Are you hoping to make money from your blog, think you need a better overall content strategy but aren’t really sure what that entails? Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed and wish you could commit to a regular publishing schedule so you have content in the bag and ready to go?
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In this (epic) post, you’ll learn why a solid content strategy matters and how to build one based on your dream audience, a strong brand and your specific business goals. (It’s a grab-a-cup-of-coffee-and-a-doughnut-before-you-settle-down-to-read kind of post).
You’ll discover the benefits of stepping back to take a strategic, big-picture view of your blog and business rather than living each week in the moment and why monetisation matters from day one.
No more winging it, flailing around on Pinterest looking for blog post ideas, trying to conquer every social media platform or just throwing stuff out and seeing what sticks.
Get ready to regain control. Welcome to blogging with purpose.
The long and short of blog post creation
Starting a blog is often easier than people think, the tricky part is maintaining the initial momentum. Finding inspiration to come up with great quality blog posts on a regular basis can be exhausting, even for pros.
Blogging has changed hugely since I began in 2005. The trend for higher quality, long-form content over short, spammy fluff-filled posts has heaped on the pressure for bloggers but resulted in a far better experience for end users.
Backlinko’s Brian Dean analysed over 1 million Google search results in 2016 and found that the average first page result in Google contains around 1890 words. That’s a far cry from the days when we were told you should be posting 500-word posts every day to win at SEO.
Throw in several major Google algorithm updates making it much harder to rank and it’s no surprise that bloggers have had to seriously up their game in recent years.
Problogging versus hobby blogging
Blog posts may be getting longer, blogging more professional but have we actually got better at the business of blogging? Just how strategic are today’s probloggers?
According to Convertkit’s 2017 State Of The Blogging Industry report, a whopping 52% of bloggers who responded write either the day before or on the same day as they plan to publish.
Interestingly, the respondents who fell into the ‘problogging’ category were more than twice as likely to write their blog posts more than one month before they publish than ‘not-yet pros’.
Coincidence? These figures do suggest there’s a strong correlation between an organised content strategy and a profitable blog.
However, the majority of respondents still admitted to struggling to find the time to blog.
It’s no surprise. Many of us take up blogging purely as a creative outlet and only decide to monetise later on. Strategy isn’t always top of mind in the beginning. We often get stuck in a ‘feast or famine’ cycle where winging it is the default setting.
Unfortunately, this hobby blogger mindset isn’t the best fit for when you want to turn your blog into a business. It’s fine when the creative juices are flowing but incredibly stressful when you’re in a slump and can’t face looking at the computer.
If this sounds familiar it’s probably time to step back, refocus and apply some strategic thinking to your efforts.
What is a content strategy anyway?
Let’s start with what it’s not. A content strategy is not about going to Pinterest when we need inspiration and randomly searching for 50 Essential Blog Post Ideas.
Nor is it thinking up topics based on what we think our readers want to know, or worse, just whatever we’re into this week. In fact it encompasses a whole lot more than simple content creation.
A content strategy is a bit like a framework. The blueprint for how we plan, create, promote, manage and measure our content output across all channels, not just our blog. It can be loosely broken down into these areas:
- Audience – your ideal audience persona(s), their needs and struggles. This includes mapping out their awareness journey of the main topics covered in your blog.
- Brand identity – includes your brand’s visual identity, message and overall tone and vibe. How you communicate this to your audience and how they feel about you.
- Business goals – your big why (your unique offering), your financial goals and business objectives including potential revenue streams, traffic and growth goals.
- Content marketing – the types of content (written, graphics, audio, video etc) you will put out in order to engage and nurture your audience and influencers, the channels you will utilise, how often and when you will do this (your schedule or editorial calendar).
- Metrics – the key metrics you will use to define and measure your successes, goals and growth, identify weaknesses and form the basis for setting ongoing objectives.
It might help to think of it as a guide you could give to a new employee to help them understand why you create content, how you create it, what you put out, where and when (and the metrics you use to measure it).
It may feel a long way off but there may come a time when you do need to delegate some of your tasks to outside help. A content strategy is a documented system that allows you to do this easily rather than trying articulate to what’s in your head.
