Last time, we discussed how to create a content marketing strategy to keep your content marketing going smoothly. In that article, I promised you that we’d talk about creating a content plan this time around. So, without further mucking about, let’s get to it. Give me an hour, and you’ll have a content plan to put all that strategy we came up with last week to good use.
Finding Your Topics
You’ve got a list of TYPES of content you’d like to produce, and who will doing the producing of it. Now, we need to get down to the nitty gritty and decide just what TOPICS that content will address. And our content plan will keep it all in one place so everyone can refer to it and know what’s what and where.
Here’s a little tidbit takeaway for you…98% of the bloggers who abandon their blogs, and about 75% of the content marketers who throw in the towel on content marketing do so because…they run out of things to write or talk about.
They suffer from topical burnout, and it kills their efforts, forces them back into strictly outreach, typically paid marketing methods, and it has been known to spell the death of more than one small business’s dreams.
YOU aren’t going to do that, because YOU are going to know how to find an almost endless supply of meaningful, relevant, audience-serving topics that they’ll come back for again and again. And by using a content plan, you’ll know what you’ve covered and what you still need to create.
Step 1: Find the Questions
Open the KeywordTool. This lovely little critter allows you to see what questions are commonly used in searches at Google, YouTube, Amazon and several more. Type in your keyword – you can see I used “content marketing” and voila! It returns a list of real-life, someone-typed-in-and-searched-for questions. This is just a small portion of the return I got, by the way. I had to scroll and scroll and scroll to get to the end.
Any and all of these, just about, would make fine blog or Tweet content for us here at Bloomers, wouldn’t you say? And using your main keyword or topic, you’ll find a nice fat bunch for you, too.
Now, we’re not finished….Go to Quora. Again, search for your main topic or keyword. You will again find real, honest-to-goodness questions posted by real, honest-to-goodness people. And you’ll also find the answers to them, too, which can come in handy for research purposes when you aren’t quite certain you’ve got everything tucked away correctly in your brain.
You can see the top three results for my search in the image below.You can also see the expert level of answers Quora questions often get, so you know your source is top notch should you need to brush up on something a bit.
You can repeat this process on Reddit, as well. And before you’re done, go back to KeywordTool and check out some returns from Amazon. Those are good titles and/or products to use for reviews and product comparison content.
Step 2: Find the Categories
You should, by now, have a fine fat list of potential questions to answer, products to review, topics for producing content you KNOW you’re readers want. Now, we have to DO something with those. Study them carefully and divide them up into 6 to 8 (NO MORE than that, please!) broad categories.
These are the categories for your blog. They are the divisions in your YouTube channel. They are the subsections for your podcast. They can also serve as a catalyst for other content, too. Know someone who’s great in an area related to one of them? Invite them for an interview or a guest post, or add them to your “influencer” efforts.
Your categories will help with corralling all those great topic ideas you’ve just uncovered into more manageable, content-plan-ready content.
Creating Your Content Plan
This is both the easy part, and the part that can make your brain tired, so be warned and ready. Have a drink and maybe a snack nearby. This can take a while, especially when you’re new to creating a content plan.
Step 1: Plan Your Topics
Take a look at that list of topics. Create a “production order” for them. In the filming industry, a production order is the order in which the various scenes are shot. And that;s exactly what your production order in your content plan – the order in which the topics will be covered, the order in which each one will be addressed.
Write them down, in their proper order. Put them in a spreadsheet. Create a calendar. Just get them down somewhere, somehow, that makes sense and is workable for you, and anyone else who might be helping to create content. At Bloomers, we prefer a calendar type critter, but that’s just us.
Step 2: Plan Your Format
Unless you’re a one-trick pony type content marketer, you’ll have various formats for your content. Tweets, blog posts, podcasts, infographics, email goodies, white papers, videos – whatever. You get the idea. (And if you ARE a one-trick marketer, fix that. NOW.)
Take a look at that production order. Decide on each topic will be unleashed upon the world at large. That statistical report – perfect for an infographic. Those guests you want to interview would make great podcasts or blog posts, right? And the behind-the-scenes looks would be fabulous videos.
There are a few things to consider when working your content’s format into your content plan.
- Your current efforts – expansion is good, but don’t spread yourself too thin, so stick primarily with what’s working now
- Your current audience – again, branching out is good, as long as you keep your current fans happy
- Your capabilities – let’s repeat one more time – don’t spread yourself too thin, especially if your content team consists of just one or two people – don’t plan more content than can be created relatively stress-free
- Your “mix” – variety is good, if fact some would say variety in content is essential to creating and keeping a wide, engaged, interested audience – don’t go too heavy on any one type of content unless your audience wants it
Step 3: Plan Your Publishing
The last thing to do with your content plan is to plan when the content will be published. Blog posts? Twice a week is good for the team? Great! And a few infographic or image-heavy posts thrown in here and there? Even better!
Daily tweets or pins or ‘Grams? Is Buffer or Hootsuite or some other automated tool ready to go? Awesome!
That white paper for lead generation? How can that be worked in? What deadline works best for it? The end of the month? Superb!
Those videos? Should we wing it and do em live on Facebook? Or practice a bit, polish our presentation, and then create a video channel? Or just do a better LiveStream than most? Put those a bit further down the line, while we iron out the details, please.
What you should have is a production schedule, a publication guideline, for your content when you’re done.
Your spreadsheet or calendar or other document is now complete. You’ve got a list of topics, how those topics will be presented, and when. Congratulations! You’ve created your first content plan!
One word of caution before we wrap this thing up…ONLY plan 60 to 90 days at a time. Why? Several reasons:
- The less content planned, the less time spent planning it, and the less overwhelmed you’ll be.
- A shorter plan allows for addressing current topics – why write a blog post six months’ from now about a topic that matters TODAY? And that evergreen content can be postponed in favor of content focusing on a big event that’s happening or did just happen.
- A shorter plan allows for more frequent measurement of your content’s performance. If they didn’t respond too well to that lead magnet, wouldn’t it be better to know and replace it with a new one in 3 months, than have it sit there not performing for half a year or more?
- A shorter plan allows for changes to be made quicker. They really love the new videos and have asked for more? Great! Add that to the content plan NOW by switching some topics from blog posts to video chats.
Your content doesn’t have to be elaborate or complex. And creating it doesn’t have to be some scary, unknown drudge of a task. You CAN plan 2 to 3 months of content in less than an hour. Just remember, all the planning in the world doesn’t do you any good without implementation.
Soooo, set the clock, turn off the phone, get your tools ready, and spend the next hour creating your content plan.You won’t regret it. And if you find yourself in need of help, in either the creation, or the implementation, of your content plan, contact us here at Bloomers. We’ll be happy to help!