We may blog about different topics, but we all need a good content strategy. In today’s article, we’ll talk about shaping and presenting your content in ways that’ll help you find and keep a loyal audience.
When it comes to building a healthy following, nothing is more important than publishing quality content regularly.
Of course, keeping a steady pace is far from easy.
Most of us have work, school, family, and quite a few chores to tackle on any given day. Some of us even like spending a few hours (minutes?) a day away from a screen. All of which often means that blogging goes down the priority ladder. Can a content strategy help you navigate a hectic schedule? Here are some points to consider:
Do You Need a Content Strategy?
The idea of having to create a strategy, set and adhere to strict deadlines, and making plans can easily put off most bloggers, but it’s essential to have a plan in place in order to take your blog to the next level.
For some bloggers, publishing twice a week (or once a month, or every day, or… you get the point) is the most they need in terms of having a content strategy, while others need a more detailed framework.
Consistency: A Procrastinator’s Worst Enemy
A content strategy allows you to plan in advance and do some real time management. A content strategy allows you, first, to start writing, editing, and scheduling posts in advance. Since you can pre-schedule the publication of your posts, you’re free to dedicate the rest of your time to networking, monetization, and social media.
Second, a content strategy lets you make smart decisions about the timing of the posts you want to publish. You can easily experiment with alternating between short and long posts, the time of day you publish, and so on. This, in turn, allows you to better understand the feedback you’re receiving, so you can create content that’s better suited for your target audience.
Why does a strategy matter so much?
It allows you to figure out what your 80% looks like, which is the highest level of productivity you can adhere to without burning out.
And, yes, contrary to popular belief, you do not have to give 100% 24/7, but rather 80%.
And the trick is to keep this in mind as you design your content strategy.
If you feel that you are working too hard to meet some imaginary goal (whether it’s a blog post per day or one per week,) you need to change your strategy.
“Strategy.” I like the sound of it. Now what?
Regardless of the kind of blog you keep, here are some pointers you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Go visual: if it’s only in your head, it’s not really a calendar. Use your smartphone’s calendar app.
- Be realistic: it’s better to schedule two posts a week that you know you’ll publish on time, than struggle to publish on a daily basis and miss three out of seven posts.
- Consider the time you’ll want to spend engaging your audience: Don’t schedule a post that’s likely to generate a lot of feedback if you know you won’t be able to moderate and respond to comments.
A content calendar isn’t just a plan, but also a record.
Once you’ve crossed off the week’s/month’s/ year’s scheduled posts (great job!), don’t toss away your plan. Go over it and try to detect long-term trends:
- What posts did you most enjoy working on?
- What kind of content elicited the strongest reactions from your visitors?
- What are the most popular days for publishing new content?
Planning will be easier once you rely on actual data rather than your inspiration alone.
A calendar is not only for publication dates: create a space in your calendar for thoughts and ideas that haven’t yet developed into fully-formed blog posts. Keeping an inventory of these can pay off whenever you’re having a moment of writer’s block, or you need to change plans quickly.
A Good Strategy Is a Flexible One
Like all rules and tricks of blogging, having a content strategy in place is often useful, but having one that’s too rigid can backfire. The goal is to keep things fun, and if you find yourself dreading the act of content creation according to your strategy, do not be afraid to change things.
Practically, too, having some wiggle room is important. Keeping a day open, here and there, gives you the space to write spontaneously and publish time-sensitive content your readers might be eager to read, such as commenting on relevant current events.
In other words, while a content strategy is a brilliant way to plan for the unexpected, you also need to leave some room for the unexpected to be shared with your audience.
In the end, a content strategy is simply a plan of action, because unless you plan to act, odds are you will rarely act.
If you want to regularly punch those damn keys, and share content with your audience, then working towards designing a content strategy that makes sense to you as a content creators is one of the best decisions you can make.