These days content is produced around the clock, en masse for thousands and thousands of websites.
There’s technology that will write and rewrite content for you, as well as numerous ways to outsource the production of words, images and video. According to The Writer Mag, “Huffington Post publishes 1,200 pieces of new editorial content per day. In addition, 28 blog editors curate 400 blog posts on a daily basis. Upstart Buzzfeed.com (of list and viral nostalgia fame) pumps out an average of 373 pieces of content per day. The online sports hub Bleacher Report produces about 800 articles in 24 hours.”
How is this possible? And more importantly, how do you keep up? How do you make sure your website/blog has a chance to be seen and heard? Well, we’re here to show you how. Step 1 is to become familiar with the different types of content you should include in your marketing strategy. Step 2 is to create an effective blog content calendar.
In this article, we'll show you how to build a content strategy from scratch.
Step 1: The 6 types of content you should be including in your content strategy
As WireBuzz says, “Video is the trump card in the hand of the search engine optimizer. Search engines are looking for signs that your content is engaging to determine if it is worth a high ranking. And nothing boosts engagement like video.”
Including video content on your website builds more trust and credibility with your potential clients. Research has shown that users who watch a video are more likely to purchase your products, as video content is far more persuasive. Not only this, but users engage more with video content and are more likely to share them with friends online, thus increasing your reach and exposure. Creating video content also allows you to post not only on your website, but also on Youtube, the second biggest search engine in the world.
Before you create a video, you may want to conduct a short survey with your existing clients to determine what exactly your video should address. Here are 11 web-based polling and survey tools that can help you gather information. The reason we suggest this is because in order to experience the benefits listed above, your video has to answer any questions your potential clients may have. Your survey could ask questions like: what’s stopping you from buying? What’s your biggest concern regarding our product? Is there anything unclear on our page? The answers to these questions will help you eliminate any doubt potential clients may have about your products or services, as well as help you create a great script for your video. A good video conveys a strong message, usually in a catchy and concise way, and if it addresses the concerns of your clients – your conversion rates are sure to soar.
Who doesn’t love a good list? Lists are one of the most popular types of content for a number of reasons. On the writer’s end, they’re one of the easiest formats to write in. Basically you can jot down the points you want to include and then simply flesh them out in a paragraph or two. Be careful not to get too carried away though. One of the reasons people like lists so much is that they’re generally quite succinct, so keep it simple.
Not sure where to start? Here are 15 list post ideas to help cure that writer’s block!
Lists are one of the most shared types of content because the reader can skim read or scan them. Usually these bad boys have funky headings that stand out and summarize what the paragraph below details, making it easy for the reader to spot the parts they’re most interested in. Lists also offer a neat and tidy format – not only are they easy to read, but they look good too! In general, this kind of content is comprehensive and persuasive, making them an ideal format for arguing a point or reviewing a product. If you really know your lists, you’ll use headings like ‘X Ways to…’ and ‘Top Ten Reasons to…’ and so forth. These are eye-catching and share-worthy. Check out what Copyblogger has to say about why lists always work.
One of the common reasons for people being online is that they’re trying to find out how to do something. Whether it’s how to use a curling iron or how to change a tyre, people are constantly searching for instruction. Offering your readers a chance to learn something is a great way to encourage engagement and establish your brand as an authority in your niche.
Think of the best recipes you’ve read – these are great examples for how to structure an effective instructional post. A well-written recipe always tells the reader what they need up front, and an instructional post is no different in this respect. Whatever kind of tutorial it is, it should specify if the participant needs anything in particular before you get down to the actual instructions. Be sure that this post is a step-by-step guide – don’t miss out on anything important. The best way of ensuring that you include everything necessary is to make notes while you yourself carry out the actions. Include images and diagrams to not only break up the text, but to show examples of what you’re doing. If your tutorial is web-related, use screenshots or a video.
