This comprehensive checklist will help you move forward in your content planning with a clear understanding of why you need to plan, document, and implement. It’ll help you ensure that you’ve covered your bases and that your content marketing plan supports your goals.
Plan Your Content
Planning your content is perhaps the most important step that you can take each month. It lays the groundwork for the rest of your content efforts and truly streamlines your process.
- Document Everything – Put all your content ideas and goals into a calendar or project management system so that you know each day what needs to be accomplished. For example, if you decide you need five blog posts about product A that you want to promote, you need to know when to get those published and who is going to do it.
- Base Content on Business Goals – Every piece of content that is created needs to have a purpose in mind. That purpose should match the goals you’ve created for your business. For example, if you’re launching a new product “20 Fast & Healthy Recipes for Working Families” then you need to plan the entire project from start to finish so that the content you create will work for promoting the new product.
- Map It Out – We’ll use the example above again. You’ll need to map out everything that needs to be done for the project, and then figure out the types of content that will promote it. For example, you’ll need to start educating people on healthy eating, perhaps various cooking techniques that will be in the product, and even a discussion about various ingredients will work. Start from the nitty-gritty and then get to the whole.
Content planning is just about matching the content you’ll create to the promotions you want to have. You’ll need to inform, educate, motivate and interact with your audience using the content you create. Even if it doesn’t look like it on the surface most content you create is designed ultimately, to persuade.
Study Your Audience
Getting to know your audience is a never-ending job. While demographics may stay similar throughout your work with this audience, sometimes their values shift with the times. Buying habits, triggers, and behaviors change too. That’s why it’s imperative that you keep studying them.
- Listen to Them –You want to have an ongoing conversation with your audience and not just a one-way flow of information. Ask questions and get involved in conversations online and off.
- Learn Who They Are – Conduct surveys, ask them what they think about product ideas, content ideas, and more. They will tell you what they want. The more you know them, the more you’ll be able to predict what they want but why not ask them who they are?
- Give Them What They Want – Your life will be much easier (and more profitable) if you make it a practice to simply give your audience what they want within the boundaries of your niche. It’s so much easier convincing someone to make a purchase based on your content if it’s what they want.
Your audience is your most important asset. Treat them well, don’t lie to them, and be as transparent as possible as you create your content plan and publish the content.
Know Your Competition
It’s been said a million times, but it’s true. You must follow and get to know your competition. This is going to help you learn what works and what doesn’t work. And potentially save you costly mistakes.
- Watch – Sign up for their freebies so you can get on their email list. If possible, buy their products and use their services on a short-term basis. This will give you more insight into the type of content you’re going to need when you enter the niche. (You can also talk to people who have used their products or services. Learn what they liked and didn’t like.)
- Find the Gaps – It’s almost certain that your competition will have a gap in their service of your audience. That is where you’ll find the sweet spot in content and products that speak to your audience.
Remember to keep watching your competition today and in the future. You never know when a “killer app” will show up that will change everything as you know it today.
Share Your Brand Story
Every business has a story to tell about how they got started, and why they got started. You have a mission, values, and a message to share. Be able to communicate that within your content over time so that you can develop a singular voice representative of your brand.
- Know Your Why – You need to know why you’re doing what you do, but you need to know it in terms of the audience, not yourself. If you can express your love of your audience and how that propels you to do what you do, they’re going to be more receptive.
- Determine Your Value – Explain in content, such as on your “About” page, and in most of your content what your values are and how they relate to your audience. If your audience thinks your main value is making money they’re not going to relate to that much.
- It’s All About Them – Focus on your audience rather than yourself. For example, you don’t want to tell people that you work from home as a mommy blogger because you don’t want to leave your kids, you should instead say because you love your audience and serving them and why you like serving them.
It might take some time to work on your brand story. But it’s imperative to give it a lot of thought from the audience’s perspective so that you can get it right.
Determine Your Distribution Channels
You don’t have to be everywhere, contrary to some opinions. Pick and choose a few distribution channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You don’t have to pick any networks you don’t want to use. Pick the ones that are most important to your audience.
- Blog – It is important to have a blog on your website. This is going to be the main source of communication with your audience. But, you don’t have to put a blog post up daily. Some bloggers do one post a week, some do more. The trick is to learn what the right mixture is for your audience.
- Social Media – Use the main social media that your audience uses. Also, keep an eye on the future in terms of what might come down the pike that changes everything for you and your audience. For example, an online talk platform called Blab completely changed its model suddenly and it broke some promising careers. If it’s free, it may change, go, or be replaced.
- Other – Any type of content, (articles, press releases, white papers, infographics, etc.), that you feel your audience will enjoy due to studying their preferences you should try to create, but don’t spread yourself too thin. If you can’t outsource you’ll need to find a way to manage everything.
Distribution channels are important because that is how you’ll promote your content that is on your website and your blog. Choose wisely.
Study the Metrics
Nothing is ever complete without the paperwork being finished, right? This is true of content planning as well.
- Fix Problems – For example, if you notice that you’re getting a lot of traffic to your landing page, but no conversions, look at the landing page compared to the promotional materials. Do the target audiences match? Can the landing page be tweaked to make it work?
- Note Successes – When something is working out, note that it is so that you can do it again in your next campaign. Content that works needs to be promoted more aggressively and repurposed more too.
- Do it Again – One of the most important things you can do when it comes to content planning is never give up and when something works, do it again, and again.
Manage Your Content
Organization systems save time and improve results. Find a way to manage your content so that you can get more done with less.
- Tools – Google calendar, Basecamp, Asana, MailChimp, Aweber – these are all tools that you can use to manage your content. Don’t try to cheap out and not use paid tools that make everything better but do know that some free tools work just fine.
- Automation – Use automation to help you promote your content such as HootSuite, and even Facebook Post Scheduler. When you automate, don’t automate anything that needs to be two-way. If you automate promotion, be sure to go back and comment on posts.
- Outsourcing – As soon as you can, consider outsourcing a good portion of content creation, management and promotion. You’ll be glad you did because then you can focus on relationship building, product creation and commenting instead of creating the content.
- Resources and Assets – There are an abundance of content marketing and planning resources available to you. From PLR to Blog Planning Templates and Calendars, it makes good business sense to leverage the work and skills of others. Three great resources include:
**APLC – All Private Label Content – PLR emails, blog posts, articles, reports and more. Learn more
**Blog Planning Calendar from Blog Energizer – Lynette Chandler’s annual Blog Planning Calendar – Grab it here
**DFY Templates – Blog Planning and Content Building Templates – Get the Blog Planning and Content Insider’s Guide and blog planning calendar, blog planning sheet, weekly planner, a variety of helpful checklists, content templates and more. Learn more
Managing content is an essential part of content planning that can’t be skipped over. Mainly because you only have so many hours in the day, so organization is important.
And of course if you need any help planning your content, researching topic ideas, or getting quality original content for your blog or website, check out our Monthly Ghostwriting Services – There’s no commitment, you can cancel anytime, and it’s simply the best way to save money on quality content.