In this digital age where around 90% of all digital marketers use content marketing, there is no shortage of content that is flowing around, even in niches you probably never heard of.
Unfortunately, a big chunk of that content is a spammy mess that exists only to build a link, promote things we do not need, and push an agenda that doesn’t care about facts.
Despite all of that, there is always room for more quality content that can put your business on the map. To do that effectively, you need two things – consistency and a strategic approach to content creation.
Why should you have a consistent content publishing schedule?
If you are pumping out mediocre content on a regular basis to try and “trick” Google into favoring you over other domains, you are probably wasting your time. That’s if you want to listen to Google’s own John Mueller.
Now, here’s why this discussion doesn’t really matter. On one side, there is a whole list of stronger search ranking factors to focus on. On the other hand, even if publishing frequency doesn’t directly affect your rankings, there are plenty of other reasons you want to be consistent with your content creation and publishing process.
Some do it because they want to run a newsletter, others simply want to keep their blog fresh and have something to share on their social channels. However, most marketers that look to run content consistently are those who want to grow their businesses with content marketing.
For them, creating consistent content with a purpose is not an option, it’s a necessity. In continuation of this article, we’ll take a look at five tips on how to do exactly that.
1. Do the groundwork
What does it mean to create quality content? I believe most of us know how to intuitively recognize it, but some would have trouble coming up with a clear definition.
Here is a snapshot from the guidelines we share with all of our writers that represent how we look at quality content:
Writing to the right audience and solving their problems with actionable advice is hard to do if you only have a vague idea of who you are targeting. That’s why it is crucial to properly research your target audience. Go to Quora and Reddit, visit niche forums, run surveys among existing customers and subscribers, follow top blogs in your niche, analyze your competitors.
If you’re planning to create content consistently, it pays to know both big and small problems your target audience is running into on a regular basis.
If you do extensive research, you should have a substantive list of issues to cover. However, not all of those issues are worth covering on your blog. Creating personalized content is great, but spending 20 hours on a piece that solves an issue exactly three people have is just not worth it.
This is where keyword research comes into play. Using tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Ubersuggest, and even Google Trends is a great way to find out what is the scope of the issues you identified and which are, subsequently, worth covering.
If you’re a start-up looking to grow through content marketing efforts, keyword research and target audience analysis are the foundation to build upon. For brands with an already active blog, they can expand this preparation step by also doing content audit and content gap analysis.
2. Create content with a purpose
I do not know about you, but we like to publish content with a certain goal in mind. In an ideal situation, content should satisfy the following criteria:
- It talks about a real problem your target audience has
- It can be optimized around a keyword with a worthwhile monthly search volume
- It aims to generate brand awareness, nurture gathered leads or has another specific purpose listed below
Now, there are only so many content pieces that will be able to check all three boxes, and that’s just fine. Since you plan to create content consistently, you will have to branch out anyway at some point. The trick is not branching out too far. Always look that your content satisfies at least two of the stated criteria.
One example of content with a purpose that satisfies “only” two criteria (but is still worth creating) is content for nurturing your hard-earned leads.
Depending on who you ask, the sales funnel can have between three and six phases. For the purpose of this example, we can hold on to the version with four that is on the illustration above.
Let’s assume that, during your audience research, you defined four different target audience personas you want to cover. Let’s also assume that you decided to create two different pieces of content for every persona at every stage of the funnel.
This leads us to four personas x four funnel stages x two content pieces for each = 32 content pieces!
Some of those 32 pieces will not bring you any organic traffic but they will be an integral part of your email sequences, your Facebook funnels and/or any other strategy that uses content for lead nurturing.
3. Plan three months in advance
The key point of this section is planning ahead, the number of months is up for discussion. If you have enough resources and the ability to stick to the schedule, you can plan six months ahead or more. For many businesses, however, that is not necessary.
For example, we push out one to three content pieces each month and our average time to produce a piece (involves keyword research, outline, writing, polishing, custom images, promotion plans, SEO optimization) is about three weeks (but keep in mind that people don’t work on the content every day).
