche, as they are quite niche-specific. They also give readers great ideas and motivation. If you aren’t sure exactly how to do a case study, here are some case studies that have had great results.
Everybody loves a good template, especially those of us who are new to whatever the template is about. This is a great way of offering something of value to your audience. Of course, what the template is will depend on your niche.
Sometimes, instead of reading all about it, we would like to look at a pretty picture. Infographics are superb for sharing data. In case this is the first infographic you’re making, Canva’s infographic generator will help you out.
Some people are just more visual than anything and will be more interested in watching a video than reading a blog post. You can create videos that are more like picture slideshows, or you can create a video presentation starring yourself. Sometimes it’s nice for readers to see who’s behind their favorite blog!
If you like the idea of talking things through but not the idea of being on video, podcasts may be for you! LifeHacker will walk you through the process of starting one right here.
Social media is a vital part of a great strategy. You can have all the amazing content you want, but if you’re relying on people to find you via Google searches, you are cutting your exposure in half.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat. Whatever your network of choice, get on and get sharing your content.
Choose a Content Platform
The type of content you primary produce will have an influence on what platform you choose. Some of the most popular are:
Determine How You Will Create Consistently
Consistency is key if you’re trying to be a creator and a strategist. If you fall behind creating material, you’ll stress yourself out playing catch up all the time. There are tried and true ways to help you create dynamic stuff; try some of these out!
Plan to Avoid Plagiarism, Copyright Infringement & Duplicate Trouble
Search engines do not like duplicate material, and while you may have just written a blog post out of your own head, the internet is so vast that it is not implausible that some of it may be repeating an already published post.
Most times, this is entirely unintentional, but you don’t want problems popping up around this. Duplicate content, plagiarism, and copyright infringements are things that can be easily avoided if you are aware of what they are, and how they happen.
Determine a Publishing Schedule or Best Publish Timing
Schedules are underrated! Your readers will come to expect high-quality material from you on a regular basis, so coming up with a content calendar or editorial calendar is a fantastic way to keep everything ordered.
Whether it’s posting on your blog or sharing your material, sometimes you just don’t have the time to do it on a particular day. This is where social media management apps come in handy.
Think About Ways to Repurpose or Recycle Your Material
One more thing to think about on this strategy journey is that already-published material doesn’t mean an end to the general idea. Come up with new ways to repurpose old material.
This may include writing a longer/shorter blog post zoning in on a particular element of an old blog post, creating a video to supplement a blog, adding photos to promote an ebook, or simply producing material on the same topic, but adding new value.
Creating a digital strategy doesn’t have to be intimidating. Make sure you know your why, your what, and your how, and then put that on paper as an actionable plan.
Got any tips of creating effective content strategies? Let us know in the comments!