How to Create an Effective Blog Content Strategy in Six Steps

How to Create an Effective Blog Content Strategy in Six Steps

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How to Create an Effective Blog Content Strategy in Six Steps

You don’t want to publish random content—otherwise, you wouldn’t be here. You know that creating blog content without a strategy is like driving without a map.

You know where you want to end up, but have no idea how exactly to get there. Following the map is a lot harder when you have to draw the entire map yourself.

For your blog, you’re wondering:

  • Which topics should I write about?
  • How in-depth do I need to go?
  • How often should I publish new blog posts?
  • What content will make my audience take action instead of just passively read?

The questions go on. Luckily, you don’t have to figure out your blog content strategy yourself. This post outlines six simple steps to reach your destination: a strong, sustainable strategy for your blog that translates into revenue for your business.

Grab your blog content strategy templates and let’s dive in.

Claim Your Blog Content Strategy Templates

Before you start building your blog content strategy, make sure you have this collection of templates that will help you apply what you learn in this blog post and turn it into action that will help build your content strategy.

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The Elements of a Blog Content Strategy

A blog content strategy is what connects your blog with the company’s goals and products. It makes sure your blog content is intentional and consistent rather than dependent on your team’s strike of inspiration.

But that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated—quite the opposite.

A strong blog content strategy is based on just three elements:

  • Your audience, and the problems they’re looking to solve
  • Your product, and how it solves those problems
  • Your content, and how it connects problems to solutions

3 elements of a strong blog content strategy

Your Audience and Their Problems

Your target audience is the ideal customer you want to attract to your product or service with your blog.

To define your target audience, focus on the outcome they want to achieve and the pain points standing between them and that outcome. Start by asking yourself:

  • Who are our current best customers (for example, those with highest spend, lowest support needs, and/or have been with you for a long time)?
  • What qualities do our best customers share?
  • What made them search for a solution like our product or service?
  • What do these customers gain by choosing us instead of our competitors (or doing nothing)?

Based on this, solidify your target audience—your marketing persona—with this statement:

[Your company] creates blog content to attract [target audience] so they can [desired outcome] better.

For CoSchedule, the target audience statement can look like this:

CoSchedule creates blog content to attract professional marketing managers so they can easily organize and scale their marketing projects.

Your Product as a Solution

Your product directly correlates with your target audience’s pain point.

Whether it’s a software subscription, a physical product, a service you deliver, a digital product, or a mix of these, your product is the antidote to what your audience struggles with.

When you understand your target audience and how your product fits into their life and/or work, you can:

  1. Launch and update products and features they need and will actually use
  2. Describe and position your product through marketing and sales in a way your audience can understand and relate to

As April Dunford, a positioning expert, said in her book Obviously Awesome:

“Customers need to be able to easily understand what your product is, why it’s special and why it matters to them.”

Your Content and Its Role to Connect Problems to Solutions

Content is what answers your audience’s questions as they search for a solution.

Your target audience isn’t always ready to buy. In fact, they often don’t even know how to name the pain point they’re experiencing. That’s why your blog can’t only be about you and your products, but instead cover the entire funnel:

  • Awareness (top of the funnel, or TOFU): your audience is learning about the problem they’re experiencing
  • Evaluation (middle of the funnel, or MOFU): your audience is evaluating types of solutions for their problem
  • Decision (bottom of the funnel, or BOFU): your audience is ready to choose a specific product or service to solve their problem

The sales funnel

The journey from awareness to decision is rarely linear, and the job of your blog content is to educate and empower your potential customer in their journey towards a solution. Because if you don’t, your competitor will.

The Tools of the Trade

Your blog content strategy doesn’t have to be a 50-page document no one bothers looking at. Quite the opposite: it should be a clear and straightforward action plan you and your team can rely on.

To make it happen, you need three simple tools:

  1. An editorial calendar
  2. A content idea backlog
  3. A blog content strategy template

1. Your Editorial Calendar

Which blog post is scheduled next? What’s the format? Who’s in charge of writing, editing, approving, and publishing it? How does it fit into the current marketing push from the company?

Options for your editorial calendar range from printed calendars to Excel spreadsheets and specialized apps. Make sure your choice matches your needs for collaboration, workflows, automation, and flexibility.

Tools like CoSchedule’s Marketing Calendar help you plan and schedule all your content from one place, no matter if you’re a marketing team of one or 20. It gives you an instant bird’s eye overview of your past and upcoming blog content and makes it easy to shift your priorities if needed.

CoSchedule marketing calendar

2. Your Content Idea Backlog

Next, you need a central place to store all content ideas, easily accessible by everyone on your team.

This is where you’ll store your content ideas after brainstorming sessions, but also any ideas that come up at other times, like from:

  • A customer email
  • A sales conversation
  • Social media listening
  • Questions from your target audience on Reddit, Quora, etc.
  • Audience surveys

CoSchedule’s Idea Board is ideal for this purpose. It lets you categorize content ideas, assign team members, and drag-and-drop topics you’re ready to tackle—and it’s easy to access by your whole team for maximum efficiency.

