Having set your content strategy, the next challenge is to make sure you can actually keep up with it. In the heat of day-to-day business, content can easily be seen as a problem that can be put off until tomorrow or rushed through without much thought. Read on for our guide on how to make content a process rather than a problem...
Make an editorial calendar
If you don’t define your objectives into day-to-day actions with an editorial calendar then there is almost zero chance of your strategy succeeding. See this as your direct link to the top-level content strategy, i.e. this is where you convert the themes and content titles from the strategy into actionable tasks.
There are many tools available to make your editorial calendar more dynamic than simply being a diary (see this article for a breakdown of some of the best). Your editorial calendar can be created in a content-scheduling tool for example, which could enable you to create a backlog of content which is automatically released at a time that suits your content strategy. This would enable you to create content at a time that suits you rather than having to drop everything and create content on a particular day.
Don’t be over ambitious with the editorial calendar. The key is to create something that encourages the production of content as part of the day-to-day, not something that seems unachievable. If the calendar is not respected then the whole process is undermined.
Empower the workforce
This is another way to remove hurdles from the process of producing content. The more employees in an organisation that have the skills to produce content, the better. It really isn’t difficult for anybody to get to a level where they can produce good content, but they may need some encouragement. Sites such as Lynda and Skillshare are an excellent and inexpensive way for a company to train-up its staff. By setting aside two or three hours per week for employees to do online training, you can build a team of content creators to share the load, or at the very least, a useful number of people who are able to manage the outsourcing of it.
Create a style guide
A style guide is the glue that binds everything together. Even large publications full of professional writers and designers use style guides, so it surely makes sense that any company should have one. By following the style guide your content should remain consistent, whoever creates it. This is particularly useful for the content manager, as it gives them something to refer to when they have to make judgment calls throughout the process, i.e. the management of content creators in different offices and the onboarding of new content creators.
From a wider company perspective, a style guide is useful because it reduces the dependency on the content manager. The style guide will ease the transition if the content manager leaves the role. It’s also important to note that a style guide need not be static and rigid, instead it should be a living document. Reviewing the style guide inline with current trends or changes in company direction is perfectly normal (in fact we recommend it).
The Five Ws
A common concern we hear from clients is that they think nobody will find them interesting. What we always say in response is ‘if you find it interesting, someone else will’, but only if the story is delivered properly. This is where the Five Ws come in: ‘Why’, ‘What’, ‘Who’, ‘Where’, ‘When’ (read more).
By using the Five Ws as a guide for each piece of content you deliver, you will keep it on track and give the reader/viewer every chance to engage with it. Remember also that you don’t need masses of views for content to be effective. Search engines like Google are reading your content on behalf of billions of people, so if they deem your content to be useful, you will rise up the search rankings.
Stay on top of the strategy
Remember those smart goals we talked about in part one? This is where they really come into play. Whatever metrics you use to measure your progress should be compared against these goals. If you are not hitting your goals then you should ask questions and challenge yourself, i.e. ‘why are we not hitting the goals’, ‘is our content consistent enough in style?’, ‘is our content regular enough?’, ‘is our content being shared on the right platforms?’, ‘were the original goals unrealistic?’
The two most obvious measures for the success of content are the volume of traffic and the search-engine ranking. We offer analysis in these areas as part of our service, but it is something you can do yourself with the right tools. A good tip we can give here is that you should analyse your competitors in the same way as you would for your own website. This really helps put your findings into perspective.
Get the professionals in
Many organisations choose to outsource the bulk of their content creation, particularly when it comes to more specialist content, i.e. animated video, podcasts, high-quality filming, CGIs, and infographics. Even blog posts are commonly outsourced to ghostwriters who understand SEO. However, it is important to remember that a content manager needs to oversee this process. Perhaps they produce some of the content themselves or perhaps they produce none of it all, but they must always be accountable for the end product. Check out how our guide to outsourcing for more on this subject.
A combination of in-house and outsourced content is normally the optimum scenario. If you have a small budget then it is probably best to save money by producing your regular content in-house. This will allow you to pay the market rate for a proper SEO analysis before you create your strategy, and hopefully there will be enough budget left to do the same analysis at least every 6 months as part of a strategy/progress review. We would also recommend that the core text of your website (including all headings) is written by a professional, even if you have a low budget.
As the outsourcing budget increases, we recommend that you step up the regularity of analysis/tracking (monthly is best if you can afford it), and increase the amount of specialist content you put out there. You should also consider using professional writers who have a track record in a particular area of interest to your organisation/marketplace.
Producing regular content can appear very daunting, but if you show it enough respect in the planning stage, it becomes a straightforward business process like any other.