Every publisher has a content plan. It’s called an editorial calendar. They do it to help sell content-specific advertising, but it also helps them deliver the best possible range of content to their readers over time.
A content plan can do the same for your client's blog. It will enable them to:
- Produce consistent, relevant content
- Engage customers and prospects
- Keep everyone organized internally, especially important for consistency if they have multiple blog contributors
- Identify topics relevant to your client's keywords and opportunities to reinforce key messages by repurposing or expanding on them
- Build anticipation of what’s coming next or soon
- Stay flexible, to zero in on the latest news or hot trend
- Stay on track and on schedule, so your clients don’t fall victim to online absence, which does not make the searcher’s heart grow fonder
- Capitalize on seasonal or other timely searching
- Maintain a history of what you’ve already done
Martin Smith of Sonus PR notes that a quality blog provides a competitive advantage by helping your clients get found and convert interest into sales. But the buying public expects expertise and evidence of it, so the blog has to be interesting. And useful. And timely.
It’s easy to create a blog, but you have to keep it up. The idea isn’t to spray the area with incessant, random musings. Blog proliferation isn’t a good idea, either. Create one, and use a content plan to stay focused.
Structure actually supports creativity. Your clients can write when their inspired, then parcel out articles later. They’ll be able to overtly cross-promote among all their content vehicles. And advance planning gives them time to invite guest writers.
Set your goals.
In order to create a content plan, you need to determine exactly what your clients expect their blogs to accomplish. Of course, that will depend on the type of company and products, projected audience, and so on. Advise your clients to check out the competition to see what they’re doing, so they can do it better.
Use a matrix format to develop a content plan.
Your clients' matrix should include these details:
- Topic or title. Create specific categories to better organize content over time. Keep an “ideas” file, jotting down thoughts as they come for later use.
- Date. Rough out a calendar for the year, marking dates such as holidays that have special significance, then plug in content plan details for a month or maybe the next quarter. Remember to post frequently to gain and sustain a following.
- Keywords to emphasize.
- Primary messages (talking points) to support keywords.
- References or links to include
Darren Rowse write an excellent article about developing niche blog content plan, but his points are valuable for any plan creator. Ahava Liebtag provides checklist, she recommends creating a detailed calendar that can do more by tracking actions.
Some additional thoughts about your content plan.
B2B bloggers especially, but really any business writer, should remember that each person is at different stage of the buying process. Your clients' blog content has to appeal to all these folks at some point. It’s a good idea to include the entire internal team when exploring blog topics, because each department offers a unique perspective on customer challenges and buying stage issues.
Change up the content with different lengths -- longer posts some days, interspersed with short pieces. This way, they won’t worry about meeting deadlines, and they’ll remain flexible to capture last-minute opportunities.
And if they’re pressed for time, or not much of an author, having a content plan makes it easy to outsource the writing.
Last – but definitely not least -- include “blog maintenance” as part of your client's content plan. Have them subscribe to their own feed and visit their own blog to make sure all is well, respond to comments and otherwise engage their community.