Content Strategy: Getting Started & My Suggested Tools WPCP: 129
Creating a Content Strategy isn’t an option anymore.
It’s a requirement for anyone who is ‘in it’ for the long haul. A content strategy will keep you focused on the bigger picture of your business and how you want to connect with your audience.
Speaking of the long haul…
Have you noticed a word resurfacing lately?
O.K., make that two words.
Blogs and blogging.
Obviously neither blogs nor blogging went anywhere, but they weren’t really being discussed much. People were still blogging, but it’s been more about social media, video, live streaming… and dare I say, podcasting (I’m sure I’m missing something with those examples).
As the online space matures (not sure ‘matures’ is the correct word, but we’ll leave it at that) and people realize that the latest & greatest tactic isn’t going to build your business, I think we’re going to see people returning to the things that gave this space legs in the first place… like blogging.
Of course it’s not as easy to get traffic to a blog post as it was 8 years ago… your content strategy and the quality of the content has to be better, SEO, images, the way the post is written (it can be a tricky thing to write something people can scan while at the same time creating quality content that keeps people reading). So where do you start?
How do you start creating content that works for you in multiple ways?[list icon=”icon: check-square” icon_color=”#e05455″]
- User engagement
- Audience building
- Shareable content
- Sticky content (keeps people on the page longer)
That’s what we’re going to dig deep into today.
Creating a content strategy and which tools you can use to keep it going (besides your own brilliance), because c’mon, you know I love my tools.
Getting Started with a Content Strategy
I’m not going to talk much about the whole ‘define your audience’ thing because I’m going to assume you’ve done that. If you haven’t, you need to get clear on who you’re talking to when you create your content. There are a couple of different approaches to this and I would use them both. The demographic approach where you literally write out your ideal persona (age, sex, income, interests, etc.) and then there’s the quality approach. What type of a person are you talking to? Open-minded? Conservative? Driven? Playful? That will help you in terms of the language and voice you use when creating your content.
Before we get too much further into getting started with your content strategy, I’m going to say that this isn’t about learning to write better. Obviously the more you write the better you’ll get, but there are plenty of ways to provide valuable content where you don’t need to feel like you have to become a master storyteller (although that wouldn’t hurt, because let’s face it, stories sell). This is about you finding the medium of content that allows you to create content on a consistent basis that provides value for your audience. That might be solving a problem, sharing a story that they can relate to, introducing them to someone or something that will make their lives better.
I’m not about to pretend I can teach you how to be a better writer.
But I can teach you how to create a content strategy and content that works for you, resonates with your audience and drives growth for your business.[divider top=”no” divider_color=”#95a44d” size=”1″ margin=”40″][divider top=”no” size=”2″ margin=”30″][/divider]
What type of content do you want to create?
This is KEY.
I used to create a lot of content on how to do things with Genesis (the framework & themes this site is built on) by StudioPress. I love Genesis, but I’d rather talk about marketing with WordPress than building sites with WordPress. There are plenty of great sites out there that do that and it’s not what excites me.
Which means I had to start shifting to creating the type of content I wanted to create, not what worked before (it’s perfectly O.K. to evolve and shift directions. Some people will stick with you, some won’t). What I didn’t do was get clear on what that looked like when it started happening. Partly because I wasn’t all that conscious that I was shifting directions and then when I was conscious, I wasn’t sure what direction I was going in (which can make creating content a challenge to say the least).
I tend to find something I love and simply share it. Gary Vaynerchuck talks about this all the time. Just document what you’re doing. By doing this you also get clear pretty quickly on whether or not your process or project has a logical flow to it. I’ve always loved showing people how to do things with WordPress, but not from the development side. More for the user.
Things started to change for me when I launched the podcast. I started showing up more as myself, stopped worrying about the fact that I wasn’t a developer and just did my thing.
Then the magic started to happen.