CoSchedule's idea board

With a backlog of ideas, you’ll never feel you’re out of topics to write about again.

3. Your Blog Content Strategy Template

To fill your editorial calendar and your idea backlog, you need a simple blog content strategy document.

It should outline:

  • Your target audience and its key characteristics
  • A list of top problems your audience faces
  • Your solutions for those problems (products, services, and/or features)
  • Your content core
  • Your blog categories
  • Your top keywords, with volume and difficulty

Don’t feel like building this from scratch? You don’t have to! Download the templates from this post and start with the blog content strategy template we built for you.

Then, keep following our six steps below to create a strong blog content strategy that’s easy to execute.

Step 1: Start By Identifying Your Content Core

Your content core is the overlap between what your customers care about and the value your business provides.

Identifying your content core

Content core helps you go beyond pure traffic and audience building and into creating content that gains customers. It helps marketers avoid two traps:

  • The traffic trap. Are you building content people are attracted to, but doesn’t turn traffic into customers? This makes traffic growth a seemingly positive signal, but revenue doesn’t follow.
  • The promotional trap. Is your content overly promotional and adds little to no value to your audience? If so, you’ll struggle to generate traffic and traction with your target customers.

Content core makes sure your content is both helpful to your ideal customers (so you can get on their radar) and infused with your value proposition (so you can make sales).

Garrett Moon, CoSchedule’s CEO, emphasized the impact of content core in his book, 10x Marketing Formula:

“Through this approach, you’re helping your audience while actually training them to become customers. You can teach them to think exactly like you, and therefore use the same toolsets to solve real problems. The important element is finding the angle that intersects the needs of both your audience and your business.”

To identify your content core, take some time to research your audience and find topics they’re interested in and angles that match their needs.

Audience research can include email surveys, calls with current and past customers, comments on your competitors’ content, Facebook and LinkedIn user groups, and any conversations and subtopics around your main topics.

When interviewing your customers, you can use these questions:

  1. What prompted you to start looking for a solution like [product]?
  2. Why did you choose [product]?
  3. What is the most significant difference [product] is making in your business today?
  4. How would you briefly describe [product] to someone else?
  5. What is the single greatest benefit [product] provides?

Want an example of content core in action?

When CoSchedule was launching one product feature a few years back, they could have published a blog post titled “The 10 Most Interesting Marketing Trends of 2019.” It would have likely been popular, but it wouldn’t convert as CoSchedule’s product can’t help a reader with marketing trends.

Instead, there was this post: The Complete 16-Step Marketing Project Management Process That Will Get You Organized. The subject is marketing project management, and the angle is getting organized. It features a single, clear, compelling CTA and converts very well.

Step 2: Map Out Your Blog Categories

  • Your blog categories are essentially topical buckets
  • Align these with very high-level topics your audience cares about
  • You’ll then plan out content ideas that fit into each one

Blog categories organize your site and allow readers to find the information they want. They’re high-level topics that make it easy for people to understand what your blog is about and navigate to the content that interests them. Think of it like a table of contents. The categories provide structure to your site by organizing individual posts and sub-topics under several main topics.

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/blog-category 

Your blog categories are high-level topics or topical buckets for your blog posts. They make blog navigation easier and help with SEO.

Blog categories also make it easier to build up your blog content strategy as they serve as guardrails—a framework to sort topics and never run out of ideas. They need to be aligned with your content core and product offering, like:

  • Ecommerce software: inventory management, automation, analytics, omnichannel marketing, shipping, global commerce
  • CRM software: sales tactics, sales management, scaling, sales process, sales psychology, sales tools

Here are some real-life examples, like the one from Nextiva, a business communications platform:

Nextiva business blog

Another is from Hotjar, a behavior analytics tool:

hotjar analytics blog categories

And, of course, CoSchedule, a marketing work management software:

CoSchedule blog

Notice a pattern: excellent blogs have up to 10 categories. If you have many more than that, you’ll clutter your blog and confuse your readers.

By keeping this number in check, you’ll make it a lot easier for blog visitors to know they’re in the right place and dive right into what they need.

Step 3: Dive Into Topical and Keyword Research

Next up is your keyword strategy. Researching keywords and topics will help you make sure you:

  • Use the words, phrases, and questions your target customers already use to describe their pain points and challenges, so they resonate with your content
  • Set your content up for success in organic search

Keep your topical and keyword research simple—the aim is to get your blog content strategy up and running with meaningful content. Here are easy keyword research steps to start with.

3 steps for topical and keyword research

1. Start With Seed Keywords

You already have a list of blog categories—use them to kick off your process. These can be your seed keywords, or broad, general terms that describe topics relevant to your audience.

The ‘seed’ part means you can grow these initial keywords into other ideas and concepts.

