The Golden Path to Blogger Content Strategy
Even with a variety of topics and a robust readership, a blog without a content strategy operates like a boat without a rudder.
It might drift around, but it’s a lot harder to reach a destination. A content strategy doesn’t just determine what you’ll write next week – it determines what you’ll produce from now until eternity (or the online equivalent).
Your content strategy will look different from everyone else’s and that’s a good thing. However, there is a proven path, dubbed the “Golden Path” (trademark pending) we can follow to create a well-oiled content machine.
Start your journey by answering the most basic questions anyone can ask.
The First 6 Steps
1. Why: The Goal
It’s amazing how many people start a blog without even thinking about why they’re doing it. As a result, they just keep publishing content without achieving anything. To run a successful blog, you need a content strategy that starts with an end goal.
Do you want to grow your subscriber base? Generate news articles about yourself or your business? Become the go-to source in your field? Maybe you just want to experiment and test the waters. If that’s the situation, make sure you’re paying attention to what works and what doesn’t by utilizing tools like Google Analytics.
Before taking the next step, be certain of your blog goal.
2. Who: The Audience
Some bloggers try to appeal to everyone and end up appealing to no one. Others cater to such a specialized audience that readership commentary skates on thin ice. A good rule of thumb is to focus your target audience somewhere in the middle.
Consider all of the audiences interested in fashion. With very few exceptions, one blog can’t cater to executives, teens, moms and recent college grads all at the same time. Instead, focus on one particular group, preferably one you have genuine experience with.
3. What: The Content
What topics interest your target audience? How do they respond to different content formats? What tone of voice best matches theirs? Answering these two questions will go a long way to helping you determine what kind of content to produce.
If I got a penny for every time I saw a headline with a number, I’d be able to pay the New York Times to write my content. The reality is that list-posts simply work. Kristina Halvorson, the founder and president of Brain Traffic, affirms, “bullet lists pwn.” They are easy to read and easy to share, but Kristina raises vital points,
“But who among us is asking the scary, important questions about content, such as ‘What’s the point?’ or ‘Who cares?’ Who’s talking about the time-intensive, complicated, messy content development process? Who’s overseeing the care and feeding of content once it’s out there, clogging up the tubes and dragging down our search engines?”
She goes on to explain this is why we have content strategy. From SEO to fulfilling businesses goals, content strategy is the manifestation of a cloaked mastermind.
When asked, “What are your best tips for content strategy for bloggers?” Jeffery Tull, a successful freelance writer and content marketing strategist said,
“There are lots of different options here, but I’ll just give you one: Answer the questions that are being asked in your target market. This way, you’ll be the more likely to offer advice that actually helps others as well as more likely that your content will be found and shared.”
For instance, lots of different audiences might be interested in “Which Jobs Lead to Substance Abuse.” Traditional readers may prefer a simple text list that answers this question, while a more media-bathed audience appreciates a hip and flashy infographic.
Rachel Lovinger, a Content Strategy Lead for Razorfish says content must be accurate, relevant, and meaningful. She states,
“There are many factors that determine whether something is meaningful, but the primary one, at least as far as web applications are concerned, is relationships.”
Follow Rachel’s advice and make sure your content works toward a content goal that builds relationships. These relationships are the culmination of comments, social shares, and subscriptions; they have both practical and monetized value.
4. Where: The Distribution
The Internet is like outer space – there are endless possibilities but most of them lead to dead ends. You don’t have the time or resources to endlessly promote, so your content strategy needs a plan for finding and using the most appropriate channels for your content.
Which online publications do your target audiences read? Which websites cover the same topics as your blog? While your blog is ground zero for content strategy, utilizing external sites and tools makes this process less stressful. Triberr is clutch in helping bloggers promote content, and even more importantly, develop relationships with each other. When influencers in your industry enjoy your content that means their readers enjoy it.
Remember what Rachel said?
5. When: The Schedule
Some bloggers publish just often enough to keep their readers around; others publish on the exact day and time shown to yield the best results by their analytics program. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, make sure your content strategy includes some organizational structure.
There are dozens of popular media management tools. Between Evernote, Hootsuite and Buffer, it should be relatively simple to maintain an organized schedule while distributing content appropriately.
Some bloggers use a content calendar, or a schedule of what topics they’ll write about in a given week. Other bloggers start with a production schedule that determines when content will be created, reviewed, and published. A solid content strategy has this sense of direction.
Not only does content planning keep you topically focused, but it resembles a pact between you and your blog.
6. How: The Process
If you “free-spirit” or “wing” content, you either produce sub-par work or waste a lot of time confusing readers on what exactly your blog covers. Avoid these pitfalls by taking the previous 5 steps seriously.
Even if you produce content by yourself, it’s critical to have an over-arching, step-by-step process that guides research, writing copy, creating media, and/or outsourcing (such as designers for infographics).
A stable workflow keeps you on the golden path!
Next Steps: Continue learning
Consider reading highly recommended content strategy books, checking out Jonathon Colman’s epic list of resources, or dissecting the strategy of a successful blog. Exceptional content strategists such as the often praised MOZ blog and Southwest Airlines blog have curated unique content specifically crafted for a well-researched and targeted audience. Think about why and how their content works. This makes us smarter content strategists and all around better bloggers.
Thanks for reading!
What’s your best tip for blogger content strategy?