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Planning Your Content: 6 Steps For Creating An Effective Long-term Content Strategy In 2023

Updated: Mar 27, 2023


Did you start writing content for your blog, but found you quickly ran out of ideas? It's a common problem for businesses new to blogging - they start out writing content sporadically, and find their motivation and ideas fizzled out.


I made the same mistake when I started blogging! So, I quickly learned that I needed a plan. An effective long-term content strategy benefits your business by making your content marketing consistent and focused. It also improves your ROI because you aren't wasting resources creating unnecessary content.


In this post, I'll explain a little bit more about the benefits of a long-term content strategy before outlining how you can create your own. The six steps to creating a content plan are as follows:



 

What are the Benefits of a Long-term Content Plan?

Planning your content long-term is extremely important if you are to have an effective content marketing strategy. When writing posts for a blog, it's unwise to create posts on a spur of the moment basis, else you risk running out of ideas and not posting consistently enough.


There are several benefits of a long-term content plan, which I may dive into in another blog post. For now, here are some of the important ones:

  1. A content plan gives you focus.

  2. It saves you time in the long-run, since you know exactly what to write and when.

  3. Your return on investment (ROI) will improve because you aren't wasting resources.

  4. A proper plan helps you stay consistent in your content output.

So, let's look at how to set up an effective content plan.


 

6 Steps For Creating a Long-Term Content Strategy


1. Set your goals

The first step to any plan is to figure out what you want to achieve. For a long-term content strategy, you need to set long-term goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, and time-bound). Some long-term goals could be:

  • Increase your blog traffic by 20% each month

  • Gain 1000 subscribers in one year

  • Increase your lead conversion rate by 20%

You need to know exactly what it is you want to achieve with your business before you sit down to plan your content. That way, your content will be planned with those goals in mind.


For more on setting SMART goals (specifically for your business blog), check out the post below.



2. Perform a content audit

The next step before any planning takes place (don't worry, this is still important) is to do a content audit. You need to look at what content you have already put out into the world before you start planning to produce more.


Your audit should cover every single piece of content you have ever produced. This includes:

  • Blog posts

  • Social posts

  • Email newsletters/marketing emails

  • EBooks

  • Infographics

  • Webinars

  • Videos

  • Downloadable items (e.g. checklists, templates, etc.)

Collate all of it into a spreadsheet, and categorize each piece of content into each stage of the buyer's journey (i.e. prospect/awareness, lead/consideration, and customer/decision). This gives you a solid ground to work on, because you can identify which stages or types of audience interaction you need to work on.


This step is also vital because it means you won't risk duplicating content by accident. You can also repurpose what you already have into new, fresh content, or update old pieces of content that have been neglected (such as your blog posts or eBooks).


3. Identify your target audience

Before planning your content, you must identify your target audience and buyer personas. It's important to know who you are writing your content for and why otherwise you might as well be shouting your messages into the wind.


Content directed towards your target audience will likely have more engagement from them than over-generalized and non-specific content. You need to get inside your audience's collective mindset, understand their pain points, and attempt to answer questions that they need answering.


HubSpot has a fantastic tool for creating buyer personas that are detailed and relatively realistic. You can find their Make My Persona tool here.



4. Choose a category and appropriate themes

Now it's time to get planning! Choosing a category for your content is a great way to nurture prospects and leads along the buyer's journey. Consistent content produced around a category will reinforce your marketing message, as it is repeated in different formats to your audience.


The category ties all your content together, making sure everything feeds off each other. At this stage, it's a good idea to create a mind map of all the potential categories you can talk about in your industry. For example, if you are an HR consultant, you could have the following categories

  • Recruitment

  • Employee performance

From this, you identify themes that fit the category. For HR, the category of recruitment could be divided into the following themes:

  • Job advertising

  • Job application organisation

  • Interviews

  • Selection processes

These topics can then be divided into smaller topics and subtopics that answer questions related to the topic. These topics and subtopics will become your blog posts.


5. Plan your blog posts

Now that you have identified your category and topics, it's time to start planning your blog posts. I've discussed in a previous post how to plan your posts in-depth, but here I want to talk about a general outline that you can quickly create for all your posts in one go.


All you need for a general outline is the following:

  • The topic of the post

  • A working title

  • Keywords

That's it. How you choose to create and save your outlines is up to you. I use a spreadsheet to create the general outlines of my posts, and from this, I know exactly what I need to write about, what keywords I need to use, and when the deadline is.


6. Social posts, email campaigns, and more

Once you outline your blog posts, you can use them to draft ideas for other content. Repurposing your blog content into other formats was an absolute game-changer for me, as it saves you precious time that you can spend elsewhere on your business.


Once a blog post is published, you can promote it the obvious way by sharing it across your marketing platforms (e.g. social media and email marketing). But you can also take snippets from your post and create social posts from them. This creates more engagement, and your audience will be intrigued to read more (if done well).


Other repurposed content formats include:

  • eBooks

  • Videos

  • Podcasts

  • Email

  • Webinars

So, it's a good idea to include your repurposed content formats in your content plan so you can plan ahead of time what you need to do and when. It also ties your entire content marketing strategy together in a seamless campaign!




 

Next Steps

Planning is long-term content strategy is vital for giving the clarity, focus, and consistency your content marketing needs to be successful. An effective content plan will also improve your ROI because you won't waste time and resources on creating sporadic content that is unnecessary.


You should now have a good idea of how to set about creating your long-term content plan. The steps you should follow are:

  1. Set your goals

  2. Perform a content audit

  3. Identify your target audience

  4. Choose a category and appropriate themes

  5. Plan your blog posts

  6. Plan social posts, email campaigns, and more

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