In his recently updated bestselling book Let Go, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income credits his mentor Ramit Sethi with his own mindset shift which forced him to “think like a CEO”.
Instead of doing everything himself, he documented systems and workflows so certain tasks could be easily replicated by others. This freed him up to focus on growing and scaling his business.
Pat describes the hamster-wheel like existence before he developed his own editorial calendar “I was stuck in a loop of stress and production, of constantly wondering “what’s next”. His biggest realisation? “how valuable it can be to not have to think about everything”.
A content strategy is your first step towards ‘thinking like a CEO’ and creating a system that allows you to work on your business not just in it.
Nail your brand identity
Before we jump into anything else, it’s really important that you are clear about your own voice and image and how you want to convey this to your audience. From the tone and language you use on your blog and social media to your brand’s visual style, your brand identity is more than just a nice logo.
It’s about your core values and is representative of how you want your audience to feel about your brand. Consistency is key. This post ‘How To Brand Your Blog Like A Pro’ helps you to draw up guidelines that will act as a reference and help you to stay focused and ‘on brand’ at all times.
Who is your audience?
This genesis of any content strategy starts with an audience. Their actual questions, struggles and pain points and not someone else’s generic list of blog post ideas.
One of the most liberating things you can do for your blog and business is to stop guessing and start measuring, researching, listening and understanding.
In order to create a coherent strategy, it’s important to identify your audience needs first and learn how to speak their language. Hang out where they hang out, talk to them.
Stumped at where to even begin? Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media suggests starting with a very simple mission statement as the basis for your entire content strategy:
‘Audience X get information Y for benefit Z’
It’s refreshingly simple and really helps to distil how your blog is meant to serve your audience. Of course, for this to work you really need to get under their skin and find out what makes them tick.
Survey your audience or ask them in an email exactly what they’re struggling with. If you’re completely new to blogging with no audience of your own there are ways to conduct audience research and I go over these here in this post.
Once you’ve got clear on who they are and how you’ll serve them it’s time to tackle the nitty gritty of your blog’s structure and the type of content you’ll create
What should I write about?
#Truthbomb: your audience doesn’t really care what you think unless you’re answering their very specific problem with a clear takeaway that benefits them.
This harsh realisation was instrumental in my own blogging epiphany a few years ago.
Unless you’re just happy to blog for fun and as a creative outlet, my advice is to stop any random, introspective musings. Taking the emphasis off what we think and focusing on useful, practical or inspirational content that transforms our audience’s world in some way is the way to win their hearts and minds.
Creating an online journal where you merely opine on whatever random thoughts come to mind, isn’t. Instead look to niche down and serve one very specific type of audience with the things they need help to figure out. Inspire, teach and challenge them. Make their transformation your singular blogging mission.
This way you’ll establish a consistent model that pleases your audience and search engines (there’s a lot of technical reasons why niching down is good for SEO and this post explains why).
Once your blog contains some content you’ll be able to jump into Google Analytics to find out exactly which topics are a hit with readers and craft more of the same irresistible content (more on this in a mo).
In the meantime here’s a few potential models you could use as a broad structure for a blog:
- The ‘Expert’ Model – this model is aimed at people a few steps behind you in your own journey. It’s probably one of the most popular approaches because you actually don’t need to be an ‘expert’, you just need to know a little more than someone else. If you prefer, think of it as being a friendly mentor. The point is you’ve walked a mile in your audience’s shoes, made mistakes and done some things well. That’s valuable.
- The Learning Curve – this model is more of a documentation of your own ‘real time’ Discovery Journey and is similar to the previous approach but from the perspective of your own learning curve. It’s the way to go if you have no experience of a subject and are learning and blogging about something new (or if you’re in a creative or experimental niche such as gardening, cookery or DIY). Although documenting your own ongoing experience, it’s success as a model lies in how you frame and present the information in a way your readers can use meaningfully themselves. A travel blog is a good example of how this works.
- FAQ Model – do you sell products or offer a service? Tackling all the key questions and concerns that come up regularly is an ideal basis for your blog’s content. This kind of framework also works well for niches where creative inspiration might be a bit thin on the ground or might be considered a bit boring, dry or technical.
