— July 12, 2018
I’m a planner. I love writing things down and preparing myself for the work week in advance. Still, as a content producer myself, planning website content isn’t always an easy task.
When you do finally force yourself to sit down and start planning content for your website, blog, email list, etc. it can be a very time-consuming process. If the major brain dump method doesn’t work for you either, check out these 8 steps to planning digital content in less time.
Step 1: Use Current Copy as a Foundation
The best place to start is to look at your existing content for your business. Even if it sucks, you have someplace to start. Look at analytics to see which content resonated well with your audience and what didn’t.
For example, if you’ve been getting some great feedback on social media for a particular article, see if you can expand on the subject and plan to produce some follow-up content in the future. Keep a running list of topics whenever you gain inspiration or think of ideas that could be useful. It only takes a few minutes to do this each week and it’s the best way to jumpstart the content creation process.
Step 2: Make Sure You Understand Your Audience
Don’t waste time planning digital content before you get to know your target audience. Interact with them on social media, ask your email list questions, save helpful feedback, and ask your audience to a short market research survey every few months.
This will help make the content planning and creation process much simpler because you’ll know who your audience is and what they want. Sometimes, I practically drive myself crazy trying to brainstorm content ideas. Ever since I started asking my audience what they wanted to see and listening to their recommendations, the digital content planning process has been pretty painless and quick.
If your audience is telling you multiple things, segment your website visitors into the primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences and determine how you’ll address their needs in future content types.
Step 3: Use a Calendar to Map Everything Out
If you’re planning digital content without a calendar, you’re doing it all wrong. Using a calendar tool can help you stay organized and begin to work ahead.
I like to set up days dedicated to brainstorming, outlining, creating/scheduling, polishing, and promoting. Yes, the content production process is pretty tedious, but having a solid plan laid out in writing can make all the difference.
Coming up with headlines and outlines at this stage is very important. It’s interesting to note that doing this in advance will literally cut a lot of time out of the content creation process and keep you focused so you can finish and release your content more efficiently.
By storing everything on a digital calendar, you can set reminders to hold yourself accountable for meeting specific deadlines and allowing yourself enough time to prepare what you need to complete the content.
Step 4: Work With Others
Ask others to help you research, edit and review when you’re planning digital content. This will save you a ton of time. For example, if you’re writing for search engines or trying to rank some of your web pages, you may want to have someone do SEO research.
If you’re producing social media copy you may want to have a consult with a social media marketing expert to help you come up with a clear strategy so you don’t waste time making rookie mistakes.
This can be ongoing or just a one-time thing depending on your needs.
Step 5. Storytelling vs ‘Storyselling’
You don’t have to use your website to merely tell your own story. The stories that matter are those of the people who have used your products and services and found them beneficial.
Nobody is interested in knowing how wonderful a business you have. Give your audience results and evidence. The language you use should speak to them. Offer your products as the solution to their products.
One of the easiest ways I work storytelling into my digital content planning process is to simply be authentic. When I experience things or have conversations that I believe could be pivoted into inspiring content for my audience, I add the idea to my content calendar with a date and a brief outline. In less than 2 minutes, I have quality content planned that I can produce quickly.
Step 6. Write For Search Engines and Humans
SEO is important. However, crowding your content with too many keywords can only render it unreadable. Include the keywords as naturally as possible to avoid coming out as a robot. If anything, you don’t have to stick to your specific keywords. Use variations that will still give the same meaning.
As you’re planning your content for the web, it helps to determine a focus keyword ahead of time so you know what to base your content around. I like using the Google Adword Keyword Planner tool because it’s free and easy to use when you’re researching keywords and narrowing them down.
Step 7. Have an Action-Oriented Copy
All of your content should have a goal behind it. It’s likely that you want to help turn readers into leads and paying customers. To do this, you need to make sure you plan out content that has a clear call to action.
This will prompt your audience to do something. This is something I failed to do in the beginning stages when planning content for my business and I regretted it. It’s important to focus on providing value, but you also want to let people know what you want them to do. Is it to call you, email you, or make an online purchase? Show them the step they need to take next. Provide links or email address so that they can find it easy to reply and take action.
Step 8. Make It Visually Appealing
Content and visuals go hand-in-hand. When you’re planning digital content, be sure to include ideas for illustrations, charts, and images to support the text. Alternatively, use testimonials, bulleted lists or larger pull quotes. Divide sections with subheadings and use short paragraphs.
Again, planning all this out on a calendar will help you stay organized and on track. Remember, you don’t have to actually follow through will all of your ideas for content, images, SEO, etc. All you have to do is jot them down and organize them.
The whole process can be done in under 20 minutes weekly or once a month as a huge content overhaul.
Do you plan out your content at all for your business? If so which one of these steps to you find most valuable?