Creating a Content Strategy

Let’s say you have a great idea for a blog. How will you get all your knowledge out there for the world to see? You might be brilliant and have so much to share, but you need to get the information across in such a way that will make sense to your audience. And, sharing is not enough anymore; you also need to stand out.

There’s no formal way to devise a content strategy, since every business/blog is unique. But in this article I will cover some basic guidelines.

Blog Example

First things first: what is a content strategy? Content strategy is basically planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.[1]

For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that you are an avid reader and you want to start a literature blog. This is a serious project for you and one of your goals is to eventually monetize your blog by selling ad space.

For a larger organization we would have to deal with getting sign off from different departments and budget etc. But for this post I will focus on a simpler example.

So…you want to blog about books. To start, let’s address a few critical questions to help us start planning:

  1. What are you offering your audience?
  2. Who is your audience?
  3. Have you identified a need for this type of blog? For example, let’s say you want to blog about a very specific, niche mystery genre.
  4. What makes you different than other book bloggers out there?
  5. What do you want to get out of blogging? What would be your ideal outcome/scenario? We already know that selling ad space is one objective.
  6. Why are you doing this?
  7. How often do you want to write a blog post?
  8. How much time can you devote to your new blog?
  9. Do you already have existing content that you can pull into this new venture?
  10. Have you performed some competitive analysis to see what other book blogs are out there?
  11. Have you identified sources of content ideas? In this case, libraries, book stores, other book blogs, authors, publishing houses etc.

Content Strategy

The recipe for a successful blog: expertise, social engagement and great content

One important thing to keep in mind, is that although this blog is a personal endeavor for you, you are NOT the target audience for your blog. What you find interesting about books, may not be what resonates with other readers.

Spend some time doing research online (keyword research), scouring social media and check in to see what people are talking about when it comes to the books you want to promote/discuss on your blog.

Discovering the buzz about a certain book means that you could jump on that bandwagon, discuss the book by offering your unique perspective and hopefully get more leads on your blog!

Content Types and Goals

Another thing to consider is the type of content you want to produce. Let’s say you’ll primarily start with blog posts, but as your site grows you will want to expand into other types of content, like: author interviews, videos, chats, forum, infographics etc. Be sure to plan for this type of content growth.

Opening your blog up to comments and adding a forum for example, also gives you more ideas for content generation. What are your users talking about? What do they want to find out more about? The more open your site, the higher the likelihood users will engage with it, think Reddit for example.

TIP: Start a content tracking inventory. An Excel spreadsheet where you can keep track of content sources (websites you visit regularly) for blog ideas. Also keep track of any content ideas you might have or run across online.  There are free editorial calendar templates online you can download to help you keep track of scheduling.

Building upon the question “why am I doing this?”, prioritize and choose a few goals you want to accomplish. If you leave this too open-ended, for example: “I just want to blog about the books I read” you most likely won’t develop much of an audience, unless you are extremely witty and a super funny writer! Most people don’t really care about what you are reading. What can you tell them about the book you just read that will make them want to read it?

All successful and respected blogs have one thing in common: They offer content that is immensely valuable to the user.  Let me share a personal example: I am looking for a new bike. I went to all the major bike companies’ websites. But they all speak very highly of their own products so I went digging around biking blogs and I looked at all the bike reviews posted by people just like me.

It is so much more valuable to me, as a consumer, to read Amazon reviews or personal third-party reviews online (unaffiliated with a company).

So before you start a new web project, be sure to set some time aside to think through the content you will be delivering. The content is the meat of your blog/site. No matter how beautiful a design, on the web content is king!

[1] Kristina Halvorson, Brain Traffic

About the author

Patricia is the Founder of Upwards Content, a fledgling content creation/management business. If you like my articles, follow me on Twitter!

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