Be honest for a second…
Are you always downloading blog post idea templates?
You know…those guides and swipe files that offer you 200+ blog post templates or headlines ideas…
The ones that you just itch to get your hands on because you think your content woes will miraculously disappear once you have them?
But just for a second and think.
How often do you use them…Do your content woes really disappear…
After a certain time you’re back at square one right?
You still struggle to fill your publishing queue…you still have no idea what to write about.
All those headline formulas and templates you stuff your hard drive with… I’m not saying they’re a complete waste of time.
You can have them but you also need to have your own system of generating content ideas.
And not just any type of content.
Content that actually helps you grow your blog and business.
This is where most people get it wrong.
They are excited to start blogging but don’t define the type of content they’re going to create.
Because here are two ways things can go wrong…
1. Your content doesn’t drive readers to take action on your end goal
Why do you create content?
You create valuable, relevant content to attract your target audience. You also want to build a relationship with them and generate trust so that they’re ready to purchase your products and services.
You ultimately want to drive them to take action.
That’s content marketing in a nutshell without getting into the heavy definitions.The content you publish now or later needs to have a purpose within your larger marketing plan.Click To Tweet
2. Your content has nothing to do with your products or services
If your content has nothing to do with your products and services, how are people going to identify with the problem you’re helping them solve? How will they connect you (and your products and services) as the solution to their problem?The content you create has to connect with your products and services.Click To Tweet
If you’re nodding yes to all of these, then you my friend are in desperate need of a blog content plan.
A blog content plan is not an editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar is a planning system and a graphical representation of your content.
Your content plan feeds your editorial calendar. They’re 2 separate things.
In this post, I’ll walk you through how to formulate a simple blog content plan. Firstly, download the 1-page content strategy worksheet below to help you formulate a blog content plan for yourself. Second, if this topic interests you and you want to develop a year of traffic building blog post ideas with ease (and which sell your products and services for you) sign up for the VIP list of my soon-to-be launched ebook The One Hour Content Plan.
#1 Define your content playing field
Let’s start with your what your blog markers are.
These will give you a better sense of the type of content to write.
Having restraints gets you to focus on creating the right pieces of content to help you achieve your goals.
What is the core message of your blog?
Core message is the main benefit that your blog will offer. Every single piece of content on your site should work at fulfilling your core message.
Who are you helping? What is your mission statement?
What do you want for your readers? What impact or change do you want to bring for their life?
Craft your Core Message
Sieve out the single solution you are offering or the big question you are answering.
Pick 3-5 Categories
What other messages support your core message? These will form your content categories.
Your content categories help your reader attain the solution or impact you talk about in your mission statement.
Here’s an example of how this comes together
Having limitations gets you to focus on creating the right content pieces Click To Tweet
#2 Define your ideal reader
Now that you’ve defined your blog markers, define your ideal reader.
Why is knowing your ideal reader so important?
That’s because you can’t cater to everyone. Content that tries to attract everyone attracts no one.
By defining who exactly your ideal reader is, you’ll be able to:
- talk to your audience at the right level.
- not waste your effort writing for people who will never enjoy or gel with your content.
- not scratch your head thinking about what content to create because you know what your audience needs.
My ideal reader is Sarah who identifies herself as a solopreneur. She is someone who is good in her area of work but she doesn’t know what she needs to focus on right now to move forward or to position herself and her business. She has lots of pressure to buy courses and try out different things depending on what is ‘in trend’ or what she thinks will get her results. She knows the areas she is struggling with and actively looks out for in-depth information to solve those problems.
Describing your ideal reader in this amount of detail can be powerful. It can help you picture her in your mind. Writing for “Sarah” is easier that writing for “someone interested in marketing or blogging”Writing for “Sarah” is easier that writing for “someone interested in marketing or blogging”Click To Tweet
#3 Choose your content format
I’m going to go against the grain in telling you this.
Yes you need to get out of your comfort zone. Yes you need to explore new things.
But you also need to be aware of what format lies in your zone of genius.
If you don’t enjoy producing content in a particular format, it’s going to show. And as much as the ‘gurus’ insist you need to be trying X, Y and Z, please know yourself.
Don’t start focusing on a format just because it’s where the cool kids are.
Pick a format that you enjoy creating content in, moves you closer to your goals, gives you measurable results and which you can consistently can do.
Get consistent in one content format before choosing to add another. Don’t be afraid to say no.
The more you create content in a format that’s your strength, the more you attract your target audience.The more you create content in the format that’s your strength, the more you attract your audienceClick To Tweet
That’s one of the reasons I don’t do video with regularity.
I can write and that’s where I’m my best.
I will definitely lose the audience that loves video, but I’d rather attract an audience that aligns with the format I’m most comfortable with and is in my zone of genius.
