Three steps to streamline your content marketing

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“Hey, we need you to write some great content for our website.”

Sound familiar? Sure, someone always seems to be telling us that we need to produce great online content, but is it that easy?

Well, being a good writer doesn’t mean you’ll be good at writing online, although it helps. Becoming a great content writer is about understanding your online environment.

In fact, in this modern world, you don’t even need to be a good writer to produce good online copy. You just need to know the right tools and the best practices to help you achieve your goals.

I find it best to a follow a process, like the one below. It’s not a perfect solution to creating content, but it does make it easier and clearer.

Step 1: Research

First things first, you need to define a topic. For most of us, this should be easy as it will represent our industry e.g. fashion, travel, food.

Once you have a subject, the tricky part begins, what can or should I write about?

Sure, at first you may have a list of ideas, but once they dry up how can you come up with more ideas? Ideas that are both fresh and on trend?

A great start is to make an RSS feed of blogs you love and can take inspiration from. You could use a Chrome plugin to collate feeds, but scanning through each blog could take up a lot of time.

Instead, try Feedly, where you can collect all the posts from your favourite sources in one place. You can then access a feed of all articles (which looks like a Gmail inbox) to save precious time.

From here, not only can you take inspiration from their topics, but you can also find gaps or ways to expand on them.

TIP: Scanning through user comments is an excellent way to see what people want to read.

For reactive content, you could use Google Trends, Reddit or Twitter to find new ideas.

Step 2: Plan

You’ll need somewhere to record all these new ideas, especially if you don’t plan on writing them all in one go. This is where your content plan comes into force.

I don’t think a content plan needs to be anything spectacular, in fact, an Excel spreadsheet will do. Within that spreadsheet, I’d have three tabs:

  • • Scheduled (daily, weekly or monthly content)
  • • Ideas (list of potential content)
  • • Existing (keep record of published content)

If you’re sharing the content across different channels, you may also want to feed this into your plan, as you might edit it to fit each platform.

In many ways, the context is even more important than the copy.

Gary Vaynerchuk has a great blog on the idea that if ‘Content is King, Context is God’ – it’s worth a read.

Great, you now have a solid plan of action, but how can you make it easier for anyone else involved? By this, I mean managers, colleagues, agencies, etc.

One application I’d recommend is Trello, a free project management tool built for team use. Although it works well as a personal work organiser too.

It allows you to create boards and then assign cards under each board. For example, you could have a board for scheduled content and then have cards for each post.

As well as this, it sends you reminders before the due date – so you have no excuse to miss a deadline. You can also assign other members to these boards and specify particular jobs for them, meaning they will also get notifications.

In essence, you could use Trello as a personal content plan or as a project management tool – it’s that versatile.

Step 3: Write

If you Google “how to write great website content”, you’ll find a whole bunch of great articles and tips. They’ll highlight the main tactics you should use (and rightly so):

  • • Short paragraphs
  • • Subheadings
  • • Bulleted lists
  • • Bold text
  • • Links
  • • Images

Some more in-depth articles will go on to talk about key points around users, actions and rankings. Every one of these matters deserves its own blog, so I’m avoiding the opportunity to dive too deep into it.

Personally, I think there are two necessities to great online content; grammar and readability. If your copy is full of mistakes, I don’t want to read it. Likewise, if it’s hard to read, I don’t want to read it.

And I’m not alone; this is the mindset of pretty much all consumers.

If you don’t know the difference between your and you’re, don’t worry, there are tools to help.

My favourite is Grammarly, which is a much better version of Word’s spelling and grammar checker.

The one thing I love about it is the Chrome plugin. This allows you to check your content across a range of platforms including CMS, social media, browsers and more.

Another great app is the Hemingway Editor, which helps to show you how readable your text is. I’ll often write my blog or article in Grammarly and then paste it into Hemingway for the second edit.

It highlights where your content needs improvement, with five colours for the following:

  • • Yellow (sentence is hard to read)
  • • Red (sentence is very hard to read)
  • • Purple (phrase has simpler alternative)
  • • Blue (use of adverbs)
  • • Green (use of passive voice)

It then grades your work, with a low grade being easier to read than a high grade. Using the highlighted suggestions, you can then make amendments and improve your grade i.e. your content’s readability.

Conclusion

Those who want to go further could look into tools for imagery, as well as social media scheduling. I’d recommend taking a look at Buffer and Pablo, who are owned by the same company.

Of course, this is just a snippet of what tools are available to streamline your content. There are hundreds of great tools, and every marketer has their preference.

One thing is consistent; good marketers make use of these to ensure their work is of the highest quality and is created as efficiently as possible.

By David Morton, Social Media and Digital Content Executive

content marketing

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