From there I started paying attention to the content that I liked. What content did I subscribe to, share, go back to, bookmark, etc. (although I’m a horrible bookmarker… I just email myself links to go back to. Seriously. #oldschool).
I started to notice consistencies with the content I liked:[list icon=”icon: check-square” icon_color=”#2f90a1″]
- Easy to read (even if the post was long it was broken into digestible sections)
- Consistent use of images that supported the brand
- Content upgrades
- Email opt-in
- Easy to share
Then I started implementing what I was learning.
And made a point of being more consistent with creating content. Once I launched the podcast that put me on a much more consistent publishing schedule, but it took me a while to start stepping into posts that were longer, publishing my daily emails as posts and adding in a regular post (throw in a video and we’re really cooking).
Now I have a hard time writing anything less than 1500 words (the daily emails are shorter).
Pick your medium
Once you’ve got an idea about the content you like, what draws you in or inspires you to share (engage), obviously the next step is to start creating content.
Obviously written content is going to help your website, but it’s not the only type of content you can create. I have a friend who just does not like writing (even though she’s good at it and has gotten great feedback from her audience when she does it), no problem. What she does love doing is Facebook Live. It’s easy to do, she enjoys interacting with people and loves that she can then repurpose the video (by the way, I will be sharing a new software tool coming out by Hani Mourra who created the Simple Podcast Press podcast player that allows you to repurpose video and podcasts… but more on that later. I’m having Hani back on the show this month, so stay tuned for that).
She’s then found someone on Fiverr to transcribe the video (I use Trint for transcriptions) and then gets the written post from her Facebook Live video.
Now she has a Facebook video, blog post and can repurpose it as a YouTube video.
3 Pieces of content from one activity (I LOVE this stuff!).
I’m sure I’ve talked about this before on the show, but let’s go the different types of content again:
- Written post
- Audio Post (or Podcast)
- Video (multiple formats for this)
- Live Streaming
I’ve listed these because from each of those elements you can repurpose that content into another form of content (similar to what my friend is doing with her livestream videos. And sidenote… I think she’s going to do a mini-class on how to do this).
Once you’ve chosen your medium you can start mapping out your content strategy based on the type of content you want to create (I swear I feel like I’m keyword stuffing here but there isn’t really another way to discuss content without using the word content. Moving on).
Because I’m doing this for LeadSurveys.io (the new web app I’m partnering on) I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about this process and how I’m going about doing it.
Start with your keywords
I know, I know. This isn’t my favorite thing to do either, and let me just say that if you don’t like doing this it is absolutely worth it to pay someone, invest in a tool or if you’re like me and are fortunate to have a friend who is good at this, ask them to help you. Keyword research isn’t difficult, it’s just kind of boring. 🙂 But once you have the keywords down you can start digging a little deeper.
Because there is a boatload of content online you’re probably going to want to go with a long tail keyword. Hubspot has been kind enough to give us a lovely definition of long tail keywords:
So as an example, instead of using the keyword ‘landing page’ I would use ‘WordPress landing page builder’ or something along those lines.
I would start with 10 keywords with different topics you want to create content on.
Side note: Where you’re going to have to dig deeper is when you search your keyword and come with things you hadn’t thought of. As an example, with LeadSurveys anytime I searched that term (lead surveys), I ended up getting results for paint. As in lead (led) surveys. Clearly our app is about lead generation, so all my searches have included lead generation or something to do with email opt-ins, subscribers, etc.
This is another area that I’m not an expert and there are plenty of keyword tools you can use (personally I would go beyond the Google Keyword tool and find something else. Even if you invest in something for a month it will be worth it to get you started).
Backwards engineer other content
This is where the ideas start trickling in and the brain fart goes away.
I’m going to start with what I’ve been doing for LeadSurveys so you get a better understanding of how I’m approaching this.
After doing the keyword research and checking out other quality content, I’ve got a list of articles from a couple other sites I’m going to use to start mapping out my content strategy. The two I’m starting with are Thrive Themes and Hubspot.