For example, for CoSchedule, this could be:

  • Marketing workflow, marketing workflow examples, marketing project management, marketing checklists
  • Content marketing, SEO content strategy, editorial calendar, marketing podcasts
  • Social media, social media editorial calendar, social media post ideas, social media engagement

Brainstorm as many related, relevant topics you can think of and note them down.

2. Expand Your List With Keyword Tools

Based on your budget, dive into keyword tools to grow your list of relevant topics your target customers already search for.

Here’s a list of tools to get you started:

Add new ideas from these tools to your initial list of topics.

3. Dig Deeper With Questions

Finally, check online forums and social media to find the questions your target audience asks.

You can search inside relevant subreddits for questions with your keyword:

Keyword research on reddit

Be sure to dig into any industry forums, Slack communities, and similar groups for questions, too.

Another great place to check is Google’s ‘People also ask’ box (below is one for the ‘content calendar’ search term):

Google people also ask box

And if your audience hangs out on Twitter, you can use exact match search functions to look for topic-specific questions. For example, to find questions about marketing workflows, you’d search for “marketing workflow” “?” (including quotation marks):

Keyword research on Twitter

Check replies, quote tweets, and other tweets from people engaging in this conversation to look for further clues and phrases they use.

Step 4: Build Out Your Content Backlog

Now, turn your keyword and topic research into a backlog of keyword-backed blog post ideas.

In a spreadsheet, list one blog post idea per row. Then, assign these to each idea:

  • Post type: how-to, list, expert roundup, opinion/thought leadership post, interview, customer success story
  • Primary keyword
  • Keyword volume (from tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or Keywords Everywhere)
  • Keyword difficulty (if you use paid tools like Ahrefs)

Image direction: this table built out with header “Content Backlog Example: Gardeners’ Guides”

Content backlog example

If you don’t want to build this spreadsheet from scratch, you’ll find a ready-to-use template in the blog content strategy downloads. This is also a perfect use case for CoSchedule’s Idea Board.

With your blog content backlog ready, you can prioritize blog post ideas that are closest to your product and have a strong potential to solve a big problem for your reader and turn them into a lead or a customer.

Step 5: Set a Publishing Cadence

How often do you want to publish new content on your blog?

Your shiny new blog content strategy might inspire you to go for a weekly cadence, or even for publishing multiple times per week. Some studies have shown that monthly traffic multiplies when you publish 16 or more (!) blog posts per month.

For many teams, that frequency is unsustainable—at least if they want to publish truly valuable content. Quantity doesn’t replace quality.

Our suggestion: start with one post per week at most, or one post every two weeks as a comfortable minimum. You’ll end up with 26 to 52 quality blog posts in a year—a massive feat for a marketing team.

6 month blog schedule for beginners

If you push for pure quantity from the start, you’re risking burning out or simply getting busy and struggling to keep up. You’ll end up with mediocre blog posts, with no consistency your audience can rely on.

But if you give yourself enough time early on, you’ll develop a strong content marketing process and build a library of detailed, comprehensive, actionable blog posts.

Over time, as your team grows and resources scale, you can increase volume, but always prioritize value for your reader over quantity for the sake of it.

Step 6: Plan Content on Your Editorial Calendar

Finally, create your blog schedule. Grab your most important blog post ideas and put them on a calendar.

Elements to help organize your editorial calendar

Start by mapping out your content for the next month. Once you execute a couple of months of content this way, consider moving to planning a quarter at a time.

To give your blog calendar the best chance of succeeding, consider these tips:

  • Consider building your process into the calendar: include steps like research, outline, writing, editing, graphic design, approvals, and promotion
  • Make it visible to the whole team: use Google Sheets, an Excel spreadsheet in Dropbox, or a specialized tool like CoSchedule built for teams and collaboration
  • Color-code your calendar: use specific colors for different blog categories, post types, team members, etc.

Finally, keep your editorial calendar flexible.

Are some topics and products more popular during certain seasons (like summer/winter, holidays, year-end, etc.)?

Is there a bigger shift happening (like the overwhelming move to remote work due to the pandemic) that affects your audience and how they purchase?

Do you plan to revamp your product offering? Introduce or deprecate certain features or tiers? Enter a new market?

Always keep your finger on the pulse of your industry—and your company’s position in it—so you can be smart about your blog content strategy and adjust it if needed.

Kickstart Your Blog Content Strategy

With these six steps, you can go from overwhelmed to confident about your blog content in a matter of hours.

Start connecting what your target customers care about and how your products or services fit into that picture. That’s your content core. From there, dig into keyword research tools, online conversations, and customer interviews to build your content backlog.

Finally, when you map those topics out in a blog calendar and start executing, you’ll be unstoppable. Use your blog content strategy to empower every team member to contribute to your company blog’s success.

About the Author

Marijana Kay is a freelance writer for B2B SaaS companies. She uses data-backed, actionable content to help them hit and exceed their growth goals. In her spare time, she collects books and airline miles.

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Ditch the spreadsheets for good.

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There’s still time to organize your marketing.

Bring together your emails, blog posts, events, and the rest of your marketing with Marketing Calendar software from CoSchedule.