5 Steps to Plan and Develop Your Content Marketing Strategy

One thing that’s very important, if you plan to leverage the power of audio, video and text, is to have comprehensive content marketing plan. Here’s a little checklist that might help you do that.

Step 1: Set Your Goals

Missing-the-goal All your content creation should have a purpose and that purpose should not only benefit your readers, but benefit your business as well. Some purposes might be:
  • Search engine traffic
  • Word of mouth and viral effect
  • Pre-selling and warming up the audience to a product
  • Establishing credibility and authority
  • Reader satisfaction
  • Boosting your opt in list subscribers
  • Boosting customer relationships
  • Selling your products  
Just remember, the goal or purpose of each content piece is aligned with your overall marketing strategy. This may also help you decide whether content should be in audio, video or text format. For example, if your goal is to boost customer relationships, you might choose a video of yourself to do that. Make sure your content includes a call to action that supports your goal. For example, “For more information about how to manage debt, grab our free report 12 Steps to Eliminate Debt in 12 Months.” – tell them what you want them to do next. 

Step 2: Research

research

Carving out time for research is very important. From brainstorming topic ideas to finding supporting information for those topics, there is plenty to be done. You also want to research potential places to distribute your content as well. Here are some things that will make your research easier:
  • Keep a list of content ideas throughout the month. 
  • Use the following to generate content ideas/topics:  
    • Social networking
    • Keyword research tools
    • Blog comments
    • FAQs
    • Client interaction
    • Brainstorming 
  • Review the analytics and results of last month’s content and evaluate which pieces generated the most interest or results. Know which pieces your audience responded to and are use that information to create content topic ideas for this month. 
  • While you’re researching topics, take note of interesting articles, statistics and other items you might reference later as you’re creating your content. 
  • Keep your eye out for places where you might publish your content. Connect with other website owners who might publish for you. Connect with them by subscribing to their sites, on Facebook, Twitter and more. 

Step 3: Creation and Distribution

create_ebook Here are some things to plan and keep in mind, so your content gets out there to your audience.
  • How much content will you need? Will you write it all yourself, hire a writer or use PLR? If you’re using a writer, ensure they have all the information they need well ahead of time, so they can meet your deadline. 
  • Have you created your content publishing schedule? Plan ahead, so that you can match content topics with products you’ll be promoting. Decide where each piece will be published and which pieces will be published in multiple places. For example: 
    • Autoresponder
    • Blog
    • Guest blog
    • Website
    • Social networking page
    • Video sharing website (ex. YouTube)
    • Audio sharing website (ex. iTunes)
    • Other   

Part 4: Repurposing

repurpose content The best way to make the most of your monthly content is to find ways to reuse it and repurpose it. However, when creating your repurposing strategy make sure that you’re still focusing on your goals. Each repurposed or reused piece of content still needs to serve a purpose and support a goal.
  • You’ve created a plan to reuse or repurpose some or all of your content. For example, an article published on your blog can be rewritten and published on an article marketing site. Or an article that resonated with your readers, could be made more visual and viral by turning it into a video. 
  • Each piece of content that is repurposed or reused content has a goal/purpose. You should always keep benefiting your business (and your audience, of course) in mind. 
It may seem overwhelming to have to plan all this content in a variety of mediums, but over time you’ll learn what your audience responds to and where you should focus your efforts. And remember, quality is more important than volume, so focus on delivering the best content you can to your audience.

How Do I Get Traffic for a New Blog?

online traffic

Probably the trickiest part for any online business owner is getting targeted traffic to their sites.  This is more science than art and has spawned an industry all of its own.  Search engine optimization or SEO as it’s more affectionately referred to, is a major player in how you get targeted traffic to your sites or in this case, your blogs.

There are other promotional and marketing strategies that you can employ to get traffic, but it all starts with optimizing your blogs for SEO.  If you want your blog to be found, you have to optimize it for the search engines.

