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The essentials of a content strategy

I think the term ‘strategy’ freaks a lot of people out. It seems like a scary word that involves lots of planning and time, but (as I hope you know!) I am all about keeping content creation and its planning as simple as possible.

So, here are 5 recommendations that will help you put together the basics, but essentials, of a content strategy.

5 recommendations for creating a content strategy

Do a content audit

You can’t have a strategy without knowing what you have or what you need. You don’t need to spend ages but take a quick look through the content you have and the platforms you are using. This includes your website, blogs, emails, and social media posts, and include any print materials.

Now do a quick audit on what is performing well and where you would like to see improvement. Define what ‘improvement’ means. How are you going to measure it? As well as looking at some analytics, consider what you enjoy doing too. These ‘headlines’ will give you the basic strategy to take forward and use to set some goals or plans.

It is important to look for consistency across your content – is your messaging right? Is it reflective of your business? Write down any and all thoughts that come to you when scrolling through what you have created in the past. You never know when it will come in useful for developing your strategy and giving you ideas for the future.

Identify your target audience

From my years in publishing, I know many people really worry about becoming too niche. Authors often believed their book was ‘relevant for all’. Most people are worried about having to identify a too small a group to aim at, as they somehow believe this means no other person outside of this target group will find out about, buy from or engage with them. My ‘anecdote’ is always J K Rowling and the Harry Potter books. Let me explain… I am sure that J K had a very specific age group of children in mind when writing her first Hogwarts story. It was probably 10 year olds who were familiar with the UK education system. So many of the book’s references, the level of language used and the situations faced by Harry revolve around this sphere of influence. However, her books have appealed to millions of people – all shapes and sizes! If she had tried to achieve this by writing for everyone and anyone, it wouldn’t work, I can guarantee they would have failed.

So, I hope I have made my point about the importance of choosing (and sticking to) a target audience when writing. Keep them in mind and naturally your content will be more consistent and stronger. You will stop having to be ‘all things’ to ‘all people’ and will not ‘fall between stools’…and I promise, you will still be surprised by the number of people outside of your chosen audience who are still interested and attracted to your business.

If you struggle to ‘visualise’ a made up ideal client, then consider if there is a client you currently have or have had in the past (or even a friend or family member)…just a real person you know that fits your target audience and write for them. I think it can be really hard to write for someone imaginary so picking someone you know or a combination of a couple of people, perhaps, is much easier.

Articulate your passion

Now you know what you ‘want’ to do, following the audit, and you’ve identified your target audience and an ‘ideal client’ you know you can write for/create content for, now it’s time for a bit of reflection about why you do what you do.

I think it can be hard to ‘share’ a passion without sounding gushing or even pushy. However, communicate what interests you and feel passionate about and it will naturally pique the interest of those discovering and learning more about your business. Have confidence that you know your stuff and people care about what you have to say.

You can write a ‘mission statement’ as part of your content strategy to help you really highlight what you want to achieve with your content. Remember you should never just create content because you feel you should – you need to have a good reason. It will help keep you motivated too.

Set some content goals

A strategy is more than just a list of what you plan to do. Along with your ‘mission statement’, set yourself some goals. These can be sales related or audience size related. Five is plenty.

Make sure you have something both quantitative and they have a time ‘limit’ on…so you know what you want to be achieve and by when. It doesn’t matter if you fall short…what matters is that you have something to aim for and to assess your progress against.

Plan and commit

Now that you know what you are ‘good at’ and like doing by doing the audit; know you are writing for (thanks to identifying a real life ideal client) and have come up with a ‘reason why’ to commit to, now it’s time to put together a basic plan that will underpin your strategy and how your content goals will come to fruition.

Simply state what you are going to do and how often. For example, I will post on Facebook 5 times per week. Or I will write a new blog post once per month.

Be realistic about what you can do and commit to it. You may use it as a baseline ‘minimum’ but at least if you know what you are aiming for, you can then assess more easily if you are a) achieving what you hoped and b) if it is effective.

The essentials of your content strategy

All of this can fit on a side of A4 if you wanted it to …there is no need to write reams – a strategy is meant to be a strategic document – it is something you can quickly refer back to and ensure your content is ‘on track’. You can have planners and scheduling tools for plotting the more in-depth elements but this is meant to be a simple, easy-to-refer-to document that outlines your key steps and statements.

If you want more of a step-by-step guide and template, come and join The Content Club, the online membership that aims to make marketing fun again, along with a whole heap of support from fellow solopreneurs and small business owners. Join today:

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