Your company has decided to “content market”. A bold choice. Welcome.
If you’re new to this, I’ll make the assumption you’re shitting yourself. It’s a daunting path.
If you’re not new to this, do you have a plan for today?
Either way, I’m here to help you. Whenever I take on a new client, these are three of the most important questions to answer during the first week.
Now, you’ve likely got a few hours to think about these. You could get this done on your first day. I believe in you.
If you want to know what you and your team are creating over the next 2-3 months. Where you’re going to put it and how it ties together into a clear and concise plan, read on, THIS is what you’re going to do today.
Setting the foundations for all of your content marketing
By the end of this piece, you will have clarity and a plan.
Clarity on what content you’re creating, where it’s going on your site and what the next steps are for you and your team.
I usually run this as a 1-2 hour workshop with new clients, but you’re getting it today for free. The only cost is your time, but trust me it’s worth it. I’ve seen many content marketing plans for to shit because of a bad plan, or no plan at all.
Today you’ll have a plan, and your next action steps.
This isn’t the plan for your entire content marketing strategy, but it’ll at least get you moving. And that’s the hardest part to overcome.
The 3 questions to answer on your first day of content marketing
- What are you going to create for your audience?
- Where are you going to host it?
- How to plan out the first piece of content
Let’s start from the top.
What are you going to create for your audience?
I’m pretty much always going to suggest writing. Just like this post here, that you are reading right now.
For B2B, B2C, you need to create assets you can put an idea behind. Something you can own and can leverage. Something you can update as times change.
Essentially, a medium which gives you access to the most variables to influence when you’re looking to play the game of content marketing.
More than anything, something to create value to give to your audience. Notice I wrote give, not exchange. We’re in the business of giving as much as we can.
Right now, we don’t care about search volumes, technical SEO or backlinks. Those things have their time and place, but the one thing that will remain consistent across all steps of the campaign, be it day 1 or 100 is content. It’s creating something of value.
The main reasons why written content is the best place to start –
- Proven – Thousands of sites do it well.
- Provable – There are plenty of great tools out there to help monitor and track how people are actually interacting with your content
- Editable – This bears repeating. If it’s on your own site, you can edit it. Change parts, rewrite parts. Delete parts. Updating it as algorithms, best practices and opinions change
- Long Term – It’s always there. Once it’s published it’s there. You can promote it as often as you wish. It’s the reason content marketing is about compounding growth.
- Repurposing – Written content makes a great foundation for so many other efforts.
- Chop it up and put the different parts on social
- Turn the main message into a mini email course
- Use it as a script for video content, or the topic of a podcast
- Video that podcast and use it as more social content. Shorts on Youtube. Stories on Insta.
- You Own It – Hopefully, it’s on your own website. You have access to change all parts of it. This leads us on nicely to the next main point, where are you going to put it?
Where are you going to put your content?
The most obvious answer to this, and the one I will give every time is
Your own blog.
This being said, I’ve recently heard a great argument as to why Medium.com is a great place to start. I’m not gonna lie, as an SEO this pains me to give this argument time in the sun, but the reason is understandable and I can see a couple of situations where this makes total sense.
But, we’ll cover the blog side of things first because it’s what I’d suggest and this is my article so I’m the boss 😛
Writing on your own blog
Why is putting your own content on the company site important?
Mostly because you own it. It’s your site, it’s your trust, your traffic. Anyone you drive to this content will benefit you and your goals only.
You also have control of all the variables available to you to rank well on search results.
I’ll touch on variables in a bit, and how they play a part in SEO. But for now I don’t want that to get in the way of you answering these questions. Also don’t think about blog design 😛
Just stick with the default page design and use that for now. It’ll be much easier to choose a blog design when you have things to fill it with too.
Writing on Medium.com
If you’re one of those people who know you’ll get caught up on blog design or the perfect pixel width, or your site just doesn’t have a blog section yet Medium.com might be the right place to start.
Early stage SaaS businesses seem to obsess about creating their own CMS for their site and the months of dev time here get in the way of, creating content and ultimately selling that product. Move on. Just grab a Medium blog for the time being.
The best way I heard it described is
“Medium is the MVP of your blog”
There’s not worrying about design. No worrying about getting the content in front of people. Medium has a built in platform for audience discovery.
It really is the lowest barrier to entry in writing, getting it on a live site and in the public eye.
As the saying goes, if you didn’t publish it, did you really ever write anything?
All of this sounds great, right?
Sounds like you should just write on Medium. It’s all set up for you, you just write. There’s even discoverability built into it.
What does Medium have in common with Farmers? Or, why not to write on Medium
There’s this thing called sharecropping. You start by renting land from a farmer. You put in all the hard work tilling the soil, planting the crops, feeding the land. All so you can create produce.