Let me remind you… we’re NOT copying this content. We’re looking at what works, what we like and what it’s ranking for (I have early access to a tool I mentioned a while back which has officially been named ‘Clearsope’, but more on that with the tools). If you’re a Thrive Themes customer you’ve probably seen the new ‘Thrive University’, which is pretty fantastic. I’m searching through that content that is relevant to lead generation for ideas (as well as different tests and case studies they’ve run, because case studies is going to be huge for LeadSurveys).
From there I’m going to create a few different categories for content (all based on lead generation, segmenting customers, email marketing, split testing, etc.).
Once I have the categories (my goal is 4 – 5 initially), I’m going to write out at least 3- 5 ideas under each category.
And then I’m going to go a little more organic.
Obviously, I’m not an expert in each of these categories, but our tool is geared towards the every day user. You won’t need a PhD in funnel creation or need to be a tech genius to figure out how to start using the tool. So I want the content to be geared towards this audience as well. I probably won’t use industry jargon (and not just because I don’t know how to use it correctly). I’m going to talk to our audience the way I would want to be talked to so I can make the best use of the tool.
ALL businesses need:
That’s what I want to focus on.
Now it’s go time.
It’s time to start creating the content. When I mentioned going ‘organic’ I’ll start with the content that appeals most to me so I can get some traction going. If I can come up with 10 blog posts I’m good. What I tend to do for blog posts is create the headline, then jump into the content (simply how my brain works). That doesn’t mean the headline is set in stone, it’s just so I have a starting point and can create the path from there.
The Tools I’m Using for my Content Strategy
Research and Writing
I’ve just started using Airstory, which is a content production tool that is in public beta and you’re probably going to be hearing a LOT more about as I dig deeper, but this is going to be so vitally important for LeadSurveys because at some point I won’t be the only one producing content. This is a great place to do research, outline your content (I’m a HUGE fan of outlining… never really been a mind mapper), group cards, save images, collaborate and sooo much more (I’m just getting started with this and thought I may as well share the journey).
This is an app for Mac that creates a super clean writing space… similar to Medium (which I love, even though I’ve only written one post there… which I intend to change this year). There’s something about a clean writing space (no other windows open) that makes it SO much easier for me to focus. I can also write in Airstory (and am sure I will), but I tend to use Refly when an idea comes to me (or my emails). As a side note, I just went to the site to grab the link and it looks like they’re going to have a web version for PC users. You can sign up directly on the site.
I installed the Chrome extension for Grammarly last year and there was something wonky going when I was writing in Active Campaign, so I stopped using it (instead of using choosing to write my emails elsewhere or disabling it for Active Campaign). As much as my ‘Kim Speak’ can be entertaining, and writing for the web is a little different than say a book, I don’t want to look like an ignoramus either.
I wasn’t sure exactly what category I should put CoSchedule under because the tool does so much: headline analyzer, editorial calendar, and social sharing. As I develop the content strategy for LeadSurveys I’ll be planning the content out much further ahead than I do for The WP Chick so the editorial calendar will play a much bigger role with that brand (for now).
Images & Social Sharing
There are tons of different, quality, stock free image sites out there, but lately I find myself going back to two:
You can also go to TheStocks.im which pulls a bunch of different royalty free image sites into one, as well as free stock video and icons.
Once I’ve got my image for my post (I’ve primarily been using photos as opposed to graphics), I usually go to Snappa.io to create my social sharing images.
Other tools I use:
So obviously I use WordPress itself… 🙂
The plugins I use in almost every post:
- Yoast (use in every post)
- Simple Podcast Press (for podcast episodes)
- Social Warfare
- Thrive Leads
- CoSchedule (because as soon as I’m done writing the post I do the initial scheduling in the post editor)
Looking for more posts on creating great content?
Content Formatting Plugins that Will Surprise and Delight You