A key thing to remember is your audience will be consuming content (on your blog and your social media channels) at very different stages in their own awareness journey – both when it comes to your blog’s topics and of your brand in general.
Some will find your content accidentally while searching for information on a specific topic to get them from a to b. Others will be loyal fans returning with wallets open, ready to buy your products and recommendations. Their needs will be very different and content should be created with every stage of this learning and awareness journey in mind.
In order to create a structure for your blog a good exercise is to map out a list of 5-10 top level categories which cover the main topics in your ideal reader’s discovery journey. These will become your main blog categories. Next list all the important sub-topics which fall under each (mind-mapping is a useful way to brainstorm this). Your content should aim to tackle aspects of each sub-topic.
One thing to bear in mind. While this planning and mapping is done with a linear ‘ideal’ journey in mind, of course that’s not how it works in real life. Your readers will rarely start at the beginning. Each blog post should therefore work as a standalone piece of content in its own right and link helpfully to other related posts which move them appropriately along their journey of discovery.
The importance of goals and ‘moving the needle’
Broadly speaking there are two sets of goals at the heart of any good content strategy: your audience’s goals and your own business goals. The point of convergence is the ‘sweet spot’ where your content successfully delivers on both counts.
If you intend to run your blog as a business it’s essential to create content that not only provides value for your readers and differentiates you somehow from the competition, but serves your business goals too.
Ideally, every single piece of content should move your business forward in some way – driving more email sign ups, affiliate or product sales, brand awareness, shares etc. ‘Moving the Needle’ is a term you might have heard online to describe this idea.
It’s a cheesy phrase but it does make sense to think very carefully about what you want to achieve with your content. I like to take a ‘what’s in it for them, what’s in it for me’ approach. I want my audience to love and benefit from the content I put out but it needs to shape and grow my business too.
Only when you can identify your own business goals – alongside your audience needs – should you consider creating content, and not before. There’s little point churning out content if it has no meaningful impact on your business growth.
Even if you can only think a month ahead, take a look at the bigger, macro picture and the milestones you want to hit, then figure out the type of content most likely to meet those goals.
Is all content King?
You’ve heard the mantra ‘Content is King’. The truth is, well, that depends. There’s a lot of boring, fluffy content out there lacking in substance. Simply putting out a long 1800 word blog post for the sake of it is really no longer good enough.
It’s far better to hold off and construct something that people actually want to read, but more importantly share. It really needs to be reframed as Good, Shareworthy Content Is King. It’s one thing to create amazing content that our readers enjoy, but as content creators and business owners it needs to work in our favour too. Action is the goal.
When people share content they’ve been moved in some way. They dig it. If they share our content, there’s also a pretty good chance they’ll sign up to our email list and become customers. (From an SEO perspective, it impresses Google too as it signals our content is popular which could mean better search rankings).
Whether that’s encouraging visitors to share via social media, sign up to a newsletter, find out more about our products or services or simply delve deeper into other content on our blog, it makes sense to craft every piece of content with #goals in mind.
Scientific Studies have shown there are three types of content that are more likely to be shared than any other:
- Positivity wins out over negative sentiment. People are much more likely to share positive content.
- Highly emotive content is more likely to go viral than non-emotive content. Think awe, anxiety or even anger. If you can’t make it positive, make it emotive (but ideally both).
- Useful content is also far more likely to be shared because we like to appear helpful to others and ‘in the know’.
Looking at these findings, it’s obvious that content which taps into people’s worries and anxieties – while providing helpful remedies, solutions and advice – is more likely to be shared above all others.
Sharing not only makes us appear empathetic to others but it provides others with a positive affirmation. It’s a fuzzy feel-good party, a win-win for all.
Pro tip: Use a headline analyser to test how emotive your blog post titles are! Co-schedule’s Headline Analyzer and Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer are my go-to choices for crafting click-worthy titles.
It could be something as simple as a parenting or productivity hack, a tutorial walking hopeless bakers through a no-fail cake recipe to something much more profound. From easy, quick-wins to real ‘aha’ moments, the idea is simply to create some degree of transformation for your audience. People are on Google because they want answers.
