To implement an effective content marketing plan without stress and overwhelm, start with an achieveable content creation process.
If you’re not using content marketing to expand brand reach, increase visibility, and connect with ideal clients, you’re already behind, because your competitors are, and it’s helping them win business and land clients that could have been yours.
Take a look at these stats:
- Semrush reports that businesses are recognizing the benefits of content marketing. A 2019 survey by Databox found that 70% of companies generated more sales through SEO than through PPC.
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional outbound methods, yet it generates three times the number of leads.
- Using long-form content generates nine times the number of leads that short-form content does.
- 95% of B2B buyers consider content to be a worthwhile way to evaluate any business.
- Dragon 360 shares that 61% of customers report a preference for brands with a content presence.
From social media posts, live videos, stories, podcasts, and YouTube channels, to blog posts, white papers, ebooks, and articles, content marketing has taken over and it’s not going anywhere any time soon.
The problem is that content marketing isn’t easy.
There isn’t one clear roadmap to follow and most businesses trying to make content marketing work don’t have a solid plan — they’re simply throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks. And today, anyone can quickly churn out mediocre content that gets lost in the echo-chamber of repurposed messages, regurgitated tips, and the same old surface-level drudge being hawked on a hundred other websites.
The challenge is creating and marketing content that stands out and gets noticed.
To rise above your competition, and shine as a thought leader in the eyes of your ideal clients, you need to create valuable, relevant, quality content, and you need to do it consistently over a long period of time.
Creating A Content Marketing Process
Implementing a content marketing plan means playing the long game.
Consumers buy when they’re ready to buy, not when you’re ready for them to buy — and if you’re not top of mind, when prospective clients are ready, your competitors will be.
- The good news is that a documented content creation process will elevate your business, expand your brand, and enhance your expert positioning.
- The bad news is that it will take time, effort, and resources — and if you’re a freelancer or micro agency, those are things you probably don’t have a lot of.
Luckily, getting started is easier than you think…
Content Creation And Marketing With Less Stress
If you want to implement an effective content marketing plan without stress and overwhelm, you need to start with an achievable content creation process.
Here is a breakdown of my five-step content creation process:
STEP 1: Assess Where New Content Could Improve Client Experiences, Add Value, And Boost Profitability
Most freelancers think of content marketing as blogging so they brainstorm some ideas, start writing, and publish articles as they finish them. Yet without a clear strategy or larger vision guiding content development, everything created is random rather than strategic and purposeful.
When I invest in content creation, I prioritize multi-use content that can be used not only for marketing but to improve client experiences, add value to client engagements, and boost project profit margins.
Begin by brainstorming a list of all of the areas in your business that would benefit from content creation. The most common areas freelancers need to create content for are:
- Customer education
- Client onboarding
- Client training
- List building offers
- Income stream diversification (information products and courses)
- Marketing and blogging efforts
- Creating systems and processes
- Employee training
STEP 2: Brainstorm Topics For Each Business Area Identified
Once you have a list of each business area that could benefit from content creation, brainstorm every bit of content you need to reach your goals. For example, here are several pieces of content a design agency could create as content upgrades and list building offers:
- A checklist for getting great headshots and photos for your website
- A whitepaper on what people ask when interviewing a professional designer
- A tips sheet teaching people how to work with a designer to get the best results
- An ebook on design principles and best practices
- A glossary of industry terms
STEP 3: Identify Content That Can Be Repurposed
This is where the magic starts to happen.
The list above includes several opportunities to create content that can be reused and repurposed multiple times to get the biggest return on investment from your content creation efforts.
Content Repurposing Example 1:
- Write a blog post about the biggest mistakes you see when working with client-provided photos in website design, another covering tips to get the best headshots for social media and your about page, and one more about how a client’s photographs affect the design quality of their website.
- Create two content upgrades for those blog posts: 1) A checklist readers can bring to a photoshoot to ensure they get the right photos, and 2) A tip sheet detailing what to wear and what not to wear when getting photos taken.
