I have a confession to make…
I finished off 2016 with what can only be described as an abysmal effort when it comes to my blog. I somehow went from religiously posting a new blog post every week, to absolutely nothing from 26 October 2015 through to 20 January 2016 (this post).
Now I can create all kinds of excuses, like I was focusing on refreshing all the content for my FB Business Success NOW! online training program during that time. Or I could argue that I was still producing content on a weekly basis as part of #BusinessAddicts The Podcast and therefore it wasn’t as important that I blog weekly also.
BUT, at the end of the day, the real reason that I slipped from my regular schedule was because I hadn’t done the pre-work that is required in order to make regular and consistent content production as easy as possible.
So once the going got tough (in terms of my increased workload in other areas of my business), the blog suddenly seemed all too hard and I could no longer manage it.
So here’s what I am doing (and in some parts have already done) to turn this around and make sure that I am producing content on a regular and consistent basis moving forward. I recommend that you do something similar to breathe the life back into the content creating strategy for your business.
[Tweet “How to develop a content creation strategy for your business @Impactiv8”]
Review Your Current Content Strategy (even if you don’t have one)
Start with a review of the content you have produced over the past 12 months to determine what content performed best and what flopped.
Determining this is not only a case of working out what content resonated best with your audience, but also which pieces of content helped you achieve the most leads and sales.
Some of the ways that you can measure the success of your content is by taking a look at the following:
- Traffic – Look at your Google Analytics to determine what content received the most traffic.
- Shares – Use social plugins on your website (e.g. Flare) or a tool like BuzzSumo to see what content received the most social shares.
- Comments – Review your blog to see which posts received the most engagement through comments. You can also look at your Facebook Insights to see what types of posts (both your content and the other people’s content that you shared on your Page) that generated the most engagement.
- Leads – What content assisted in generating the most leads for your business. If you have goals set up in your Google Analytics for your lead generation activities, or if you are using UTM tracking tags or unique URLs based on the content source, then you should be able to analyse where those leads are coming from to determine what content sources are generating the most leads for your business.
- Sales – What content assisted in generating the most sales for your business. You can use similar methods for tracking sales as you would for leads. However, if you have a more sophisticated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, then you might be able to see the complete path that your customers make from the point of first being exposed to your business (perhaps through the content you have shared) through to the point that they purchase from you. This information can be super powerful in helping you identify the ideal customer lifecycle journey based on the past behaviours of your current customers. You can then look at ways to improve or replicate this journey in other aspects of your business.
Once you have determined the content that worked best for your business, dig in a little deeper to work out why.
Was it the:
- Relevance of the content to your lead generation activity or products and/or services
- Content medium (i.e. blog, video, live streaming, podcast, infographic, eBook, etc)
- Content format (i.e. list post, visual layout, etc)
- Length of the content
- Images used
- Time of the year
- Day of the week you posted
- Promotional strategy around the content
- Social sharing (paid and/or organic sharing) by your business
Use the information you unearth as part of your content strategy review to better inform your content strategy moving forward.
Develop A NEW Content Strategy For Your Business
Just because you have always done something, doesn’t mean that you should always keep doing it.
It’s time to come up with a new plan based on the information you have obtained through your content strategy review, combined with your plans for the year ahead.
So first you have to work out what you intend doing in your business over the next 12 months.
Map out the year ahead in terms of what will be going on in your business. Consider the products, services and events that your business will be delivering, as well as any major sales periods.
What will these be and when will they occur? In particular, will you be involved in any launches that will require a significant product development and/or marketing effort? Or are you going to be involved in any affiliate promotions?
If so, then you are going to need to work out when these events are going to occur and then work backwards to determine how long it is going to take for you to develop those products (if required), as well as what is going to be required in order to market for each of those launches.
Alongside this you also need to consider any lead generation activities that you intend to undertake. Consider when you will develop them and when would be the best time to promote them.
Once you have a general idea of the main things that will be going on in your business, you can then start thinking about the type of content that you will need to produce that will best compliment and support those activities.
In other words…
Your content strategy needs to align with your overall business strategy.
Brainstorm Potential Content Topic Ideas
Reflect back on the results of your content strategy review to spark ideas for the content you should create moving forward.
Start by brainstorming potential content topic ideas.
You can get the ideas flowing by:
- Looking at what performed best for your business in the last 12 months (the results of the review I recommended you do above). Look at how you might be able to revisit those topics that performed well by digging a little deeper, by either creating a follow up post that is more in-depth or by tackling the same topic from a different angle.
- Considering if some of your old content is in need of a refresh. Refreshing old content is a great way to cut down some of the work that you have to do, as in most cases, it takes much less time to update old content with current information than it does to create new content from scratch. This is a particularly good strategy if the content is already gaining a fair bit of organic search traffic, as updating the content is likely to increase the amount of time people consume that content on your site and perhaps even reduce your bounce rates or assist in gaining you more leads and/or sales.
- Reviewing the comments of the content you have previously published. Did any of your content generate comments or questions from your audience that are worth exploring as stand alone content.
- Looking at what are your most frequently asked questions by your customers. Can you turn your responses into content to share with your audience, therefore reducing the number of questions you receive on this topic, as well as creating a great resource you can share whenever people ask this question of you again in the future.
- Exploring the current hot topics in your industry or niche. Being one of the first to create content around the latest industry topics can be a real advantage for your business.
- Doing some research to see if there any industry trends that you should be exploring.
- Looking at what content can you repurpose, such a embedding a Blab you did previously on your blog or transcribing a podcast episode and turning it into a blog. Both of these examples allow you to give more life to your previously produced content, whilst providing you with the opportunity for your content to be seen by a larger audience.
