Do you ever wonder how great brands manage to post so much relevant, awesome content as often as they do?
You may assume that creating a similar content marketing strategy will be too complicated for your business to handle. After all, when you try to create content, it probably seems to take forever as you fall further down the never-ending rabbit hole of ideas, tasks, and social media updates.
You wind up spending far too much time—or not enough time—on your content marketing, yet you don’t seem to accomplish a whole lot either way in the form of results.
So how do other small businesses master this art?
Here’s the secret: You don’t need to be an expert to develop and execute a fantastic (and easy!) content marketing strategy.
You just need a plan.
Today I’m going to show you exactly how to create a successful content marketing strategy when you’re short on time.
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The Truth About Content Marketing
The first thing you should realize is that content marketing is not as complicated as it sounds.
At its heart, it’s a conversation between your brand and its audience (or potential audience).
Just like your brand’s story, these conversations and messages need to be authentic and genuine.
Content marketing includes everything you say in person, print, online and in video. Essentially, it’s the key messages you’ll be sharing about your brand to drive awareness and hopefully result in sales.
Most businesses I work with only associate content marketing with blog posts and writing articles—but this is just one small fraction of the much larger puzzle.
On top of blog posts, content marketing also encompasses:
- Social media posts
- YouTube/Vimeo videos
So if you’re only focusing your attention on writing blog posts, you’ll be missing out on these other traffic-driving avenues of content.
At this point you’re probably thinking, Susan, I barely have enough time to write a blog post a month. Now I have to tackle these areas, too?
The answer is a definite YES, but it won’t be as time-consuming as you’re probably envisioning.
The key is to make your content marketing strategy manageable so that you’ll keep posting consistently. Consistency is huge in content marketing. I’d argue that a content marketing strategy without consistency will only be a huge waste of your time.
So how do you achieve consistency the easy way?
You need to focus on creating an automated system, which means you’ll need to have a plan first.
Create a Master Plan
Similar to the social media plan we created in a previous article, generating a master plan for your content marketing efforts makes your strategy simple to follow and successful.
Just create a schedule that includes information on how often you aim to post content and what/where you’ll be posting each time.
It’s also helpful to map out a “theme” for each week. By doing this, you’ll have a way to narrow down precisely what to post about.
I always suggest choosing around four themes per month; that gives you one for each week.
For example, let’s say you’re putting together a calendar for your business as a life coach. You may decide to use a theme, such as “Energy” to give your followers a boost to start the month off right during the first week. You could then take advantage of a theme, such as “Motivation” to help your followers finish the month strong in week four.
By laying out themes, you just need to create posts that fall under that particular category. You’ll start shaving off time immediately with your new direction so content gets produced faster.
You can change these themes each month, quarter, or season. If you find that some themes seem to engage your audience more than others, which will inevitably happen, run with these and toss out the ones that aren’t working as well.
The idea here is to keep your process flexible, but steady. You always want your content mapped out for at least the current month and the following.
Now, if you’re just starting out, you should aim to post one piece of content at least 2–3 days per week. Ideally, you’ll work up to posting something everyday and eventually you’ll get to several posts throughout the day (seriously!).
But for right now, focus on producing quality content. If you try to post once a day in the beginning, you’ll quickly burn out. When that happens you’ll either produce lackluster content or you’ll stop posting altogether—two scenarios we definitely don’t want.
Start “Batching” Your Tasks Together
Instead of coming up with a blog post topic every time you sit down to write—and wasting several hours down the rabbit hole that is the Internet—set aside some time to brainstorm topics for the next two months.
Ideally, you’ll post one per week.
Using your predetermined themes, come up with a topic for each week and plot this on your calendar. You should choose the same day and time each week for consistency.
Next, plot your social media posts around your blog post. I suggest having at least one post before you launch your article, one right after you publish it, and a third one a few days later.
This means you’ll need to come up with three social media posts (per week) to reaffirm your blog post’s theme.
Instead of doing this individually, knock this task out in one sitting — don’t forget to take breaks, of course.
All you have to do is schedule your content posts so they launch automatically according to your calendar. This is the set-it-and-forget-it part of your content marketing plan.
Taking this route creates a cohesive strategy that also streamlines your marketing efforts at the same time.
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The sooner you automate your efforts, the faster you’ll be at generating quality content consistently.
Outlines are Not Optional
If it’s taking you too long to write lengthier pieces of content, such as emails and blog posts, I bet I know what’s really at the root of your time-wasting problem.
You’re not creating or following an outline, right?
While I hate to sound like your seventh grade teacher, I have to reiterate: If you don’t have an outline, you’re going to waste your time.
See, having an outline helps you work out all the kinks before you start typing away. It also helps you create the backbone and framework for your story so you can stay on track.
When you don’t have an outline, you’re stuck staring at a blank page hoping that inspiration will suddenly strike out of nowhere. If you’ve tried this strategy (I know I have at one point or another), you know how ineffective and time-consuming this route can be. So don’t do it. Not now. Not ever.
Now that you’ve read these tips, it’s time to get moving! Set aside time to create your content marketing plan and make sure to include themes that reaffirm your brand’s central messages.
And remember, you should always write pieces of content as if you’re speaking directly to your target audience. This means you’ll drop the rhetoric and focus on sharing stories instead.