Tutorials, guides, lists, case studies, reports and round-ups are all useful and helpful types of content that are hugely popular, incredibly useful and highly likely to be shared. Think everything from ‘quick wins’ to in-depth, authoritative guides which establish you as a go-to in your niche.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, either. It may seem controversial but piggybacking off your competitor’s viral content is a proven strategy for growth. We may like to think we’ve written the definitive list or guide but very little content is truly original.
Skyscraping – the practice of taking another blogger’s list or guide and super-charging it with even more value or information for your audience – is a common practice. Be wary of this technique though, while it can work like gangbusters, it can also work against you if you aren’t bringing something truly new and different to the table.
A tool like Buzzsumo or Similarweb will help you to see which of your competitor’s content is most popular and the subjects people actually care about. Tap into this popularity by crafting your own unique articles and posts around these topics and (hey, just don’t copy OK?!)
Similarly, content that pushes buttons and affirms a strong viewpoint or even polarises stands a greater chance of going viral than something middle of the road. If you’re passionate about a topic don’t be afraid of putting it out there.
That doesn’t mean controversy for the sake of it. Just speak the words your audience is thinking, articulate their fears and create a conversation. Not everyone will agree but if they’re talking about it and sharing your content, you’ve done your job.
How monetisation effects your content strategy
The ins and outs of blog monetisation is a pretty big topic and I won’t go into all the ways you could possibly leverage your blog and knowledge to earn money. Every blogger is different but generally it boils down to a few key potential revenue streams:
- Creating your own products and courses (digital and physical)
- Offering freelance services, coaching or mentoring
- Affiliate Marketing
- Advertising and sponsorship
Diversification is best but what works for you and your audience is probably going to involve a bit of trial and error. There’s no one-size-fits all and your appetite for different strategies is likely to change as your confidence and readership grows. Just understand that it doesn’t happen overnight and the six-figure successes are not the norm for most bloggers.
One of the things I struggle with is the contradictory attitudes of some thought leaders towards blogging and monetisation. Some say you shouldn’t consider blogging if your only intention is to make money or that it’s a bad idea to consider monetising without a sizeable following.
I won’t sugar coat things here. Making money from a blog is rarely truly passive, it always requires a lot of upfront effort and ongoing marketing. If you’re going into it thinking you won’t be working your little toosh off for hours every day, then you’re not being realistic.
You’ve also got to be prepared to get comfortable with writing and learning marketing concepts and you’ve got to have more than a passing interest in your subject matter.
With that said, I still don’t believe you need to have a burning calling to write about a specific subject and that’s why every blogging course you can shake a stick at usually starts with a section on ‘how to find your niche’.
Here’s another truth: It’s OK for money to be a driving factor and it’s OK to work this into your content strategy from day one. This is how just about every business venture works in real life. I find it truly bizarre when we’re told it shouldn’t apply to new blogs.
Ruth Soukup is the creator of popular course Elite Blog Academy. She believes you shouldn’t even think about monetising your blog until you have a staggering “1-2 thousand people” on your list.
In a blog post comment on the subject she had this to say:
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to focus on monetization from day one of starting your blog, even if your ultimate goal is to make money”.
Veteran blogger Darren Rowse has a far more pragmatic take on the subject:
“I’ve never heard a shop owner ask – ‘how early should I monetize? – shops open from day #1 with products to sell. It’s never too early in my opinion.”
If you do already offer products and freelance services it’s a no-brainer that you’ll want to promote them from day one and your blog is a key driver. Even if you aren’t offering products and services you can start monetising with affiliate marketing from day one. I’ve done it, thousands of bloggers do it on a daily basis and so can you.
Affiliate marketing isn’t gross if you only promote products and services that genuinely benefit your audience and help with their transformation process. Building trust and rapport is the way to make it work authentically.
Paul Jarvis is a highly respected writer, designer and educator who eschews in-your-face sales and growth hacking strategies and also believes you don’t need thousands of subscribers to begin generating revenue. In an interview with Pencil To Pixel he explains how he leverages his email list:
“I figured out how to empathize with them because I talk to them all the time. I understand who they are and what they’re about. When it comes time to selling, I don’t even need to sell. My sales emails are really just like, “Hey that thing I was talking to you about, it’s available.”
