I know the number one reason bloggers fail and I’m going to tell you in this article. It’s not what you’re probably expecting. Let’s get straight to it.
It’s simple: they don’t have a content strategy. I used to think it was that they didn’t have a content plan – I’ve written about that before. But I’ve realised, a content plan is actually a part of something bigger: a content strategy.
Very few people have one and very few people know how to build and use one. To be honest I’m not even an expert at this and I’ve read quite a lot about it. But I’ll have a go.
A content strategy is the overall who, why, how, what and where of your content.
That’s a content strategy. As you can see, a content plan is just a part it. If you have a content plan but you haven’t figured the other bits out, you are still going to struggle.
The best way to build a content strategy is to go through these steps one by one. I didn’t actually do this and it hurt me and I struggled for a while. If I was starting from scratch, I would go through all these steps one by one before I created any content.
Start by defining your ideal customer. Who are they? Who are you trying to help? It needs to be some kind of persona you can relate to. Maybe it’s someone like you? Someone you used to be? Or someone you used to know?
It can help to create an actual (fake) person as your ideal customer. Give them a name, find a stock photo, write up a description of them. People sometimes call these a customer avatar or customer persona. It is a concept used by a lot of User Experience (UX) designers.
Do some research – lurk in forums, subreddits, newsgroups. Read reviews of Amazon books in your niche, especially two or three-star reviews. Look for what people found lacking or are still struggling with.
You can also create surveys. A lot of people use SurveyMonkey, but I think it sucks – I use TypeForm instead. It’s way better and it’s free!
If possible, do some interviews with real people over Skype or something. The more accurate a picture you can build, the better.
Here’s an interesting idea. Think about not only your ideal customer but their ideal – who are they trying to be? Where do they want to go? Who do they want to become?
I got this idea from a very powerful micro-blog by legendary email marketer Andre Chaperon. He wrote about two fictional (but based on real life) characters, Frank and Matt. It’s a long read, but if you’re serious about this stuff, go read the whole thing.
Andre’s material is many levels of thinking beyond 90% of the crap out there in this space. And if you’ve never heard of him, he is not a flashy guru with Youtube videos of him getting out of a sports car, but he is considered to be one of the best email marketers of all time and is incredibly successful. He just chooses to stay out of the limelight.
Why are you doing this? Why create content? Why help people – and why you? Think about why you are qualified to help people (as opposed to anyone else). Why should people listen to you?
Remember, you don’t have to be an expert – you just have to be you. You just have to be honest and authentic and have integrity. Even if you’re not a world-class expert, you know more than 80% of the world at something (probably 90%).
How are you going to help people? Are you going to write blog articles? Do a podcast channel? Make Youtube videos? One a week, one a day, one a year? One an hour? By yourself, with partners, with friends? Ramble on in a monologue for an hour, or do interviews with influencers? At home, on the street, at conferences?
Are you going to write the articles yourself, or outsource them? WordPress or something else? High tech or low tech? Fancy or simple? Long form or short form?
These answers will depend a lot on your budget, abilities and experience. I would start off with one platform, maybe two maximum. More than that will be hard unless you can allocate a lot of time each day to content production.
You don’t actually need all these answers when you’re starting off, some of them you can figure out and change around as you go. But I would start off with some ideas at least.
For me, it was internet marketing, affiliate marketing, blogging, SEO, and email marketing.
Then use tools like Answer the Public to generate huge lists of article ideas for those categories, filter out the crap one, and build your plan for your first 10 to 20 articles / videos / etc.
Put it all in Google Sheets so it is backed up and you can access it anywhere, and get started producing that content.
Where are you going to promote your content? Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest? Instagram? Some, none or all of the above?
I wouldn’t pick one but I wouldn’t pick all of them. Start with two or three and maybe add another as you build up skills and momentum. Try to use a combination of manual legwork and automated systems.
Think carefully about your niche and your target audience when deciding this. If your niche is bodybuilding and your target customer is young men interested in MMA, then Pinterest is going to be a waste of time for you – the demographic is almost exclusively older women.
But those men might use Facebook and Instagram a lot. So that’s where you could focus your energy.
Come up with a promotion plan. What combination of promotion will you use – free or paid? Or a mixture of both? Retargeting / remarketing, influencer marketing? Automated systems or manual outreach?
These questions will depend a lot on your experience, budget and available time. I would recommend starting simple – manual processes and free traffic. Then start adding tools, systems and paid traffic as you grow in experience, skills and budget.
I hope this article on the importance of content strategy was useful – do you have any other questions or suggestions? Have you tried building a content plan and how did it go? Let me know in the comments!