An infographic is an image that conveys information or data, hence the name. Often, terms like ‘data visualization’ are thrown around, but really, an infographic is just a visual way to present facts. Still unsure? Check out this infographic about what an infographic is!
Speaking of facts, here are a few fun ones that are crucial to understanding why infographics are a great type of content to feature on your website or blog:
- 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
- 200% more images are liked on Facebook over text.
- 12% increase in traffic after publishing an infographic.
But what makes a good infographic? Good infographics offer a combination of elements: they’re easy to read with clear fonts and complementary colors, they have an original design, and they use data to convey a story or make a point. With these traits comes the mother of all: shareability. Infographics are so valuable because of how often they’re shared on social media and blogs.
One awesome infographic could extend your reach and increase your website’s exposure by miles. So how do you get one? If you want to reap all the benefits you’ve got to create your own – something original that hasn’t been shared around the web already, and something that suits your niche. If you’ve got a graphic designer handy – that’s great. Be sure to brief them on all the information you want included. If you’re after a budget-friendly result – try using Canva to come up with something yourself. Alternatively, you can use paid services like Visual.ly to create them for you. But, however you go about it, infographics are a must for any serious website or blog.
There are hundreds of blogs and businesses whose sole purpose is creating reviews. Depending on the niche your business falls into, you can use reviews for a number of purposes.
Generally, there are two main kinds of reviews: a straight-forward individual product review and a compare/contrast review of two or more products. Compare & Contrast reviews are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in the software field where tech-savvy readers want to know what programs are better than others as well as the pros and the cons of each and what experts recommend. But it doesn’t stop there – reviews can be applied to almost anything, from books and publishing platforms to marketing services and restaurants – there’s possibility for review in just about everything. Just be sure that your reviews are relevant to your business. Check out these five fool-proof ways to write a great product review.
Another great opportunity review-style content provides is the opportunity to establish yourself (and your business) as an expert in your industry. By providing your customers with useful information that doesn’t necessarily review the products you’re selling – you develop a trusting relationship with them, making them more likely to purchase your products and visit your site in future.
No matter how much you may love producing content, there’s no denying that at times things can get rather stressful. Including interviews in your content schedule are a great way of relieving this pressure from time to time. Interviews are one of the few content types that allow you to take a break from churning out content – and it’s a far more interactive process (if you want it to be).
Have a chat to some industry experts, see what they have to say about what’s currently going on in your niche, ask them if they have any advice relevant to your clients, ask them about their journey to success. People love seeing ‘behind the scenes’ features so make your interviews personal. What does a day in the life of X entail? Click here for more information on how to choose your interviewee and ten great tips on creating awesome interviews. If you’re strapped for time/resources, interviews work perfectly fine over email as well. Simply shoot your questions over to the participant and (hopefully) they’ll send their answers back. With some good quality editing, this can easily work as an interview transcript post! Interviews are great for turning into multiple mediums, for example a video can become an audio file, as well as a transcript. You can post the same content up to three times, just in different formats. Search engines love different mediums, so if you can pursue these avenues – do! Plus, another benefit is that your interviewee may feel inclined to share your collaboration with their followers, which means an extension of your target audience and more reach and exposure for you! What could be better?
07. Wait – there’s more!
We’ve focused on the types of content we believe to be most popular and most successful on the shareability front. But there are more types of content formats:
- Breaking news
- Guest posts
- Blog series
- Weekly/Daily Roundups
- Personal Stories
- Check-lists/Cheat Sheets
So now that you’re familiar with the various types of content, how do you use them effectively and efficiently without getting overwhelmed? Well, that leads us to Step 2:
Step 2: How to create an effective content calendar
The intensity of content turnover in the online world has the potential to put a lot of pressure on business owners and solo bloggers. It’s easy to get overwhelmed amidst massive to-do lists and a multitude of topics to cover across so many different platforms. Which is why praise for creating effective content calendars must be sung.
