Content Planning Stories and Articles Dont Write Themselves

In a marketplace where content is king, you must understand that content on your website has to remain fresh, relevant and engaging. Businesses attempting to establish their presence online can no longer operate with a “set it and forget it” mentality. But the theory and execution of this will sometimes differ, and that will separate the more popular sites from others. Let’s take a quick look at how to get started with this.Photo Credit: Incion Design Team

First, you truly must understand who your target audience is. Now, this point will seem extremely obvious to some, but this is a sticking point for a lot of businesses trying to establish visibility online, because as obvious as it may seem, this point is overlooked more often than you may think.

You’ll need to understand whether or not your audience is primarily male or female (they think and communicate differently). What are the core beliefs your readers possess? What keeps them up at night? What are their needs and habits? Knowing this information is, the key to the kingdom. You can then speak their language and position your brand appropriately for this core reader, who will come back to you again and again, and refer you to like-minded friends.

Two of the best ways to truly define your main audience is via online surveys and consumer focus groups. This allows them to give feedback about your product or service, to give you insight on their buying habits and cycles as well as any emotional triggers surrounding your product that you may (or may not) have been aware of before.

From this foundation, you can then begin brainstorming content ideas. At first, let your imagination run wild… you will want to walk away with a great deal of ideas (and corresponding keywords) for the articles your team will write.

The following online tools can be quite helpful with this portion of the planning process:
• Bottlenose is a social search engine which highlights what’s going on in social media according to specific keywords; it also highlights articles currently trending which correspond to a particular keyword.
• UberSuggest: This online tool allows you to expand upon various keywords and concepts; it can help you team with a more lateral view on the specified subject.
• Keyword Expander: This popular tool (which you can access for free) allows users to see the correlation between various things that people tend to like.

Once you have a great list of content ideas, begin organizing those ideas into types. Your team should have a good organizer with days and dates listed out at least weekly. This way, you can begin to see the entire schedule upcoming, and you can begin to plug in the content ideas as it best fits your reader’s lifestyle and habits.
This is, again, an area where you begin to take the data you learned from finding, and defining, your target reader and utilizing that information to reach them at the right time with the right information. The schedule may have to be “tweaked” as you learn your readers’ habits even more. Taking time to pull together the types of content will also work well here, because you will begin to see which content themes flow best together, so that there’s some level of continuity.

For instance, if your target audience is a young mother who’s daughter is currently participating in dance competitions, then she may be looking to update her daughter’s costume over the weekend. So, a newsletter highlighting slippers with better design options or cute props might arrive in her inbox just in time on Friday afternoon, so that she can pick up the item and be ready for Sunday evening’s competition. The same information might be lost on her if it arrives on Tuesday afternoon following the competition. So, understanding and nailing the timing will always be important, not only for the conversion of sales but also for connecting with the readers who will visit you again and again IF you make the right connection with them.
Recurring scheduling will also be based upon their habits and buying cycles, with the occasional special scheduling to correlate with special events. Maintaining a connection to current events and currently trending articles or videos keeps you relevant and fresh in the eyes of your reader.
Remember, you are planning for weeks in advance, so the content writing will not come from a single source. That’s why having the entire team involved creates continuity and singular focus. Assess your in-house team for their strengths and interests, but don’t be afraid to go outside the walls to find good content when you need it.
Guest bloggers are an excellent option, especially if they are well-known. The guest bloggers background and posts do not have to be identical to your overall theme, but your audiences should overlap to maintain everyone’s interest. This is also a wonderful way to introduce your site to new visitors coming from the guest blogger’s list.

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