The importance of creating a content strategy as a beginner to online marketing cannot be stressed too much…let’s look at one scenario….
But first what is a content strategy…
A content strategy is a method of defining who you are going to talk to, what you are going to say to them, the value of what you say, where you are going to say it and over what time you will say it.
When you start your online business website for affiliate marketing you have loads of ideas buzzing in your head.
You have a vision of what you are going to create, how it is going to be created and how much money you are going to make….
So you create your site …brilliant not too much stress there….
You start creating your first article, and publish it – you are on your way….
Now the next, you research keywords for it and write it and publish it…
And …wait a minute….i thought i was going to creating content about ‘running to lose weight’ and i am thinking of creating an article about how to lift weights…..
This is why you need to stop and plan out what you are going to do…
Why do you need a content strategy as a beginner
You may recognise the scenario above or have a different one at the start of your journey – or be looking at how you can be most efficient due to time constraints within your online business…
Well if you plan out chunks of your site then it makes it a lot easier to see where you are going, what you are going to do and makes you a lot more efficient.
Imagine if you could sit down for ten minutes in the morning and review what you need to do, for the rest of the day or for the two hours you may get in the evening.
You can compose your mind onto the task at hand rather than trying to think about the hundred and one things that your site needs at the moment….
Ok the planning stage may take up a bit of time, but when you are able to produce articles or market them without being distracted then it makes it a lot easier…and you can see your progress.
What should a content strategy include
If you are just starting out as a beginner, then some of the following points may not be relevant to your business at the moment.
But once you have gone through this process for the first time and are going back through it then it does become relevant as you will see…
What information do you need to collect together and develop to create a content strategy….
The first thing you need to define is what you want to achieve..without this how do you know what you are going to do or whether you have achieved it….
You need to know who you will be talking to – so you need to develop a persona.
You need to know what you will be talking about – what are your personas burning issues to be solved
You need to find out what everybody else is saying about it and find what angles or areas that are undermarketed.
You need to determine the type of content you will be creating – how much and when.
And finally you need to sort out when you are going to create it.
It sounds like a lot and takes the edge off the passion, but a little forward planning will pay dividends for the future, believe me…i didn’t do this at the start and very quickly got caught up in the process of creating on the fly and duplicating content areas…
Lets have a look at the different elements of content strategy in a bit more detail…
What you want to achieve
The goal of the strategy maybe to get more leads, bolster a portion of the site which is flagging, make more sales in an area, but it does need a little thinking about and defining so that you can say whether you have achieved it.
Within this section you can briefly write about the other sections – the who, the what, the amount, the when, and what you expect.
So almost a brief summary.
An example could be
‘ i am starting a new section of the site promoting the golfing portion of bermuda to 20-40 year olds. holidaying for ten days, with six days on the courses and four relaxing and siteseeing
The aim is to promote package tours of the golf courses-these are open all year round
creating 15 articles, 30 social posts, and one signup freebie ( 4000 word tempter promoting the area as a haven for golfers) – all to be done within 30 days.
Looking for 50-100 signups in the following two months and continuing to grow into the future’
As a beginner you will just be putting your ideas down and over time these can be tailored to what you actually achieve.
In the beginning i wouldn’t expect too much as the site will be fairly thin, but a good signup page will allow remarketing to a list over time.
So all but the ‘what i expect’ can be settled and defined – to see what you achieve and adjust for the future.
Defining your audience
I am targeting golfers in the age range 20-40, with a few years experience wanting to play on an accredited course and enjoy an up market social life, with a couple of relaxing days siteseeing, they will be with their wives and two children -so must remember them, staying for ten days.
You can almost see the people you are talking to – so pick one – give them a name and delve more into their life .
What would motivate them, what do they do in the evening, and for a job.
The more information you find out about them the easier it is to find the pain points and motivators.
And as you will be talking to your target audience for a little while it is worth getting to know them and how to talk to them.
Talking of that, how are we going to communicate with them
What types of content
Knowing where your audience are on the internet is valuable after getting to know them and their lifestyle.
From this you will know what sort of information they will digest.
And determine whether you will be creating :
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Or social media posts
If it is a brand new site then it makes it easier as you have no articles on there.
If you already have content on there you will need to do a content audit to determine what is already close to what you are planning – how other posts can fit or be linked to – which categories you are affecting.
With the golfers i would be creating some blog content, with short videos.
Some longer videos promoting the courses with after the golf tempters.
A short freebie for them to glance at and see the high quality of the courses with the other things to do and relax with.
And social media posts linking back to the videos, blog posts and signup page.