But, it’s not your land. At any point, the land-owner could raise prices, or decide they want the land back.
You have no say, either you agree to the new terms and you keep your hard-earned crops but you’re out on revenue. Or you move somewhere else and lose the foundation you worked so hard to build. You start again.
In most instances with sharecropping, you’re also not allowed to take the crops with you.
I’m sure you can see where this is going. For the sake of completeness, I’ll break it down for our situation.
Digital sharecropping is the term. Inventive I know.
We’ve created this blog on Medium, (or any other platform for that matter, LinkedIn, Tumblr etc). We’ve built an audience for this content.
But, it’s not “ours”. It’s Mediums.
They are the ones getting more trust on their site. More of a market share in the space you’re writing for.
An obvious point to this argument is at the bottom of every post on Medium is a grid of 8 more things you can read. They’re rarely if ever more of your content. It’s pushing your audience to someone else.
You have no control over this.
Notice how there are no further posts from Joe on there, there’s not even anything to do with Rubik’s Cubes as a recommendation.
A situation like this would never happen on your site.
I’m not saying don’t write on Medium as an absolute. I’m saying know its purpose in the long run of what you’re creating.
Now the fun stuff. Creation.
How to plan out your first piece of content
Your very first piece of content can be used to govern the next 2-3 months’ worth of content creation. Depending on how often you publish of course.
But the methodology behind it is something you want to take with you throughout the entirety of your content marketing career.
What is a problem your business solves, that you could write +2,500 words on
You read that correctly. 2,500 words. Minimum.
If you don’t understand the topic well enough to write that much, then your first step is educating yourself. How are you ever going to explain the solution in written form if you yourself don’t know it?
It’s ok to take a long time on creating this content. It’s going to form a huge backbone of what’s the come next. It’s worth doing it well.
The way you want to think about this piece is it’s the hub of many other parts of the solution.
Your first piece should be the springboard for users to dive into the smaller parts of that main issue.
Your hub content is like the landing page/content table/best guide ever hybrid.
It must be something people keep coming back to. Something they’ll bookmark. There must be nothing on the internet that outdoes your Hub page on the topic.
Where do I even start with something that big?
Research. Start on Google. Find out who else has created things around this topic. Collate, gather and steal.
Put them into one place and see where people are missing out. Start at the top. Explain the main concept and break it down step by step.
If any sub-topic would take more than 700 words to explain – Make another post about it. Link the two together.
This is where the 2 – 3 months of content plan starts to take shape.
You can take your main topic and see what relates to it. If it’s not initially obvious, here’s a way to think about any big concept and the ideas around it.
- A framework to solve that main problem
- The biggest hurdle in getting started with that framework
- A template or download to help get over that hurdle
- Five companies who have solved that problem. A case study on their success.
By taking this main idea, big first post, smaller supporting posts, you can build out 2 – 3 months of content creation.
And when you’ve done it. Do it again. With another problem. Let’s say your first hub post was the main framework your company uses to support its clients/customers. What’s a sub-framework of that?
By thinking about problems first, you’re meeting your customer where they already are.
How we’ve used this concept on the blog you’re reading now
Take, for example, my post on How To Create Your Content Marketing Strategy.
It discusses the framework and leading questions to think about in designing your content marketing. It’s currently 4600+ words long.
It’s talking about a huge problem, one you might have yourself. I’d recommend reading it if this is your first time on the blog.
But the topic itself is so huge that you might have many other questions at the end of it, how to implement it? What does the timeline look like? What to do on the first day? 😛
I can create smaller pieces of content answering those individual sub-topics. These are my spokes. You’re reading one of them right now.
Won’t I bore people by posting the same topic so close to each other?
Oh, my sweet summer child.
No one is waiting to read your blog.
You’re not running a magazine. You’re creating a body of work, for people to dive into and consume at their speed.
In the words of Jimmy Daly – We’re creating a library, not an editorial.
Go start your first day
Hopefully, with these questions, and your new insight, you’ll have a great first day.
I want to hear about it. I’m most active on LinkedIn; shoot me any questions you have about this process.
Let me know, is it too much to decide on day one, or where you left hankering for more things to do?
P.S. If you’re looking for a template on getting that first piece of content written, I gotchu – Head over here, it works best for spoke posts, but if you dive deep into the “how to section” you can turn it into a crazy guide. It’s the framework responsible for over 200 first blog posts, it’s how I run my “first blog post” workshop, and it’s the framework that’s gotten over 600,000 views for clients in the last year.
Min 1200 words?
Featured snippet potential?
Google Voice Search?
Yes to all of these?