We talk a lot about content marketing and the importance of content-driven websites. There’s no doubt that content is critical today, and you’re probably engaged in content development and content marketing to some extent by now. In case you’re not a believer yet, or question your sanity as you slave away over writing blog posts, here are some eye-opening stats from Hubspot.
Ok, with that out of the way let’s talk about a practical approach to managing your content development funnel.
Step 1 – Create a Content Calendar
A content calendar usually just a spreadsheet that marketing managers use to keep track of the content that is in the funnel to be developed. One of the keys to content marketing is consistency. There are a lot of moving parts to managing content marketing, so it’s best that you be organized and plan ahead.
We created and use this template for managing content for our clients. It’s pretty detailed and is probably worth your time to use. However, for our own content we use a lighter weight version. It’s one thing when you’re being paid for your time to manage things according to best practice, it’s another when it’s your own time for your own business. So, we try to keep everything we do internally for our marketing lightweight. If you want to use either template, go to the link, then File—>Download As—>Microsoft Excel Doc.
Here’s a screengrab of our calendar, including this article. You’ll see that we document the month it’s being published in, the title, the writer assigned, the publish date, status, and a link to the article.
Step 2 – Create a File Structure
We try to write our titles out at least a month in advance. It gives us time to write at a comfortable pace and to do research.
Once we have our titles, we have to start writing. We use a file structure that starts with a blog folder for every month. Under that folder, there are 5 subfolders, each represents a step in the content creation process.
We start a word document for each title in the idea folder, and we’ll write an abstract or an outline, depending how baked the concept is. Then we’ll move on to research any angles, background, or statistics that we need. Then we will write out the draft, proofread, etc.
It sits in drafts until we actually build the blog post. We try to do them all at once, it’s more efficient. Most CMSs allow you to schedule your posts ahead of time.
Here’s a checklist for you to use to make sure you have everything you need for each article before you sit down to schedule a month’s worth of posts:
- Final approved article
- Teaser copy for the blog list page
- A compressed image with the right dimensions
- Any URLs you need for links in the article
- Image alt tag
This list may vary depending on your CMS. A word about your images, for our clients we use Shutterstock. It’s a little more expensive but a really great selection. For really high-end projects we use Getty Images. For our own blogs, we use Pixabay. Pretty good selection, good quality images, and free! Well, they have a button that lets you donate so we donate a dollar or two per image.
Step 3 – Build and Schedule Your Post
Go into your CMS and create the blog page. Fill in any pertinent information, including tags, categories, author, publish date, etc. Upload your image, add your meta data. Do your links and interlinks, then check your post.
Step 4 – Finish Your Other Posts
Build and schedule all of your posts together. You can see here, the posts with a green icon are live, blue are scheduled.
Step 5 – Update Your Content Calendar
Don’t be lazy.
- Link to live post
While you’re at it, look back to the last month or two’s content and see if there were any related artices that you could link to from your artcles this month, or that you could link from to your new article.
Step 6 – Look at Your Analytics
Don’t forget to look for trends in your analytics. You’ll want to at least see which posts produce the most views and engagement by subject, category, and tags. This will give you an idea of what’s resonating so you know what to write about next month.
That’s it! Once you have the tools you need, get organized, and get into a rythm you’ll get really efficient at making your website a hub of content. I mean, it’s still always going to be a pain, that’s why people pay us to do it for them, but if you own this for your company this process will help.
One other thing, these are the posts that we plan to make sure we keep a consistent cadence. We really should post more frequently, at least twice a week. I still write posts that aren’t planned and not represented on the calendar. Those are stream-of-consciousness posts like this that don’t require much planning or research.
If you have questions or need help, just hit me up.
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