Separating monetisation from your early content creation process while you build a following and earn your blogging stripes may seem very noble and altruistic to your craft. The truth is it just doesn’t make sense if you actually intend to make money from your blog. Your business and monetisation goals are inextricably linked to your content strategy so make them integral from the outset.
The last thing you want to do is end up alienating the audience you’ve built. Or worse building the wrong audience. The ones who only want freebies and don’t see the value of investing in your paid products and services. Or those who get annoyed by affiliate links or ads suddenly appearing in your content.
You can avoid the ick factor by learning to set expectation early. Copywriter and Email Marketing Strategist Kate Doster’s welcome email for her opt-in freebie contains one of the most refreshingly honest introductions I’ve seen in a loooong time:
“We’re both adults here…I’m gonna send you sales emails. Yup, that’s right. I’m going tell you about my paid courses, coaching and workbooks. Does that mean I’m going to pitch slap you in every email? Nope.”
Not only does Kate set the tone from the very first email but smartly uses it as a chance to screen out any potential objectors who are not a good fit for her brand. As with many things in life and online, it’s not so much what you say, but the way you say it that counts. Authenticity goes a long way.
Monetisation isn’t a can to be kicked down the road and waiting till you have 2000 people on your list probably isn’t the best time to figure it all out.
Mine your metrics
As you build a following learn to lean in and listen to what your tribe are saying. If you’re unsure, the easiest thing to do is ask them! Whether via email or survey, in a facebook group or via social media. Ask which type of content they want from you.
Your website and social media analytics will provide further clues. I’m a total geek when it comes to analytics but I realise not everyone is as keen. The way to avoid overwhelm is to hone in a few key metrics from day one.
Lots of bloggers tend to get hung up on total page views. While high volumes of traffic are a good indicator you’re doing something right, it’s important to drill down the data to get more valuable insights. Here are a few helpful metrics to focus on:
- Page views might cause you to obsessively check your stats every hour but how many of these are unique users? What percentage are returning visitors?
- How long are they hanging around on your site before leaving (bounce rate)? How many pages do they read on each visit and where do they drop off? Be careful with this metric, however. How long are they actually spending on pages with a high bounce rate? If it’s a couple of minutes rather than seconds, it’s likely they’re still getting high value from them.
- It may seem ridiculously obvious but which posts are your most popular and which are the most shared? Which are the least popular? These will help you to figure out the type of content that’s working.
- It’s not just standard metrics you should be focusing on either. Conversions are gold. Look at which posts are driving the biggest number of email signups or sales and incorporate more of this type of content into your strategy.
- What are your competitors doing well and what are the trending topics in your niche? Check out the most shared content for a particular topic or keyphrase in Buzzsumo and Similarweb to see which of your competitor’s content is the most shared. How can you improve on it?
Pro tip: Track your conversions – Create a custom goal in Google Analytics (Conversions > Goals > Overview > Set Up Goals) e.g. one that tracks when people land on the Thank You page for your newsletter or opt-in freebie (you can refine even further by analysing the actions a user took to get to this page and even add a unit of value). This allows you to see which opt-ins are converting best and how users are moving through your content to get there.
Keywords and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Dirty words to some, golden opportunities to others. Keyword (or more accurately Keyphrase) optimisation is another polarising topic for many bloggers.
While I believe your main focus should be on crafting well written, helpful content, I think it’s foolish to ignore the importance of keywords in Search rankings.
Although I never agonise too much over Keywords, I never ignore them either. My blog posts are always optimised with a keyphrase. I’ll spend some time on a keyword tool to get a feel for its popularity as a search term and the likelihood of ranking for it.
I like to use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool or Ubersuggest to target keyphrases that real people are using to search for answers in Google. (Think phrases with high search volumes and low competition).
I research outline Keyword ideas first then optimise the post afterwards with the phrase that has the most natural fit and potential to rank. Moz’s Keyword Explorer Tool seems to give the most accurate picture of search engine results page (SERP) ranking potential over Google’s Keyword Planner, which is geared towards Adwords optimisation.
If you’re stumped for ideas, try typing a word or two into Google related to your topic and see what it ‘auto suggests’. These are the most popular phrases people are using to find solutions to their queries. Another helpful tool is Answer The Public.
