How to Create a Blog Content Strategy

 

How-to-Create-a-Blog-Content-Strategy-V1 copy

Now that you know why you need a blog for your business and the basics of setting up your blog with WordPress, we’re going to look at the most important part of your blog. The part that will make it succeed or fail. And that is your content. In this post, we’re going to look at how you can create a successful content strategy.

Analyzing Your Competitors

As the old saying goes, there is no point in reinventing the wheel. Chances are, you have plenty of competitors that have a business blog. Your first goal is to look at your competitors’ blogs and take notes on what seems to be working and what doesn’t. In particular, look at the posts with the most engagement (social shares and comments) and see:

  • What topics are popular.
  • How often they publish new posts.
  • How long are their posts.
  • Who writes their posts.
  • What tools they use (comment systems, social sharing buttons, etc.).

After you note these items for several blogs in your industry, you should start to see patterns of what works, what doesn’t, and what everyone (or no one) seems to do.

Finding Blog Topics

Next, you’ll need to start developing blog topics. The key is to think first about your blogging goals, second about your audience.

When it comes to blogging goals, are you looking to rank well for long-tail keyword phrases? Are you looking for lots of social engagement? Do you want to create content that converts readers into leads or customers? Do you want to become the go-to hub for a particular topic that interests your ideal customer base?

Once you’ve answered those questions, you’ll have a better idea on what type of content to product. From there, you’ll want to generate some specific topic ideas. One of the best ways to start this process is by using Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Simply enter a keyword, and it will give you about 100 keyword ideas based on that keyword or phrase. if you have a Google AdWords account, sign in with your account and you may get up to 800 keyword ideas.

This tool offers an option to download your keywords into a spreadsheet. Once you do this, you can add an extra column for topic ideas. Then next to each keyword, see if you can come up with a blog title that includes it. For example, the keyword phrase social media sites could be turned into 50 Social Media Sites for [Insert Your Industry Here].

After you’ve exhausted your list of keyword from GAKT, there are lots of other great ways to get content ideas. You can:

  • Follow questions asked on Q&A networks like Quora to see what people in your industry want to know about.
  • Subscribe to top industry blogs using RSS and Google Reader to keep track of the latest hot topics.
  • Search for people asking questions about your keyword or phrase on Twitter by searching for keyword ? -filter:links.
  • Ask your sales and support team what questions are asked most frequently by potential or current customers.

If you keep using these techniques, you should never run out of content ideas!

Determining Posting Frequency

Next, you have to determine how often to post. Think back to all of your competitors and how often they post. Now think about how much quality content production your business could reasonably do. Note that you should never sacrifice quality for quantity – if you can only produce one solid post a week, do that. Don’t try to do more unless you hire outside help which we will discuss in the upcoming Choosing Your Writers section.

Setting Up an Editorial Calendar

Once you have determined how often you would like to post, start an editorial calendar that everyone involved in your blog (writers, editors, marketing team, etc.) can access. If your writers are all in-house, you could use your Outlook Calendar. If they are not, you can use Google Calendar. Basically, you’ll want something that lets you add in due dates, publish dates, topics, and who posts are assigned to so everyone can stay on track.

Creating Editorial Guidelines

Now think about how you want your blog content to be formatted. What rules do you want every post to adhere to?

What audience does your blog target? How long should posts be? Are there special formatting tags you want adhered to (H3 for headers, one bolded sentence per paragraph, etc.)? Do you need one featured image + one image per main section? Should images be grabbed from Creative Commons, your stock photography account, or limited to screenshots? How do you want sources to be noted?

Draft the answers to these and other rules into a document as your editorial guidelines. This will (hopefully) keep your blog’s voice and theme consistent from one post to the next and keep editorial headaches to a minimum.

Choosing Your Writers

Many companies start buy looking at their own in-house team for writers. But what if you want to produce more content than you have in-house resources for? In this case, you have two options.

First, you can invite other writers as guest bloggers. This is one way to get free content for your blog, but the catch is that the guest bloggers will expect to be able to promote themselves on your blog with a link back to their own website.

