The relentless march of content continues. And while this is excellent news for any aspiring creator out there; trying to compete with this cacophony of content by sheer 'effort' simply won't do.
Instead, as creators and content marketers, we need to find ways of cutting through the noise—and this is precisely where having a content strategy is key.
This content strategy template isn't meant to be taken as gospel—it's meant to simply take you 80% of the way to formulating your own unique content strategy for the months and year(s) to come.
In it, we'll cover a framework to help you:
If you had endless amounts of time on your hands; an infinitely large team at your disposal; and no targets or goals that needed to be reached—there would be no need to talk about 'content strategy'.
Strategies are about decision making with limited resources. That sounds a bit textbook-y, but bear with me on this.
Suppose you had 24 hours (a clear constraint) to add as many new subscribers as possible (a clear goal). Now, it's time for you to go about deciding how you want to allocate your efforts.
Will you spend every penny on advertising, and simply hope people like what they see enough to sign up?
Or will you go from door to door, asking people to sign up? You certainly won't get in front of as many people, but it might just result in more total sign ups.
The approach you decide upon is your content strategy. Yes, you can add all sorts of fancy names to your approach, 'We're taking a multi-channel, geo-optimized, retargeting paid advertising strategy' (translation: ads),
'We're taking a grass-roots, personalized, high-investment approach' (translation: we're bootstrapping it).
But, at bottom, setting the strategy is really just a way of saying:
'These are the rules we're going to follow which we think give the best chance of helping us reach our goals'.
A few key things to note:
The strategies described above don't just pop out of thin air—or at least, they shouldn't.
Instead, there are number of factors that can help you decide which path to take; which strategy to adopt for your particular situation.
A short list of factors that can influence your strategy:
Naturally, each of these is worth diving into a little further.
What are some of the key traits of the people you're trying to engage with. Specifically, for the purposes of content creation, it's worth thinking about:
By answering those four questions, you'll already be a whole lot closer to identifying key content opportunities (and channels) that are likely to resonate with your audience.
But if you're not sure where to find this information, here are a few good starting points for your research:
Content goals and objectives are tricky. On the one hand, you have a category of goals you can control. Things like:
These are process goals, or as we refer to them in the template 'Action' objectives.
Then, there's another category of targets that are only indirectly within your control. This is the stuff we typically measure:
It's important to set a few clear targets for each of these categories—so that we hold ourselves accountable not only to the actions we can control, but also keep an eye on the external indicators that will tell us more about how those actions are performing out in the world.
Your content differentiator might be:
Typically, one of the best ways to discover your content differentiator is to be authentic in your creative efforts. It sounds easier than it is in practice—being authentic often means that we may not be serving the audience we had written down or planned to address.
Sometimes, our style resonates with a completely different group, and the question then becomes: do I pivot my style, or pivot my target segment?
If the new segment is large enough, and the demand high enough: pivot the segment.
While it's important to stay authentic and work on your own voice—it's also critical to understand what else is out there. Especially in your niche.
Researching competitors doesn't need to be some rigorous analysis. As a solo creator, we don't always have the resources (or training, or interest) to conduct a detailed competitive analysis.
The goal is simply to get a feeling for what's already working in your market, and to establish some clear takeaways that can inform your own content strategy going forward.
Here are some factors to consider when conducting competitor research:
With some competitor research behind you, a clear set of targets in place and your target audience segments settled—odds are, you already will have some ideas bouncing around for some first content.
Spending some time to mull ideas over in a brainstorming phase can be helpful for a couple of reasons:
You can use the brainstorming dashboard of the Content OS to store and sort your ideas.
Campaigns are dedicated content efforts. Typically, they describe a series of content, focused on a particular theme—often, with a specific goal in mind.
You might have a 'Welcome to the mailing list' campaign. During the brainstorming phase, and from your research on competitors (it always helps to sign up to a few competitor mailing lists and take notes!), you notice a few trends that you'd like to implement for yourself.
Let's say you want to:
By sketching out a campaign to achieve these action and outcome objectives, you're able to space out the content load, while also giving your readers some breathing room (as opposed to shoving it all into one mega-thread welcome email).
Campaigns also work best with clear deadlines in place. If the target for this welcome email campaign is 40% open rate—set yourself a clear target date to check-in on your progress. At which point, you can either decide that it isn't working—and something needs to be switched up—or that it's been a successful implementation.
Content strategy is the summary of rules we've set for ourselves when creating content.
These rules aren't arbitrary, instead, they are decided by a few key factors. Things like:
Every content strategy will be subtly unique—but that doesn't mean every aspect of it should be crafted from scratch.
Get started with our Content Strategy Template and save yourself 80% of the work on setup.
And if you'd like to learn more about the complete Content OS, you can see what all the fuss is about here.