Writing Your First Content Strategy Plan
You’ve got this client you’ve been writing scintillating, crackling content for, and they’re pleased with your work. It always gets them the results that they want, and soon they ask you for help pitching topics, then giving them direction for written content. Before you know it, you’re offered a very generous fee to develop an actual content plan. This is exciting, but also a scary prospect if you haven’t done in-depth marketing or consulting before.
Not to worry! Content strategy is a thrilling and lucrative field, and it’s the natural next step for content writers who’ve become well-versed in how their clients use the end product. Speaking just for myself, I had only cursory marketing and SEO knowledge when I first found WriterAccess. After writing for the site for a while, I gained a solid understanding of how search engines process content, technical aspects like CMS and page speed, how people engage with content, and common pitfalls industries in my specialties — tax offices and video game studios — tend to run into after creating content and implementing it. Learning to write a content plan is like riding a bike except there are no bandages or trips to urgent care involved, and you’ll upgrade from a three-speed to a 10-speed as far as fees go.
Here’s what you need to dive into when creating a content plan.
Content Strategy Research: What Does the Client Need?
Research is the cornerstone of an effective content plan, but content strategy research has both more and different context from the kind you do as a writer. You need to delve further into what the client needs. What are they trying to accomplish with content?
If they’re looking to rise up in search engine ranking and get traffic that way, you need to not only target the right keywords, but also tailor the content plan to the exact level of keyword research required. This can entail researching specific keywords or scraping a large amount of data to discern which keywords should be targeted.
Content can also establish a brand voice and positioning. It can be used to hone an image, gain traction on social media, and go beyond search results. Obviously, the client wants traffic and sales, but knowing the exact trajectory for this content plan will lend more insight to your research efforts. You should also have quantifiable goals in the content plan such as, “Go from 500 to 5,000 Twitter followers,” or, “Increase session length 25 percent across the board,” as they serve as the roadmap for your suggestions.
Finding the Right MarTech
Your world’s no longer text editors and remembering to fix your formatting after pasting from Word or Google Docs. You’re also going to need to guide the client as to which martech they need! While you don’t need to be a technology evangelist in order to do content strategy, paying no mind to the martech your content writing clients use is no longer an option. It doesn’t help that there’s a HUGE array of martech out there, and it’s utterly dizzying to the point that even seasoned content strategy professionals are totally fatigued.
As for finding the right martech, you’ve got options. G2 Crowd is an excellent resource for comparing major marketing automation platforms, such as HubSpot vs. Marketo. Got a smaller client whose marketing spend is a lot lower? Help them find the right CMS while your larger clients will look toward DXPs. Martech isn’t just about these enormous investments like HubSpot or WordPress, though. Recommend tools for social media management, email marketing, and anything else that will integrate or work well on its own that best fits the client’s needs. If their needs and budget call for it, help the client find additional talent to help with these aspects of seeing their content plan through to execution.
How the Web Uses Content vs. How the Target Audience Interacts With It
You approached content from a writer’s perspective before; now you’re getting a bird’s-eye view. This is where you devise content parameters such as:
- Target keywords for each blog post or landing page
- Number of inbound and outbound links and permitted sources
- Required formatting
- Image sourcing requirements
- Pillar content and site map design
- Editorial calendars
- Where content will go and which channels to allocate content to
Rather than writing the pieces, you’re deciding which topics get written about because the audience specifically asked for them or the keyword mapping process revealed which keywords should be prioritized. This step is all about how the client will present content to their audience such as imagery, formatting, where the content actually goes, and so on. You’re not performing the actual keyword research and mapping, editorial calendar, or buyer persona creation just yet, but your content plan should include which of these assets is going to be included and what the intent of each one is.
Think of the actual content writing as the assembly line, while what you’re doing now is showing the client a blueprint for a conveyor belt and explaining specs to them. Content strategy has so many different moving parts, and each client has different needs and goals. Content strategy assets like keyword maps, buyer personas, editorial calendars and customer journey maps help lay the groundwork for actionable content strategies, because just having a blog and website isn’t enough anymore. You’re getting out of the trenches and going into a helicopter when switching from writer to strategist, but once you start writing these plans and proposals, it’ll feel natural after a while.
WriterAccess is also home to several content strategists in addition to an army of writers if your content isn’t getting the results you hoped for or you haven’t gotten started yet and want to kick 2019 off on the right foot! Contact us to set up a consultation!
Rachel P is a 4-star content strategist (Strategist Account #541) available to help you with keyword maps, customer journey maps, and buyer personas in addition to writing for you! She’s also an indie game developer, writer, and consultant. If you would to like to hire Rachel to devise a content strategy for you, please contact your account manager or send a direct message.