One of the most frustrating things about owning a website or blog is the content. What should you write about? What topics should you cover? Better yet, what topics should you avoid? Diving into your website’s content without a plan of attack almost always sets you up for failure. While you might know the industry and know your brand, you still need a well-structured plan that details what you write about, when you write it, and how you convey your message.
Creating Your Content Strategy – Where To Begin?
Developing a content strategy is a great way to present your brand and offer readers something informative and useful every time they visit your site. While some people create their content on the fly, this by-the-seat-of-your-pants technique only works for the first few blogs and articles. Once the creative well runs dry, these site owners find themselves struggling to come up with topics that meet the demands of their readers and still fulfills Google’s requirements.
Creating a content strategy can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Instead of writing when ideas just pop up, try devising a strategy for your site. You might be surprised how easy it is to fill up pages when you have it all mapped out. The Content Marketing Institute is a great place to start to learn more in-depth ways to build your content strategy. This killer Content Strategy guide in 652 Steps by Portent is daunting, but massively helpful if you have hours to spend on the topic. This content strategy for the web by WordStream, a PPC product company, is another worthy, slightly intense and detailed reference.
When you sit down to create your content strategy you might hit a few challenges along the way. Time and finding authoritative resources are two of the biggest challenges you might face, but other challenges can include:
- Finding enough topics to write about, especially if you’re writing about a very specific niche
- Establishing a good flow of good, consistent content
- Setting and maintaining the tone for your readers
- Identifying a theme or niche that you can expand on
What is the Purpose of Your Content?
As a site owner, you have a niche already setup. Perhaps you’re selling jewelry, offering marketing services or you’re a personal trainer. As a site owner, it is important you have a clear list of site goals—what do you want from your content? Your content isn’t just a jumble of words on the screen; it also offers a purpose, and you must define that purpose before you create a content strategy. For example, if you’re a fitness trainer you probably want to attract more clients from your content. Therefore you need to use your content to gently persuade readers to sign up for your services. SearchEngineWatch recently wrote a very useful piece on content publishing tips for brands.
Establish the 5 W’s (and an H!)
You don’t have to be a Class A journalist to know that every written piece needs to address Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.
- Why – Why do you have a website? Why are you writing content?
- What – What message is your content delivering to the readers?
- Who – Who is your audience?
- Where – Where do you plan on readers finding your content (i.e. your website, blog or article directories?)
- When – How often do you want to publish and write your content?
- How – How will you structure the content you’ve written?
Break Your Content Down to the Basics—Then Expand
To squeeze plenty of content out of even the tiniest niche you need to first breakdown your readers into two groups, 1) those who are potential clients and 2) those in the industry looking to expand their knowledge. For example, as a fitness expert you could break your targets into clients and fitness trainers. From there you can create topics that appeal to both types of readers. Research will play into this—you can get some great content research tips from Copyblogger. Some examples might be:
For the Future and Current Clients:
- Tips for a better diet
- How to schedule workouts with life
- How to work out with kids
- An ideal body fat percentage
For Fellow Trainers:
- How to market to your target clients
- How to establish a workout routine for your clients
- Tips to entice clients to come back for more workout sessions
- Promotion ideas for attracting new clients
Other Tips for Success
- Plan a schedule at least 12 months out—even if you’re only posting once a week or once a month.
- Be creative and put a new spin on even the most classic information.
- Use keywords but don’t write your content just for the search engines—people have to read what you write too you know.
- Use Google alerts and social media to find trending topics and write about them.
- Analyze what your competition is writing about and see if you’re writing similar or better content.
Sure Fire Ways to Kill Your Content Strategy
While it’s important to know how to make an effective content strategy, it’s equally important to know how you can kill your content strategy. Hubspot has some very effective strategy tips on patching up content strategy holes. Some things to avoid with your content strategy include:
- Every piece of writing that you release is content, including Facebook messages and Tweets, so be focused and plan what you’re going to write ahead of time.
- Writing about you and only you. People don’t care about you, they care about what you can offer them (insight, tips, etc.) so stick to what people crave.
- Writing content that is over the heads of your audience or too basic for your audience. Match your writing with your ideal reader’s age, terminology and education.
- Serving up continent that isn’t relevant to the time. Evergreen content is great, but people also look for seasonal advice. For example, a few months before summer clients want to get those beach bodies ready, so if you’re not writing about summer-worthy topics you’re missing out. If your content doesn’t speak to the season, financial situation or economic conditions of your readers, you won’t get the results you hoped for.