How to Plan Digital Content Like a Professional
You want to plan digital content efficiently but it is not always an easy task and it can be a very time-consuming process. After all, you want to present your audience with high-quality content on a regular basis. How can you best do this? In this blog post, you will find several steps and tools that can help you.
Plan digital content in less time
Choncé Maddox calls herself “a planner” and loves writing things down to prepare herself for the work week in advance. Therefore, she uses the following seven steps to plan digital content in less time. They may help you too!
1. Use current copy as a foundation
The best place to start is to look at your existing content for your business. Even if it was not that good, you will have a place to start. Therefore, look at analytics to see what content resonated well with your audience and what did not.
If you have been getting some good feedback on social media for a particular article, you can try to expand on the subject. Keep a running list of topics whenever you gain inspiration or think of ideas that could be useful. Fortunately, it only takes a few minutes each week and it is the best way to jumpstart the content creation process.
2. Make sure you understand your audience
Do not waste time planning digital content before you get to know your target audience. For example, interact with them on social media, ask your email list questions, save helpful feedback, and every few months, ask your audience to complete a short market research survey.
This will help make the content planning and creation process much simpler. You will know who your audience is and what they want. If your audience is telling you multiple things, segment your website visitors into the primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences. Then, determine how you will address their needs in future content types.
3. Use a calendar to map everything out
If you plan digital content without a calendar, you are doing it all wrong according to Choncé. Using a calendar tool can help you stay organized and begin to work ahead. Yes, the content production process is pretty tedious but having a solid plan laid out in writing can make all the difference.
Coming up with headlines and outlines at this stage is very important. It is interesting to note that doing this in advance will literally cut a lot of time out of the content creation process and keep you focused so you can finish and release your content more efficiently. By storing everything on a digital calendar, you can set reminders to hold yourself accountable for meeting specific deadlines and allowing yourself enough time to prepare.
4. Storytelling vs ‘Storyselling’
You do not have to use your website to merely tell your own story. Nobody is interested in knowing how wonderful a business you have. In fact, the stories that matter are those of the people who have used your products and services and found them beneficial. Give your audience results and evidence. The language you use should speak to them. Offer your products as the solution to their products.
Choncé says: “When I experience things or have conversations that I believe could be pivoted into inspiring content for my audience, I add the idea to my content calendar with a date and a brief outline. In less than two minutes, I have quality content planned that I can produce quickly.”
5. Write for search engines and humans
SEO is important. However, crowding your content with too many keywords can only render it unreadable. Include the keywords as naturally as possible to avoid coming out as a robot. If anything, you do not have to stick to your specific keywords. Use variations that will still give the same meaning. When you plan digital content, it helps to determine a focus keyword ahead of time. This way, you know what to base your content around.
6. Plan to make it action-oriented copy
All of your content should have a goal behind it. It is likely that you want to help turn readers into leads and paying customers. To do this, you need to make sure you have a clear call to action. This will prompt your audience to do something. This blog may help: These CTAs Are Not Good (And How to Fix Them!)
7. Plan to make it visually appealing
Content and visuals go hand-in-hand. When you plan digital content, be sure to include ideas for illustrations, charts, and images to support the text. Alternatively, use testimonials, bulleted lists or larger pull quotes, divide sections with subheadings and use short paragraphs.
Plan digital content and come up with a strategy with these 3 types of tools
Tom Pick argues that content marketing is not difficult to do; it is just challenging to do well. As with most complex tasks, using a structured process can really help. To this end, he offers three different types of tools that can help you plan digital content.
1. Content ideation tools
Ideation is where content marketing gets rolling. It starts with developing a content marketing strategy. From that point, content ideation tools can help you discover, hone, and collaborate on specific topic ideas. Some of the key tasks content ideation tools include:
- Explore conversations: Tools like Google+ Communities and Quora help you understand the specific types of questions people are asking and discussing across topic areas.
- Track topics: See what people are reading, and writing about, in different subject areas using a tool like Popurls, which captures headlines from top online news sites. Or use TrendSpottr to identify emerging trends, viral content, and key influencers.
- Collaborate on ideas: Once you nailed down some ideas, it is time to organize them and work with your team. Tools like XMind and SimpleMind enable you to visually map and connect ideas and concepts. Then use Evernote or Wunderlist to organize those ideas, collaborate with your co-workers or outside resources, and kick off content projects.
- Craft headlines: When your ideas are finally turned into content, use a tool like Portent’s Content Idea Generator or the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator to help craft a compelling headline.
2. Content planning and research tools
With specific topic ideas in place and your team organized, it is time to turn to content planning and research tools to lay the groundwork for producing content. Helpful content planning tools include Bubbl.us for group brainstorming; CoSchedule for creating an online editorial calendar, and Trello for team content project management.
Content research tools help you collect facts, statistics, supporting ideas, and quotes to include in your content. Proper research can not only help support your positions but also help to shape and refine your messages. For instance, Tom says that among the best content research tools are Snopes.com for fact-checking, Wolfram|Alpha for calculations, and HARO for primary research. In addition, he mentions a number of tools from Google, such as Google Trends for discovering popular and trending searches, Google Scholar for search academic papers and journals, and Think With Google for exploring consumer trends and insights.
3. Content curation tools
The majority of your content marketing efforts will be focused on your own original content. However, it is not only about you. There are other insightful, fascinating voices in your industry as well. To truly serve as a resource for your industry audience, part of your effort should be spent on finding and sharing the best of that content.
Curating the most interesting content in your industry also supports your research work. In addition, it helps you build relationships with industry influencers. Curation tools fall into several types, including:
- Content discovery: Tools like Curata, ContentGems, and Quuu help you find and filter popular content, by content or topic, from thousands of online sources.
- Special purpose: Use Listly for creating group-curated lists of almost anything, Instant RSS Search to find RSS feeds on any specified topic, and of course Pinterest for saving, sharing, and finding topic-specific images (careful with copyright, though).
- Personal curation: Save articles, videos, blog posts, and other types of web content for later reading, reference, or sharing, using tools like Pocket, Instapaper, or Flipboard.
- Professional curation: Take curation to a professional level with tools like CurationSoft and Pressly, which enable you to collaborate with your team on content discovery and sharing. Then, add your own commentary to shared content.
How do you find inspiration for content creation when you are tired?
Finding inspiration for your content creation can be a little tricky and writing may sometimes feel like an obligation. If you are hitting the wall with your content schedule, do not worry too much. Even if you feel uninspired, there are easy ways to get inspired again. The blog How to Find Inspiration for Content Creation When You Are Tired explains how.
If you want to read books about content creation, you can find some relevant content creation books on Amazon. Alternatively, if you want to repurpose content that you already have for an audience that prefers reading in another language, you should contact me. I am a translator, so I can help you (well, me or my contacts in the translation industry). You can reach me here: firstname.lastname@example.org.