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How to Write a Killer Content Plan
A detailed and engaging content plan is first and foremost a tool for the writer – despite the fact you probably see it as a necessary yardstick of creativity to wave in front of satisfied business owners.
It’s great to showcase your carefully crafted campaign and plan something exciting enough for both agency and client to sink their teeth into, but the bottom line is that a content plan is your secret piece de resistance. A place where you can go when publication is looming and you need to come up with the goods across multiple platforms.
Ad-hoc blog content or social media campaigns are a sure way to end up with a messy campaign that fails to address juicy industry events in a timely way or listen to any sort of audience engagement. Even the smallest companies should have some idea of where they’re heading with their content, especially considering a well planned content schedule will save you time and deliver on quality in the long run.
A well-thought out 6-12 month content list is inspiration on tap and that’s why copywriters unashamedly love them. Dedicate a portion of time for idea generation, ensure everyone’s happy with your grand plans and then assign your writing time for just that; creating content in keeping with an intelligent and reactive plan.
If you aren’t used to writing on a daily basis and the thought of penning a regular blog terrifies you then a round-up plan of trade events, industry conferences or any other widespread hype relevant to your niche is a good place to start. Once you’ve established time frames, work out how you are going to integrate your brand with these events; often this is the factor that gets ignored until it’s too late to fully utilise networking and collaborative opportunities.
If your industry is the type to have some sort of knees-up-cum-business event on a weekly basis then reacting to everything prolific that goes on might be a bit of a headache, so choose the real gems and get working on nestling in a good 6 months before your competitors have got over the last one.
Keeping on the industry pulse will allow you to secure those early advertising opportunities and gives you the chance to focus a series of blog posts on the event as it nears. Consider offering products and event tickets to prolific bloggers too; combining a pre-event or live blog, a notable blogger and a popular event is always an effective method of building quality links and improving your visibility.
The Engaging Monthly Fall-back
Not just a way of producing quality content when your brain is fried, but a way to draw on an always popular, always relevant topic to give your blog a healthy dose of consistency. A monthly topic, industry round-up or user-generated piece is a really effective way of building a loyal following and gives your blog that niche appeal, something readers can rely on for a guaranteed good read and associate with your brand.
For example if you’re creating content for a fashion blog then establishing a once monthly ‘film fashion files’, trend-spotter, product of the month or any other nugget of current interest gives you a topic you can instantly call on for relevant, sharable content.
A similar weekly ‘running-series’ can also be used across social media, just pick something to showcase (all the better if it’s user-generated) and enjoy the engagement. This is a particularly useful technique if you’re prone to posting for the sake of doing something.
If you really want to go all out then teaming up with an industry professional (i.e. you may have seen TV property expert Phil Spencer posting regular ‘insider gems’ on practically every property blog out there) draws in readers with only minimal initial effort from you. Think students, freelancers, people you admire in the industry and anyone with a fresh voice to share; it’s all game for a popular blog.
Give Them What They Want
Once you’ve established a successful social media campaign with a growing following then you’ll probably be aware of the type of things your audience engage with. If you’re really lucky you’ll even start to know exactly how to build interest and anticipation with just a brief golden post. But if you don’t know how to push your readers’ buttons and inspiration’s thin on the ground, then squeeze Google Analytics for all its worth while you still can and cater to genuine search queries.
To determine search phrases leading into your site simply follow this route:
Audience > keywords > organic
Once you’ve pulled a selection of queries, questions, how-to’s and popular search terms, you can go about bringing your audience the content they’re looking for. Of course, when ‘not provided’ takes hold, don’t be afraid to take ideas from your social media following too; asking them what they’d like to see on your blog is a great way to increase engagement.
Allow for flexibility: Sprinkle Your Plan With a Range of Incentives
Any good content plan isn’t rigid, so allow yourself to be flexible enough to respond to current events, industry developments and even include a multitude of wild and wacky ideas, it’s all inspiration even if your ‘win a Ferrari’ competition never sees the light of day.
Straying from the careful content plan and including a few reactive wild cards can seem a little intimidating for non-content types, but as long as it’s current and relevant then a simple round-up and your two cents can be enough to generate interest and shares, especially if you offer an ‘expert opinion’ early. If you’re really stuck for content inspiration in the face of a last minute newsflash, then take a look at our post on quick and easy content formats.
Most companies account for sales hotspots and schedule a desirable competition, offer or increased advertising coverage to capitalise on this. Make sure your content plan contains enough juicy schemes to allow you to create a competition or e-commerce offer and promote it within plenty of time. If you’re pitching ideas it also helps to create a range of competitions and incentives of varying scales, this way you can still host a simple competition if budget constraints kick-in.
A list of 52 blog titles isn’t the aim of a good content plan. Generating inspiration that’ll allow you to react, capitalise on current events and fall-back on a fail-safe idea is the real secret to producing relevant content when you’re 3 months into writing for a reclaimed taps website.