01. What is a content calendar and why do I need one?
The name is a bit of a giveaway, but for those of you who aren’t familiar: a content calendar is a shared document or program which is used to plan a business or blog’s content for the months or year ahead. It’s used to ensure your business’ online presence is at its strongest and most consistent.
But, before you bulldoze ahead with your calendar, the best thing to do is get to know your content. Comb through your analytics, delve into your social media insights and work out what posts are most popular and when. Knowing these details will mean you can customize your content calendar to suit the wants and needs of your target audience as well as optimizing your business for the best results.
02. What should my content calendar include?
Your calendar should be first and foremost customized to suit your specific business or blog intentions. Try to look forward a whole year – though it does seem daunting at the beginning, you’ll learn to love just how far this planning will take you and your business.
Brainstorm all the relevant industry events, the seasons and the trend forecasting specific to your cause before you get into any of the nitty-gritty details. Note down your financial goals or ‘business quarters’, any holidays or relevant noteworthy days (eg. Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day and Mother’s/Father’s Day). You should also include any big events or product launches that you already know about as well as existing team deadlines. Plot these out to form the skeleton of your calendar. You’re going to have to work around them, so including them from the start makes things a lot easier later on.
The meat of your calendar will include all the aspects of your content. Assign a space for: title, publishing status, the type of content (visual, blog, social media, etc.), the creator in charge (writer, graphic designer, etc.), the editor, the due date and the distribution channels. At a glance you should be able to see at what stage all your content is at – color coding is great for this.
03. What should my content calendar do?
Your calendar should be accessible to everyone in your team because it will integrate departments, mediums and inspire an overall sense of accomplished teamwork. This is an invaluable atmosphere to ingrain in any workplace.
Another great internal advantage is that this kind of organization promotes idea generation and development within your team, not to mention that it will streamline your resources. Like the team at oDesk found, your team’s needs change over time, so it’s important to find a solution that works for you.
And of course, content planning not only benefits your business internally but also helps set and manage your clients’ expectations, as well as leading to a more loyal and regular fan base. By focusing on your clients’ wants and needs, you’ll see an increase in your returning visitor stats.
04. Useful platforms
The beauty of being online means that there are new resources popping up every day that are simple and accessible. Content calendar tools are no exception. Here’s a shortlist of recommended platforms:
This is one of the more basic calendar tools available specifically for those who use WordPress (one of the most popular content management systems). This plugin is perfect for individual bloggers and small businesses that would like to see their posts laid out before them. This tool offers drag-and-drop features and a clean, user-friendly interface. Best of all, it’s free.
EditFlow is another free plugin for WordPress. We use it on the Canva blog. It allows you to plan out your content using a monthly calendar, assign posts to different people within your organization and adapt the default post statuses to fit with your own workflow.
This tool is more appropriate for those dealing with larger amounts of content. Its ideal for those running a business that collaborates with multiple content producers. DivvyHQ is designed to make managing a production line of content simple. Prices start from $60 a month.
Another one that’s great for managing multiple contributors, Kapost also offers a build in payment scheme. It brings together analytics, workflow and all of your different kinds of content. Pricing starts at $95 per month.
If these don’t seem like the right fit for you, worry not! Try this list of calendar tools – you’re bound to find something that suits. Another free and effective option is using Google Drive to share spreadsheets with your team.
05. Stay engaged
It’s worth mentioning that while using a content calendar to plan your articles and social media posts will certainly take your business to the next level, planned content does not substitute for real-time interaction. You still need to keep on top of the latest news and engage with your clients on your various mediums.
Content marketing is increasingly recognized as one of most commercially important digital strategies. It’s a great way to engage with readers, customers and clients through various formats, whether it’s videos, lists, interviews or infographics. So, now that you’re familiar with some of the main content types be sure to mix them up to keep readers interested. And be sure to stay relevant and timely with a well-planned content calendar that will keep you on top of your game.