Considering our available resources, time to produce a single piece, and the number of pieces we publish each month, planning two months ahead is enough to keep everything on track. By “keeping everything on track” I mean ensuring we never end up in a situation where:
- We do not have anything to publish because a single article got delayed
- We do not have resources to schedule in an additional content piece that shares important company news or discusses nig industry trends/news that just popped up
As you scale up those numbers, you should look to plan three-plus months ahead, especially if you are doing a lot of research, round-ups, longer video content, and interactive content.
These types of content pieces are more likely to get delayed and increase your average production time, which means they should be scheduled well in advance.
4. Watch what you outsource
At some point, you might wish to scale content production or realize that you just don’t have enough resources to create content consistently on your own. While outsourcing can work well when done properly, if you are working with the wrong people, it will waste you a ton of time you don’t have.
To anyone that looks to outsource part of their content creation process, here are two important tips:
A. Do not be satisfied with mediocre talent
Even if it takes a long time, run job posts until you find people that meet all of your requirements. Otherwise, you will spend more time reviewing and editing the content than you would spend on creating it yourself in the first place. So if a platform like Upwork fails you, run paid adds on another one like ProBlogger or similar platforms until you find a good match.
B. Give the advantage to people with actual experience in your niche
There are many people out there that can write pretty well. A chunk of those has good research skills and can create a decent piece on almost any topic. However, there usually aren’t that many people with a lot of personal experience that can actually give actionable advice.
I put a lot of value in personal experience because of one thing – authenticity. If the only thing you have to say is just a rehash of what other people said, you are not bringing anything new to the table and it limits the ability to provide actionable tips. That will undoubtedly be reflected in the reduced engagement of your content pieces.
Since we are talking about outsourcing, I’d also like to point out that there are some content types that I would recommend producing internally whenever possible such as:
- Pieces that describe a step-by-step process of how your service/product works
- Pieces that contain a lot of screenshots/videos/graphics that have to be produced internally
- Very specific pieces where you have to give the freelancer so many details you’re better of doing it yourself
I’m not saying that there aren’t amazing freelancers out there who can cover even promotional pieces to the level you need them to, but I am saying that they are hard to find and small business owners can rarely afford them.
5. Don’t discard guest contributors
Many blogs decide not to publish content from guest contributors because they believe that the average quality of the pieces that are sent over does not justify the time you need to put into managing the whole process.
While that is true to a certain extent, there are ways to streamline the process to actually be cost-effective. I know that because we have implemented it on our blog. Here’s what you need to do:
- Setup “write for us page” that outlines what kind of content you are looking for.
- Create a guest contribution form people need to apply through and include it somewhere on the write for us page. You can reply only to people you want to work with which eliminates a lot of unnecessary email communication.
- Create detailed writing guidelines that you send to every guest author.
- Do not be afraid to say “no”. Do not waste time on contributors that do not match your requirements or do not respect your guidelines.
Using questions like the ones you can see on the screenshot below, you will be able to filter out bad submissions fairly quickly.
If you want to take this a step further, you can even prepare content briefs. For example, guest authors that apply to our blog and are open to writing on a topic we suggest, get a list of primary and secondary keywords to orient their posts around and a list of major sections the article should discuss.
As long as you have a reasonable linking policy and at least a moderate site authority, good pitches will come. Why not use them to help you push out content more consistently?
Ensuring content quality
One thing that tends to suffers when you put focus on volume is content quality. That is natural, but it can be easily avoided.
The best way to enforce consistent content quality is to set up detailed guidelines (and stick to them). These rules include (but are not limited to):
- Tone of voice
- Target audience
- Linking policy for outgoing links
- Formatting guidelines
- Visual guidelines and the use of rich content
- Focus on examples and actionable advice
The above guidelines allow you to run every piece through a simple checklist and see if anything needs to be improved before the content goes live.
When all of this is done as a part of a strong content marketing strategy, it is going to make you happy, it is going to make your customers happy, and it is going to make your bottom line very happy.
Dario Supan is a content strategist and editor at Point Visible, a marketing agency providing custom outreach and link building service.
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