How much optimization you can perform on your blog depends once again on whether you’re using a hosted blog platform like Blogger.com or a standalone like WordPress.org.

A standalone platform like WordPress.org is the best way to go for SEO purposes.  There are no limits as to how you can customize your WordPress.org blog.  But because most beginners tend to use the hosted option, we’ll explore SEO tactics that everyone can benefit from.

Guest Blog Posting: One of the most effective ways to increase your blog traffic is by posting original content for other blogs related to your niche topic. But, as Matt Cutts said about guest blogging, finding these opportunities should  not be annoying for the blog owners. If you stand out as a trustable source, then people will gladly accept your articles for publishing. Look for popular blogs and check is they have guest posting guidelines and submit your content. Also, start building relationships with other bloggers in your niche, so they are more likely publish your content. When you guest post, you get to promote your website in a byline, so people who love your content will be interested in coming to your site for more.

online-reputation

Use Offline Promotional Methods – Get your blog’s URL printed on your business brochures, flyers, business cards, letter heads, envelopes, ads or anywhere else you advertise offline.  This is a great potential stream of new targeted readers.  You may consider advertising online too.

Add Your Blog’s URL To Outgoing Email – An often overlooked strategy but very effective. You never know, your recipient might be a potential customer.

Other Online Methods – Participate in social networking sites, online groups and forums to let them know about your business blog.  Because they share the same interest, they are bound to pay your blog a visit. Make use of marketing communities to spread the word about your blog. One of them is Social Buzz Club.

How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities

 

how to2

There are a number of ways to find guest blogging opportunities and this guide will provide you an illustrated tour of how you can get great exposure through guest posting. Whether you search for blogs that publicly accept submissions, approach blogs directly, use a guest blogging site or a combination of all those methods, there are plenty of opportunities to be found.


Assessing the Quality of the Opportunity

 

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether or not you want to write for a particular blog. While you may have other considerations, the factors we cover in this guide include targeted audience, traffic and community interaction. How much weight you add to each factor is completely up to you and depends on what is most important for you.

 

Quality Assessment Method #1: Targeted Audience

Before you write your first word, make sure the audience is truly targeted for you. Would they make good readers of your blog and customers for your products? While there may be plenty of blogs who write on the same subject matter as you, they may not be the right fit.

For example, if you write on political subjects, writing for a blog that doesn’t match your ideology may not be the best idea.

Or if you have a cooking site that features “from scratch” recipes, you may not find the opportunity to write for a blog that promotes quick and packaged fixes for meals a good fit for you either.

Ultimately, it’s up to you decide if the target audience is right for you, but do your homework first.

 

Quality Assessment Method #2: Traffic

There is no sure method of knowing a blog’s true traffic, unless they tell you. If the blog accepts advertising or requests content submissions, you might be able to find this information published on their website. If you can’t find that, you can use a tool like Alexa.com to assess their traffic.

 

TIP: Never base your assessment on traffic alone. The higher the traffic, the more competitive it is likely to get posted. Use your judgement accordingly.

 

Here is an example of estimated traffic ranking of mashable.com. Below, you can see the average traffic rank worldwide (in green) and in the US (you can customize the data for any country, if you prefer). The lower the number, the more popular the site.

In this case, Alexa says that mashable.com is the 222nd most popular website on the web. The ranking is based on users who use the Alexa toolbar and is often skewed in providing website with web savvy audiences higher rankings. However, any site that ranks in the top 10,000 or so is very likely to have a large volume of traffic.

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To get a better picture of the popularity of a site, instead of relying on the single ranking from Alexa, you can compare the ranking to other similar sites.

First, you can click the “Related Links” tab to find related sites:

2-alexa-related

 

Because some of these are social networking sites, rather than targeted blogs, that mashable.com tends to write about, we’ll disregard Twitter, Twitpic, Tweetmeme and FriendFeed. In this case, TechCrunch, Reader/Write/Web, Wired, Search Engine Journal and/or Lifehacker seem to more closely suit our needs for comparison.

