The Busy Persons Guide To Creating Content Strategy

How to plan a content strategy

You’ve heard this one before right? If you run a business, you need to make time for your content strategy. Yeah yeah, in between countless meetings and, y’know, actually running a business, how *exactly* do you do that then?

It’s true that a content strategy is an essential part of your overall digital marketing. And it’s also true that it takes a lot of time to plan and execute effectively.

With that in mind, this is how you can create a reasonably effective content strategy when you’re time poor. This is a technique that I use to maximise outreach on a number of blogs for different clients and it generally yields good results, especially on niche search terms.

Content strategy can refer to everything from social media to SEO to paid content – but I’m going to keep this simple. This article is focused on creating blog content on your site, and maximising your organic search juice. Done right, this approach can take less than 4 hours of your week (especially once you’re set up to go).

Step one: Identify your goal

Every content strategy needs to focus on a simple and achievable goal. This is usually something along the lines of getting more traffic, more sign-ups or improving brand visibility in general.

Whatever it is, get a piece of paper and write it down.

Then jot down all the ways that people are looking for you. Are they using social media to check out the product? Do they read online reviews? Do they watch how to videos?

Lets assume that it is improving sign ups for your free downloads, which could net you more potenial leads. Maybe it’s a free course that you offer, or an ebook.

You then want to look at why people are searching for this central piece of content, and give it more juice. How?

A content strategy relies on a good plan and great ideas

Step two: Give people what they want

Whatever your industry, there is usually some sort of research that people do online before they make a purchase. As an example, people looking for mortgages will often read up about the process of applying and use tools to understand how much they could borrow.

When looking for a vacation, people will research their trip or look for specific things like luxury hotels or unique experiences.

What is the big keyword and what content already dominates this search in your industry? Chances are it’s already a competitive search term but… What other searches can be made? Is there a niche that people are hunting for?

Step three: The content pillar

Keeping with the traffic for one piece of content, you want to build a content pillar. This is an exhaustive guide that is packed full of unbeatable and unique information.

This can be statistics, your own findings, cosolidated information – whatever makes your content the authority on the subject. Sounds like hard work…?

Well, you’ll be pleased to hear, you don’t have to do it all in one. In fact, the best thing is to build an outline of the monster content pillar and add to it bit by bit over a few weeks or months. This living and breathing piece of content could go from maybe 500 words to thousands.

Why is this good?

The search engines like fresh and regularly updated content. So, by creating your content pillar and adding to it regularly, you’re quite likely to see if climb up the charts quicker than if you created the monster in one go.

Can your content pillar be a video or download? Of course.

However the benefits of the complete guide blog are that it is hosted on your site, unlike a video site like YouTube. Gated content is fine if you want to collect email leads.

Can the content pillar be a course on an external site? Absolutely.

Step four: Get a social media scheduler

If you’ve ever spent any time managing social media, you’ll know it is a black hole for time. Even if you only schedule ten minutes a week, it’s easy to find yourself whiling away an hour or so.

There are loads of free schedulers, such as Hootsuite and Twittimer. These allow you to set up your social posts for the coming week, so you don’t need to keep going on the platforms to post.

Do some research into the best performing keywords in your industry and post your latest and/or best content regularly with these hashtags.

Step five: Build supporting content

With your social media platforms set up, and your content pillar growing bit by bit, your content strategy needs to support your efforts.

What this means is that you’ll need to develop content that points to your content pillar.

So if your content pillar is ‘The Complete Planning a Wedding’ and clocks in at 4000 words, you’ll need to think of articles that can be quickly digested, perhaps 500 words each. They also need to relate to your content pillar – so, off the top of my head, you’d have articles like:

  • 7 Most eye-catching decorations for a wedding
  • 15 great wedding first dance ideas
  • How to design a wedding invitation

You get the idea. And each of these articles needs to feature a link back to your complete guide.

This works with everything from video guides, to ebook downloads to externally hosted courses.

Step six: Off site content

Anyone who knows about SEO and content strategy knows that a key piece of the puzzle is building content on external sites. This is known as backlink building.

The best way to do this is to create incredibly useful content that organically earns backlinks. That is, people read it, love it and reference it in their own work. Of course this can take time – like months, at least.

Another option is to look for guest posting opportunities. The best options are in industry related publications or other websites not in competition with yours.

Yes, you can buy backlinks but be very careful here… This is a practice known as ‘grey hat SEO’, which basically means that Google doesn’t particularly like this practice, but it can yield results.

If you’re buying backlinks, make sure it’s from a site that has good quality content, decent traffic and is related to your niche.

Build time to create an effective content strategy

Step seven: Time management

For most business owners, this is the sticking point. How do you manage a content strategy alongside your day to day business?

Making time for your content strategy is the best way to make sure you get your content strategy off on the right foot. Put aside half an hour to an hour each day, to start with.

You can always scale up the time you commit when you have a content goal to hit.

Ideally, you want to be putting aside at least six or seven hours a week to work on your content strategy. But, of course, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out.

For business owners who just want to get the job done right, the best choice is to hire an expert. Hiring a content management agency is the best option to create content that ranks. And a good content strategist can easily make you back your investment in them if you let them do their job.

So, if you’re looking to build organic traffic, increase your visibility and create a trustworthy brand voice, you’ll need a content strategy. Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments below…