Blogs are the great conundrum of web marketing. They can be established in minutes, yet they take real commitment, and habitual behavior, to build in a way that is truly effective. Most of us experience those days when you have an energy overdrive that makes you want to write, write, and write some more. But more often, those days begin with a list of more pressing objectives, “to do’s” that leave updating your blog at the bottom of your list. When you finally do get around to tackling it, you’re at loss for any usable ideas about what to write. (And yes, this is even true for paid freelance writers).
The solution? A content marketing calendar.
Similar to a marathon training plan, having such a plan for your content gives you a reason to stick to your goals with a consistent effort when the ideas just aren’t flowing. It’s essentially a “no excuses” plan to keep your content marketing efforts on track, when you’re ready to throw in the towel. Here are a few simple ways to get started.
What do you want to say? It sounds ridiculously simple, but it’s not when you drill down into it. Case in point? When I first started writing, I was all about managing working at home with a baby,and budgeting. That’s what most of my inspiration came from, and where my content was focused. It was easy, because that was my daily reality. Great stuff that generated some great opportunities. But now that my son is older and I’ve been at this for awhile, my interests have changed to building a long-term business that is sustainable, and constantly evolving. As a result, career, marketing, and business management issues are constantly top of mind. My interests have changed, and my content focus has, too. There’s nothing wrong that–but you’ve got to figure out how that new focus factors in your plan to keep your content marketing momentum. The key to content planning is identifying a message that you can stay engaged with for a consistent brand identity–and understanding how to make a new idea fit within the quality you’ve already established.
How much am I going to publish? You can publish every day, every few days, or every week, but identifying a “drop dead” publishing cadence can help you stick with it when your schedule makes it difficult. Though the old rules of blogging used to a daily schedule, keep in mind that Google has really cracked the whip on quality content. If a daily schedule isn’t realistic to producing high quality posts, give yourself a bit more leeway.
Why am I producing content? Specifically identifying what you want your content to do for your business is key to a content strategy. Do you want to gain new visitors, boost engagement, or move targets through a sales funnel? Answering these questions can help you identify what type of content (image likely to go viral, infographic, or listicle) is most likely to drive your desired results.
When and how will I promote my content? Writing great content is only half the battle. Bake time into your editorial schedule to promote your content, via social media, blogger outreach, PR efforts, or whatever the case may be. Like your content marketing plan, the key piece isn’t frequency, so much as it is consistency.