Being in blogging for over a decade I experienced lots of ups and downs, in traffic, as well as my commitment to blogging. But I also found ways to strengthen my content production efforts by defying the corporate rules to blogging.
Starting a blog is already quite an undertaking, but keeping it alive and thriving is even more difficult. The reason behind this is decision fatigue, which manifests itself in uncertainty on what to write next and forcing you to make a choice in your next article.
One of the biggest productivity hurdles in content marketing is deciding what to write. Making that Decision is eating up yours and your writer’s time (if you are outsourcing your writing). That’s why you want to take control of your Content plan. It eliminates this time and energy waste, by streamlining your blogging process. It is the essential component of your content strategy as well as an SEO strategy.
When you look for a content plan, you will find a lot of corporate mumbo jumbo content, that doesn’t translate that well on an individual level. People that write for their paycheck have way higher inherent motivation and focus that derives out of this being their primary source of income. You as a blogger oftentimes need to hack this motivation by choosing the topics you are genuinely interested in, but also by writing the topics where you can contribute the unique value to the vertical that you are tackling.
Seven Corporate Approaches To Content Plan And What You Should Do Differently
Corporate blogs and professional approach wants to have a high priority on the readers, and as they are certainly using blogs as additional revenue streams, they can afford to dump more money into research. But when you’re writing, you won’t have this luxury of additional time, as at the end of the day you won’t have the direct revenue back in your pocket from writing that particular article.
This is where your content approach must differ from the corporate one. Corporate will focus primarily on “solving problems” for their readers. Your primary focus will be on creating a connection with your readers. One part of writing is having an emphasis on building your personal brand. You as an individual blogger, aren’t obligated by the corporate rules. Below you will find my alternatives
Corporate – Defining Your Goal. You – Chose inspiring topics that keep your motivation high
Goal setting is a luxury, and you being an indie blogger, or a very small company, you need to be agile in your approach. Setting goals is reducing the time for actually creating a content plan, and you will change your goals 10 times, as you start acting on your plan.
Instead of setting goals, get straight to defining the topics that you enjoy, and that you feel like you are knowledgable about. The fact that you probably lack marketing skills, and that you lack the time and energy for doing proper marketing research, I firmly believe that you will learn more from putting yourself to action immediately. This way you can experiment by doing, and you are getting immediate feedback from your readers.
As a blogger you can never have enough motivation, hence you will need to create things that will keep you motivated. I found that I operate much better when I am writing the topics that are plaguing me right now. Like in this instance for example. I often find myself that I don’t know what to start writing, so as I am researching the best ways to create a content plan, I can diffuse my thoughts on the topic, and help you create an alternative viewpoint that can be highly efficient in your blogging path.
Corporate: Conduct Persona Research – You: Focus on writing for the people that actually came to your blog
Content marketing departments can afford to research who are people behind their target demographics. But when it comes to you, if you don’t know how to do this, you can as well write in your own voice, and see whom you resonate the best with. Granted the content that you produce will resonate with people that respond well to your style. You won’t know who responds the best to your way of expressing thoughts until you put it into practice.
So instead of wasting time and energy on persona research, focus on the plan of topics that grant you the motivation to bring the article from start to finish, and then see who are the individuals that reacted to the content the most. Your persona research must be organic, not robotic, as it pertains directly to you, the blogger (writer).
The reason why corporate need to develop personas is that they can eliminate writers (believe me, writers are a dime a dozen), and then they need to focus on finding the right one. When you are your only writer, you will need to see how people respond to your own words.
Corporate: Run A Content Audit – You: Focus on Occasionally Updating Your Old Content
Instead of wasting blocks of time on auditing all of your content, you should do random check-ups on the articles, upgrading their titles and upgrading the content itself. If you’ve noticed the pattern so far, I am constantly trying to push you away from procrastination based activities and pushing you directly into action.
Corporate blogging advice doesn’t factor in the life’s fluidity, and hence it is not as tailored for a one-man show, or for small teams that can’t afford the time and resources to create complex plans. Your plans need to be simple, often upgraded as you are working.
Corporate approach: Determine A Content Management System – You: Just pick WordPress
You don’t want to waste time on derailing your plan by figuring out the best CMS for the occasion. When your operation is small, you want to get the tools that are making everyone feel comfortable to work with. The less time you spend fidgeting with CMS, the more time you will spend producing and engaging. WordPress is ideal and still viable all the way until you reach hundreds of thousands of visitors per day. Then you may move to some custom based CMS that is designed to handle large websites.
