In 2021, the age where relevant content is king and information is overflowing, we are all competing to be the best on this internet of things. A blog is a great way to stand out and show your expertise or creativity in a crowded space. Blogging can also help you to reach new customers, showcase & strengthen your brand, and improve performance in search results.
According to Content Marketing Institute, understanding and leveraging the ins and outs of blog content marketing and documenting your work with a blog content plan can make your writing efforts 60% more effective.
You probably already know it’s important to have a blog content plan, however, you may not know exactly how to create one that fits your business strategy and drives real results.
In this article, we’ll review our simple six-step plan for creating a blog content plan to help you achieve real business results.
Why should you create a blog content plan?
A blog content plan is your road map to create valuable, relevant content that attracts your target audience. A content plan enables your business to strategically move towards goals, stay organized, and properly measure your progress.
Planning ensures you can consistently execute a blog content marketing strategy that reaches your target audience where they spend time online and can reap benefits such as:
- Improve email subscription rates
- Boost conversions and sales
- Build organic traffic and backlinks
- Increase brand awareness
Six Steps to Create A Blog Content Plan
- Set Your Goals
- Choose Your Keywords
- Decide on Content Types
- Create Your Content Calendar
- Publish and Promote
- Measure Your Results
Step 1: Set Your Goals
The first step in any blog content strategy is to set your goals and understand how you can measure them. Start with your overall business goal and work backwards from there to create a SMART goal for your content plan.
Here is a simplified example:
- Overall Business Goal: You want to increase your online sales revenue by 10% this year and to do so, you need 30 new clients.
- You have a website conversion rate of 2% from non-paid traffic sources. If this rate stays the same, you need to generate at least 1,500 new website visitors to reach your overall business goal.
- So, your SMART goal for your blog content is to generate 1,500 additional website users in the next year.
With blogging, it’s important to keep in mind the results are often generated in the future rather than immediately because, for most brands, blogging is a way to reach more customers at the beginning and midpoints of their customer journey.
A blog typically serves to introduce your brand and build awareness so that when a customer is ready to purchase, your business is top of mind.
As you set your goals, make sure to decide how you will measure progress toward your goals.
In our above example, the KPI is new website visitors because the overall goal is 1500 new site visitors.
Here are a few common KPIs to consider for your blog content plan.
Common Blogging KPIs:
- Website Sessions: The total number of visits to your site. This can include new and repeat visits.
- Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors to your site who leave shortly after viewing one page rather than continuing on to view other pages.
- Backlinks Generated: How many times other websites have linked to your published content.
- Keyword Ranking: How many keywords does your content rank for in organic search results. You can also narrow this to appearances in the top ten, top three, or first position.
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs): Leads that are deemed the most likely to convert based on their website engagement levels. They might have downloaded an ebook or filled out a contact form.
- Conversion Rate: The percentage of visitors who took the desired action when viewing your content (i.e. submitted a form, downloaded an ebook, made a purchase).
- Content Marketing ROI: The overall return on investment for your content marketing efforts. This is usually measured in revenue or profit generated directly from content marketing efforts.
Step 2: Choose Your Keywords
After you’ve defined your goals, the next step is to do some keyword research and brainstorm blog topics.
Take a look at how to choose SEO Keywords & our information on the types of SEO Keywords for a more in-depth explanation of this step. Knowing the types of keywords and how the keyword relates to your business’s specific buyer journey & your specific industry can help you to select keywords that are most relevant for your business goals.
Here is an example: Say your goal is to sell $XX more outdoor recreation equipment. At the start of a potential customer’s buyer journey, your blog can help to inspire people to get outdoors more where they will then have the need to use more outdoor equipment. Top of the funnel target keywords could include “outdoor adventures in winter”, “outdoor activities near [your business location]”, “best winter sports to enjoy”.
To target customers further along in their journey, you might target more direct keywords like “is brand X snow boot better than brand Y snow boot” or “best winter hiking boots for women”. These topics would appeal to customers who are already looking for outdoor recreation equipment but haven’t made a decision on the exact product to buy yet.
REI, an outdoor recreation retailer, has a blog called the REI Co-op Journal that does a great job of targeting keywords toward consumers at different stages of their journey.
Step 3: Decide on Content Types
In this step, you’ve done your research to select keywords and topics, now you’ll want to decide what type of content you should use. To appeal to a variety of readers and keep them coming back for more, we recommend sprinkling in a variety of different content types into your blog.
Here are a few examples of blog content types you can use:
Short Form Blog Post: A shorter blog post that is a quick read for consumers. Can be great when answering a highly specific question.
Here is an example of a short form blog post about pairing wine and chocolate from Eataly, an Italian grocer.