How you structure and format your website and blog posts also plays a big part in how search engines rank your content. Short, well-formatted paragraphs, bulleted lists and a mix of imagery, video and infographics to break it up are all great signals that you’re crafting quality, easy to consume content.
If you’re a WordPress user, the plugin Yoast is an invaluable tool to help optimise your posts. It’ll prompt you to include relevant Keyphrases along with things like properly optimised titles, Snippets (the descriptive blurb you see under a website’s URL in search results) and alt-text on images (a short, written description that tells search engines and visually impaired people what’s on the image and its function on the page).
SEO and Keyword optimisation don’t have to be a time suck and you don’t need to lose sleep over them either. But in a world of ever-changing algorithms, it seems silly not to make them an organic part of your content strategy from day one.
The free blog post checklist helps you craft SEO-friendly content every time. Don’t forget to download it at the end of this post!
The secret power of backlinks
Backlinks are another often overlooked aspect of a good content strategy. ‘Quality’ backlinks are still a big deal in Google land. This simply means high-quality websites linking to your posts and boosting your reputation.
Search engines view these backlinks as a giant thumbs up for your content. This ‘link juice’ provides credibility and authority and is a huge signal that your content is of high quality.
The trouble is, not all links are created equal. Ideally, you should be looking to gain backlinks from sites with a highish Domain Authority (DA) but this isn’t always possible for smaller, newer blogs so instead focus on avoiding spammy sites. Lower quality links from spammy sites can actively hurt your site’s rankings.
To find out which sites are linking to yours, go to Google Search Console > Search Traffic > Links to your site. Go through the list and click through to see if any are spammy and unrelated to your topic or a dodgy-looking link directory. You can then disavow them by adding the url to a .text file (one per line) and uploading via the Disavow tool (also in your Search Console).
Guest posting on quality websites with a higher DA is one way of gaining valuable backlinks (Use Moz’s Open Site Explorer to help you figure a website’s DA). The tricky part is making the right connections. Here’s some tips to help with influencer outreach:
- Target – Make a list of potentially helpful online influencers you admire and want to connect with. Those in the same or complimentary niches.
- Connect – Reach out to those with a slightly larger following in a similar or complimentary niche who aren’t likely to ignore you if you reach out!
- Share the love before you pitch. Share and comment on their content, let them know you’re a fan. Be real.
- Pitch – Think ‘what can I do for their audience?’ rather than ‘what can this person do for me’. Value and reciprocity is the best mindset.
Pro tip: If you do score a guest post slot, make sure your bio link takes readers to a landing page with a sign-up form (not your homepage). Offer them a juicy freebie in exchange for their email. It’s a double whammy of goodness – a link back to your website and more subscribers!
Nurturing meaningful relationships is a great strategy to boost your content’s reach and gain those all important backlinks (and make genuine connections in the process). Followerwonk is a handy dandy tool to help you find influencers on Twitter.
Which type of content is right for your audience?
The final piece of the puzzle is deciding the form your content will take and coming up with a publishing schedule. While your blog is your secret content marketing weapon your content strategy doesn’t begin and end with written content.
Infographics, ebooks, webinars (workshops), photography, podcasts, video and slideshows are all different type of content you should consider adding into the mix. What you choose to put out will, of course, depend on your preferences, platform, your niche and how your audience likes to consume your content.
Happily, you don’t need to come up with new content for every channel. A blog post can be repurposed into many of these formats so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Not everyone is comfortable with video, for instance, but it’s here to stay and one of the most shareable and easily digestible formats for end users. Even if live video fills you with dread, it’s worth stepping out of your comfort zone to create video tutorials that can be repurposed into evergreen webinars or even paid courses.
There’s another reason to mix things up: we all learn differently. Some people love to consume videos and podcasts, some would much rather read a blog post. By offering variety you expose your content to more people and provide different ways of learning.
Finally, don’t stress about being on every social media platform. Pick a couple you’re comfortable with and where your audience is hanging out and roll with them.
Create a blogging schedule
The hardest part about coming up with a publishing schedule is sticking to it. My advice is to set broad topics and goals in 3-month blocks then aim to get one month’s worth of blog posts and content under your belt so you have that elusive breathing space.
