If you’ve been tasked with creating a content plan, it can be difficult to know where to start. After all, creating these types of plans is no easy task. You have a seemingly endless list of questions to answer:
What should we write about?
What type of content should we create?
What’s our goal?
… And dozens more.
It’s easy to become paralyzed by the level of creative freedom that comes with creating a content plan. And so you spin your wheels and spend months working aimlessly with no real business results to show for it.
Alternatively, you may not even realize the scale of the task you've just been handed. Perhaps this is your very first content plan. You pick an article topic out of the blue and put pen to paper. That’s a mistake too.
Creating an effective content plan, no matter how you spin it, isn’t easy. But it is important. When ‘not easy’ and ‘important’ meet, you must have a plan. So how do you create a winning content plan?
I’ll level with you. Between the team Hire a Writer, we could write a book on this. Maybe even a series of books. But if you’re here reading this, that’s not what you’re looking for. So instead, we’re serving up a top-level overview of what it takes to create an effective content plan.
Let’s dig in.
The first question to ask yourself is why your business is even creating content in the first place. There are all kinds of reasons to invest in a content plan. Here are some of the most common:
Now, this isn’t a finite list. There are plenty of other reasons to create content. These reasons often exist in parallel with each other. It’s possible to improve your website’s SEO and educate your audience at the same time. Any well-planned content strategy will tackle several of these goals at once.
Once you’ve clarified exactly why you’re creating content, the next issue to address is who you’re creating this content for. In determining that, there’s nothing more helpful than conducting a thorough audience segmentation.
You have to do an audience segmentation. If you try to talk to everyone, you’ll end up talking to no one. The more specific you can get with your audience segmentation, the better. Your goal should be to build customer personas that help everyone understand exactly who you’re writing for.
We suggest you do this along three key planes:
Completing an audience segmentation takes a while and it isn’t something you should decide on unilaterally. You need to work closely with both leadership and the people in your business who are closest to customers and spend the time to really get to know your audience.
Need some help? Get Hire a Writer’s Free Audience Segmentation Workshop Template
Okay, so you know why you’re writing and who you’re writing for. Next up: what should you write about?
Because you’ve already answered the why and the who, you should have a pretty good idea of your answer to this question.
If you’re writing SEO content for mid-market manufacturing firms, you can go ahead and use a keyword research tool to figure out what topics to write about. If you’re focused on a thought leadership strategy for your executives, you need to talk to them to figure out what the important issues are in the upper echelons of your industry.
Generally speaking, you want your content to follow some semblance of a theme––not just a random scattergun approach.
Our favorite way to do this is a topic cluster strategy. Using this strategy, you write an in-depth pillar piece about the keyphrase you want to rank for and then create a series of related blogs covering related sub-topics. It’s a sophisticated strategy that takes time and resources but done right, it will give you results.
Alternatively, there are ways you can do SEO on a budget too. The most important thing is to create highly valuable content that’s useful to readers.
Next, you need to figure out what the content creation process looks like. There are often a lot of moving parts you need to coordinate here: interviews with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), internal marketing reviews, graphic design, and so on.
Create a Standard Operating Procedure that outlines the various stages and deliverables that go into creating your content. This not only keeps expectations aligned but also makes it much easier to keep things on track.
You can do this in Excel, but unless you’re a wizard, you’ll quickly find yourself slumped over your desk pondering your career choices. Instead, consider using one of the gazillion project management tools available. We’ve used them all: Trello, ClickUp, Monday, Asana. If we’re honest, they’re all flavors of the same thing. Choose one and roll with it––it’ll make your life a lot easier.
You’ve made it. You have a content plan. Congrats!
But now the real work starts. Everything you’ve done up until now has been preparation to make your content as great as possible. It might have taken you weeks or even months to get to this point, and you’re probably itching to start writing and publishing.
Once you get into the cadence of regularly creating and publishing content, it’s vital you regularly refer back to your plan. Are you meeting your goals? Is your business seeing engagement from the people you’re trying to target?
Analyze the data and don’t be afraid to switch things up if you need to. A content plan shouldn’t be rigid and inflexible. Now, don’t dive into making changes too early: SEO takes time. You won’t see results for a few months at the very least. But don’t blindly march on with a strategy that doesn’t work either.
Need some guidance from some people who’ve been there and done it all before? Get in touch with Hire a Writer: content strategy is what we do best.
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