If you’re not using content marketing to expand your brand reach, increase your visibility, and connect with ideal clients and your greater audience, you’re already behind because your competitors are and it’s helping them win business that could be yours.
Take a look at these stats:
- Website conversion rate is nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters (2.9% vs 0.5%).
- 73% of B2B content marketers are producing more content than they did one year ago.
- 95% of B2B enterprise marketers use content marketing.
- 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing.
- 60% of marketers create at least one piece of content each week.
From social media posts, live videos, podcasts, and YouTube channels, to blog posts, white papers, ebooks, and articles, content marketing has taken over and it’s not going anywhere. The problem is content marketing isn’t easy, there isn’t one clear roadmap to follow, and most businesses who are trying to make content marketing work for them don’t have a plan—they’re simply throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks.
Today anyone can quickly churn out mediocre content that is nothing more than an echo chamber of what’s already being said on a hundred other websites. Business owners have to weed through to find content that is truly valuable and helpful.
To stand out from the crowd, rise above your competition, and truly shine as a thought leader and authoritative resource for your target market, you need to create valuable, relevant, quality content and you need to do it consistently for a long period of time.
Creating A Content Marketing Process
Implementing a content marketing plan means playing the long game because consumers buy when they’re ready to buy, not when you’re ready for them to buy. If you’re not top of mind when your prospects are ready to buy, your competitors will be.
The good news is that creating a content creation process will elevate your business, expand your brand, and enhance your expert positioning. The bad news is that it will take time, effort, and resources—and if you’re a freelancer or small agency, those are things you probably don’t have a lot of.
Luckily, creating a process for your content marketing is easier than you think and if you follow the right steps, you’ll be able to leverage the content you create for bigger and better results.
A Five-Step Content Creation Process For Your Content Marketing
If you want to implement an effective content marketing plan without becoming overwhelmed, you need to follow these five simple steps:
Step 1: Assess Where New Content Could Improve Client Experiences, Add Value, And Boost Profitability
Most freelancers and agencies think of content marketing as blogging. They brainstorm some ideas, start writing, and publish articles as they finish them. The problem is that without a clear strategy or larger vision guiding the content development, you’re just creating random pieces of content on the fly, when instead, you could be creating strategic pieces of content that can be repurposed into client guides, ebooks, webinars, and trainings to improve client experiences, add value, and boost profits.
Begin by brainstorming a list of all of the areas in your business that would benefit from content creation. The most common areas freelancers and agencies need to create content for are:
- Customer education
- Client onboarding
- Client training
- List building offers
- Income stream diversification (information products and courses)
- Marketing and blogging efforts
- Creating systems and processes
- Employee training
Step 2: Brainstorm Content/Topics For Each Business Area Identified
Once you have a list of each area in your business that could benefit from content creation, brainstorm every bit of content that could be created to reach your goals.
For example, here are several pieces of content that a design agency may want to create as content upgrades and list building offers:
- Checklist or tips sheet on getting great headshots and photos for your website
- Whitepaper on what prospects should do or what they should know before hiring a designer
- A special report teaching people about the design process and how to work with a designer
- Educational materials like ebooks and guides on design principles and best practices
- Glossary of industry terms
Step 3: Identify Content That Can Be Repurposed
Now here’s where the magic starts to happen. Using the list above as an example, there are several opportunities here to create content that can be reused multiple times to get the biggest return on investment possible.
Content Repurposing Example 1:
- Write a blog post about the biggest mistakes you see when working with client provided photos in website design, another covering tips to get the best headshots for social media and your about page, and one more about how a client’s photographs affect the design of a website.
- Create two content upgrades for those blog posts:
- A checklist to bring to a photo shoot to make sure they get all the right photos they need
- A tip sheet detailing what to wear and what not to wear when getting headshots done
- All three blog posts and two content upgrades could be combined into one ebook you offer as a paid product.
Content Repurposing Example 2:
- Write a blog post sharing tips on what you should know before hiring a designer
- Do a Facebook live on the same topic
- Turn the blog post into a PDF tips sheet that prospects can download before filling out your project inquiry form or a short video they can watch
- A slide deck could then be created based on the content and you could deliver talks to help people build better relationships with designers
Content Repurposing Example 3:
- You could create a series of blog posts covering the design process, tips for working with a designer and how to best communicate with a designer and provide design feedback.