Long Form Blog Post: An in-depth article or guide, typically more than 2,000 words, although there is no hard and fast rule. This can be a great format for educational or how-to pieces.
This guide on WooCommerce checkout set up from Kinsta, a website hosting company, is a great example of a long form blog post.
Listicle: A blog in the form of a list, typically with short descriptions.
Here is an example of a listicle post about the best cushioned running shoes from Fleet Feet, a shoe retailer.
Interview: An interview with a brand ambassador, employee, or subject matter expert (SME).
Snowboard brand Burton interviews brand ambassadors to create content for its blog. Here is an example of a blog interview with Anna Gasser.
Case Study: A summary of a real customer’s experience with your brand.
This unconventional case study from Groove, a customer service software company, is a good example of a unique way to provide additional value to your customers when creating your case study content.
Video Blog: A blog in video form with the transcription of the video included in the post.
Here is an example of a video blog on link building strategies from Moz, an SEO industry hub.
Determining Content Types For Your Blog
If you are just starting out you can test different blog content types to find what works best with your target audience. Certain target keywords may also lend themselves to specific types of blog content. For example, an in-depth review or product comparison may be best as a video or long form blog post.
Deciding what types of content you’ll use ahead of time can help you to stay on track as you create your content.
Once you’ve selected the types of content you’d like to try, it’s time to get organized with a content calendar.
Step 4: Create Your Content Calendar
A content calendar is a plan with a timeline indicating when you will publish your content. If you have a team working together, your content calendar should also include who is working on what.
A content calendar can be as sophisticated or simple as you need as long as it keeps you organized and helps you publish your content with regularity. In 2021, content quality and relevance are more important than quantity.
Pro Tip: When creating your content calendar, it’s important to be realistic about your resources. A few pieces of quality content will yield better results than high volume, low quality work will. It’s also important to be consistent, so whether you can commit to one blog post a month or once every other month, be consistent with your posting schedule.
There are also platforms where teams can interact and content status and tasks can be tracked. Below are a few examples of software & tools you can use to create your content calendar.
Five Content Calendar Tools
- Google Calendar
- Google Sheets or Excel
- Our free blog content calendar template.
Step 5: Publish and Promote
Now that you’ve mapped out your content, it’s time to create and publish.
Once published your work isn’t finished. You need to get the word out about your new content. This can be via email if you have a newsletter, on social channels, through advertising, or even PR.
Ever heard of the 80/20 rule?
The 80/20 rule of content says you should spend 20% of your time writing your content and 80% promoting it. Given the numerous social media channels available, we encourage you to pick a few channels that your audience uses and promote your blog content to your followers there. Remember, you want to nurture relationships with your audience where they spend time.
Pro Tip: We also recommend submitting your newly created URLs to Google Search Console to help get your new blog content indexed.
If you’re unfamiliar with Google Search Console, check out our guide on How to Set Up Google Search Console & Verify Your Website. And, be sure you submit the URL to Bing Webmaster Tools too.
Step 6: Measure Your Results
This last step is so important although often overlooked. Once you’ve published your new blog content and are promoting it, it’s important to look back at the key performance indicators you decided on when you started your blog content planning.
Doing so gives you the ability to understand how well your content is performing and working toward your goals.
When reviewing your performance, we recommend:
- Looking at KPIs regularly. Maybe this means once a month, or once a quarter. Whichever you choose, looking at results regularly can give you better insight into what is working and what isn’t over time.
- Considering if your goals were met. Did you meet your goal? If you did great! Time to set a new one. If you didn’t, was it realistic? Do you need to adjust your goal?
- Updating your plan. What can you do to improve? How can you use current performance information to reach more people and amplify your success? Finding ways to improve is a key component to measuring results and can make a difference in building real success.
Pro Tip: Google Search Console & Google Analytics are free tools you can use to track website performance and measure the effectiveness of your blog content strategy. Both tools give you the flexibility to sort and filter the information as needed.
As you review your blog content performance, be sure to look at the information that really matters to your business. If your goal was to increase website traffic to grow your leads, but you don’t serve customers in the UK, filter your tracking to look at only the traffic coming from customers you CAN serve. This provides a better indicator of performance.
Sure, creating a blog content plan can be time consuming; however, the effort is well worth the reward. Once you have a blog up and running you can also apply this six step blog content plan to create and schedule other types of content like email marketing, social media posting, podcast creation, and more.
Remember, the goal is not only to publish content consistently but to be able to create content that really moves you toward your goals. That’s why step one, creating the goal, and step six, measuring performance, are so important in building a blog content plan that gets you results.
If you need help creating a plan, understanding how it fits into your overall business growth, implementing tracking to measure your performance, or understanding the metrics, you can contact us for a free consultation.
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