You can’t be for everyone and that’s ok.What keeps your reader stuck in this phase and what do they need from your content to move forward?Click To Tweet
#5 Have a system of generating content ideas
Most ideas fall within the Goal – Purpose – Product – Calendar Framework.
What are your goals for the quarter?
The content you create and the ideas you come up with will be very much dependent on your goals.
If your goal is to grow your list by 500 in a month, work back on what content you need to produce to get there.
This could work out to:
- Publishing 2 guest posts
- Speaking on 2 podcasts
- Running a promoted pin to your most trafficked post which you just added a content upgrade to
All three of these actions align with Stage 1-2 in the diagram.
See what I mean?
You are creating content which helps you take actions to achieve your goals.Create content that helps you take actions to achieve your goalsClick To Tweet
That diagram above…
Once you tailor that diagram to your specific blog and business, you’re going to find it easy to create content around your products and services.
Here are some questions to think about:
- What does someone need to know before they hire you?
- What problems do they have when it comes to engaging that particular service or buying that product? What questions are on their mind?
An easy tip is to keep your product at the center and work your way out.
This is where you lock down anything that’s date, time, and launch specific on your calendar.
Work backwards on the content that you need to create to prime your audience for the event. I teach you exactly how to do this here.
If you don’t yet have a product or service but you’re clear on who you’re helping, create content around your core message or purpose which you determined in #1. This way you won’t go wrong. Your content will still have direction.
Because if you don’t know the direction you want your content to take or the outcome you want from it, it’s difficult for your readers to understand where you’re taking them too.
#6 Have an editorial calendar
An editorial planner, put simply, is a visual representation of your content plan.
It helps you see how your content is spread out over a month or quarter, how they gel with each other and if there are any gaps that you need to fill in. It helps you take a step back and view your entire content marketing.
Here’s why you need an editorial calendar together with your content plan.
- A good, robust editorial calendar keeps you consistent
- It helps you plan ahead and gives you flexibility
- You don’t just see the sign posts but the entire roadmap
Will you use paper, a spreadsheet or a plugin?
There are many different options.
Choose an option that you see yourself using in the long run and that you’re comfortable with.
#7 Package your content
The right content package accentuates and contributes to the flavor of your content. But how do you create a content package that fits you like a glove and also attracts your target audience.
This is where your tone of voice or what you know as ‘brand voice’ comes in. The way you write and structure your content is also important.Create a content package that fits you like a glove and also attracts your target audience.Click To Tweet
#8 Choose your content promotion strategy
Ever heard of the 80/20 rule?
You should spend 20% of your time writing your content and 80% promoting it.
I’m not going to dive into promotion in detail here because I’ve mentioned it at this post.
If promotion is overwhelming you, pick a few channels and start using them until it becomes a part of your routine.
Once you get adept at promoting your content within those channels, add another to the mix and another.
You want to get comfortable and know your threshold before getting burnt out.
I started using Instagram prematurely and couldn’t keep up with it.
Crash and burn. You definitely don’t want that for you.
#9 Choose the platforms you will use to build a relationship with your audience
You have defined your content playing field.
You know different methods of coming up with content ideas. You have the perfect plan to address your readers’ needs at different stages.
But what if despite all your efforts people don’t take action on your end goal?
Now, we often think of buying or that end goal action as a straight line but it’s rather one big scribble.
People’s decisions are often triggered by a lot of external factors.
When they say no to your product or service, it means a ‘not right now’ not a ‘not ever’.When they say no to your product or service, it means a 'not right now' not a 'not ever'. Click To Tweet
Your part is to support them through the process with content, be ready to answer their questions and be fresh on their minds when they are ready.
To do this, you need to have a platform to continually build a relationship with your reader.
For me that platform is email. For a lot of you that may be a Facebook group.
No matter what the platform is, make sure you capture these people into a platform that you own.
And you don’t own anything other than your email list right?
I had a good friend who had her Facebook group of about 8000 people shut down without any notice.
Thankfully several of them were on her email list.
So build a relationship with your readers and nurture them with content.
I talk a little bit about this on the Creative Me Podcast. You can have a listen here: martineellis.com/49
It’s time to create a simple blog content strategy
It’s about time you moved away from needing to ‘fill’ your publishing queue to creating purposeful content.
The content you publish today or tomorrow or next month needs to have a purpose within your larger marketing plan.
Because imagine writing a post and knowing exactly how that’s going to contribute to your blog.
Imagine knowing exactly how that little bolt fits.
Imagine knowing the outcome of the content prior to even publishing it.
That’s the power of a blog content strategy! Download the 1-page content strategy worksheet below to get started and then sign up for the VIP list of The One Hour Content Plan.