- Those blog posts could be turned into YouTube videos
- Then all three posts could be turned into a mini ebook that is available for prospects to download after they fill out your project inquiry form
- The post about how to provide design feedback could also be repurposed into an email you send to clients after presenting design drafts
Step 4: Map Out Your Content Creation Plan
Many business owners have great intentions. They want to blog once a week or twice a week, they want to start a YouTube channel, begin hosting Facebook lives in a new group, start a podcast, or write a series of ebooks. But while they start out strong, business and life get in the way and slowly the content stops.
A content creation plan is the key to ensuring your efforts are sustainable and not a “blitz and disappear” act.
Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires focus, resources, and commitment. The idea is to base your content plan on the core content you need to improve and systematize your business, then repurpose it so you get the biggest returns on your efforts.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Identify what content is your top priority—make it one that will help improve your business
- Write down how much time you’ll need to create, proof, and design each piece of content needed
- Decide how you will repurpose the content you’re creating
- Write down how much time you’ll need to create, proof, and design the new items
- Write down any other ways you can repurpose the same content elsewhere in your business
- Get a blank month-at-a-glance calendar
- Review all of the content you want to create and how long each piece will take. Give yourself deadlines and write them in your calendar.
Some tips to make this process easier:
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Be realistic with your deadlines and timelines. Don’t base your milestones on the requirement that you work nights and weekends to get it done, because chance are you won’t. Trying to do everything at once will cause stress, frustration, and burnout.
- Make quality the priority. It’s better to produce content less frequently and ensure it’s awesome than publish mediocre content often.
- Consider the order in which you create content. For example, instead of creating all of the content for a new onboarding sequence first then repurposing it, create one piece of the process, repurpose it into a list building offer, then publish a portion of it as a blog post that promotes the list building offer.
- Consider tackling one “chunk” of content each month, so one piece of the onboarding process, one list building offer, and one blog post get done each month.
Step 5: Include Marketing Content In Your Creation Process
With your marketing calendar and content creation plan in hand, it’s time to add some supplemental content. After all, publishing one blog post a month isn’t going to get you very far if your competitors are posting two, three, four, or more times every month.
The supplemental content could be articles, videos, or audios. It could be a commentary of current events, another article you read or a recap or review of a tool or resource you found.
First, choose two pieces of supplemental content to add to your marketing calendar for each month. Consider choosing one quick easy post type and one more involved, like an article and a review, or an article and a commentary piece.
Second, reach out to podcast hosts, radio shows, event hosts, and entrepreneurs who host teleclasses and webinars about being a guest. Set a goal to do one interview or speaking engagement per month, then write a blog post promoting it.
Don’t be afraid to mix it up with video, audio, articles, interviews, infographics, slide decks, commentary, reviews, and more. Mixing up the type of content you share makes it easy to share more often and more fun for your audience to engage with.
Wrap Up: You’ve Got A Sustainable Content Creation Process
Once you complete these exercises, you’ll have a marketing calendar with a totally doable content creation plan in place—one that guarantees each month you’ll have at least:
- One piece of content to move your business forward
- One free resource or list building free offer
- Three blog posts
- One interview recap, positioning you as an expert
- Plus, numerous social media posts can be created from the content, too
Now more content you publish, the more traffic you’ll enjoy and the more leads you’ll receive. But don’t get swept up in the need to blog every day. Unless blogging is your business, daily blogging isn’t a must. And don’t get sucked in by the claims that quantity is better than quality. Publishing something epic once a week will always trump publishing lots of mediocre stuff no one shares.
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Jennifer Bourn is founding partner at Bourn Creative a full-service design and development company specializing in WordPress. With twenty years in the industry under her belt, she is an award-winning designer who consults on branding, website strategy, and content strategy. Jennifer speaks often, delivering workshops and keynote presentations, co-organizes the Sacramento WordPress Meetup and WordCamp Sacramento and writes regularly about freelancing, client services, blogging, marketing, websites, and branding. Learn more at the Jennifer Bourn website.
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