*Once again, take away being the British Slang for takeout.
After an unintentional internet detox, I was scrolling through my WordPress reader to catch up on posts and came across this guest post list at fellow WordPress blogger, Nicholas C Rossis. The list was written by Patrick Del Rosario and the first thing on it was “have a content strategy plan.”
And I went, “What the hell is a content strategy plan?” (Me no likey jargon.) A grumpy tweet later, I had two content marketers liking my tweet and I had the beginnings of a place to start looking. ConvinceandConvert.com had 41 pages of blog posts about content marketing!
Once again, I thought I’d share briefly what I’ve learned.
First things first,
What is a Content Strategy Plan?
A content strategy plan is filling your blogs with posts that the different people you want to reach care about and answers their questions in order for them to do what you want them to do next. Whether that’s follow your blog/newsletter, give to a charity, or buy a product (or even buy someone else’s product.)
Meaning, you can’t just blog about any old thing. You need to produce the type of posts and share the type of information that will interest the type of people you want to purchase the product you’re selling. All without blatantly going “Buy this! Buy this!” Nothing turns people off more than poorly worded advertisements in their blog list. Remember from Book Marketing #5) keep your spam to once a week and space it with other content.
How do you figure this out? (Other than poking at other blog posts for six hours, no worries, I did that for you.)
Figure out your purpose and point of difference.
Before you start a blog, you need to do a little digging into yourself. There are some questions you need to answer. What’s the point of your blog? Who are you? What do you do? Why are you doing this blogging thing that everyone else is doing? And how are you going to stand apart from the pack?
Sorry, did I go to fast?
Look, I’m a writer. That’s who I am. I write science fiction and fantasy adventures. I’m not about thrillers or mysteries. I’m about adventures. The reason I write this blog is that hopefully (when I figure all this content marketing out myself) someone will buy my books. If I can create a little awareness about wolves and offer some writing advice that’s icing on the cake. But really, I want people to buy my books. With so many books out there, why should they buy mine? And how can I show this to people without outright stating it and sounding like a blowhard? I mean, those are some questions I personally have to answer.
Discover your audience.
There are a lot of people on the internet. There are a lot of websites and a lot of blogs. Who are the type of people that you want stopping by yours? Who are you writing to? What is your weekly or biweekly love letter into the void trying to attract.
These are your audience and your customers. In jargon, this is your target market. I’ve talked about target market before in my fashion business series. Your blog may have more than one audience, one customer. They will be distinctive personalities. And these distinctive personalities, they have questions. And they’re coming to your blog via google or WordPress reader or maybe a link in a forum or wiki to try and find the answers to those burning questions that are keeping them up at night or causing them to complain to their best friends over text or instant messaging or their captive family at the dinner table or in the car. (We’ve all been there, admit it.)
As a writer, I have at least two different personalities that I’m blogging for. I’m blogging for readers. And I’m blogging for other writers. (Though I probably don’t have to do so. There are a ton of writer advice blogs out there.) And yes, while a writer may read. They have different needs when they are reading rather than when they are writing. I need to cater to both of those audiences and answer their questions.
Find the overlap between what you do and what the customer likes (loves and wants), worries about and pays attention to.
Time for a handy Venn diagram.
On one side, we have us, the blogger. As a blogger, we’ve got some sort of reason why we’re blogging. I’m a writer. I write books. I write blog posts in hope that someone will like me and buy my books. I write blog posts for other writers, authors and creators to help lift them up and go “It’s tough but we can do it.”
On the other side, I’ve got the people who I want to buy my books, the customer, the reader. The reader has things that they care about. There are things they need to know. They have questions about my books and about me and they want to come to my blog to see if they can find out stuff about them. There are also other authors, they want to know my story and if I’m remotely successful.
In the middle, that’s what I need to be writing about in my blog. Where what I do, the information I have, overlaps with what the customer and my blog readers care about.
Use your voice.
Be personable in your writing. Write like you speak. If you’re a warm and funny person who is full of jokes and asides, hey put in the jokes and asides. Be emotional. Be honest. Don’t be afraid to put out your personal truth. People respond well to that (both negatively and positively.) Your voice, the way you write and your style is individual to you. It can’t be necessarily duplicated.
I checked my overall WordPress stats for this year. One of my more popular posts is about how creativity is like making a risotto. It was a personal story about how my friend Becca and I create and cook differently. (And that it’s okay.) It was a funny personal story that resonated with me on a Monday morning so I wrote about it.
No matter what types pf blog posts you use to try and gain traffic to your site and motivate and retain your audience, whether their lists or Q&As or How to Posts or stories, use your personal experience and tone.
Yes. Some people aren’t going to read it properly or ignore what you say in favor of their own biases. Others will find the truth and the comfort in what you’re saying.
But at the same time…
Keep it Professional
What I mean by keeping it professional is, check your sources, keep profanity to a minimum, check your images for copyright and focus on how your personal life is intersecting with your professional life in funny and heartwarming ways. And for the love of little green apples, check your spelling and grammar!
Look, there are just some things that don’t belong on a professional style blog. Your readers don’t want to see 101 selfies of you unless you’re a fashion icon. Sure, if you’re a writer, your readers would love to see pictures of you at events with them.
Let’s take the above example about me making a risotto. No one wants to hear about me making a risotto. It’s boring. That’s what personal Facebook and Instagram are for, but I took my foray into making a risotto and spun it to focus on my writing, on my craft, on what I do. I was able to link it to my professional life. Suddenly instead of being a silly story about me accidentally making a risotto, it’s a silly story about me accidentally making a risotto and writing all at the same time. As a post, it worked. It drew traffic. It was a funny story that my audience appreciated and has garnered a goodly amount of views for a post that isn’t linked anywhere else.
Once you figure out the middle ground between who you are and who you’re trying to reach, then you’re well on your way to finding a good, personable, and professional content strategy plan.
Really, the last few days has been wading through blog posts full of jargon, on top of jargon, that leads to more jargon. There is apparently more, like types of blog posts and a “content amplification strategy.” I think that’s, how to go viral or close to it? Basically, how are you marketing your marketing?
There was a reason I wasn’t doing Fashion Business. But here I am. So, if you use my landing page as a way to view my blog, you may notice some changes in the upcoming weeks or days.
I need to make a plan. A content strategy plan because I think I’m leaving out my most important audience… my readers!
Good luck and I hope this helps someone else.