- Seeing what other people in your industry or niche are creating content about, particularly those that have performed well. But don’t just copy them. Instead, look at how you can add your own angle to the same topic or dive a little deeper if there is more to be said on the topic.
- Survey your readers to find out what they want to hear more about. This can be done formally through a survey or informally through a call out for ideas on social media.
If you are still stuck for ideas, then check out I Lost My Blogging Mojo: Here’s How I Got It Back! for more inspiration.
Once you have a big long list of potential topics to develop content around, it’s then time to refine that list. Be prepared to be brutal. You want to create meaningful content that will resonate with your audience and produce results for your business.
Not all ideas of your will be good ones, so split your ideas into two lists. The first list will be your “star performing content ideas”. The second list will be “ideas for other purposes”. Don’t completely ditch these ideas, but instead consider whether or not you could use some of these ideas within other content you produce, rather than as the main topic, or as short form content, such as social media posts.
Plan Your Content
Once you have a list of your potential star performing content (i.e. the content that you are going to produce) it’s time to order that list and plan that content into some sort of a schedule that you can roll out throughout the year.
Group those topics that would work well together and consider developing a content series around those topics. This can work particularly well if that content series fits well with an opt-in, product launch or event you have coming up in your business, as you can time the content to be published throughout the promotional period.
Planning your content ahead of time has many benefits, including:
- Taking the pressure off you throughout the year, as you don’t have to worry about what you need to create, you just need to create the next piece of content in the queue as per your content plan.
- Allowing you to get more strategic about the order in which you publish your content, so that it is presented to your audience in a more logical order that builds on content you have posted previously.
- The ability to organise your content so that it is relevant to what is going on in your business at any point in time, such as content that is relevant to your product launches or events, therefore assisting you in gaining more leads and sales.
- Providing a framework for you to be more consistent and disciplined over time.
- The ability to batch produce your content ahead of time so that you can take time away from creating content during the busy times in your business or when you want to take a holiday, without it disrupting your content publishing schedule.
- Allowing you to identify the best format for each piece of content ahead of time, as well as allowing you to ensure that you are mixing up your content over time as you will be able to see the big picture of everything that you intend to create.
- Allowing you to be able to identify who would be best to produce the content, potentially taking some of the pressure off the person that creates most of your content.
Once you have determined what you will create and when, you can then match the topic to the best medium (i.e. blog post, podcast, video, etc). It is important that you consider your audience here, ensuring that you produce your content in a format that your audience is interested in consuming it. There is no use creating a load of videos if your audience prefers to consume their content by reading.
Next step is to allocate who will be responsible for creating the content, spreading the load as appropriate so as not to overwhelm team members, particularly during known busy times.
As part of your plan, you will also need to determine your capacity to create the content that you intend to publish.
It is when I got to this point that I realised that I am no longer able to produce both a new blog post and a new podcast episode on a weekly basis and therefore I am adjusting my strategy accordingly. My new strategy will involve alternating a new blog post for Impactiv8 one week and a new podcast episode for #BusinessAddicts The Podcast the following week, as my new minimum content publishing schedule.
I will also be actively seeking people to guest blog on the Impactiv8 blog as a way to reduce the workload for me personally (you can apply to be a guest blogger here). I had a few guest bloggers last year and that worked really well for me, so I have decided to step this up a notch for the year ahead.
This adjustment to my content strategy will also allow me more capacity to guest post on other blogs or be a guest on other podcasts. I intend to do at least one of these per month this year, which will assist me in gaining reach into new audiences, which is something I realised was lacking in my content strategy last year.
In addition to this, I will be spending one day a week creating content for either my lead generation activities and paid programs, depending upon what my priorities are throughout the year. I will also be stepping up my use of video as a medium, including more live streaming.
So whilst I am not planning to blog on the Impactiv8 website as much myself this year, I am not pulling back on content production, instead I will be turning Impactiv8 into more of a content machine as content is the lifeblood of my business.
Implement Your Content Strategy
Once you have planned the content that you intend to share throughout the year, all that is left is the implementation of that plan.
In determining when content is to be produced, ensure that you allow sufficient time prior to the scheduled publishing date to produce the content and where possible, try to stay at least one piece of content ahead of schedule to allow for any unforeseen events that may throw you off schedule.
When you have a particularly busy period coming up or are intending to take time away from your business, then you may need to get a month or more ahead of your content production schedule, assuming that you don’t intend to break from your schedule during those periods.
Whilst it is important that you create a content plan for your business, it is also important that you leave some flexibility within your plan for other things that may pop up throughout the year that will force the need for a change to your plan.
The list of topics you have created will no doubt consist mostly of evergreen topics. However, there will be the need for more timely content production at times. You need to be open to and prepared to move things around and make other adjustments to the plan as necessary.
If you struggle creating content, then you might want to check out these simple Content Hacks by James Tuckerman, that will allow you to more prolific in creating quality content on a regular and consistent basis.
Share Your Content
It’s not just a case of “build it and they will come” when it comes to creating content for your business. You also need to ensure that you are sharing your content via your various social media channels and your email subscriber lists a appropriate.
What you share with those audiences won’t only be restricted to the content that you create, as there should also be a mix of other people’s content, as well a much shorter form content that you create on a more regular basis, such as a Tweet or Facebook post.
Your social media sharing strategy is another blog post topic in itself, which is on my content plan to write in a couple of week’s time, so watch this space…
What’s Your Content Creation Strategy?
Have you developed a content creation strategy for the next 12 months? If so, let us know in the comments below what you intend to do or how you went about developing that strategy so that others may learn from your experience.