Airtable is my favourite online planning tool. I love it’s clean, easy-to-use interface and how it allows me to house my editorial calendar, content ideas, affiliate marketing planner and well, just about anything you can plan and all in one place. I’ve previously used Trello but Airtable’s interface is so much simpler and it’s also free!
I also love Evernote and Workflowy for lists and planning and a good old fashioned notebook and pen!
Here’s some helpful tips to create a realistic blogging schedule:
- Decide how often you’ll blog. I’ve rarely posted more than 4 times a month but you may prefer more or less. Think quality over quantity. Brainstorm your posts.
- Create a calendar and schedule all your posts. It’s game-changing to be able to see everything planned out at-a-glance, whether that’s a chart on your wall or on something like Google Calendar on your computer.
- Be sure to set aside time each month to brainstorm new content ideas which fit your audience needs and growth goals. Keep everything in a file.
- Set up your social media scheduling. You’ll probably want more flexibility here but things like Instagram, Pinterest and facebook page posts can certainly be scheduled weeks in advance with schedulers like Tailwind and Buffer. (While ‘Set it and forget it’ scheduling saves time I still advise being regularly present and active on your chosen social media platforms too. People want to connect with a real human after all).
- Create a weekly schedule. Map out all the regular tasks you need to do each week along with all the promotional and outreach you’d like to do. Depending on how much time you have available to you create an ideal weekly schedule from this. Consider batch tasking things on specific days. Force yourself to stick to this schedule for a couple of weeks then tweak where necessary.
Blogging becomes much easier when you get into the habit of doing the same things at the same time every week. Consistency is your friend.
A content strategy isn’t just for marketing professionals. As a problogger it’s essential that you create systems and processes which allow you to grow and scale your business effectively. It’s impossible to do this if you’re on the treadmill, only thinking in the short term.
Being clear about your own brand identity, exactly who you’re serving and why is the first step. Identifying your blog and biz goals, then determining how your content marketing efforts move the needle and support them is next.
Finally creating a proper editorial schedule, even a loose one, takes the stress and guesswork out of what to write and when. The best part? Having content lined up and ready to go so you can actively spend time promoting it instead. That is golden.
Here’s a little recap:
- Know your readers. Why should they care about you and what can you do for them? What are their main struggles? What’s your Mission Statement?
- Create brand guidelines that represent the tone and style you wish to convey
- What’s your content model? Will you retrospectively map a well-trodden path, establishing yourself as an expert or document your journey as an ongoing learning curve to educate, inspire and inform others? Does the FAQ model appeal? A mix of all three, or something else?
- Define your business and content goals. What’s the big picture? How will you monetise? Be purposeful and strategic about your content and how it fits. Set targets. Ask yourself ‘what does this do for my business?’, ‘what actions will my audience take after consuming it’?
- Get clear on your content channels and stick to them. Your blog, Pinterest, youtube and instagram? Or maybe just your blog, Pinterest and Twitter? Be intentional about how you use them and don’t try to be everywhere.
- Make your content shareable and actionable. Be purposeful and positive. Hit those emotional triggers. Be useful, provide solutions, inspire. Be authentic.
- Don’t ignore Keyword Research, SEO and the importance of quality backlinks. Make this part of your content strategy from day one.
- Dig into your Analytics. Define which metrics matter to your growth and objectives. Pay attention to them. Which content is getting the most engagement, shares and conversions? Look at your competitors. Which of their content is doing well? What can you do to improve on it and make it better? Rinse and repeat!
- Create workable systems – build an editorial calendar and weekly schedule that works for you. Use online planning and scheduling tools to streamline your processes. Batch similar tasks and try to plan ahead in three-month blocks.
It’s time to get organised! Armed with all this juicy knowledge it’s your turn to take what’s in your head and commit it to paper. Sign up to The Blog Lab to get access to all the FREE Resources where you’re find lots of helpful downloads including an EDITORIAL PLANNER, BLOG POST CHECKLIST and many more.
They’re designed so you can either print them out and fill in by hand or on screen as an editable PDF. Happy Strategising!
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