While there is no denying the fact that having a great idea for a blog is essential, there is also something to be said about having an actual plan, instead of just improvising as you go along. In order to have a successful blog, you need to wear multiple hats, especially if you are going it alone in the beginning. Some aspects of blogging, such as SEO, design, or analytics, require a real effort, and your content is no different. You need to have a clear and well-thought-out content plan.
According to research, 60% of blogs with a written content plan are effective, whereas only 32% of blogs which rely on a verbal strategy can say the same thing. Putting everything down on paper will allow you to visualize where you are going, as well as to analyze some of your decisions before actually going through with them.
With that in mind, we have put together a step-by-step guide on how to create a content plan for your blog. Keep on reading for more information.
1) Define Your Goals
This is probably the most important step in the entire guide. If you don’t have a clearly defined goal, how will you be able to tell if your blog is a success? Or a failure? But, more importantly than that, having a goal is something that will keep you motivated to burn the midnight oil even when you don’t feel like it. Also, you need to know why you are blogging in the first place. Is it because you want to drive traffic to your shop, raise awareness about your brand, boost your sales and bottom line, keep your customers updated, or simply become an authority in your industry?
Pick a couple of these goals and be very specific about how you want to tackle each one. According to Edu Birdie, they have been able to generate more revenue by setting very specific goals when it comes to their traffic, which they wanted to grow by as much as 20% in three months. So, they did everything they could to reach that. You need to do the same.
2) Research Your Target Audience
While is there is certainly room in blogging to write about topics that you are passionate about, always keep in mind that you are writing for an audience. They seek out content that matters to them, not to you. In order to make your content more relevant and valuable, you need to research your target audience, and that means creating your buyer persona. You need to figure out where your audience hangs out when online. This can be anything from specific social media platforms and forums to other blogs.
You should also know their average age, level of education, income, interests, as well as their pain points. Finally, you need to take a look at Google Analytics or some other similar software, which will help you identify the sort of content that works best with your audience, or you can even research your competition with tools such as BuzzSumo in order to see what works best for them. Keep in mind that you should do this every year, as your target might change in the meantime.
3) Round-Up Topics and Research Target Keywords
Regardless of what you may have read about keywords, they are still are relevant as ever, and without them, it is going to be almost impossible to rank inside search engine results, and as a result, you will have trouble driving traffic to your blog. When doing keyword research, you are going to want to focus on keywords which have a pretty high search volume, but for which there isn’t too much competition. So, for example, if you are running a marketing blog, you probably wouldn’t target something as broad as “marketing”, but you could go for “marketing strategy”, “marketing guide”, or anything that is a bit more specific.
While keywords should serve as a guideline, don’t let them drive you away from interesting and relevant topics. In addition to that, you should also think about building backlinks which will feature your keywords inside the anchor text. As to where you should insert your keyword, think about your main title, body, subheadings, and image alt text. Seven to eight occurrences should be enough because you don’t want Google penalizing you for over optimization.
4) Create Amazing Content
After doing all of the above, it is time for you to flex your creative muscles and write the best possible content that is both useful and relevant to your target audience. One of the things you can do, especially if you are new on the block, is to try the skyscraper technique. This involves researching the most popular trends, topics, and articles in your niche which have already been done by your competitors. Once you have all that useful information at your disposal, you should look come up with a twist or a new angle which will make it fresher and more useful.
You can do anything from updating the statistics, using your own examples and anecdotes, to going into even more detail and using a better design. Once you have done that, you should reach out to those websites, blogs, or individuals which have already shared links to similar content and ask them to do the same with yours. That way, you will gain access to an audience that is already interested in that particular topic.
5) Create a Content Calendar
One of the things that your target audience will appreciate the most, apart from the quality of your content, is consistency. By that, we don’t just mean consistency in your writing and voice, but also when it comes to publishing your content. Your content calendar allows you to have a complete view of everything that needs to be done, and it should also include social media and email activity. If you are working in a team, it enables you to view everyone else’s progress and everything else that needs to be done. That way, you will never be caught off guard by an approaching deadline.
Just like you would expect a new episode of your favorite TV show (or an entire season, in case you prefer to binge-watch everything) to be released at the exact same time every week, your audience expects the same with your blog. In case you fail to publish new content on a regular basis, they will most likely check out, thinking that the blog is no longer active, and they will go somewhere else. And because there is so much competition out there, they won’t return even if you start publishing regularly again, since someone else will have their attention at that point.
6) Don’t Forget about Internal Linking
While building high-quality backlinks will help you boost your authority, drive traffic to your blog, and expose you to a new audience, you should also pay attention to internal linking. In the beginning, you probably won’t have much or any content you will be able to link to, but you populate your blog with new posts, you will need to analyze your content and link posts to each other if possible. There are two main reasons why would want to do this. First, there is the fact that internal linking will help your content rank higher in the SERPs.
Second, it will encourage people to spend more time on your blog, which also works in two ways. If your audience spends more on your blog, it won’t go unnoticed by Google, which will take that into account when ranking your blog. Also, once you have your audience, you don’t want them to go elsewhere in order to find additional information. Instead, you want to direct them to your other posts which are complementary with the ones they have read, or better yet, to one of your landing pages or your online store.
7) Reach Out to Influencers
Influencer marketing is one of the hottest types of marketing today. People are more likely to trust an influencer they follow than some company which is ultimately trying to sell them something. One of the best things you can do for your blog is identifying key influencers in your industry and reaching out to them and asking them to share a link to your content. You probably won’t get an answer a lot of cases, but there are many of them out there, which means that you will eventually build a relationship with a handful of influencers if you are persistent enough.
Also, since you are asking them to do something for you, ask them if there is anything you can in order to reciprocate.
This effective step-by-step guide will enable you to create a content plan that will help you set your blog up for the future, drive more traffic your way, promote your work, and ultimately, reach those goals which you have set out to achieve. Start implementing these tips today. Good luck!
About the Author:
Justin is a marketing specialist and blogger from Leicester, UK. When not working and rooting for Leicester FC, he likes to discuss new trends in digital marketing and share his own ideas with readers on different blogs and forums. Currently, he is working as a content marketer at bestessays.com.au.
Learn from real practitioners not just trainers.