March 7, 2008
Liz published this at 8:38 am
Michael Martine offered to help me out while I was in Austin. He actually sent more than one idea for a high-value guest post. This one on content strategy appeals to the editor in me and also to the business strategist.
Do You Have a Blog Content Strategy?
by Michael Martine
A content strategy is a plan for how you will create content for your blog. Having a content strategy and following it will accelerate your blog’s growth. In this article, I’m going to explain how to develop and use a blog content strategy so you can get the best results. This is something that I have done with demonstrable success, so you can, too.
Over the past few years, as blogs have become more popular, a few best practices have evolved, and we see them repeated endlessly in all the metablogs out there: be passionate, create compelling content, and know your audience. But somewhere between reading that, nodding our heads sagely, and hitting publish, we lost our way.
Now, I can’t help you with passion. Either you have it or you don’t, and if you don’t, you are simply doing the wrong thing. Seriously, do yourself and everyone a favor and just quit blogging. But as far as the other two go, well, that’s where a blog content strategy comes in. A blog content strategy helps you channel your passion so that you get the results you want without first burning up all the fuel in your fire. Following a blog content strategy helps you accomplish what other bloggers have trouble with, like coming up with topics to blog about, and getting more traffic, comments, and subscribers.
A blog content strategy is not complicated. It only has two parts:
- Knowing the purpose of the blog, and making sure everything about the blog fulfills that purpose
- Knowing the needs of your audience, and creating content that meets those needs while fulfilling the blog’s purpose
Know the purpose of your blog
If I asked you right now point blank: what is the purpose of your blog, could you answer me right away? Most can’t. Your blog needs to have a purpose. It needs to have “true north” on its compass. The purpose of your blog is what you want to accomplish with it from the perspective of meeting your needs. I can use my own blog as an example: the purpose of Remarkablogger is to acquire new clients for my blog consulting and coaching business. Now, if you’re thinking that sounds a little selfish, hold on, because we haven’t discussed the second part of a blog content strategy, yet. One way to get to the purpose of your blog if you’re not sure is to ask yourself why you started the blog in the first place.
One problem with strategies and plans is that people keep them only in their heads. You think you understand it and know it, but it’s probably all foggy and vague. That’s why when asked point blank, you stammer. The solution is to write it down. The act of writing forces us to be clear in our own thinking because we have to make it clear for others. This is invaluable. Write it down and keep rewriting it until it’s clear.
Make sure the blog fulfills its purpose
This is part design strategy as well as content strategy (nothing is ever in its own little box in blogging!). Just like when you wrote papers in school and your professor said that everything in the paper should support the thesis statement, otherwise get rid of it, so it is with your blog. Whatever doesn’t serve the purpose goes buh-bye. Again, using my own blog as an example, I clearly and unmistakably display that I offer services and am for hire. My content is often about the work I do for clients that has brought them success.
Know the needs of your audience
The biggest mistake you’re probably making is that you think your audience is like you. If you are running a hobby blog or an internet marketing blog, they may be. But if you are running a business, they are not. This creates a huge blind spot for us. Here’s the secret: you define your audience by the content you create. This means you will get exactly the people you want. If you’re running a business (freelancing or small company or whatever) then you want qualified potential customers and existing customers reading your blog. By writing material that only appeals to that group and no other, you are guaranteed to get them. It may take a while, but eventually it will happen (especially through search).
Put yourself in the mind of a person who is looking for you, but doesn’t know it, yet. What is your dream? What is your biggest fear? What words are you going to type into that little box on Google? Write posts that create beautiful visions of those dreams. Write posts that speak to their fears, and that present you as the solution. Stuff that you like or that you find interesting, your audience may not identify with at all. If this means you have to change what you’re blogging about, and you’re afraid you’re going to lose part of your audience, well, you’re right. You will. But they were the wrong audience anyway, so it is no loss. They will be replaced by more qualified people.
Just as you wrote down the purpose of your blog, write down the hopes, fears, and needs of the audience you want to have. Refer to this list when writing posts (especially if you feel blocked: just pick something and start freewriting).
Meet audience needs while fulfilling your blog’s purpose
By meeting the real needs of your audience with your blog’s purpose in mind, you will fulfill your blog’s purpose. So, even though it seemed selfish earlier when I said to determine purpose from your perspective, you now can see how it works out in the end. By meshing your audience’s needs with your purpose, you have a blog that can grow and, if you’re in business, help you make more money, too. Speaking for myself, ever since I started pursuing this content strategy, I have had non-stop freelance blog consulting work. Having a content strategy and following it is a win-win situation for both the blogger and the audience. It needs to be for any real success to happen.
Successful and outstanding blogs need a content strategy that consists of two parts: knowing your purpose and knowing your audience. Make sure everything on your blog fulfills the purpose. Put yourself in the place of your audience and write content that meets their needs while helping you fulfill the purpose of the blog.
–ME “Liz” Strauss