- Combine all three blog posts and the two content upgrades into one ebook you offer as a paid product or list-building opt-in offer.
Content Repurposing Example 2:
- Write a blog post sharing tips on what you should know before hiring a web designer.
- Do a Facebook live on the same topic, using the blog post as your script.
- Turn the blog post into a PDF tips sheet prospects can download before filling out your project inquiry form.
- Create a slide deck based on the content and deliver talks to help people build better relationships with their designers.
Content Repurposing Example 3:
- Create a series of blog posts covering the design process, tips for working with a designer, and how to best communicate with a designer and provide design feedback.
- Turned the blog posts into YouTube videos.
- Combine the blog posts into a mini ebook that prospects can download after they fill out your project inquiry form.
- Repurpose each individual blog post into educational emails to provide to paying clients during onboarding.
STEP 4: Map Out Your Content Creation Plan
Many business owners have great intentions — they want to blog once a week or twice a week, they want to start a YouTube channel, begin hosting Facebook lives in a new group, start a podcast, or write a series of ebooks. But, while they start out strong, business and life gets in the way and slowly the content creation stops.
A content creation plan ensures efforts are sustainable rather than flash-in-the-pan.
Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires focus, resources, and commitment. The idea is to base your content plan on the core content you need to improve and systematize your business, then repurpose it for public consumption so you get the biggest bang for your buck.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Identify what content is your top priority — make it one that will help improve your business
- Write down how much time you’ll need to create, proof, and design each piece of content
- Decide how you will repurpose the content you’re creating
- Write down how much time you’ll need to create, proof, and design the new items
- Write down any other ways you can repurpose the same content elsewhere in your business
- Get a blank month-at-a-glance calendar
- Review all of the content you want to create and how long each piece will take. Give yourself deadlines and write them in your calendar.
Here are some tips to make this process easier:
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Be realistic with your deadlines, productivity, and timelines. Don’t base your milestones on the requirement that you work nights and weekends to get it done, because chance are you won’t. Trying to do everything at once will cause stress, frustration, and burnout.
- Make quality the priority. It’s better to produce content less frequently and ensure it’s awesome, than publish mediocre content often.
- Consider the order in which you create content. For example, instead of creating all of the content for a new onboarding sequence first then repurposing it, create once piece of the process, repurpose it into a list building offer, then publish a portion of it as a blog post that promotes the list building offer.
- Consider tackling one “chunk” of content each month, so one piece of the onboarding process, one list building offer, and one blog post gets done each month.
STEP 5: Include Marketing Content In Your Creation Process
With your marketing calendar and content creation plan in hand, it’s time to add supplemental content. After all, publishing one blog post a month isn’t going to get you very far if your competitors are posting two, three, four, or more times every month.
- Choose two pieces of supplemental content to add to your marketing calendar for each month. Consider choosing one that is quick and easy to create and one that may be a bit more involved.
- Reach out to podcast hosts, radio shows, event hosts, and entrepreneurs who host teleclasses and webinars about being a guest. Set a goal to do one interview or speaking engagement per month, then write a blog post promoting it or recapping it.
Don’t be afraid to mix it up with video, audio, articles, interviews, infographics, slide decks, commentary, reviews, and more. Mixing up the type of content you share makes it easy to share more often and more fun for your audience to engage with.
A Sustainable Content Creation Process
Once you complete the five steps listed above, you’ll have a marketing calendar with an achievable content creation plan in place — one that guarantees each month you’ll have at least:
- One piece of content to move your business forward
- One free resource or list building free offer
- Three blog posts
- One interview recap, positioning you as an expert
- Plus, numerous social media posts can be created from the same content
The more content you publish, the more traffic you’ll enjoy and the more leads you’ll receive.
Just be careful you don’t get swept up in the need to blog every day. Unless blogging is your business, daily blogging isn’t a must.
Also don’t get sucked in by the claims that quantity is better than quality. Publishing something awesome once a week will always win out over publishing lots of mediocre content no one pays attention to or shares.