Second, you can hire freelance writers and bloggers. When you hire writers, you have the option of having them ghostwrite content for you which you can put your own name on as the author or you can have them write for your blog as themselves as if they were guest bloggers. To decide which option to go with, ask yourself if you want to build your own authority or if you want to turn your blog into a multi-author hub of experts.

Whether you choose an in-house team, guest bloggers, or freelance writers, make sure that the content they are producing is valuable and unique. If you are using guest bloggers, don’t be shy about rejecting a submission because it doesn’t meet your standards. If you are using freelance writers, expect to pay a premium price for good content. If you pay $5 for an article, you will get what you pay for.

Also guard yourself from publishing duplicate content by doing a Google search for a random sentence in the post. Some guest spammers (not bloggers, but spammers) will submit content that has been published on their own blog or even multiple times on article directories.

Finalizing a Pre-Publish Checklist

Last, but not least, make a pre-publish checklist for your content. This checklist should ensure that each post is grammatically correct, has been spell checked, follows specific formatting guidelines, has been optimized for SEO with keyword based titles and meta descriptions, and has a plan for social media promotion. If you run through this checklist with each post, you should have quality content that is search optimized and successfully promoted through the appropriate channels.

How do you handle your business’s blog content strategy? Please share in the comments!

Kristi Hines
This monthly Blogging column is contributed by Kristi Hines. Kristi is a freelance writer, ghostwriter, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her work has been featured on top marketing blogs including Social Media Examiner, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal, KISSmetrics, CrazyEgg, Unbounce, and Wordtracker. She enjoys producing content that helps businesses with their online marketing strategy. Whenever she's away from the keyboard, her hobbies include photography, camping, and tennis. +Kristi Hines
Kristi Hines

@kikolani

Freelance writer and blogger. Interests include business, marketing, psychology, photography, and tennis. Questions? Tweet me or visit http://t.co/LfeKoLfPdf
@lightandletters Hi Keith! Enjoy the epic hailstorm yesterday? - 1 day ago
Kristi Hines
Social Fresh West

Comments

  1. says

    Great post Neal. I handle mine pretty well much the same, except somewhere in the mix I try to revive older posts with a strategic link back to them. And totally agree with you on “you will get what you pay for”. It’s exceptionally important to set your bar at a certain level for the quality of writing & anything below that threshold should not make the cut.

    • says

      The best way to check for duplicate content is to use copyscape. You can buy credits on copyscape and check 2000 word chunks of text for as little as 5c each.

  2. says

    Kristi, thanks for the “editorial guidelines” tip. Creating them for each blog will save me lots of time. I’m having a “Duh — why didn’t I think of that” moment.

    Excellent article, thank you. :-)

  3. says

    Wonderful post Kristi! An alternative to hiring writers outright is to hire a content coordinator to edit incoming articles from your expert staff and handle the publication of each post. We use a combination of freelancers and editors for a few of our clients and the combination works nicely.

  4. says

    Honestly Kristi, I can’t say that I’ve ever followed a formal strategy for writing my content. This article is the best blueprint I’ve seen for creating my own content strategy. It can embody all the best practices you discover over time. It anticipates the major and minor components of an epic piece of work.

    In the section – Finding Blog Topics, I would allow time for crafting magnetic headline(s) to capture attention, and subheadings for the backbone of the article. I would also be thinking of images, videos, and other objects to engage the reader.

    The great thing about a content strategy is that it saves you time, energy, and, helps you become more organized. I see how I could plan my writing goals for weeks or even months in advance.

  5. says

    Kristi, Great post and when read in conjunction with your other article on Business Blogging it all comes together nicely. I find that the strategy and importance are easy to get top management to understand, it’s the actual blogging that they balk at doing.

  6. says

    Creating great content is everything about blogging. With the correct strategies, you can deliver a good post that your visitors would appreciate sharing with their friends online

  7. says

    Yes blogging can be overwhelming and stressful if you don’t have a plan. The most important thing to do is to have a plan and stay consistent! Over time that good quality content will out weigh everything else out there.

    Just think of blogging as an online conversation and people will naturally be drawn in!

    =)

    Great post!

    Rob

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