It seems so simple. Creating a blog strategy, something that you should be able to knock out in a few minutes and be set for your entire year of content creation, right? Wrong. It’s a process that takes time, research, testing and editing continuously. While it may be ideal to have a “set-it-and-forget-it” blogging strategy, it is not ideal and most definitely not what we call best practices.
Here at CM, we do a whole lot of blogging. We write blogs for ourselves, for our clients and are a content creating machine. So, how do we successfully develop blog strategies for us and for our clients? We have a set process. Now, keep in mind that you may decide to refine your process for your business or adapt our steps to better fit your needs, that’s fine. Our process is not the holy grail of strategies, but it is a really good start.
Determine Your Blogging Goals
Why does your blog exist? Have this conversation with your team to incorporate different opinions and ideas that you may not have thought of prior. It’s crucial that everyone on your team supports creating a blog and, therefore, will help invest in content creation. Make sure that your blog serves a purpose.
Is your blog:
- A Sales Pitch – only share content that will encourage users to buy your product/service
- A Center for Information – your blog is the go-to resource for information
- Industry News – the latest news and trends and your take on them
- Combination – it’s a little bit of all of the above
Once you have a clear strategy in place as to what you hope to achieve with your blog it will make it easier to determine the topics you need to cover.
Outline Your Target Audience
This step should actually coincide with determining your blog goals. Here are a few questions that you should ask yourself and your team prior to getting started:
- Who do you want to target your content to
- Who do you want to read your blog
- What type of person / level of employee do you want to target
If you already have your target audience identified before starting a blog, then that’s even better. But, if not, then spend some time as a team and really drill down into your audience personas. What’s their title, their role, what kind of company do they work for, what sort of action should they take after reading your blog.
Pro tip: Ask your sales team or business development team what your customers or potential clients are asking? What information do they need to know and how can you provide those answers?
Brainstorm & Organize
So here is the real challenge for your team – coming up with ideas! Our recommendation is to set up in a creative space. Whether you break out into smaller teams of 3-4 people or meet as a larger group, ensure that there is a space to write ideas, scratch out old ideas, and organize everything into categories. Make sure you have clearly outlined and communicated your blogging goals and target personas to the team.
When it comes to your initial brainstorm, there is no such thing as a bad idea. Write down every idea that comes up in discussion and add it to the list. You can go back afterwards and refine your ideas or remove the ideas that are off-brand. Encourage everyone on your team to share ideas in the open forum. Set some ground rules at the beginning of the meeting, including no interrupting, and the ideas should focus on connecting with your target audience while hitting upon your blog goals. To get started, ask questions such as:
- What do your clients ask you?
- What information do our customers need to know?
- What type of content would you share?
- Is this helpful or useful?
- What services should we focus on?
Just get the conversation started and see where it goes. Write down as many ideas as possible and then assign someone on your team (or you) to take all of the ideas and put them into categories.
Pro tip: Have brainstorming sessions periodically throughout the year to come up with new and fresh ideas.
What are the main focal points of your blog? Is it content marketing, or digital marketing, is it lifestyle tips, or health routines? Identify the key points and turn them into your categories. Assign topics to a category and then you can get to work on planning.
Decide on your blogging schedule. You’ll want to choose a consistent schedule when you know that you can definitely post and continue to do so. Having a schedule will allow your readers to look for your content and know when to expect your blog to be published. Once you decide on your posting schedule, you’ll want to build out a spreadsheet. Here’s a sneak peek into our spreadsheet and there’s a great template right here.
Rotate your categories throughout your schedule, this way you are keeping your topics fresh and exciting. Then go ahead and fill in your calendar with your titles, a brief description, what persona it is targeting and the due dates. If your business is very fluid then it may make sense to only plan out 1-2 weeks in order to be flexible. Otherwise, planning a month or a quarter ahead of time is a smart move.
Have a blog owner who is responsible for keeping track of all posts and ensuring consistency. This includes images, sizing, formatting, and copy. You’ll want to ensure that the blog voice, imagery and styling is representative of your brand. This person will make sure that every post is scheduled and posted on time as well as updating the strategy as time passes.
Now that the blog is scheduled and published, you’ll want to promote it. There are a few methods to promote content. You can promote it across your social platforms, through email marketing, pay-per-click advertising, across third party publishers or share it with your current/future clients. Here are a few tips to getting started:
Each platform has their pros and cons for different types of content, so be sure you research which platform is right for your blogs and invest some budget into getting your content out there.
Review & Edit
As we mentioned above, it’s important to host a blog brainstorm consistently throughout the year. When these sessions come up it is crucial to reevaluate your strategy to ensure you are posting the best content possible. Bring the numbers, showcase content that did extremely well and content that may not have done as well. See how you can improve upon your current strategy to put forth the best ideas and content for your customers.
We constantly add ideas to our blog strategy and re-arrange our calendar to ensure we are putting out timely, relevant and useful information to our clients and customers. If you need some help getting started, then contact us to learn more.