Mashable and numerous other very popular blogs started off as WordPress platforms. There is no reason why your blog can’t start off on this platform. It will give you speed to market, hence the most natural choice.
I’ve been personally engaged with WordPress for a decade now, and I never had any hardships with this platform. When you learn ins and outs, and you see the flexibility that it offers you, you will absolutely fall in love with it. But for starters focus on its simplicity, and don’t fidget too much, just get to work.
Corporate approach: Brainstorm Content Ideas – You: Write Down Your Ideas ALL The Time
You don’t necessarily need to have designated brainstorming sessions, as they are just another fancy way of procrastinating in the corporate world. When you are involved with your blog, you will be creating ideas all the time. Get in the habit of constantly writing them down. Your content plan is a living and breathing organism, that needs to contain everything you’ve ever thought of writing or things that you’ve previously written.
Don’t boggle down your creativity by creating designated brainstorming sessions, make sure you are thinking radially all the time, and make it convenient to write your ideas down while you’re on the go. You can use apps like Evernote or Apple Notes to have something handy at all times.
But if you are stuck, there are tools that could help you chose the topics:
- Google Adwords Keyword Planner – so you can determine what people are actively looking for as a solution
- Read other peoples content through RSS to gather ideas
- Use tools like Buzz Sumo, and see what people are sharing that contains your keywords.
Corporate Approach: Determine Which Types Of Content You Want To Create – You: Focus on creating articles and word count
As a blogger, you are probably best at writing articles. I’ve been creating all types of content for the past 8 years, but written posts have always yielded me the highest return on my time investment.
Even if you don’t know SEO, you need to know that Content Frequency and word count are huge ranking factors. When you focus on creating in-depth articles, and you push them out frequently enough, Google will start recognizing your blog as a place where readers can find in-depth information on the subjects you are writing about. People that use Google are doing their own research, and they are hunting down articles that can help them make decisions and take action.
Not all of these people will in-depth read what you’ve got to say, but Google will make sure that they will be able to find you. When you are a blogger without notoriety, and without in-depth knowledge of SEO (like yours truly), this strategy is proven to work for many. Just check Buffer Blog, and you will notice that they are producing daily long-form content, and their blog is fully recognized by Google. This way they are providing value to Google’s audience while getting free advertising for their core business.
You can also create video content, social media updates and many other things that will warrant you the visibility, but nothing will create free earned impressions for you, as constantly creating long-form articles. By trying all, I’ve concluded that even when done on a small scale, this strategy gives you the highest return on your investment.
Corporate Approach: Publish and Manage Your Content – You: Always Be Publishing
Get those words out, even if your content isn’t perfect. You are an individual, and readers will have a higher propensity to forgive you for your grammar (like in my case, English being my second language). You are competing for all those clicks and impressions with companies that are taking their time in producing the highest quality content that doesn’t have too much personality. You overwhelm that with personality and quantity.
People trust other people more than they trust the companies that are trying to analyze the content and custom tailor it to the personas that they are targeting. When you are constantly creating, you are constantly being rewarded.
Simple How To Create A Powerful Content Plan That Just Works
Start by opening up a Google Spreadsheet, and create a couple of columns, as well as a couple of tabs. On one tab you will have a list of all the articles you’ve ever published, and on the other sheet, you will have all the ideas that you want to work in the future, and the third tab, where you will save the ideas that you are currently working on. I have this spreadsheet for every blog that I am working on, this way I can separate ideas between the different projects that I am working on.
Bookmark this spreadsheet and make it accessible straight from your browser, perhaps even make it your homepage. Make a bookmark for this spreadsheet on the homepage of your iPhone. Every time a new idea crosses your mind, make sure to make a note of it. Then pick and chose the ideas that you feel the most strongly about.
This way you will always be creating something, and you won’t find yourself stuck in the gutter of thinking: “What should I write next?” You will always have a fresh stream of high-quality ideas that you’ve been pondering all the time. You should access this sheet daily. You will get bonus points if you internally link these topics with their respective documents. I often link the articles that I half baked started in Evernote, and use the link-sharing feature that Evernote provides, and put those links inside of the spreadsheet.
So when I feel like writing, I just pop Google Spreadsheets, find the idea that I was already developing, and then I access half-finished articles that I previously worked on. This puts me in a position to bring the ideas to the finish line, instead of constantly starting new articles that are scattered between hundreds of apps that I am using.