But for your audience to do something all of your content must have value, so you need to sort out what they want, what motivates them…
What value is your content
People are getting fed up with reading the same thing over and over again, and to get them to notice what you are saying you need to give them value – after all they are giving up their most valuable asset in reading your content ( time).
So you need to give back, and a lot of it for them to stay interested.
You need to setup virtual relationships and have your content link into each other – even if you haven’t written it yet.
The planning stage of what content you are going you are going to create and what topics you are going to write about will give you links between the articles and content already on your site…
Take each piece of content down to something that is tangible rather than being vague – so ‘promote golf in bermuda’ is way too vague for an article.
‘Can you par the 16th on the Port Royal course’
Showing tactics for one of the most spectacular holes on the course will get any golfers heart going.
you need to give people a good user experience while on your site for them to promote it and to come back for more.
Not forgetting to add value to your brand and raise awareness of your offerings.
Getting the ideas
Looking over your competitors sites and gathering information on what you feel they have missed or left unanswered.
Collating information from a number of sites making yours the number one resource.
Asking your niche what they want, rather than guessing and creating content you think they want.
Going through the forums and social media looking for questions, comments or problems about the topics you are going to create content on.
Making sure there is room for you on page on, so your hard effort does not go in vain.
If you wanted to go on a golf break in Bermuda what would you like to know….
I can think of a load of questions straight off the top of my head and would list all of those down – looking on google to see what has been created and whether it satisfies all my needs…
All of the keywords, all of the SEO ( search engine optimization), tags, links, authority sites can be recognized and organized for easy access once you start writing the content.
You start to create the content, but when do you readers get to see it, this is where the publishing schedule comes in….
The last thing you want to do is to create a load of content and then dump it on your site.
Google like consistency, so creating a schedule to add you content is a good thing.
Also you want your readers to be wanting more content about the topic.
So an initial signup for content promotion will give you the motivation to go on to create the content – it give the strategy validation from the outset.
So the first thing you need to create is the lead magnet, and setup your autoresponder with the campaign.
Taking your visitor on a journey from being aware of the golf courses in Bermuda, to wanting to get on a plane tomorrow to have a break there – painting a compelling image, within your posts, of them playing a round of golf and enjoying the rum swizzles afterwards…
But as you are aware once your content is published it will take time to rank, if google thinks it is relevant enough to be returned in the SERPs (Search engine Results Page).
Depending on where you are targeting will dictate the marketing of the content or signup page…
Marketing your content
Getting a buzz going around your content by marketing it before it is viewable is worthwhile .
Getting the concept out there in front of your potential audience and getting them excited to gain access to the content is what you are after.
There is no point just creating content and placing it on your site expecting people to find it – you now need to go out and market it.
Creating your brand page on several social media platforms and having a brand signature for the forums that allow it is a necessity nowadays.
Even offline, whenever you catch up with friends that might be interested promote it. Get your friends to tell their friends…..
Finding the hashtags in your market will start promoting it within that topic.
Searching for infleuncers within your market and starting conversations with them, may allow for signature promotion.
Is it worth creating a content strategy
If all of this plan is worked out before you start diving headlong into your site, then for the next month or so you will know where you are going.
Once completed the promotion carries on while you start a new content strategy, this time you will need to do a content audit to catch the related and relevant content already on your site.
As you can see this is a very good way of building out your site in stages.
Taking smaller areas of your niche and building on them – integrating them into your site with an in depth feel, giving the visitor the confidence that you have plenty for them to read and get their teeth into.
This building allows you to look for new affiliate offers for the new strategies, or to repromote old ones.
But planning your site for a few months ahead and having the discipline to stick to the plan – except for exceptional circumstances, will allow some of the burden of growing your brand off you.
You can see where it is going and seeing the results and assessing the returns will show you what areas are working and what needs attention – or that no one is interested in…
Reading the metrics and interpreting them will lag behind the strategy, as it takes time for these to grow.
A quicker route to gaining enough data to evaluate is by the use of paid traffic.
Setting up small ad campaigns to test the strategy may work in your favor , rather than waiting for the organic traffic to grow – especially in highly competitive markets.
You still get to keep the content on your site to grow in the future with organic traffic ( free traffic from the search engines).
At the end of the day building a trusted brand that works passively for you and gives the visitor a load of value is what we are all after.
So why not give yourself the best route to it by having a content strategy – especially when you are a beginner.
Getting into good habits at the start will pay off in the long term.
A good book to learn more in depth strategies is ‘content strategy for the web’ by Kristina Halvorson – available from Amazon ( amazingly enough)