 

TIP: You can compare any related sites that you want. You don’t have to only compare the ones Alexa suggests.

 

We can compare traffic ranking by clicking the “Traffic Stats” tab.

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Then you’ll see a traffic graph and below that, you can enter sites to compare. We have decided to compare Techcrunch, Wired and Lifehacker and clicked “traffic rank”.

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From the graph above, we can see that Mashable and TechCrunch have comparable traffic, but Mashable seems to come out the winner more consistently. Wired and Lifehacker appear to have lower traffic levels.

If you want to see specific numbers of any of the sites you are comparing, you can simply search for that site in the Alexa search box.

 

Quality Assessment Method #3: Community Interaction

If interaction is important to you, you may want to look at how people comment and interact on the site. However, realize that commenting doesn’t always give an accurate reflection of a blog’s traffic. Some blogs are more interactive than others and most blog visitors will read and never post a comment.

 

That said, understanding the vocal audience of a blog may give you an idea of whether or not this is the type of audience you want to write for. Some blogs may be more controversial than you were bargaining for or may not moderate or control their community in a way that you are comfortable with. On the other hand, you may find a lower traffic blog with a very tuned in and thoughtful audience of people you would like to connect with. In that case, the guest blogging opportunity might be a good one for you.

 

 

Finding Blogs

 

Some blogs you come across may include guest post submission guidelines. If so, always make sure you follow the guidelines to the letter. If there is no submission information, don’t let this stop you from submitting a post for consideration. To find submission guidelines, always look in the website menus (top, side and bottom) of the page or search on Google for “websitename.com submission guidelines”, “websitename.com submit post” etc.

Whatever method or methods you use to find blogs, make sure you do a quality assessment before jumping right in.

 

Finding Method #1: Google

A Google search is simple. Enter your topic plus “blog” and browse the results. In the example below, we’ve looked for “basket weaving blog”:

5-google-search

 

 

Technorati

 

Technorati is a large directory and search engine for blogs. You can browse through categories, by selecting from the top of the page:

8-technorati-category

 

You can also use the search box at the very top of the page to either search for blogs OR posts on certain topics. In the example below, we are searching for “stamp collecting” blogs:

9-technorati-search

 

Technorati lists the blog according to their own ranking algorithm:

10-technorati-search-result

 

 

 

Alexa Related Links

 

When you already have some sites in mind or ones you’ve already submitted to, you may want to find related sites to consider.

We already talk about Alexa’s Related Links feature and it will come in handy for finding additional blogs to potentially submit to. In this example, we have searched for sites related to comicsalliance.com:

6-alexa-related-more

In addition to the list above, if you scroll down a bit, you can search sites by category as well.

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Using a Guest Blogging Site

 

There are sites and communities popping up where you can collaborate with other blog owners.

One such site is MyBlogGuest.com. It’s a free site where you can connect to find guest blogging opportunities and even to find guest bloggers to write for your site. Let’s take a quick look at how this site works.

 

 

MyBlogGuest

You can sign up for free at MyBlogGuest.com. When you sign up, you will be prompted to complete your profile, including your social networking accounts, a photo of yourself, your websites, your blogging experience and more. This will make it easier for a potential blog to evaluate whether or not they want to work with you.

Once you’re all set up, you can navigate to the Forum and find the “Looking for a guest for my blog” forum. There you can find blogs who are looking for people to post.

11-myblogguest-guest-forum

 

You can also post your own offers in the “Looking for a blog to guest post”, so other blogs can view your information.

12-myblogguest-find

 

Final Thoughts:

 

As you can probably see, once you start finding site to guest post for, it becomes even easier to find more. You can also use your experience on certain blogs as leverage to get other blogs to readily publish your posts. Finding opportunities isn’t hard, if you know how to look.